Sunday
November 15
#DMD GAME DAY
presented by
Volume 16
Issue 15
Baltimore Ravens vs. Jacksonville

1:00 PM EDT

M&T Bank Stadium
Baltimore, MD

if ronda rousey can lose, so can the ravens today

I don't follow UFC at all, which is to say I know one name in the sport, but last night's shocking loss by Ronda Rousey (I have to look up the name of the girl who beat her -- Holly Holm) should remind everyone of what's possible today for the Ravens. They COULD lose to the Jaguars. No one thought Rousey would lose last night. She was a -2000 betting favorite, meaning you had to bet $2,000 just to win $100. And she lost. Not only did she lose, she got her adorable fanny kicked, literally, as Holm rendered Rousey unconscious with a kick to the jaw that ended their title fight in the 2nd round.

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This was the kick that ended Ronda Rousey's reign last night in Australia. Let's hope the Ravens don't get knocked out like this today at home vs. Jacksonville.

So, if Ronda Rousey can lose -- and in the NBA, Golden State almost lost to 1-9 Brooklyn last night before winning in overtime -- the Ravens can certainly lose to Jacksonville today.

I know what you're thinking: "C'mon Drew, no freakin' way we lose to the Jaguars, at home, no less."

That's what I thought about the Browns back on October 11 and remember what happened that day? Yeah, me too.

I hate to put all the pressure on Joe Flacco, because the other 21 guys on the field have to do their part as well, but this game today is about OUR quarterback being better than THEIR quarterback. Yes, I'm well aware that Blake Bortles has more weapons at his disposal than Flacco does, but Bortles isn't throwing to Rice, Taylor and Owens, either. Flacco won't have a lot of high quality options today, but that's why the club threw $160 million at him back in 2013...just for days like this when they needed him to make chicken salad out of chicken manure. Anyone can throw to Pitta, Boldin and Torrey Smith. Win a game in the league throwing to Givens, Ross and Aiken and then you can brag about being "elite".

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today's main storylines:
ravens vs. jaguars

*Is Jacksonville's offense really any good? -- While the game scores through eight weeks make it appear as if the Jaguars' offense is pretty decent, nothing else statistically supports that. They only average 257 yards per-game in the air and Blake Bortles has already been sacked a whopping 25 times in 2015. They do run the ball well when they decide to do that (4.1 yards per-carry) but so far this season, the Jaguars have -- ready for this? -- exactly ONE rushing TD. Just one. So, it's clear based on the stats if they're getting in the end zone today, it will likely be through the air. But are just a bad team who throws the ball OK or are they a really good passing team with no defense to support their offense?

*Get the Jaguars to 3rd down, a lot -- OK, so the Jaguars can say this exact same thing about the Ravens, because Baltimore's proficiency on 3rd down is terrible, too, but one of the keys today is to make sure the Ravens' defense gets Jacksonville to third down as quickly as possible. Jacksonville is a lowly 36.7% on third-down conversions (40-109) so far this season. And they've allowed 25 sacks, too. Sounds like a recipe for blitzing packages today. Are you listening (reading) Dean Pees? And in case you're curious, yes, the Ravens are worse at 3rd down when they're on offense -- with a 34.9% conversion rate.

*Get ahead early -- This is a staple of "storylines" when you're a struggling team and you're playing another struggling team. Don't give them (Jacksonville) a chance to stay in the game. Get up early, build a lead, run the ball, roll the clock, and win the game. I'd like to see the Ravens do that today and have themselves a breather for once.

*No dumb penalties -- This nugget stays up again this week as well, because the Ravens are a team prone to the bad penalty at the worst time. In order to win today, Baltimore needs to give Jacksonville as little breathing room as possible and one way to do that is by not giving away "free yards". Memo to the Ravens: Don't pick up DUMB penalties. Thank you.


Here’s how Drew sees today’s game:

I don't know why I'm so afraid of this game, but I am. I think the Ravens will benefit from their bye-week-break and the self-scouting they've done (hopefully), but you can scout yourselves all you want -- if you don't have really good football players, you're a candidate to lose. Here's how I see it playing out this afternoon in Baltimore:

The Jaguars go up early on a short field goal as the Ravens' defense is up to the task initially. A Flacco to Gillmore TD throw makes it 7-3 but Jacksonville responds with a score just before half to make it 10-7 after two quarters. The Jaguars make it 17-7 and 24-7 in the 3rd quarter as the Baltimore secondary crumbles, but a furious 4th quarter rally from the Ravens makes is 24-21. Bortles hits Allen Robinson with a TD with 3 minutes to go to make it 31-21 and Baltiomore answers again to cut the lead to 31-28. And that's how it ends. Jacksonville wins, 31-28.


percentage points

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

50% - If you said to me, "Drew, what are the chances the Jaguars win today?"

28% - Chances of the Jaguars holding Flacco to under 300 yards passing?

35% - The chances Blake Bortles throws for over 400 yards?

72% - What are the chances the Ravens rush for over 100 yards?

74% - The chances any Ravens WR catches a TD pass?

2% - 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 officially "on fire" now, with four wins in two of the last three weeks. After starting the season a dismal 8-17, I've crawled all the way back to near the .500 mark at 21-23-1.

Here's how I see today's five games:

LIONS AT PACKERS (-10.5): Giving the visiting team 10.5 points in a divisional game is very risky, but Vegas knows what they're doing here. After two straight losses, Green Bay is ready to pull a Charles Jefferson and demolish the Lions this afternoon. Bonus points if you know who Charles Jefferson is, folks. Take the Packers and give the Lions 10.5 points here, as Green Bay wins 37-13.


COWBOYS AT BUCCANEERS (-2): Am I missing something here? Tampa Bay is at home, at 3-5 on the year -- Dallas has no quarterback and a soft defense -- and the Bucs are 2-point underdogs. I don't get it. Vegas is handing you Tampa Bay and two points and ushering you to the betting window so you don't wise up and change your mind. I'll take the bait, so let's go with the home team as the Bucs win and cover, 24-17.


DOLPHINS AT EAGLES (-6): This is precisely the kind of game Miami wins. They got slapped around last Sunday in Buffalo (my only loss of the day) and looked nothing like a competitive team and then here they are this week in Philadelphia against an Eagles team that's 4-4 and firmly in the NFC East division title race. Everything points to the Eagles winning here except I think the Dolphins are screwy enough to go in there and pull out a win, so I'm taking the Dolphins and the six points in a game Miami wins 23-20.


PANTHERS (-4) AT TITANS: Here's another odd looking line. Carolina is 8-0 on the year playing a team that's 2-6 and 0-4 at home and the Panthers are ONLY a 4-point favorite. Huh? In this one, the boys in Vegas are just dying for you to take Carolina. They're not getting me on this one, as I think Tennessee mans up today and not only covers, I think they win outright. Let's take the Titans to end Carolina's perfect season with a 26-19 win.


CHIEFS AT BRONCOS (-4.5): When I saw this spread, I actually checked the injury report to see if Peyton Manning was -- or wasn't -- playing. How is Denver a 4.5 point favorite AT HOME over Kansas City? Wouldn't that roughly be the point spread if the game were being played in Kansas City today? I don't get this number, either. I'll bite, though, and take the Broncos to cover and come out on top today at home, 34-17.


BEST BET OF THE DAY: I'm going with the Packers (-10.5) as my "Best Bet Of The Day".

RECORD TO DATE: 21-23-1

LAST WEEK'S RECORD: 4-1

BEST BET OF THE DAY (SEASON): 5-3-1

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#DMD'S HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS SPOTLIGHT

Marsh
Insurance & Financial
410-426-2282

brought to you by
Greg Marsh

The #DMD High School Sports Spotlight took in Saturday afternoon's MIAA C and B Conference championship games at Archbishop Spalding.

If you read yesterday’s issue of #DMD you saw our prediction: “If Annapolis Area Christian School can hold St. Johns to less than twenty points, the Eagles could spoil the Vikings quest for an undefeated season and a MIAA C Conference title.” We hit that one on the head.

The Eagles fell behind early, trailing St. John’s 14-0 in the second quarter and the Vikings were about to add another score when AACS DB Joey Dixon picked off a St. Johns pass in the end zone. That play turned the tide for the Eagles. AACS QB D.J. Golatt connected with TE Jarrett Heckert to bring the Eagles within one score of St. John’s at the end of the first half. Golatt kept the Eagles’ momentum going into the second half with a third quarter strike to WR Jahre Fish for a touchdown -- and suddenly we had a tie game.

AACS head coach Mike Lynn amped up his defense and the defensive line responded. DL Henry Gregory, Dl Devin Holmes and DL Kayona Clarke racked up five sacks frustrating the high powered Viking offense. Eagles RB Sam Akinmukomi rumbled twenty two yards into the end zone in the 4th quarter for the game winning score and the MIAA C Conference Championship as Annapolis Area Christian School spoiled St. John's run at a perfect season, winning 20-14.

It took just seven plays for John Carroll to seize the lead in the B-Conference title game against Curley, as Patriots' QB Kurt Rawlings fourd WR Niko Rice in the end zone on JC's first possession of the game. John Carroll held Curley to a three-and-out on the Friars' first offensive trip down the field and the Patriots promptly added another score when Rawlings hit WR Ky’el Hemby for a ten yard TD and a 14-0 lead.

Curley’s defense stepped up the pressure on the Patriots passing game in the second quarter, forcing John Carroll to turn the ball over on downs. The Friars' offense took quick advantage of their great field position when Curley QB Luke Nakich capped off a five play drive with a one yard run to put the Friars on the board.

As they've all year after allowing a defensive score, John Carroll responded with yet another passing touchdown from Rawlings, this time on a forty yard bomb to Patriot WR Alex Rasmussen. Curley QB Nakich caught the Patriots defense by surprise on the Friars' next possession. Nakich, on first and ten, faked a dive then drifted left and dropped a bomb of his own into the waiting hands of RB Rod Petitt for a touchdown. John Carroll took a 20-14 lead into halftime.

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The Patriots claimed last night's B-Conference title game with yet another stellar passing effort from Yale-bound QB Kurt Rawlings.

It was more of the same in the second half, as John Carroll simply wouldn't be denied. The Patriots scored on their first possession on a one yard dive by John Carroll RB Devin Darrington and then followed up with another Rawlings touchdown pass to Patriots' WR Josh Payne-White. Curley, finding themselves three scores behind and with the clock winding down, was forced to turn to their rarely used passing game. The result was a pair of interceptions that sealed the deal for John Carroll as they claimed the MIAA's B-Conference title, 35-14.

The #DMD High School Sports Spotlight is brought to you by Greg Marsh and Marsh Insurance and Financial. Be sure to visit #DMD next week for more local High School sports coverage and be sure to check in with Greg Marsh for all of your personal insurance needs too. Give him a call at (410) 426-2282.

Saturday
November 14
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XVI
Issue 14

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that wieters stunt puts o’s in salary bind

There’s no use crying over spilled milk, so this will be the only time I chastise the Orioles for painting themselves in a corner with Matt Wieters, who became the third player this week to accept a team’s one-year qualifying offer yesterday afternoon. Wieters will stay with the Orioles -- despite the fact they were more than prepared to move on without him -- and make $15.8 million in 2016, then become a free agent (again) at the conclusion of next season.

It didn’t have to be this way, but the Orioles caved in to the pressure that goes with getting a draft pick in exchange for losing a free agent like Wieters. And, by giving in, they’re now facing a roster in 2016 that coughs up $41 million in guaranteed money to – wait for it – Wieters, J.J. Hardy and Ubaldo Jimenez. Crazy, right? If the club is going to spend $120 million on players in 2016, as Dan Duquette has essentially said they would by his “we’ll probably be right around where we were in 2015” comments, they’ll be spending $41 million of that $120 million on three players. Three players…none of which are “elite” or “franchise” type performers.

You would think baseball teams would have learned by now that having a first round draft pick and transforming that selection into a quality player are in no way mutually exclusive. Sure, the O's landed Manny Machado in the first round and look what he's done. How about Dylan Bundy? Matt Hobgood? Hunter Harvey? Far too much stock is put on getting a draft pick, in my opinion, when it comes to evaluating free agency and qualifying offers. And I said that BEFORE yesterday, so I'm not the Johnny-come-lately guy putting the Orioles on blast for inheriting themselves a $16 million contractual albatross on Friday.

The Orioles were clearly in an unfriendly position with regard to Wieters. They knew it. He most certainly knew it. And even his goof-ball agent Scott Boras knew it, which is why the catcher is returning to Baltimore for one more season instead of trying his hand at free agency.

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Any thought the Orioles might be able to keep Wei Yen Chen or Chris Davis probably ended yesterday when Matt Wieters took the team's $15.8 million offer for 2016.

The Birds could have simply not extended Wieters the $15.8 million qualifying offer. Had they done that, their ties to him would have been completely severed and they wouldn’t have received a draft pick for Wieters once he signed his new deal with one of the other 29 teams in the Major Leagues. By not extending him a qualifying offer, though, the O’s would have also protected themselves from what wound up happening; Wieters took the offer and their $15.8 million in exchange for a one-year live audition around the big leagues in 2016.

The situation will repeat itself once again this time next year and it’s likely the O’s will get that draft pick when Wieters signs elsewhere, if that happens. They could also send him packing at next year’s trade deadline and get something for him, but they’ll have to decide if a deadline-acquisition is better than a draft pick. You can’t have or get both.

We haven’t even talked about Wieters-the-player, yet. He only caught back-to- back games on five occasions in 2015 as he returned near the season’s halfway point after recovering from Tommy John surgery. The playful “Mauer with power” and “Jesus in cleats” monikers are long gone, as the former number one draft pick has slipped backwards to “good player” status and nothing more. At last year’s salary of $8.3 million, a .255 average coupled with a 20 HR campaign was just about a steal. Now, at $15.8 million, he’s getting paid like a quasi-superstar, albeit only for one season. As much as he was a decent bet to be a good value as an $8.3 million investment, he’s equally a decent bet to be a bad value at $15.8 million.

$41 million for Wieters, Hardy and Jimenez. That hurts. It leaves, essentially, $80 million for the rest of the team, and Adam Jones is going to gobble up $16 million of that. Adding the Jones salary leaves the club with roughly $62 million to spend on 21 players. You see where I’m going with this, right? Bye bye Chris Davis. Bye bye Wei Yen Chen. Bye bye Darren O’Day. I guess it’s feasible they could figure out a way to keep O’Day, who might be had for $7.5 or $8 million a season, but there’s simply no way they can keep Davis ($22-$24 million) and/or Chen ($16-$18 million). That’s not all Matt Wieters’ fault, of course, but absorbing his $15.8 million salary is just too much for the O’s to overcome unless they dramatically increase their 2016 player payroll budget .

And we know that’s not happening.

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ravens' secondary will be challenged tomorrow

It's almost laughable to even remotely consider that Jacksonville could give the Ravens a run for their money tomorrow afternoon in Baltimore, but that's the reality of the situation facing John Harbaugh's team. What the Jaguars do well -- throw the ball -- works in contrast to the biggest weakness on the defensive side of the ball for the Ravens. Whether it's because the team can't generate a reliable pass rush or the linebackers are iffy in pass coverage or the defensive backs can't play simple man-on-man coverage...whatever the case, the Ravens aren't very good against the pass.

If you're Jacksonville, that's all you do on Sunday, right? Throw. The. Ball.

I understand you have to occasionally mix in a run or two just to keep the other guy honest, but if I'm coaching against the Ravens, we're throwing it a mininum of 40 times on Sunday if not more. For starters, you know you're a candidate for at least three illegal contact or pass interference calls if you throw it that many times. Frankly, the more you throw it, the more likely you are to get those calls. That's essentially how the Ravens beat the Chargers, if you remember. They just threw the ball like crazy over the last 15 minutes and on the final drive of the game, Kamar Aiken drew a flag that not only put the Ravens in field goal position, it allowed them to waste away the clock, too.

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While the Ravens are receiver-thin, Jacksonville has several quality pass-catchers, including former Penn State wide receiver Allen Robinson.

This Jaguars team actually has a couple of reasonably dangerous weapons in Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, each of whom has six TD receptions in eight games. Then there's Marqise Lee, who has been battling a hamstring injury since training camp but is expected to play tomorrow in Baltimore. There are fast guys and then there's Marqise Lee. He makes the fast guys shake their heads. And Blake Bortles, despite playing quarterback for a really bad team over the last two seasons, has a quality NFL arm that can do some damage if you don't make him uncomfortable in the pocket.

I realize you don't play the game on paper and I also see Jacksonville's record (2-6) and realize they're not very good for a reason. They don't make enough plays. But their strength is the Ravens weakness and if Jimmy Smith, Will Hill, LaDarius Webb and Kyle Arrington don't have solid games tomorrow, the faithful in Baltimore might be exiting the stadium early.


umbc battles wake forest to the final whistle in 78-73 loss

UMBC men's basketball kicked off the 2015-2016 season with an impressive effort in Winston Salem, NC on Friday night, but the Retrievers fell 78-73 to Wake Forest. Sophomore guard Jourdan Grant led the Retriever offense with 20 points, five rebounds and five assists.

The Retrievers started strong on Friday against their ACC opponent and actually led on several occasions throughout the first half. They took their largest lead of the game halfway through the stanza after three pointers from Jourdan Grant and Malcolm L. Brent gave UMBC a 20-17 advantage. Wake Forest ended the half with a Devin Thomas layup to eventually give the Deacs a 41-40 lead at the break.

The second half saw much of the same as the first, as UMBC continued to battle. The Retrievers opened the half with four points from Brent to give the visitors a 44-41 lead.

UMBC would keep Wake Forest in check throughout the final 20 minutes, never letting the lead expand to more than five points. Wake Forest committed 16 turnovers in the game, thanks in part to hustle plays made by a slew of Retrievers. Brent scored on a break-away after freshman Joe Sherburne forced a turnover. Classmate Sam Schwietz had a big block on Bryant Crawford midway through the half to add to the staunch UMBC defense.

The Retrievers had a chance late, but came up empty from the three-point arc as Wake Forest held on for the 78-73 win.

UMBC will head to St. John's for a Monday matchup with the Red Storm. Tip-off is set for 7:00 p.m.

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#DMD'S HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS SPOTLIGHT

Marsh
Insurance & Financial
410-426-2282

brought to you by
Greg Marsh

The #DMD High School Sports Spotlight shines on the MIAA B and C Conference championship games today at Archbishop Spalding.

The MIAA C Conference title game kicks off at 3 pm and features undefeated St. John's Catholic Prep (9-0) against an Annapolis Area Christian School (7-2) with only two losses. AACS lost the opening game of the season to a strong MIAA B Conference St. Mary’s team. The Eagles other loss this season came at the hands of their opponent today, the Vikings from St. John's Catholic Prep.

The last time that these two teams met was in early October producing a final score of 28-18 in favor of the Vikings. Look for this matchup to produce the same type of game this afternoon. Both teams can put forty points on the board easily. The Eagles defense will be the deciding factor tonight. If AACS can hold St. Johns to less than twenty points, the Eagles could spoil the Vikings quest for an undefeated season and a MIAA C Conference title.

The MIAA B Conference Championship game features two teams that do not like each other. Not one bit. These two teams were in the #DMD High School Spotlight two weeks ago, and we correctly predicted that they would meet again tonight in the title tilt.

John Carroll (11-0), coming into this matchup undefeated, will be tested once again by Archbishop Curley (6-3). John Carroll came out on top 35-27 in a hard hitting and hard fought game a few weeks back, Curley battled them right to the end and, if nothing else, gives the Patriots reason for concern heading into this evening's game for all the marbles.

These two teams are like night and day. John Carroll likes to stretch the field, going vertical at any time and place. They'll throw the ball on 1st and 10 or 3rd and 1. Patriot QB, Kurt Rawlings, has a half dozen receivers available to him and each of them has the speed to score from anywhere on the field.

The Friars, on the other hand, prefer to keep the ball on the ground and pound their opponents into submission. Curley thrives on the legs of running backs Tyrone Roper, James Diggs and Rod Petitt. All three are fast, shifty and difficult to bring down. Friars QB Luke Nakich adds an additional running threat.

Fourth down is not a punting down for these teams. They would rather use "fourth and whatever” as one more opportunity to put points on the board. Defense is the only thing that these two teams have in common. They both have great defensive squads. Disciplined line play, great push up the middle and ends that contain well are the features of both defensive units. Patriots DL Pat Ray made his presence known in their last meeting as did Curley DL Vinnie Shaffer. John Carroll LB Damon Lloyd is a hard hitter who Curley will have to account for on every play. The Friars linebacker corps tested John Carroll two weeks ago. Look for them to “Daze and Amaze” again tonight.

The defensive backs will be the key in this game. Can Curely's DBs contain the Patriot passing game? Can the Patriot DBs provided the run support needed to stop the Friars' potent rushing game? The answer to those two questions will be the winner of this game and the 2015 MIAA B Conference Champion.

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 for more local High School sports coverage and 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
November 13
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XVI
Issue 13

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caps beat flyers in philly, which means my weekend can't get much better

There's almost nothing that can turn my sports world upside down for the next couple of days after last night's 5-2 dismantling of the Flyers in Philadlphia by the Washington Capitals.

Yep, even a Ravens loss on Sunday to the lowly Jaguars wouldn't sting quite so much once I thought back to that glorious Thursday night in Philly when the Caps sent all of those rat-fink fans in orange home to Chester, King of Prussia and Downingtown with their heads hung low. Nothing beats a win over the Flyers.

On the other hand, though, it sure would stink to see the Ravens get upended by Jacksonville on Sunday. I won't go as far as to utter that now famous line -- "I don't care what you say...the Jaguars aren't coming to Baltimore and winning" -- beacuse I tried that once earlier this season when the Browns came to town and, well, that didn't work out so favorably back in early October. But I just don't see the Jaguars coming here and winning on Sunday. But I also wouldn't be surprised if they DO win. Make sense? That's how the Ravens roll this season. Beat the Steelers on the road, lose to the Browns and 49'ers. Beat the Chargers at home, somehow get beat two weeks later by the freakin' Jaguars. I hope it doesn't happen, but if it does, at least my weekend got off to a wonderful start last night with that Caps win in Philly.

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Here's my first "Wine Winner", featured for the next couple of weeks at The Wine Merchant on Falls Road.

If you checked in with #DMD yesterday, you hopefully saw the news that we have a new corporate partner on board, The Wine Merchant, located on Falls Road just a 1/2 mile or so off the Beltway heading north towards Lutherville-Timonium. One of the great treats of the partnership is my ability to select a "Wine Winner" every few weeks and have it on display at The Wine Merchant. My first selection is indeed a winner, particularly if you like Cabernet Sauvignon. It's a 2013 bottle of Alexander Valley Vineyards cabernet and it's available now at The Wine Merchant. I'd recommend it with any beef, whether that's steaks or burgers, and I can also say from experience it goes great with any kind of wintery beef stew or soup you might be cooking up around the upcoming holiday season. And it's priced perfectly too, at roughly $20.00 per-bottle, give or take a dollar.

If you're in the Falls Road area today from 4-7 pm, The Wine Merchant has wine tastings throughout the afternoon. And while you're there, grab a bottle of my "Wine Winner" from Alexander Valley Vineyards. It's a really good bottle of wine at a great price.

One quick content note for those of you who look for our English Soccer preview every Friday. With the English Premier League on break this week, we gave our outstanding reporter Matthew Carroll the week off as well. His weekly column will return next Friday here at #DMD.


Your Friday "3140" podcast is here, complete with a tribute to the best 70-year old rock 'n roller you can find. We tackle this week's NFL schedule, look at the Ravens-Jaguars game, buzz through baseball free agency and wrap it all up with an audio edition of "3 Questions". Have a listen to it all below.

#DMD 3140 Podcast
November 13, 2015
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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 return from their bye week rested and eager to salvage the second half of their season. As we wrote earlier this week, those at the Castle in Owings Mills have not ruled out a run to the playoffs, even if a lot of fans have.

Any such run -- and it would be historic, as no team has reached the playoffs after a 1-6 start -- must start Sunday against Jacksonville. Here are five keys to winning that game:

*Receivers must step up

The offense no longer has Steve Smith Sr. to lean on. With Smith out for the season with a torn Achilles, the Ravens need to prove they can move the ball without him. When Smith missed the game against Cleveland earlier this year, Kamar Aiken (4-78) was the only wide receiver with more than 25 receiving yards. That wasn't enough that day, and it won't be enough Sunday. Chris Givens has become a bigger part of this offense and that should continue. If I were the Ravens, I might deactivate Marlon Brown and see what Jeremy Butler can offer. Maybe watching a game in sweats would motivate the underachieving Brown.

*Marc Trestman needs to trust the running game

The idea that the Ravens would abandon the running game certainly didn't start with Marc Trestman, but he has advanced the cause. In the second quarter against the Chargers, the Ravens ran 12 offensive snaps, not counting a late kneel-down by Joe Flacco. Eleven of the 12 plays were passes. And this was against the league's 31st-ranked run defense. At one stretch in the second half, the Ravens were backed up near their goal line and gained 13 yards on three straight running plays. With a new series of downs, the Ravens tried to pass three straight times -- with two incompletions sandwiched around a sack. Drive over.

Trestman last week vowed that the Ravens staff would take a long look at the running game during the bye week. We'll see what that produces. With Steve Smith Sr. gone, it's even more imperative that the Ravens succeed on the ground.

*The Ravens must get turnovers

Remember when the Ravens got a turnover? It's OK if you can't -- it's been nearly a month and a half. The Ravens have not recorded an interception in 5 1/2 games, and have just one defensive fumble recovery all season -- returned for a touchdown by C.J. Mosley in Week 3. Like the Ravens, Jacksonville has a turnover ratio of minus-7, so the Jaguars have been giving the ball away generously. Blake Bortles has thrown 10 interceptions, with at least one in four straight games. The Ravens are way overdue for a turnover, and this should be the week they get one.

*The Ravens must generate a pass rush

Jaguars coach Gus Bradley this week said that generating pressure can create opportunities for interceptions, and he should know. The Jaguars last year gave up a whopping 71 sacks -- a franchise record -- and while they are improved this year, they still have allowed 25 sacks, sixth-most in the league. The Ravens need to force Bortles into mistakes, or at the very least, drop him for losses and get the defense off the field. The Ravens remain last in the league in third-down percentage defense, with opponents converting 47.9 percent of the time.

*The Ravens secondary can't allow the big play

The Ravens have been hurt all season by big plays. Against San Diego, Malcolm Floyd got 5 yards behind Kyle Arrington with no safety help, and the result was a 70-yard touchdown. Jaguars receivers Allen Robinson (17.7) and Allen Hurns (17.6) both rank in the top 10 in the league in yards per catch and each has six touchdowns. The Ravens defensive backs must cover, communicate and tackle, all of which have been in short supply at times this year.

Prediction: The Ravens are rested, back home, and under John Harbaugh have gone 6-1 after the bye. The Jaguars are 1-21 in nondivisional road games since 2011. But throw those numbers out, because nothing has come easy for the Ravens this year. Blake Bortles will do enough against this Ravens defense to keep Jacksonville close, but the Ravens will do enough to win. Ravens 27, Jaguars 23.

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where will they end up signing?

All this week, I'm taking a look at 10 noteworthy baseball free agents and predicting where they'll go this off-season. I started off on Monday with David Price (San Francisco) and Alex Gordon (NY Yankees), then on Tuesday I featured Jordan Zimmermann (Detroit) and Ben Zobrist (LA Angels). Wednesday, I sent Jason Heyward to the Cubs and left-handed pitcher Scott Kazmir to the Royals and on Thursday, I featured pitchers Yovani Gallardo (Nationals) and Johnny Cueto (Diamondbacks). I'll finish up today with two players that have been somewhat linked to the Orioles in the last few days; Mets playoff Superman Daniel Murphy and right handed pitcher Mike Leake.

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Let's hope the Orioles pass on Daniel Murphy, he of the so-so defensive abilities and not-as-good-as-it-appears power bat.

I'm always of the mindset that it's important to add good players to your team, so far be it for me to criticize the O's if they do wind up signing Daniel Murphy. That said, I don't like the move and wouldn't check off on it if it happens. He's a man without a position, which the Orioles have seemingly embraced over the last few years. In his career, he's played mostly in the infield, with the bulk of his time at second base and first base with a smattering of games at third base as well. He saw some light duty in left field five years ago, but he's primarily an infielder by trade. And his defense in the World Series wasn't all that great, either. Some even say his best spot might be third base, which I don't quite understand given his glove work in the post-season.

If the Orioles were bringing him in to replace Ryan Flaherty, for example, I might be OK with that, but Murphy's looking for $10-$12 million a year for 3-4 years and that not only takes him out of the O's price range but would make him a very expensive back-up role player unless they're giving him the first baseman's job and I don't see that happening, either. Then again, this is the team that signed Travis Snider last year and handed him the right job without any sort of audition.

I'm thinking Murphy stays in the National League. There's a chance he might accept the Mets $15.8 million qualifying offer by 5pm today, but if not, look for a team in need of an infielder to make a play for him, which could very well take him to Colorado, where he could play any of the infield positions except for shortstop. Let's go -- officially -- with Murphy to the Rockies.

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While Mike Leake might be a decent, affordable fit for the Orioles, look for the veteran right hander to stay in the National League.

As I mentioned in today's "3140" podcast, Mike Leake is a potentially interesting name for the Orioles to consider. True, he's right handed, and the Birds have a surplus of those guys, but his numbers in the National League have always been more than acceptable. While there's always a fear factor with guys who come to the American League after a lengthy run in the National League, Leake's off-speed stuff would fare well in the A.L. Some would say the Orioles already have Mike Leake -- his name is Miguel Gonzalez -- but Leake is probably a tad more dependable than Gonzalez and would give the club an innings eater they sorely have lacked over the last couple of years. He's not great, mind you. But he's worth a shot, in the same way Ubaldo Jimenez was worth a shot after having four really good months with Cleveland in 2013.

My guess, though, is Leake stays in the National League, which is always a smart move for any starting pitcher, if you ask me. The Braves, Diamondbacks and Brewers all need starting pitching, but it will a team Leake faced a lot when he was with the Cincinnati Reds who will surface and make the biggest play for his services. I'm going with the Pittsburgh Pirates to pony up a 4-year deal for Leake, as Pittsburgh tries to stay on the same planet as the Cubs and Cardinals.

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"who's the best sports talk host?" highlights this week's edition of "3 Questions"

Every Friday here at #DMD I take your questions from the week (either via the comments section or e-mail) and include three of them here -- and we call it "3 Questions". Makes sense, right? There's also an audio version of "3 Questions" in today's 3140 Podcast.

Chris asks: "I didn't see you comment about Steve Williams, Tiger's former caddie, and was wondering what you thought about the book he just published that took some pretty strong shots at Tiger?"

DF: "Good question, Chris. I'm not sure what Williams was trying to accomplish by publishing a book. Was it money? Maybe. But I can't imagine he's bothering to look at the prices on the menu when he goes to dinner. He made well over $5 million during his tenure with Tiger. My sense is he still feels like his side of the story was never told and there have always been people who thought Williams knew about Tiger's off-course behavior and shielded him from his wife and others. So, he decided to put it in writing once and for all. I thought it was a bad look for Williams, honestly. What I read looked more like sour grapes than anything else."

T.J. in White Marsh asks: "I realize we're not going to sign Chris Davis but I'm just wondering what you would authorize the Orioles to spend on him if Mr. Angelos gave you the power to make a deal with Scott Boras for Davis."

DF: "Heckuva question, T.J., heckuva question! Let me first reiterate what I've said about Davis for the last month. If you give him $24 million a year, now, instead of the $12 million a year he made in 2015, he's not going to suddenly hit you 70 HR's and knock in 160 runs and hit .310. You'd be paying him $24 million a year to hit 45 HR's, knock in 110 runs and maybe, maybe hit you .260 or so. Oh, and he's still going to strike out 200 times. That's just the way it is, to borrow a line from Bruce Hornsby. So, what would I offer for him? And I'm doing this with carte blanche from Mr. Angelos? I think I'd offer him $80 million for four years and look them -- Boras and Davis -- square in the eyes and say, "This is what you're worth to us if you hit 45 HR's and knock in 110 runs. But if you somehow hit 70 HR's and knock in 160, we'll tear up the deal and give you $35 million a year like you deserve."

Aaron asks: "Drew, who do you think the best radio sports talk show host is in town?"

DF: "Whoa, boy, what a question. Just one, huh? Well, there aren't all that many to choose from since we really only have one full-time station (105.7) with a roster of hosts and another (WBAL) who only employs a couple of people to sit behind the mic and chat about sports with listeners. My former station doesn't have full-time on-air people who do a daily "shift" if you will. That means there's probably only about a dozen people to choose from, at most. If you made me pick just one, I'd go with Rob Long, who does 10 am-2 pm on 105.7.

I think part of Rob's effectiveness is his style with Vinny Cerrato, who REALLY knows football, but Rob is a guy who can make intelligent comments on a variety of subjects and is very solid at interacting with callers. I also like that he'll question someone's knowledge (a guy called in last week and started talking about how Machado was a shoo-in for the Gold Glove and Rob quickly reminded the guy that Manny made 19 errors at 3rd base in 2015 and WASN'T a shoo-in) but he'll also be quick to point out that he doesn't know the answer or isn't up to speed on the subject matter at hand. I've always liked Ken Weinman's style and, as everyone probably knows, I've often said Terry Ford knows more about sports than anyone I've ever met or worked with. But if I had to pick my "best of the best" in town, it would be Rob Long."


join our #dmd bus trip to the army/navy game on dec. 12!

We are still trying to fill a bus to head to Philadelphia on December 12 for one of the all-time great day in sports that you can witness for an extraordinarily reasonable price. The Super Bowl costs you about $3,000 per-ticket. You can see something far more meaningful, in my opinion, for $160, if you check out the Army-Navy game with a bunch of other #DMD football enthusiasts. It's a "bucket list" game that you should attend at least once in your life.

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

We have room for eight more people on the trip. That's all we need to find. Eight of you out there who have never been to an Army/Navy game will have the time of your life if you join us for a quick trip up I-95 to see what is truly one of our nation's best sporting events. And oh, by the way, Navy is now ranked #22 in the country after that pasting they put on Memphis last Saturday night.

Here are the details of our bus trip:

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


Thursday
November 12
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XVI
Issue 12

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today's the day (and the last one) to vote for #dmd!

You know how they say "your vote counts"?

Well, your vote does count, and we need it! The Sun's annual Mobbie Awards offer Baltimoreans and Marylanders alike the opportunity to choose the best blog(s) in a variety of categories and today, November 12, concludes the voting for this year's awards. That's where you come in.

Drew's Morning Dish was nominated -- for the second year in a row -- in the "Best Pro Sports Blog" (we finished 3rd a year ago) and we'd like to see our name up in lights next week when the winners are announced. There's no money or anything like that going to the winners. It's just bragging rights for a year and a couple of fancy certificates that you can put up on your office wall. But it's still fun to win!

Just click the link below and scroll down to the "Best Pro Sports Blog" category and vote to your heart's content. The more votes #DMD gets, the better! I assume everyone else is ballot-box stuffing, too, so let's have it! Oh, and feel free to vote for the other categories, too. I did!


vote for my blog in the mobbies early and often

Speaking of awards, while it isn't a "formal" honor or anything, #DMD recently broke through the 200,000 barrier in the Alexa.com rankings and we're continuing to show a steady stream of progress with daily visits to the site. We're currently the 195,430th highest ranked website in the country, which is pretty decent when you consider we were 8 MILLIONTH on October 28, 2014! We still have a lot of work to do to get inside the top 100,000, which is where the big boys in town lurk, but slowly but surely we're getting there. I'm proud to see #DMD at 195,430. It's good, not great, but it's better than being 235,786...for example.

And since I'm sharing good news, let's ramp it up a bit and spread some GREAT news! We'd like to welcome one of my favorite places in all of Baltimore to the #DMD family, as The Wine Merchant on Falls Road in Timonium has joined us. The Wine Merchant will be the exclusive sponsor of all of our Terps men's basketball coverage this season, so be on the look-out for game previews and reviews as our Maryland hoops reporter, Dale Williams, returns for his second season covering UM basketball. I'm also excited to be involved in selecting "Drew's Wine Winner" every couple of weeks at The Wine Merchant. You'll be able to read about it here, at #DMD, and I'll even place a promotional card on the wine itself at the store to remind you this was my "winning wine choice".

The Wine Merchant has wine tastings every Friday from 4-7 pm (except the day after Thanksgiving) and I'll be out there quite often to sample some myself and meet and greet you as you make your wine and beverage choices. Yes, as you can tell, I'm quite excited about this partnership with The Wine Merchant! Tomorrow I'll unveil my first "wine winner" and feature it in the Friday edition of #DMD.

It's not just a wine store, even though their name might lead you to believe it. The Wine Merchant also sells fine spirits, beer and virtually any refreshment you can think of, plus they have an outstanding, award winning deli with a variety of meats, cheeses and soups for your lunch or dinner carry-out needs. Trust me, if you go in that place one time, you'll become a regular. Watch and see!

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umbc's soccer season ends with 2-1 ot defeat at vermont

UMBC's quest for a fourth consecutive America East title ended abruptly in Vermont last night, as the second-seeded Catamounts scored 2:38 into overtime to nip the Retrievers, 2-1, in the conference tournament semifinals.

The third-seeded Retrievers finish the campaign at 11-6-3, while Vermont will host No. 6 Binghamton for the league title on Sunday.

After Vermont took a 1-0 lead early in the second half, UMBC senior midfielder Michael Scott knotted the game on a free kick in the 65th minute. UMBC drew a foul 22 yards out and slightly left of goal and Scott's well-struck effort to the right of the wall took a deflection off a Catamount defender and beat netminder Greg Walton to the near side.

The Retrievers would continue to press after the tying goal, but the Catamounts took back the momentum in the late stages of regulation, failing on several good chances in the final seven minutes.

After a benign start to overtime, Vermont used their speed up front to get the game-winner. Forward Bernard Yebouh took a lead pass from linemate Brian Wright, got past the left-center of the Retriever defense and his left-footed effort got by a charging Billy Heavner and into the far right corner of the net.

The loss snapped UMBC's unbeaten streak in America East Tournament play at seven. The last loss occurred in the 2011 quarter-finals, a 1-0 setback versus Hartford. Last night's game in Burlington was UMBC's first on the road since the 2009 title game at Stony Brook as the dominant America East squad played ten in a row at Retriever Soccer Park.

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where will they end up signing?

All this week, I'm taking a look at the top 10 baseball free agents and predicting where they'll go this off-season. I started off on Monday with David Price (San Francisco) and Alex Gordon (NY Yankees), then on Tuesday I featured Jordan Zimmermann (Detroit) and Ben Zobrist (LA Angels). Yesterday, I sent Jason Heyward to the Cubs and left-handed pitcher Scott Kazmir to the Royals. Today's featured pair are pitchers Yovani Gallardo and Johnny Cueto.

Despite the fact that Cueto just won a World Series with the Royals, Yovani Gallardo is the better investment of the two in my opinion. He's coming off of a very good season in Texas and was a big part of the Rangers' late season surge that saw them jump from 3rd place to winning the division title in the final three weeks. He's a middle-of-the-rotation guy with really good stuff and if he finds a home with a team that is talent-laden on the mound, he could be a very strong #3 or #4 starter.

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Look for Yovani Gallardo to return to the National League after a solid season with the Texas Rangers.

Gallardo -- who will be 30 when the 2016 campaign starts -- made $14 million in 2015, so he'll clearly be looking for a deal somewhere in the neighborhood of $72 million for four years. Yes, I know, "looking for" and "getting" are two different things, but that's what the market dictates these days. Someone will pony up that kind of dough for him, watch and see. But who? The Red Sox desperately need starting pitching help, but they're still applying ointment and gauze pads to the burns from last off-season when they backed up the Brinks truck for Rick Porcello. The Orioles also need a solid arm for their rotation, particularly with Wei-Yen Chen's likely departure, but the O's are still overpaying Ubaldo Jimenez -- there's no way they're bringing an $18 million pitcher to Baltimore. If the Dodgers lose Zack Greinke, that's a possible destination for Gallardo. In the end, though, having lost (at some point soon) Jordan Zimmermann, the Washington Nationals will be the team that signs Yovani Gallardo. His numbers will be solid in the National League and he's experienced in that circuit after eight years in Milwaukee.

Johnny Cueto is an interesting free agent because some of his work in the recent playoffs showcased him as an "elite" kind of player and yet, I'm not sure baseball folks really believe he has the head to be a Cy Young type contributor. Like Gallardo, he'll be 30 next season, so it's not like he's getting long in the tooth or anything, and his durability is NEVER a question, as he's thrown over 212 innings in each of the last three seasons. He didn't put up great numbers in his short stint in Kansas City, but in nearly eight full years in Cincinnati, he was a guy who could produce a 2.50 ERA and a 1.150 WHIP if all of his chakras were in line. He finished 2nd in the 2014 Cy Young voting after going 20-9/2.25/0.960.

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Johnny Cueto could very well wind up in Arizona as he parlays his World Series ring into a big contract with the Diamondbacks.

My guess is American League teams will shy away from Cueto and his expected asking price of $100 million for five years (that's what winning a World Series will do for your value). He has the stuff, still, to be a top of the rotation kind of guy in the National League, and I suspect you'll hear a lot of talk out of Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Miami as all three of those clubs could use another solid arm, particularly the Pirates, who have to be feeling the heat a little bit with the Cubs looking like they're in it for the long haul and the Cardinals being the Cardinals. But I think Cueto winds up in Arizona, where the Diamondbacks already have some offensive punch but sorely lack quality starting pitching. They need to show their fans that they're not just willing to let the Dodgers and Giants beat them like a drum every year and Cueto's signing will help do that.

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caps visit the flyers tonight in a "must win" game

OK, that's hyperbole. It's not a "must win" game for the Washington Capitals tonight when they invade the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia to take on the Flyers.

But, in my book, it is.

If you're a newcomer to the #DMD scene -- or if you didn't listen to my radio show for twelve years -- you're probably wondering what the hell I'm talking about. I. CAN'T. STAND. THE. FLYERS. I mean it. I can't stand them. In fact, here's how much I dislike the Flyers.

If a sports fairy landed on my shoulder in September, prior to the NHL season kicking off, and said to me, "Hey, Drew, here's a deal for you. I'll make the Flyers go 0-82 this season if you'll sign off on the Steelers winning back-to-back Super Bowls or the Yankees winning back-to-back World Series'", do you know what I would say to that offer?

"You have a pen I can borrow?"

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Here they are. The worst sporst fans in America. Maybe even the world.

And I'm serious, too. As much as I have moderate disdain for the likes of the Steelers and Yankees, I have a wheelbarrow full for the Flyers. Make that two wheelbarrows full. And yes, sadly, if I could make them go 0-82 in a season and trade that off for the Steelers winning or the Yankees winning, I'd gladly do it in a heartbeat. Can you imagine that? Zero wins in eighty two games! How glorious would that be?

So, that makes tonight's game in Philadelphia important -- to me. I never, ever like to see the Caps lose to the Flyers, but there's something about losing to them up there that just keeps me up at night. I'd love to see a Washington thrashing this evening, something to the tune of 4-0, 5-1 or 6-2. A blow-out, basically.

Sadly, the Flyers already have five wins this season. Where's the sports fairy when you need him/her?

Wednesday
November 11
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XVI
Issue 11

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breaking down what dan duquette is really saying

It's always fun to read what general managers have to say in times like these, where reporters have a boatload of questions -- most of them meaningful -- and an opportunity to present them. Such is the case right now for Orioles Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette (they still don't use the title "general manager" in Baltimore, which is hilarious in its own right), who was cornered yesterday in Boca Raton, Florida, and asked a bunch of questions after the first day of the annual general managers meetings.

I'll give you the CliffsNotes version here and then do you an even bigger favor and provide you with the reality of what Duquette was actually saying. (Editor's note: I had no idea until I looked it up that "CliffsNotes" is now, officially, one word, crunched together like that, with the C and the N capitalized. When did something like that happen and why wasn't I notified?)

On his tasks at the meetings, Duquette offered this on Tuesday: “We’re sizing up the market. We’ve had meetings with a number of clubs the last couple of days, and we’ve got some more meetings scheduled for tonight. We’re trying to assess the market and where we are on some trades, doing some groundwork, and then we met with some agents down here for players we can add to our team.”

What he was really saying: "We hear all of these crazy rumors about what players might want in the off-season and one of the first things we do is find the agents and ask, for example, 'Is David Price really asking for $30 million a year?' and then, once we hear 'Yes, he is', we know to scratch him off of our wish-list."

Chris Davis is a free agent and Duquette and the club are under unprecendented pressure to sign the power-hitting fan favorite. When asked about the reality of retaining Davis this winter, Duquette didn't hesitate to remind everyone that he expects the Orioles to be right there in the thick of it: “We’re going to try to re-sign a couple of our guys. Of course, they’re free agents now. You never know what’s going to happen. We’re active with some of our own players as well as some of the rest of the market. We’re trying. We’ll see where that goes. Chris obviously has had some good years with the team. We’ll do our best.”

What he was really saying: "We have four free agents and we're going to try and keep a couple of them if they're willing to take a hometown discount. We realize that's highly unlikely, so we're already working on 'Plan B' which is to say, we'll replace our really good players with good players and hope no one notices the downshift in quality."

Davis, of course, remains the club's most pressing free agent possibility because he's coming off another productive season at the plate, despite striking out as many times last season (208) as Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio used the words "I believe" in last night's debate in Milwaukee. Chicks dig the long ball and don't care about the whiffs, a fact the Orioles better consider and consider again when pursuing Davis this winter.

I don't put any stock in what Duquette says at those meetings because, for starters, he's a lousy interview from jump street, and next, there's nothing to say anyway, which fits perfectly with his penchant for mumbling and offering no insight in the first place. That said, the above quote -- "We'll do our best" -- is the table-setter for Duquette's official club response when Davis and the other three (O'Day, Wieters and Chen) all jump the ship for a new team this winter.

"We'll do our best" becomes "We did the best we could" when Davis is a Yankee, holding up the pinstripe shirt at a press conference in the Bronx on December 16 and talking about how he always wanted to play for New York.

I realize it's just a throw-away line and one that others in the industry might also use, but it shows a certain sense of pre-resignation on the part of the O's Vice President that I'd rather not see in print. In other words, I know we're not going to pony up the dough to keep Davis and the others, but please don't tell me you're going to do "your best" because that just tells me there's a limit to your efforts and I'd rather not know that about you and the organization.

Somehow, I'm betting George Steinbrenner never said, "We'll do our best" when he was asked about signing baseball players in the off-season.

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can the third time/team be the charm for terrance west?

A lot of local football fans were disappointed back in the 2014 college draft when the Ravens passed on Towson University running back Terrance West, who was subsequently drafted in the 3rd round by the Cleveland Browns. The Ravens would go on to take Lorenzo Taliaferro in the 4th round of the 2014 draft after Cleveland traded up to get West, who enjoyed a sensational career at Towson.

That was one the Ravens' brass got right.

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After a terrific three years at Towson, Terrance West went to the NFL. Thus far, it hasn't been a smooth ride for the Baltimore native.

West spent one season with the Browns, was shipped to the Titans over the summer, and was cut by Tennessee earlier this week after playing in two games for them. For whatever reason, it hasn't worked for him in the NFL. There were some rough times for him at Towson, including his freshman season when Tigers' coach Rob Ambrose essentially benched him for the team's home playoff game against Lehigh. Ambrose wouldn't admit it, saying, "We put together a game plan that used a lot of different players and formations for that game", but there were stories floating around about friction between West and the coaching staff and Ambrose evidently decided to use the biggest game of the season to send the running back an appropriate message.

It might not have worked, though. Despite a decent rookie season with the Browns (3.9 yars per-carry and 4 TD's in 14 games), they ran out of patience with him in training camp back in August and sent him to the Titans, who caught his act for a month or so and parted company with him as well. That led him back to Baltimore, where the Ravens signed him to the team's practice squad yesterday, his 3rd team in less than two full NFL seasons.

West said all the right things yesterday when word surfaced he was joining the Ravens. "Blessed to have this opportunity", "excited to be playing in my hometown", "dreamed of this as a kid", etc. Those are great things to say. Let's see if the kid can stick with a team longer than some people have a cast on their broken leg.

His history in the NFL says he won't pan out with the Ravens. The pressure is on Terrance West to make it happen.

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where will they end up signing?

All this week, I'm taking a look at the top 10 baseball free agents and predicting where they'll go this off-season. I started off on Monday with David Price (San Francisco) and Alex Gordon (NY Yankees), then on Tuesday I featured Jordan Zimmermann (Detroit) and Ben Zobrist (LA Angels). Today, it's one of the premier outfield candidates, Jason Heyward, and left-handed pitcher Scott Kazmir.

Heyward started with the Braves and was on his way to a remarkable first-contract run with Atlanta before being shipped to the Cardinals prior to the 2015 campaign. He's a very good player, which means he's not quite "great", but solid enough to command a gazillion-dollar contract in today's version of baseball's big-money sweepstakes otherwise known as "free agency". A .270 hitter with the ability to hit 20 HR's, he's a guy who hits a lot of doubles and gets on base at a .350'ish clip. Oh, and he's a Gold Glove defensive player, too. Yes, I know what you're thinking -- "Just the kind of player we need in Baltimore."

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This was Heyward's first major league at bat and it was a home run. A sign of things to come for the talented outfielder.

That's true, of course, but the Orioles aren't in the market for a guy like Heyward, who will likely get a deal somewhere in the neighborhood of $25 million a season for 6-7 years. That makes all of the usual suspects candidates to spend for him; the Yankees, Red Sox and Angels, and a couple of others (Houston and the White Sox) who aren't known as big spenders but have the money to pony up for him if they really want to add Heyward to their roster. St. Louis is also expected to work hard to try and keep him.

In an effort to shift the balance of power in the National League Central, it will be the Cubs who win the services of Heyward this winter. One year after winning the Jon Lester sweepstakes, Chicago will add Heyward and they'll start printing World Series tickets in the Windy City, figuring they've done enough over the last two off-seasons to finally earn their way into the Fall Classic. Heyward goes to the Cubs.

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Expect lots of teams to be interested in Kazmir this winter, but the Royals will win his services.

Kazmir is an interesting player because he'll be 32 when the 2016 season starts and yet, lots of folks in baseball think he still has plenty left in the tank. Since left-handed pitchers who know what they're doing are considered "a premium", Kazmir will draw lots of interest this off-season. Expect the Yankees to be in the hunt, as they're left-handed-starved at this point and there's no telling if C.C. Sabathia is ever going to be effective for them again. If his stock somehow drops and the money is right, I could see the Orioles sniffing around Kazmir once Wei-Yen Chen officially signs on with his new team. And don't be surprised to see the Astros try and keep him in Houston.

The new darlings of the American League are the Kansas City Royals and that's where Kazmir will land this winter. With the expected loss of Johnny Cueto and the need for someone to replace him -- and again, every team needs a quality lefty or two -- I expect the Royals to grab Kazmir. Six years ago, a free agent would have laughed if their agent would have said: "Kansas City is interested", but now, those words are music to a player's ears. Kansas City signs Scott Kazmir.

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umbc soccer faces vermont in conference semi-finals tonight

The third-seeded UMBC Retrievers (11-5-3) travel to second-seeded Vermont (9-6-3) for the America East Tournament semi-finals at Virtue Field in Burlington, Vermont tonight. Kick-off time is set for 7:00 p.m. The game will be streamed on www.americaeast.tv. and fans can also access the live video and live stats via UMBC Front Row, Retriever Athletics' mobile app or follow along on Twitter @UMBCMensSoccer.

The Retrievers and Catamounts each posted 3-2-2 marks in regular season conference play, but Vermont earned the No. 2 seed and first-round bye due to a 3-0 victory over UMBC in Burlington on Oct. 14. UMBC will enter the contest on a season-high four-game winning streak, with all victories coming via the shutout route.

UMBC advanced for the seventh consecutive time in America East Conference tournament play as the Retrievers blanked sixth-seeded New Hampshire, 1-0, in quarter-final action at Retriever Soccer Park last Saturday evening.

UMBC is now unbeaten in 20 consecutive games (17-0-3) against America East opponents in games at Retriever Soccer Park. The Retrievers improved to 9-5-3 in 17 America East playoff contests. Pete Caringi's squad has won five consecutive league tournament games and is 7-0-1 since a 1-0 loss to Hartford in the 2011 quarterfinals.


Tuesday
November 10
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XVI
Issue 10

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playoffs seem wildly out of reach for the ravens, but...

Our Ravens reporter Bo Smolka brought it up his piece today, which you'll read below, so I figured it would be a good day to offer my opinion on "the P-word" just so I have an official stance on it with the second half of the season commencing this Sunday when the Jaguars come to town.

Officially: I don't think the Ravens are making the playoffs.

But -- that means two other teams have to make it, and when I look at the schedules of the teams who will likely be vying for one of the wild card spots, I see a ton of losable games for all of them. I completely realize that pre-predicting NFL games a few weeks or a month out is impossible. What happened to the Steelers last Sunday is proof positive of that claim. In the first half, with Roethlisberger at the helm, Pittsburgh's offense could rival any team in the league. Any team. Once he went out with an injury, the Steelers became the Browns. OK, maybe not the Browns, but you get my point.

So, looking ahead and saying, "The Jets are going to win that game, lose that game, win that game"...it's silly to do that, because you have no idea what players will be healthy for EITHER team on any given week.

But let's do it anyway so I can prove my point about the Ravens and their slim-but-still-pulsating playoff hopes, even at 2-6.

Pittsburgh (5-4) has seven games left, including two against Cleveland. That gives them 7 wins. Their other five games? Home vs. Indy and Denver, away at Seattle, Cincinnati and the Ravens. I see, at most, 9 wins for them. If they get to nine, they're going to make the playoffs. They might only reach 8 wins. It's a crapshoot at that point.

The Jets (5-3) are in much better position. They have three home games left that they should win (vs. Buffalo, Miami and Tennessee). Away from home, they need a win at Houston, at the Giants (which isn't REALLY a road game), at Dallas or at Buffalo. Seems like New York is in a pretty solid position to win at least 8 games, maybe even 9 or 10. Then again, they don't have a quarterback. How they've won five already is a mystery to me.

The Raiders, even at 4-4 currently, have a terrific chance to reach the 8-win mark and remember, they beat the Ravens in week #2, so they own the tiebreaker edge if it were to come to that. They'll lose to the Vikings in Minnesota this week, but should win their next three (at Detroit, at Tennessee and home vs. KC) to boost their record to 7-5 with four weeks left. They finish up with games at Denver and Kansas City, with home contests against the Packers and Chargers sandwiched in between. They'll get to eight wins, somehow, and could reach 9.

Buffalo is in the mix, too, but they'll figure out a way to do just enough to make themselves finish a game out of the playoff race.

Get my point, though?

Even at 2-6, the Ravens -- if they're paying attention to everyone else's schedule -- could sneak into the playoff picture by finishing 8-8. Hell, if they somehow go 9-7, they might wind up the 5-seed.

I don't think it's going to happen. I think they'll lose at least one of their next three games (Jacksonville, St. Louis and Cleveland) and then they face Miami (away) and Seattle (home). My guess is that when the dust settles after the Seahawks game, the Ravens will have five wins at the 13-game mark. That leaves them with Kansas City, Pittsburgh (both at home) and an away game at Cincinnati to try and climb back to .500 at 8-8...but they'll have to win their final three games to do that.

Wait...you mean if they win their last three, they could still finish 8-8 and possibly make the playoffs?

See, I told you they were still alive.

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where will they end up signing?

All this week, I'm taking a look at the top 10 baseball free agents and predicting where they'll go this off-season. I started off on Monday with David Price (San Francisco) and Alex Gordon (NY Yankees) and today I'll feature one of the best right handed pitchers on the open market and a valuable multi-purpose player who would be a GREAT fit in Baltimore.

Jordan Zimmermann is hitting free agency at the absolute perfect time in his career. At 29, he still has half of his career ahead of him and his durability (four straight years over 195 innings pitched) makes him a reasonable investment for any team that's pitching-starved and wealthy enough to throw big bucks at him.

Everyone can use a terrific starting pitcher, but not everyone can cough up $150 million for six years like Zimmermann is likely to command this winter. Look for the Rangers to be in the mix for him. Their second half surge wasn't a fluke this past season, but they can't rely on all the stars lining up right for them again next season. True, they'll be getting Yu Darvish back early in 2016, but their starting staff could use some improvement and Zimmermann would help...big time. National League teams that have seen him for the last six years are definitely salivating at the thought of having him go 18-10 with a 3.35 for their team now. Look for St. Louis to make a play, and never discount the Dodgers, especially if Zack Greinke opts to join a new team this winter.

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Everyone needs great starting pitching but not everyone can afford it. Look for Zimmermann to sign with those filthy-rich teams this winter.

The combination of "needs starting pitcher" and "has the money to spend" will send Zimmermann to the Detroit Tigers this winter. That's my call. The Tigers now know that Kansas City's not going away, although the Royals can't stand pat in the next couple of months since they're going to possibly lose three key pieces to their '15 title team (Zobrist, Gordon and Cueto). Detroit had an off-season in 2015, thanks in large part to massive injuries, but they need starting pitching help and Zimmermann is just the kind of reliable arm that could help them win again in the Motor City.

Speaking of Ben Zobrist, I've longed for him to wind up in an Orioles uniform since his days in Tampa Bay when he was constantly in the middle of just about every Rays' win. While second base his probably his most comfortable position, he's a man of many talents, which means Gerardo Parra can take a hike and Zobrist can settle in as our right fielder for 2016 and beyond. He would be a terrific fit in a Buck Showalter team, I think.

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Fresh off of a world series title with the Royals, it's Ben Zobrist's turn to get paid this off-season.

Alas, we know he's not coming to Baltimore. But where will he wind up? St. Louis could use him, particularly if Jason Heyward is leaving and signing elsewhere this winter. The Cardinals have a weird habit of wanting -- and getting -- good baseball players, which is probably why they win the N.L. Central every season. They know what they're doing. The Yankees are rumored to be highly interested in Zobrist and he'd make great sense for them, too. Zobrist is the kind of guy who is truly "plug and play". If you have an open position in the field somewhere, he can likely fill it. In New York, he'd slide right in at second base like he's been there forever.

I think the L.A. Angels make a play for Zobrist and wind up wooing him out to Southern California. Johnny Giavotella is good enough, nothing more, and a rare nerve condition plagued him in 2015. Zobrist would serve as a definite upgrade for the Angels, who see the Astros and Rangers both on the upswing and the Mariners bound to have a better year in 2016 than they did in 2015. The Angels also have money to burn, and while Zobrist isn't a $20 million a year guy, you'll need to give him $50-$60 million for four years to obtain his services, which Los Angeles will do this winter.

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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 have had a few days to rest, recover and come to grips with what has been a historically bad first half of the season. Many fans have already written off playoff aspirations with the Ravens sitting at 2-6, but the Ravens themselves haven't done so yet.

“We’re trying to make history and just win all of the rest of our games,” defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan said after the win over the Chargers last week.

“We’ve got to give ourselves the best opportunity to go 8-0 the last half of the season," kicker Justin Tucker said. "I think we’ve got just the men for the job.”

The Ravens also have the benefit of a much more forgiving schedule over the next two months. The opening stretch of seven games -- with five on the road, four of them in the Mountain or Pacific time zones -- figured to be the hardest stretch of the season. Still, not even the most die-hard Steelers fan would have pegged the Ravens to go 1-6 over that stretch. But it happened and can't be undone.

Things should get easier from here on out, though, with five of the last eight games at home, and the second-half slate against teams that have a combined record of 25-31. Coming off a last-second win over San Diego, the Ravens on Sunday host a Jaguars franchise that has gone 1-21 in nondivisional road games since the start of the 2011 season. Another win would give the Ravens some decent momentum for the first time all season.

Then they host St. Louis (4-4) and visit Cleveland (2-7) and Miami (3-5). Winnable games, all. But yes, losable games all as well.

If this 2015 Ravens team has shown anything, it is that nothing will come easily. The Ravens, to their credit, have hung around in every game. They nearly came back from 16 down at Arizona. They had a chance to win at Denver. Heck, they've had a chance to win every game, with all eight games decided by one score. But they've only won twice. The bottom line is there is very little margin for error when you combine a subpar pass rush, inconsistent play in the secondary and a revolving door of mediocre wide receivers.

And now, as if the task wasn't hard enough -- no team has ever made the playoffs after a 1-6 start -- the Ravens must attempt it without Steve Smith Sr., who is done for the season with a torn Achilles. But the Ravens mind-set is that they are still in the hunt for the playoffs, and they stress over and over again that the game in front of them is the only one that matters.

"We need to be 1-0 this week, and we have a lot of 1-0s in front of us that we have to take care of before that stuff can be reality," coach John Harbaugh said on Monday.

"I expect our guys to have high expectations," he added. "The standard here has been high. We’ve set a high bar here for a long time, and we’re proud of that. We have high expectations, so we’re not going to let those expectations go. We’re not pleased with where we are, just like the fans aren’t pleased, coaches aren’t pleased, players aren’t pleased. Nobody in the organization is pleased with where we’re at, and we’re very determined to turn it around.”


we need eight -- just eight -- more people for the army/navy game on dec. 12!

We are still trying to fill a bus to head to Philadelphia on December 12 for one of the all-time great day in sports that you can witness for an extraordinarily reasonable price. The Super Bowl costs you about $3,000 per-ticket. You can see something far more meaningful, in my opinion, for $160, if you check out the Army-Navy game with a bunch of other #DMD football enthusiasts. It's a "bucket list" game that you should attend at least once in your life.

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

We have room for eight more people on the trip. That's all we need to find. Eight of you out there who have never been to an Army/Navy game will have the time of your life if you join us for a quick trip up I-95 to see what is truly one of our nation's best sporting events. And oh, by the way, Navy is now ranked #22 in the country after that pasting they put on Memphis last Saturday night.

Here are the details of our bus trip:

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

Monday
November 9
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XVI
Issue 9

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mcdonogh gets it right with star player’s suspension

Something very interesting happened last week in the local high school sports scene and I’m pleased to report that common sense and doing-the-right-thing won out over athletics and the thirst for a championship.

It was then even more fitting that McDonogh captured the MIAA A-Conference boy’s soccer title last night with a 2-1 win over Curley. The Eagles were thrust into the middle of a very serious situation early last week and opted to follow their own policies and procedures when, frankly, others in the area might not have done so.

Early last week, McDonogh soccer star Tunde Akinlosotu was suspended from the team for violating school policy. If you are at all connected to the local soccer community, you’ve no doubt heard by now what the senior forward did to receive his punishment. The violation of school policy called for his suspension, which couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Eagles, who were just two wins away from claiming the 8th MIAA soccer title in their history.

This wasn’t just any player who was the subject of McDonogh’s disciplinary procedures. This was the soon-to-be-named All Metro Player of the Year – in a landslide vote – and a two-time All-Metro selection who had been pursued by twenty D1 college programs over the last twelve months. In comparison, it would be like Maryland basketball losing Melo Trimble on the eve of an Elite Eight match-up with Duke next March.

When news of the incident started to leak out last Wednesday, lots of people around town assumed McDonogh would somehow creatively find a way to have Akinlosotu available for last Thursday’s semi-final showdown with Loyola and then, if they beat the Dons, available one final time for last night’s A-Conference championship game at CCBC-Essex. That’s not necessarily a knock on McDonogh, per se, but more just a sign of the times in high school and college sports. Winning rules above all.

As it turned out, Akinlosotu didn’t play in last Thursday’s 1-0 win over Loyola. The school refused comment, naturally, simply saying “We do not comment publicly on matters involving our students” but everyone who cared to know was well aware of the story and knew there was at least a chance he wouldn’t play against the Dons. The possibility also existed that he WOULD play, especially given the fact that it was Loyola who ended McDonogh’s dream unbeaten season a year ago with a 2-0 shocker in the championship game.

After McDonogh’s win over Loyola and a Curley victory over Calvert Hall, it was on to last night’s championship game with the Friars, who were coming in as the conference’s hottest team with an eight-game winning streak and an impressive victory over the Cardinals on the road last Thursday night in the semi-finals. It would have been easy for school officials to allow their star player to suit up for the final game of his high school career, but he didn’t get that chance. McDonogh remained steadfast with their policy that he was suspended and wouldn’t play, and the Eagles went on to edge Curley, 2-1, without him.

There’s little question that McDonogh could have wiggled their way around Akinlosotu’s situation if they really wanted to do so. School officials could have picked an arbitrary date – sometime this week, perhaps – to hold a make-shift “appeal hearing” just to give their top player a chance to play the two playoff games before making their decision to punish him. To their credit, McDonogh didn’t do that. They put following the rules and personal accountability over a soccer game and that was the real victory for the Eagles, no matter what the scoreboard showed last night in their game with Curley. What school officials did was far more important than any goal or any victory could have meant to them. They deserve a lot of credit for their decision and the way they handled it.

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where will they end up signing?

Given that our baseball team never participates – meaningfully, at least – in hot stove activity, there’s generally not much fun associated with the upcoming free agency period in Major League Baseball. So, I have to make it fun. And I will.

Like I did last November, I’ll take five days to highlight ten prominent free agents and make a prediction on where they’ll sign this winter. Remember, I’m the guy who told you Nelson Cruz would wind up in Seattle, so don’t think I’m just another pretty face taking a wild stab at this stuff. Today, I’ll look at the top pitcher on the market – David Price – and one of the top outfielders, Alex Gordon.

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From Tampa Bay to Detroit to Toronto...all within a year or so. It's time for David Price to land somewhere permanently. But where?

Price is an interesting subject because he’s yet to prove he’s a truly GREAT pitcher, yet he’s going to get paid like one because he’s ultra-talented, left-handed and has done his best work in the American League. Like a lot of others (Halladay, Lee, Greinke), Price would serve himself well to switch circuits and find a National League team to work for now. His numbers would plummet, his value would increase and life would be much easier. Either way, he’s going to make a boat-load of money, but if I’m his agent, I’m listening intently to offers from N.L. teams and telling A.L. teams to hang loose while we evaluate everything.

Three teams make the most sense for Price. His current team, Toronto, has a good thing going up there with all that offense, but they need quality pitching to continue their quest for a title. The Blue Jays would do well to pony up the expected $25-$30 million a year it’s going to take to keep him. Likewise, the L.A. Angels have the offense and the core players (Trout, Pujols, etc.) to be a contender year-in-and- year-out, but their pitching has deteriorated greatly over the last few seasons. They have the money and an owner who is more than willing to spend it (insert your Orioles joke here). Ultimately, though, Price’s landing spot WILL be in California, but it won’t be in Los Angeles. Price and his talents will head to San Francisco, where the Giants are foaming at the mouth with the thought of a Price-Baumgarner tandem staring teams in the face next September and October. It’s a natural fit for Price and one that won’t surprise anyone if it does in fact take place.

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Alex Gordon seems like a perfect fit for one of the two New York teams.

Alex Gordon is hitting free agency at precisely the right time in his career, coming off of two impressive campaigns that included a pair of visits to the World Series and a championship ring after the Royals ousted the Mets in five games last week. He’s not a great player, but he’s looking more and more like one of those “winner” types who rises to the occasion when the chips are down and does his job with such quiet efficiency that you hardly notice his contributions until you check out the box score and say, “Oh, Alex Gordon went 3-for-4 with 3 RBI last night. I didn't realize that and I watched the whole game."

Seattle and the Mets would both be nice fits for him, and so, too, would St. Louis, where the Cardinals have seemingly made a habit of grabbing the right player at the right time and then allowing him to fit in naturally with their style of play. I know the Yankees have calmed their spending habits over the years, but that also doesn’t mean they’re going to roll over and play dead while the Red Sox try to improve and their New York neighbors, the Mets, start looking more and more like a team that could be around for a while with the starting pitching they’ve stockpiled.

The Yankees have been burned thus far on the mega-bucks-deal they gave Jacoby Ellsbury a few years back, but that’s not going to halt them from signing Alex Gordon, who can play a variety of positions and seems like a perfect fit for a New York team that’s good enough to fancy themselves a title contender in 2016 if they add a key part or two. And let’s face it – who wouldn’t want to play for the Yankees? Alex Gordon goes to the Yankees.

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put your money where your mouth is

Don't look now, but here I come. Mired in an awful start to the season when I won just 8 of my first 25 game picks, I've enjoyed a miracle-like rebound over the last two NFL Sundays going 8-1-1 with those ten selections, including a 4-1 mark yesterday. I'm not ready to move to Vegas and try my hand at full time gambling -- but let's just say I'm at least starting to look at real estate out there.

Here's how I fared yesterday:

DOLPHINS AT BILLS (-2.5): I’m pretty sure we’ve seen the best of the Bills in 2015. They’re an OK team, not a laughingstock by any means, but I think Miami has far more upside. This game will tell us if the Dolphins are a semi-real contender for the playoffs or just another 7-9 team that won’t be there in January. Take the Dolphins and the 2.5 points here, as Miami wins 20-16.

RESULT: This was my only loss of the day as the Bills put together an impressive performance against the Dolphins, who are more hot and cold than Kyle Boller, circa 2004.


RAIDERS AT STEELERS (-4.5): It’s going to be interesting to see what Pittsburgh does now that Le’Veon Bell is finished for the year and the Steelers face a whopper of a second-half schedule without him. I have a suspicion the team that wins this game today is making the playoffs. And I can’t believe it…but I think Oakland might win this one outright. Let's go with that…take the Raiders plus 4.5 points in a 27-23 Oakland triumph at Heinz Field.

RESULT: I got bailed out here when DeAngelo Williams got stopped at the one-foot line as time was expiring. Instead of a 42-35 win and a Steelers cover, Pittsburgh kicked a game-winning field goal at the buzzer to give the Raiders a cover at 38-35.


RAMS AT VIKINGS (Pick ‘em): Who would have thought a week nine battle between these two teams might actually be considered a “marquee game”? The Rams have come on strong and they’re looking like a team that could sneak into the playoff picture in December, but the Vikings are the real deal and they’ll prove that today at home. Let’s go with the Vikings to win easily in this one, 27-17.

RESULT: A double win for me here, as I won this pick and my "Best Bet" selection when Blair Walsh banged home a short-range field goal in overtime to give the Vikings a 21-18 win.


JAGUARS AT JETS (-9): I have no idea if the Jets are any good or not. And I think Jacksonville might actually be a tad better than we think they are (let’s hope we don’t find that out next Sunday in Baltimore). I think NY wins today, but I’m taking the Jags and the 9 points in a 27-21 Jets victory that isn’t decided until the last couple of minutes.

RESULT: Another win, and I almost hit the score on the nose, as the Jets won 28-23 and the Jags pulled out the late back-door cover for me and the rest of the world who took them and the nine points. By the way, Jacksonville will NOT be a walk in the park for the Ravens this coming Sunday in Baltimore. Watch and see.


TITANS AT SAINTS (-9): I’m not sure what to make of the Saints but I know this for sure…the Titans are terrible. But guess what? I’m taking the Titans plus 9 points because the first game with a new coach almost always yields an impressive performance. New Orleans wins, 30-23, but Tennessee covers.

RESULT: I finished the day at 4-1 when the Titans covered in this one. Like I referenced above, that first game with a new coach is a gambler's paradise. They always play hard for the new guy. And the Titans did that yesterday in New Orleans.


BEST BET OF THE DAY: I'm going with the Vikings (pick ‘em) in the Best Bet category. Only needing to beat the Rams to get me a win here, I think it's as solid and safe of a pick as I can make.

RESULT: Minnesota has a good team, particularly at home. I wasn't over-the-moon about this game as my "Best Bet", but I liked it more than any of the others. I'm glad I did.


RECORD TO DATE: 21-23-1

LAST WEEK'S RECORD: 4-1

BEST BET OF THE DAY (SEASON): 5-3-1

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mcdonogh holds off curley, 2-1, to win boy's soccer crown

The words "holds off" were injected in the headline above for a reason, as the McDonogh Eagles literally did some serious clutching and grabbing down the stretch last night in their championship match with a spirited squad from Curley. They had to do it. The Friars were firing on all cylinders in the game's final ten minutes.

McDonogh used two first-half goals and an outstanding defensive effort on Curley's star forward Tre Pulliam to win their 8th A-Conference title, 2-1, on Sunday night before a packed house at CCBC-Essex. Pulliam did net Curley's opening goal just six minutes into the game, but was largely neutralized after that, as the Eagles beat Barry Stitz's team for the third time in three tries this season.

To their credit, the Eagles didn't deflate after Pulliam's goal -- his 30th of the season -- put Curley up 1-0. Tallies from Cale Thorne and Chris MacDonald, the latter goal coming just before halftime, put Brandon Quaranta's team up 2-1 at the intermission and that would be the way it would end. For McDonogh, the victory capped a nearly perfect season (20-0-1) and it came on a night when they were forced to play for the title minus their best player, Tunde Akinlosotu, who was suspended last week and didn't see the field in their semi-final win over Loyola or last night's game against Curley.

The Friars had a spectacular run to the championship game, as they won eight straight contests in the regular season and playoffs to meet up with McDonogh. And they gave the Eagles all they could handle on Sunday night, coming at them in waves over the final five minutes or so while playing a man down.


join #dmd for the army-navy game on december 12!

We are still trying to fill a bus to head to Philadelphia on December 12 for one of the all-time great day in sports that you can witness for an extraordinarily reasonable price. The Super Bowl costs you about $3,000 per-ticket. You can see something far more meaningful, in my opinion, for $160, if you check out the Army-Navy game with a bunch of other #DMD football enthusiasts. It's a "bucket list" game that you should attend at least once in your life.

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

Navy's win over Memphis last night shows everyone the Midshipmen are for real. Earlier this week when the college football rankings were finally released, folks were quick to point out that Memphis was undefeated and worthy of some attention. Navy's 45-20 win last night showed they, too, are worthy of attention, as they moved to 7-1 on the season.

Here are the details of our bus trip:

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

Sunday
November 8
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XVI
Issue 8

subscribe to the #dmd rss feed

take a look around today -- this is what it was once like in Baltimore

While you’re out today, doing whatever it is you do on a rare non-football Sunday here in Baltimore, take a minute and remember what it was like here from 1984 to 1995.

If you’re like my eight year old son, you don’t know anything about the Baltimore Colts and the moving fans and the snowy scamper to Indianapolis in the middle of the night in 1984. All he’ll EVER know is the Ravens, and that’s not a complaint. He doesn't know about Unitas, Matte, Jones, Dickey, Mitchell or Linhart. He'll only ever know Flacco and Lewis and Heap and Mosley and Harbaugh. Personally, I like it that way. I never want him to go without having a football team to cheer for in his lifetime.

But if you were around in that 12-year period from 1984-1995, where Baltimore didn’t have a football team to call its own, today might be a trip down memory lane for you and those of your ilk.

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This replaced NFL football in Baltimore 20 years ago.

For those twelve long NFL seasons, you either found a new team to root for or you completely distanced yourself from the game of professional football. I know people who “adopted” the Steelers, the Redskins and the 49’ers during that time-span. Pittsburgh was a natural team to connect with back then because a lot of folks from that area of the country had moved to Baltimore in the 70’s and 80’s in search of work. Washington was 40 miles down the road and the Redskins were decent during that time, so cheering for them wasn’t a bad idea. And the 49’ers were crushing people week-in-and- week-out, so if you were looking to bandwagon your way to a new favorite team, Joe Montana and Company made a lot of sense.

Then again, lots of people simply stopped watching. The thought of still watching any game was a sickening thought to people like my mom and dad in Glen Burnie...their lives were turned upside down when Irsay yanked the team from Baltimore and shipped it off to Indianapolis. While some liked the Redskins, others took to loathing them, mainly because they were forced down our throat from a television standpoint. And while the 49’ers were a winner and “the people’s choice”, they were also 3,000 miles away. So, by 1987 or 1988, Baltimore started to resemble a ghost town on Sunday afternoons during football season.

I know it’s hard to imagine if you weren’t here from 1984-1995, but Baltimore was pretty much dead from September through January back then. Dead. No one cared about University of Maryland football back then (or now, for that matter), so “football season” just didn’t exist in Charm City once the Colts hit the road. The CFL fielded a team in Baltimore, which seemed distinctly odd to me since the league was called the “Canadian” Football League, but for a year or two they drew good crowds at Memorial Stadium as people in Baltimore gravitated to a new franchise in a weird league with the hopes that sitting in the seats again would show the NFL Baltimore was worthy of an expansion franchise.

But the CFL felt like that "rebound" relationship you had right after your girl or guy dumped you in college. You needed something new, so you jumped right back in, but the reality was it was never going to be better than your old flame. The CFL tried hard, and for a while they were a nice replacement, but the city gave up on them rather quickly and it was back to dreary Sunday afternoons and a lot of yardwork, raking leaves and prepping for the winter in Baltimore. The place was dead.

Whether or not you were around back then to witness – and feel – it all in person, today is what it was like, circa 1989. The rest of the country played football while Baltimore didn’t. The games were on if you wanted to watch them, but the community’s quality of life wasn’t enhanced one iota if Atlanta beat New Orleans or Pittsburgh beat Cleveland. We didn’t have a team. Everyone else did. It was awful around here.

I’m not writing this today to ease off of the 2015 Ravens, who have woefully underachieved thus far with a 2-6 record at the season’s halfway point. I’m merely reminding everyone of what it was like to not have a team at all. Trust me – as a guy who went through it – you’d MUCH rather have a 2-6 football team than no football team at all.

Anyone who was a Baltimore football fan in 1984 when the team left town knows I’m right.

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put your money where your mouth is

The Ravens don't have a game today so there's no "big one" on their schedule, but this NFL Sunday is a "big one" for me as I try to climb back to the .500 mark after a sloppy start to my campaign. Three weeks ago I went 4-1, the week after that 1-4, and then last week I was 4-0-1, so it's either been feast or famine for me recently. Let's go ahead and go through my five picks for this afternoon and get you some much needed Holiday shopping money.

DOLPHINS AT BILLS (-2.5): I’m pretty sure we’ve seen the best of the Bills in 2015. They’re an OK team, not a laughingstock by any means, but I think Miami has far more upside. This game will tell us if the Dolphins are a semi-real contender for the playoffs or just another 7-9 team that won’t be there in January. Take the Dolphins and the 2.5 points here, as Miami wins 20-16.

RAIDERS AT STEELERS (-4.5): It’s going to be interesting to see what Pittsburgh does now that Le’Veon Bell is finished for the year and the Steelers face a whopper of a second-half schedule without him. I have a suspicion the team that wins this game today is making the playoffs. And I can’t believe it…but I think Oakland might win this one outright. Let's go with that…take the Raiders plus 4.5 points in a 27-23 Oakland triumph at Heinz Field.

RAMS AT VIKINGS (Pick ‘em): Who would have thought a week nine battle between these two teams might actually be considered a “marquee game”? The Rams have come on strong and they’re looking like a team that could sneak into the playoff picture in December, but the Vikings are the real deal and they’ll prove that today at home. Let’s go with the Vikings to win easily in this one, 27-17.

JAGUARS AT JETS (-9): I have no idea if the Jets are any good or not. And I think Jacksonville might actually be a tad better than we think they are (let’s hope we don’t find that out next Sunday in Baltimore). I think NY wins today, but I’m taking the Jags and the 9 points in a 27-21 Jets victory that isn’t decided until the last couple of minutes.

TITANS AT SAINTS (-9): I’m not sure what to make of the Saints but I know this for sure…the Titans are terrible. But guess what? I’m taking the Titans plus 9 points because the first game with a new coach almost always yields an impressive performance. New Orleans wins, 30-23, but Tennessee covers.

BEST BET OF THE DAY: I'm going with the Vikings (pick ‘em) in the Best Bet category. Only needing to beat the Rams to get me a win here, I think it's as solid and safe of a pick as I can make.

RECORD TO DATE: 17-22-1

LAST WEEK'S RECORD: 4-0-1

BEST BET OF THE DAY (SEASON): 4-3-1

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umbc wins conference tourney opener over new hampshire

The UMBC men's soccer team advanced for the seventh consecutive time in America East Conference tournament play as the third-seeded Retrievers (11-5-3) blanked sixth-seeded New Hampshire, 1-0, in quarter-final action at Retriever Soccer Park last night.

The three-time defending league champions move on to play second-seeded Vermont in Burlington this Wednesday, Nov. 11 at 7:00 p.m.

In last night's win, UMBC scored the game's lone goal in the 30th minute of play on an own goal. Retrievers sophomore midfielder Cormac Noel brilliantly eluded a pair of UNH defenders on the left side 25 yards from goal, then slipped past another in the box before crossing the ball. UMBC seniors Michael Scott and Joseph Pratt made center and far post runs for the cross, but the ball ricocheted off a Wildcat defender between the pair and deflected into the net. While both teams had several exceptional scoring opportunities over the final hour of play, no other ball found the back of the net.

New Hampshire goalkeeper Ryan Carpenter kept his side in the game as three of his seven saves were outstanding. Late in the first half, he made stops on Scott and freshman James Gielen and he stretched out to knock away a Sammy Kahsai effort in the 58'. If not for his play, UMBC would have run away with the contest in regulation time.

UMBC junior netminder Billy Heavner made his lone testing save of the night late in the game, diving to bat away a Chris Wingate attempt from mid-range in the 82nd minute.


mcdonogh and curley battle for miaa soccer title tonight

One team is there as expected and the other might be considered "the dreamer's choice", but that won't dampen the expected quality of play this evening at CCBC-Essex when McDonogh and Curley square off for the MIAA A-Conference soccer title at 5:30 pm.

McDonogh didn't lose a conference match in the regular season, with only a 0-0 tie against Calvert Hall back in September blemishing their 15-0-1 record. They narrowly defeated Loyola in their playoff opener on Thursday, winning 1-0 and avenging last year's loss to the Dons in the championship match. Curley, meanwhile, didn't reach their peak form until late in the season, where they needed a late five-game winning streak just to reach the playoffs, where they then disposed of host Calvert Hall on Thursday night, 2-1.

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If McDonogh's star forward, Tunde Akinlosotu, misses tonight's title game, the playing field gets leveled quite a bit.

Tonight's title game isn't about who IS playing for McDonogh, but more a matter of who ISN'T expected to play. Their all-everything forward Tunde Akinlosotu did not play in Thursday's playoff opener against Loyola and although school officials haven't confirmed it, rumors abound that he's been dismissed from the team and school for violating school policy. With him, they were a near shoo-in to capture the crown. He's a four-year starter and a two-time All-Metro forward who led the Eagles with 18 goals and 15 assists during their 20-game regular season (19-0-1 overall). Without him, it's a new game and one that Curley could win.

The Friars don't have the advantage skill wise tonight, but they're tactically sound and have a terrific player of their own in standout forward Tre Pulliam, who scored a goal and helped set-up the late game-winner in Thursday night's playoff triumph at Calvert Hall. If Curley defends as well tonight vs. McDonogh as they did against the Cardinals in that 2-1 win, Coach Barry Stitz might leave CCBC-Essex with a championship trophy.

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our army-navy bus trip is on sale!

We are still trying to fill a bus to head to Philadelphia on December 12 for one of the all-time great day in sports that you can witness for an extraordinarily reasonable price. The Super Bowl costs you about $3,000 per-ticket. You can see something far more meaningful, in my opinion, for $160, if you check out the Army-Navy game with a bunch of other #DMD football enthusiasts. It's a "bucket list" game that you should attend at least once in your life.

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

Navy's win over Memphis last night shows everyone the Midshipmen are for real. Earlier this week when the college football rankings were finally released, folks were quick to point out that Memphis was undefeated and worthy of some attention. Navy's 45-20 win last night showed they, too, are worthy of attention, as they moved to 7-1 on the season.

Here are the details of our bus trip:

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

Saturday
November 7
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XVI
Issue 7

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like ray rice, greg hardy finding out the story never goes away

If Dallas Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy thought chasing the quarterback and helping his new team win a few games would be the best way to get the country to forget about his domestic violence past, he found out differently on Friday. The website “Deadspin” released a series of photographs of a woman Hardy assaulted last spring and here we are, again, talking about Hardy’s level of evil and how he’s the worst of the worst.

At some point I actually think websites like Deadspin wind up becoming part of these stories, too. Other than clicks and traffic to their site, what reason could they give for showing those pictures to the world yesterday? Just to prove Greg Hardy did, in fact, administer bodily harm to a female? I think we knew that already. That's a story for another day, though.

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#DMD might be the only website in America today that uses a picture of Greg Hardy actually playing football.

We’re familiar with how it all works here in Baltimore, where Ray Rice was all set to get the kid gloves treatment from the club and fans alike until the now-famous “elevator video” surfaced of his assault of Janay Palmer and the game changed at that point. In reality, that video ended Rice’s career. In Hardy’s case, those pictures surfacing yesterday have kick-started a new level of anger for both him and his crime. I don’t think the pictures will end his career, but if he thought the story was going away anytime soon, he’s in for a rude awakening over the next couple of weeks.

I couldn’t care less about Greg Hardy, honestly. He’s no different to me today than he was yesterday or at this time last week. He’s a football player. I’m not buying his jersey, I’m not allowing my son to hang his poster on his wall, and I’m not “rooting” for Hardy on Sunday night when the Cowboys face the Eagles.

That said, I’m also not going to vilify Hardy all over again just because those pictures surfaced on Friday. He beat up a woman in the spring of 2014. I knew that before I saw those photos yesterday. He went through a legal process of sorts – one that never got the chance to run its course because the case was eventually dropped. He was suspended by the NFL -- not terminated -- because that’s what they do, eventually reinstated and then signed by the Cowboys. It’s just another story of a football player who got in trouble with the law. He could have run over someone with a car, peddled a bunch of a dope or shot someone in an industrial park in the middle of the night. When I wrote above I’m not going to vilify Hardy AGAIN, that’s to say I’m done even thinking about Greg Hardy at this point. I know what he did and I know what happened and that’s that.

The rest of America won’t be quite as "meh" as me, I’d bet. He’ll get raked over the coals again this weekend and the Cowboys – like the Ravens were when the Ray Rice elevator video surfaced – will be under great pressure to cut ties with Hardy now that those photos of his assault victim have been published. My guess is the Cowboys stand pat, stand tall, and say, “We’re going to help our employee get through this tough period” and he’ll be lined up on the end Sunday night against the Eagles trying to help Dallas win a football game.

The debate in the coming weeks will center on whether or not Hardy has the right to be gainfully employed in the NFL. Deion Sanders lashed out at the NFL yesterday saying they have already botched the Hardy situation by “taking away the man’s livelihood” and suspending him. Most of us would nudge Sanders and say, “Um, actually, Hardy did that to himself,” but Sanders isn’t the only one who thinks Hardy’s brush with the law shouldn’t necessarily connect with his job as a football player.

It’s indeed a polarizing issue that the NFL faces these days. What to do with these guys who run afoul of the law? They have policies in place, of course, and have certainly “toughened up” over the last couple of years when it comes to dealing with the law breakers, but there’s still the gazillion question that looms every time a guy beats his woman: Should he be allowed to play in the league anymore?

There’s a legal answer to that question and an ethical answer to that question, I suppose. In the end, there’s nothing stopping the league and/or the Cowboys from employing Greg Hardy in the same way there’s nothing stopping me, you and everyone else from not watching the games if people like Greg Hardy are going to be employed.

If you’re still watching professional football after the murders, domestic violence cases and drug deals -- and let’s face it, WE are -– then all of it must not be that big of a deal to you. And that, of course, is the way the NFL figured it would be all along.

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umbc hosts conference tournament game tonight

This is when it gets good.

UMBC's men's soccer team has advanced once again to the America East conference tournament and Pete Caringi's squad will host New Hampshire tonight at 7pm at Retriever Soccer Park.

The Retrievers will participate in their ninth consecutive championship and their 11th in 13 league seasons. UMBC has won the last three league titles and four of the previous five overall.

Coming off back-to-back shutout victories, UMBC (10-5-3) finished in a tie for second place in the league with a mark of 3-2-2. The Retrievers and Vermont Catamounts each posted 11 points, but UVM earned the second seed and first-round bye with a 3-0 victory over UMBC in mid-October. New Hampshire (10-4-3, 3-3-1) started the season at 7-0-2 overall, but slipped from an early first place position to a tie for fourth and the sixth seed by finishing 1-3-1 in their final five league contests.

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Pete Caringi's Retrievers start their post-season journey tonight at 7pm.

Historically, UMBC has a slight edge over UNH with a 6-4-6 record in 16 previous meetings. The Retrievers are unbeaten in the last nine matches (4-0-5) between the schools after UNH got out to a 4-2-1 series edge. Most importantly, UMBC has hurt the Wildcats deeply in the post-season with a semi-final victory in 2009 and penalty kick shootout wins in 2010 and 2012 title matches.

Tickets for tonight's game can be purchased at the stadium box office. A big crowd is expected, though, so get there early to assure a seat and, if nothing else, bring a blanket in case you're sitting "hillside". It should be a memorable night for UMBC soccer this evening at Retriever Soccer Park.


our army-navy bus trip is on sale!

We are still trying to fill a bus to head to Philadelphia on December 12 for one of the all-time great day in sports that you can witness for an extraordinarily reasonable price. The Super Bowl costs you about $3,000 per-ticket. You can see something far more meaningful, in my opinion, for $160, if you check out the Army-Navy game with a bunch of other #DMD football enthusiasts. It's a "bucket list" game that you should attend at least once in your life.

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

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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 have reached the midpoint of a season that no one saw coming, and two of the most defining images of the first half of the season have a painful symmetry about them: There was defensive leader Terrell Suggs being helped off with a torn Achilles in Week 1, and there was offensive leader Steve Smith being helped off with a torn Achilles in Week 8. In between, the Ravens sputtered to the first 0-3 start in team history, went through a revolving door of wide receivers that still probably hasn't stopped turning, and found themselves grasping for help in the secondary for the second straight year. Yesterday, we handed out the mid-term report cards to the offense. Now it's the defense and special teams:

DEFENSIVE LINE: B+

Brandon Williams (29 tackles, 1 sack) has been the Ravens best defensive player this season by a pretty decent margin. The Ravens rank eighth in the league in yardage allowed per rush (3.76), and Williams is a huge reason for that. The supporting cast with Williams hasn't been quite at his level. Timmy Jernigan was essentially benched for awhile, replaced in the starting lineup by rookie Carl Davis in the starting lineup. Jernigan still has shown he can be a force, and Davis has been the Ravens best rookie to this point. The Ravens haven't gotten much out of Chris Canty, who missed four games, but he might have played his best game as a Raven at Arizona. Lawrence Guy has been a capable fill-in for Canty. With 32 tackles and three sacks -- tied for the team lead - -Guy has already established career highs and the season is only half over.

LINEBACKER: C

Losing Terrell Suggs obviously has been a game-changer for this group. Courtney Upshaw, Za'Darius Smith and Albert McClellan, who is playing some outside linebacker since Suggs' injury, just aren't generating the pressure they need to. The Ravens continue to praise Upshaw as a run-stuffing edge- setter, but he has not had a sack in two years. Elvis Dumervil has been asked to be more of a three- down linebacker this year; is that wearing him down? He is on pace for five sacks this year after setting franchise record with 17 last season.

On the inside, Daryl Smith leads the team with 76 tackles, but C.J. Mosley has taken a step back from his phenomenal rookie year. He has 48 tackles and three sacks, but like several Ravens linebackers, he has been exposed at times in pass coverage. Then again, Mosley does have a fumble-return touchdown. Incredibly, through eight games, that's the only defensive fumble recovery for the Ravens all season.

SECONDARY: D

The Ravens vowed to upgrade the secondary this season, but any attempts to do that simply haven't been apparent. The Ravens rank 30th in the league in pass defense, and 29th in passing yards allowed per play. To be fair, the subpar pass rush has given quarterbacks plenty of time to find receivers. Still, the Ravens have not recorded an interception in almost 5 1/2 games and are on pace for just six all season, which would easily be a franchise low. Communication problems and poor coverage have led to huge plays against them. Malcolm Floyd's 70-yard touchdown last Sunday when he got 5 yards behind Kyle Arrington with no safety help was emblematic of the problems.

Arrington has been a disappointment, and the Ravens have again had a revolving door at cornerback. Out goes Rashaan Melvin after a disastrous season debut, in comes 49ers castoff Shareece Wright, who had a disastrous season debut but remains a key piece of the secondary. Jimmy Smith has a pair of interceptions -- including one pick-six -- but he also has been badly beaten at times and still must be seeing A.J. Green in his sleep. Overall, this group has played too soft in coverage, hasn't gotten takeaways and hasn't tackled especially well, either.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A-

Justin Tucker has rightfully gotten a lot of the accolades, but don't sleep on the fact that punter Sam Koch is having a Pro Bowl season. Koch's 62-yard boot to the 3-yard line against the Chargers -- helped greatly by Jacoby Jones' refusal to catch the ball -- flipped field position and was one of the biggest plays of the game. Koch ranks third in the league in punting (49.4) and his net (45.6) is best in the league.

As for Tucker, he has drilled the game-winning kick in both Ravens wins, and his 52-yarder that beat the Steelers in overtime is tied for the longest ever made at Heinz Field. Tucker is 14-for-17 overall, and remains pretty automatic from inside 50 yards. 'Pretty automatic' meaning he makes everything from inside 50 except when the ground gives out and swallows his plant foot, as it did at San Francisco.

Tucker has also been perfect at the longer extra-point distance, which has given some kickers fits. The Ravens return units have been decent, with Jeremy Ross averaging 29.3 yards per kick return and 9.5 yards per punt return. Ross has a history of ball security issues, and he had a critical fumble at Arizona. The Ravens -- specifically Asa Jackson -- have also come up with two blocked kicks, and have gone 1-for-2 on fake kicks. Overall, it's been a strong first half for coordinator Jerry Rosburg's group.

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Friday
November 6
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XVI
Issue 6

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giving thanks a few weeks early

I realize Thanksgiving comes later this month, but a few "happenstances" yesterday at the Calvert Hall-Curley soccer game give me reason to take just a minute this morning and offer my appreciation to those of you who have made #DMD what it is over the last fourteen months.

As I made my way up the steps to a seat in the stadium, someone to my left caught my eye and he held up a Corner Bakery bag. "I just got the combo and used your coupon!" he (Steve Kreider) said to me. I stopped in my tracks, not exactly sure what he said at first. "You're Drew, right?," he continued. "From Drew's Morning Dish? I just got the combo lunch special at the Corner Bakery and got three dollars off." Then it all registered and I stopped to chat for a couple of minutes. Steve's nephew plays for Calvert Hall soccer and he used the #DMD coupon to save a few bucks and grab some food before the game.

As I settled into my seat, someone directly in front of me offered me yet another greeting. This time it was Chris Miller, a former listener of mine, a daily reader of #DMD and a guy who last November donated a bunch of coats to our winter apparel clothing drive to benefit Helping Up Mission. Chris is a Calvert Hall grad who was caught up in the excitement of the game and had read my preview earlier in the day at #DMD and we spent a lot of the first half chatting about his days at CHC and following the play on the field.

Finally, at game's end, as I was finishing up some quick farewells to the respective coaches, I made my way to the parking lot where I was greeted once again. A father in a Curley jacket (Dave) stopped me and said, "Read your Dish every morning! Thanks for covering high school sports. I just placed a big order at Chick fil-A from your buddy Steve (Pavlosky, who owns the store at Nottingham Square) for my daughter's 16th birthday party on Saturday the 14th."

It must have been my day to get good news in bunches, that's all I can say. Three different people, all somehow touched by Drew's Morning Dish, approaching me at a high school soccer game and creating a friendship. It doesn't get much better than that. Well, if Calvert Hall would have won the game, it might have made the day just a wee bit better, but that's how it goes. The other team tries, too.

Occasionally I'll come here and offer a broad-brush "thank you" to everyone for being part of the #DMD family and it seems appropriate given yesterday's three interactions to do that again today. We have such an awesome stable of corporate partners who are true community connectors. There's no need for me to list them all here. You see their ads on the right side of this page and within the content itself. They're the "straw that stirs the drink" and helps bring you the coverage, commentary and insight you receive here at #DMD. If your daily life and the events that shape it require you to use a company within one of the categories you see here, please reach out to our #DMD partners and give them a chance to earn your business. You'll be impressed with them, I promise.

On a related note, I owe all of you reading this today (and yesterday, and last week, and last month) a huge "thank you!" as well. October of 2015 was the best month in #DMD's short history in terms of reader-visits (just over 150,000) and we continue to grow! With that, we're thinking about and considering how to improve and expand our daily coverage of local and national sports, so please know we're always looking at ways to get better. But, again, thank you so much for coming here every day and using our corporate partners when the need arises.


here's your friday "3140" podcast

Another edition of my 3140 podcast is up and available for you this morning, with a look at this week's schedule in the NFL, discussion about last week's Ravens win over the Chargers, a rundown on the World Series and some Orioles off-season chatter and the audio edition of "3 Questions". I hope you enjoy it!


#DMD 3140 Podcast
November 6, 2015
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"are you still in the media?" highlight's this week's edition of "3 Questions"

Every Friday here at #DMD we take your questions from the week (either via the comments section or e-mail) and include three of them here -- and we call it "3 Questions". Makes sense, right?

Sheldon asks: Who do you think will wind up getting the Maryland football job?

DF: "It looks like -- from what I'm hearing -- like Maryland's going to go to an "up and comer" rather than a re-tread, which is perfectly fine by me. I like the thought of giving a younger coach an upgrade and letting him step up in class a little bit. Three names to watch out for: Everett Withers, the second year head coach at James Madison University, who might very well have himself a national championship team this season down in Harrisonburg. Dino Babers, who is also in his second year at Bowling Green, a team that put a pounding on the Terps back in September at College Park. And Rod Carey, the highly-regarded head coach at Northern Illinois for the last three seasons. All three of those guys have been whispered to be on the Terps' short list and each has enjoyed immense success at their respective schools in the last few years.

Pistol Pete asks: I'm in a contest at work where after this Sunday, we have to pick the two AFC and two NFC teams who will play in the conference championship games and in the Super Bowl and I also need a winner. What do you think will happen?

DF: "Well, this weekend might determine home field in the NFC because Green Bay plays at Carolina, so this is probably a question that can be answered better about 4:30 pm this Sunday afternoon! But here goes: In the NFC, I think it will be Green Bay and Arizona in the title game with Green Bay winning. In the AFC, it will be New England and, yes, Cincinnati, with the Patriots winning. New England (sadly) beats Green Bay in the Super Bowl. I hope I'm right, for your sake, Pistol Pete, and I hope I'm wrong for everyone else's sake. New England, again? Ugggghhhhhh..."

Matthew asks: Drew, what is the official definition of someone like you, a blogger? Are you a member of the media in your mind? Does your past history as a radio announcer give you some sort of lifetime membership as a member of the press? Thanks!

DF: "This is our Question-of-the-Day! I really haven't thought about it at all, but it's a terrific question from Matthew. I'm not 100% sure I know the answer...but I'd lean in the direction of saying a blogger is NOT a member of the media. That's not to say that I can't get press credentials, because I can (and have over the last 14 months since I started #DMD), but in the traditional sense of what we know as the media, I don't think I'm part of that anymore. The biggest reason? I don't represent anyone with my thoughts, commentary or opinions. I'm not writing FOR a newspaper or magazine or doing radio FOR a station. I'm writing on my own, which means have certain jouralistic freedoms that others don't have. It's a great question, though!"

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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 have reached the midpoint of a season that no one saw coming, and two of the most defining images of the first half of the season have a painful symmetry about them: There was defensive leader Terrell Suggs being helped off with a torn Achilles in Week 1, and there was offensive leader Steve Smith being helped off with a torn Achilles in Week 8. In between, the Ravens sputtered to the first 0-3 start in team history, went through a revolving door of wide receivers that still probably hasn't stopped turning, and found themselves grasping for help in the secondary for the second straight year. As the Ravens take a few days off and prepare for the second half of the season, it's time to grade the Ravens for the first half. We'll assign a grade to each position group, beginning with the offense:

QUARTERBACK: C+

Joe Flacco has been good at times and he's been awful at other times. He has thrown at least one interception in six of the first eight games, including a couple of horrible back-foot floaters. Flacco is on pace for the first 4,000-yard season of his career, but that only shows how passing statistics can be misleading. Flacco is coming off his best game of the year, and did a nice job engineering a game- winning drive in the final two minutes against San Diego -- something he has failed to do at other times this year. Flacco gets a bit of a pass because of his supporting cast; he can only do so much with receivers who can't get open, with his tight ends banged up, and with new receivers joining the offense seemingly every week. But a franchise, elite quarterback needs to be better.

RUNNING BACK: B

Justin Forsett has had a fairly quiet season, but he still ranks sixth in the league in rushing with 562 yards. That puts him on pace for another 1,000-yard season.Forsett is on pace for 54 catches, which would be a career high, and he'll probably end up with more than that now that Steve Smith is out. Lorenzo Taliaferro gets another incomplete grade, as his promising season ended with his second trip to injured reserve in as many years. Rookie Buck Allen has shown some promise and is averaging 4.4 yards a carry. But both Forsett and Allen have struggled in short-yardage situations. Kyle Juszczyk has 18 catches; no, they haven't all come on the first play of a half, it just seems that way.

OFFENSIVE LINE: C

Eugene Monroe has been hurt as much as he's been healthy this year, and his hefty contract is one of several in which the Ravens simply aren't getting what they paid for. But with Monroe hobbled, James Hurst has really struggled as the backup at left tackle. The rest of the line is the same as last year, and Marshal Yanda remains one of the best in the league. But the Ravens have struggled at times to run the ball, especially in short yardage. The run game, behind this offensive line, was expected to be a strength, but the Ravens rank 19th in yards per rush. The Ravens are on pace to allow 28 sacks; last year they gave up 19.

TIGHT ENDS: B-

Crockett Gillmore has come up with some big catches, and he's on pace for 40 catches and 484 receiving yards. Those are solid numbers, but down slightly from what Owen Daniels produced last year (48-527). A true No. 1 tight end in Marc Trestman's system needs to produce more, and expect Gillmore to do so with Steve Smith sidelined. Gillmore could not come up with a couple of contested catches, most notably at Denver that would have won the game. He's just a second-year player who continues to improve. Of the rookie tight ends, Nick Boyle (11 catches, 93 yards) has been a pleasant surprise, while second-round pick Maxx Williams to this point has been a disappointment. Granted, it's very early in the career of each. But Boyle, known for his blocking, has shown solid hands and athleticism and the ability to run after the catch. And Flacco seems to be developing chemistry and confidence in his fellow ex- Delaware Blue Hen. Williams (12-108) has battled injuries but still has high upside.

WIDE RECEIVERS: C

This is a tough group to grade. The much-ballyhooed first-round draft pick hasn't played a down. Three receivers are on IR. Steve Smith has been the heart and soul of the offense, but he also dropped a couple of touchdown catches. The Ravens have probably gotten as much as they could expect out of Jeremy Ross and Chris Givens. Kamar Aiken as a No. 2 receiver? He has had his moments, but has also vanished for long stretches. Marlon Brown has been a huge disappointment, showing no ability to gain separation or to catch the ball consistently when it comes his way. Overall, give the front office a D for assembling this wide receiver group, though they couldn't have anticipated the injury to Breshad Perriman. (The injury to Campanaro? Well, they could have anticipated that.) But give a C to the players on the field who, for the most part, are playing to their ability level.

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

MATTHEW CARROLL

Matchweek 12 of the Barclays Premier League gets underway on Saturday morning but it will be Sunday, when three of the league’s top five teams kickoff, that may hold all of the weekends excitement. Its Sunday Funday again so be sure to wake up early and get settled in on the couch for football before football live on the NBC family of networks or online.

Sunday (all times eastern)

8:30am – Manchester City @ Aston Villa – Villa Park, NBC Sports Network

It will be a baptism by fire for Remi Garde when the former Arsene Wenger protégé welcomes league leaders Manchester City to Villa Park for his first game in charge since the 49-year old Frenchman agreed to take over for the displaced Tim Sherwood at Aston Villa on a contract that will run until the end of the 2018/19 season. Villa have not won since the opening weekend of the season (D1 L9) and if there is anyone who can help the Villains get back on track and avoid relegation it will be Garde, whose resume includes returning his boyhood club Lyon in French Ligue 1 back to prominence.

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Aston Villa skipper Remi Garde will have his hands full with visiting Manchester City this Sunday.

City have already dispatched league bottom dwellers Bournemouth and Newcastle United this season by 5-1 and 6-1 score lines respectively and will like their chances for a repeat performance against a Villa side that they have beaten in seven of their last eight league matches, holding the Villains scoreless in five of those encounters. City looks set to be without two of their top playmakers again this weekend with Sergio Aguero and David Silva absent through injury, which should provide Garde and Villa with the belief that they could steal a point to boost what will surely be a yearlong battle against relegation.

11am – Crystal Palace @ Liverpool – Anfield, NBC Live Extra

With his first Barclays Premier League victory now under his belt following their 3-1 triumph over Chelsea last weekend at Stamford Bridge, Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool will look to make it two in a row when Crystal Palace visit Anfield on Sunday afternoon. Liverpool had won five of their first seven league meetings with Palace (W5 D2) but the Eagles have won three of the last five (D1 L1) including the double on the Reds last season, with the victory last May putting a damper on the festivities surrounding Steven Gerrard’s final home game in a Liverpool uniform before his move to the MLS’ Los Angeles Galaxy.

Palace has climbed as high as fifth place in the league table this season but a recent slump in form, where the Eagles have dropped two of their last three while managing to find the back of the net only twice, has dropped them back down to tenth. A trip to Anfield might just be what Palace needs to get back on track however, with the Eagles winning nine of their thirteen road matches since Alan Pardew took over as manager back in January 2015 and Palace scoring three goals in each of their last three league meetings with Liverpool.

11am – Tottenham @ Arsenal – Emirates Stadium, NBC Sports Network

With their win over Aston Villa on Monday night, Tottenham extended the longest unbeaten streak in the Barclays Premier League to ten games (W5 D5) and catapulted the Spurs up to fifth place in the league table, only a single point behind Manchester United for the fourth and final Champions League place. That streak will be put to the test on Sunday when they travel to the Emirates Stadium for the North London Derby against an Arsenal side who are on a nice little unbeaten streak of their own, winning their last five and scoring sixteen goals in the process while conceding just three.

Tottenham have lost only two of their last ten league matches on the road (W4 D4 L2) but have struggled mightily on their visits to the Emirates over the years, winning just one of their last twenty two league games at their North London rivals (W1 D8 L13). Arsenal have lost only two of their last eighteen league games at home, but will have to overcome a mid-week Champions League 5-1 drubbing at the hands of Bayern Munich and a lengthy injury list that includes eight regular contributors to the weekly matchday squad including four starters.


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curley scores in final minute to beat calvert hall in soccer playoff, 2-1

If you would have told Calvert Hall soccer coach Rich Zinkand before the game started that you saw the script and his Cardinals held Curley to just two goals on Thursday afternoon at Kelly Field, he probably would have figured his team would have won.

If you told Zinkand that Curley's show-stopper forward, Tre Pulliam, would have been largely neutralized by his Calvert Hall defense, Zinkand would have probably smiled and thought his team would have won.

Both of those things happened yesterday at Calvert Hall, but Zinkand wasn't smiling afterwards.

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A goal in the game's final minute was enough to push Curley past Calvert Hall on Thursday afternoon at Kelly Field.

Curley's Alejandro Arbelaez scored from 15 yards out with twenty three seconds left in the game and the Friars continued their torrid late-season play with a 2-1 win over the Cardinals in Thursday's MIAA semi-final showdown at Kelly Field. Curley advances to this Sunday's title game against McDonogh, who beat Loyola yesterday, 1-0.

Calvert Hall jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the 22nd minute on a nice finish from junior forward Ben Alexander, but Curley knotted the game just prior to halftime when Pulliam pounced on a loose ball near the top of the box and sent a shot that was deflected by CHC goalkeeper Sam Loeffler but the ball still found its way into the back of the net to even the game at 1-1 after 40 minutes.

It was a crushing goal to give up for Calvert Hall, who performed admirably in the back throughout the first half and completely smothered Pulliam, who literally had only one chance to score in the opening half and it was the one he converted for the tying goal.

The teams then squandered glorious late scoring opportunities in the second half. First, Curley's Ben Stitz had a close-range shot from five yards out that he inexplicably muffed and then, minutes later, Alexander had a chance to put Calvert Hall ahead on two successive occasions but both times he directed shots right into the waiting arms of the Curley goalkeeper.

With the game apparently headed for overtime, Curley created an odd-man situation in the attacking end and Pulliam drew two defenders and calmly slotted the ball to Arbelaez, who was quiet for most of the opening 79 minutes of the game. In the final minute, though, he settled the ball nicely at the top of the box and deposited a right footed shot just inside the near post to give Curley the victory and a shot at their first league crown since 2006 when they take on undefeated McDonogh on Sunday.

Thursday
November 5
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XVI
Issue 5

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angelos, not orioles, heard good news from new york judge

All over town on Wednesday afternoon, baseball fans celebrated what they thought was a monumental day for the Orioles, as a New York judge, Justice Lawrence K. Marks, ruled in favor of MASN in a long and bitter argument over a panel decision made by a group of MLB owners in connection with the dispute between MASN and the Washington Nationals.

In short, the victory on Wednesday was nothing more than the Judge vacating the panel’s decision to have MASN pay the Nationals $300 million in “overdue rights fees” retroactive to 2012. Despite Wednesday’s ruling, the battle between MASN and the Nationals will continue, although for the time being, the D.C. team – and the Orioles – will continue to receive only $40 million in annual rights fee revenue from the television network.

I have to share this small piece of personal irony, for it literally made me LOL yesterday when I read the full decision by Justice Marks and his "recommendation" to the two parties in light of his ruling. Eight years ago -- when I was hosting a morning sports talk radio show -- the Orioles took away my daily media credential in response to what they called a "crusade" I launched to try and have BALTIMORE placed on the team's road uniforms. They didn't tell me that directly, of course. I had to learn that from a source from within the building. In the aftermath of losing my credential, I contacted Major League Baseball and filed an official appeal with them. They instructed me to send them the details from my viewpoint and asked the Orioles to do the same. After months of haggling with Major League Baseball, they finally rendered a decision. You know what they said? "We've reviewed the case and the evidence both parties have presented and we believe it's in your respective best interests to work out an amicable solution without our involvement." In other words: "Work it our yourselves."

Yesterday in New York, after several years of fighting, biting, scratching and running up a gazillion dollars of legal bills, Justice Marks made HIS recommendation to MASN and the Nationals after vacating the arbitration panel's decision. He told them to "find a new mediator and present the case to him/her and go through a fair and binding mediation process." In other words, he told them to go back to square one, just like MLB told ME to do nearly a decade ago.

The MASN-Nationals battle is an extraordinarily complicated case, made even more difficult to sort out by the fact that none of the three parties – MASN, the Nationals and Major League Baseball – can be trusted one iota. There’s not one honest bone in the body of any of the three parties to the disagreement, which is why they are where they are in the first place. That said, they all knew the skinny on each other long before they decided to enter into business together. Everyone involved knows Peter Angelos and his history as a miser. Angelos knew from the beginning that Major League Baseball was beholden to the Nationals. And he also knew, even if he didn’t want to admit it, that his television network would lose an exceptional amount of leverage and negotiating power with the Baltimore/Washington cable TV folks if he didn’t have the D.C. team in his stable.

As word trickled out on Wednesday that MASN had won the decision, Baltimore baseball fans somehow linked that news to the hope that Angelos and the Orioles would now have more money to spend this winter on free agent acquisitions.

The two have as much of a connection to one another as you and I do to Jennifer Aniston. In other words, there’s NO connection at all.

The once-famous phrase uttered by Peter Angelos back in 2007 will forever by indelibly etched in everyone’s mind in Baltimore who has followed the development of MASN and the regional sports network that was supposed to “level the playing field” for the Orioles: "Now that we have an RSN and we can move forward with it…that is going get us on a more even plane with Boston and New York, and that was the purpose.”

While Wednesday’s news SHOULD have been a welcome report for the Orioles, it won’t mean anything this winter when Dan Duquette starts looking for baseball players. The Orioles – other than a last minute deal with Ubaldo Jimenez a couple of winters ago when they passed on all the good players – have simply never been a franchise interested in spending game-changing money on free agents. It was that way before the start up of MASN and it’s been that way since the network started raking in over $150 million a year in revenue nearly a decade ago now…and giving the Orioles in the neighborhood of $30 million or so in annual rights fee payments.

The only person who will benefit from Wednesday’s legal ruling is Peter Angelos. His company – MASN – immediately saves upwards of $40 million per-year by not having to give the Nationals $60 million in rights fees, since he would also have to give the Orioles the same amount. The baseball team in Baltimore won’t be affected one way or the other, which can be looked at as a win, I suppose. Win or lose on Wednesday, the Orioles were/are going to spend $100-$115 million on baseball players for the 2016 season. No more…no less.

That famous 2007 phrase -- "Now that we have an RSN and we can move forward with it…that is going get us on a more even plane with Boston and New York, and that was the purpose” -- has turned out to be nothing more than false hope, as the Orioles haven’t gone on to compete with the Red Sox and Yankees for players. Not then, not now, not tomorrow. Boston and New York have both won a World Series since MASN took flight…the Orioles haven’t been to a World Series since 1983.

The one good thing, though, is this: Wednesday’s ruling wasn’t a loss, which is to say, it can’t be used as an excuse from Angelos NOT to spend money on players this winter. The O’s won’t spend money on players this winter because it’s in their DNA…not because Justice Marks decided to rule in favor of the Nationals. Baby steps, I suppose – but anything that keeps the Orioles from throwing in the towel and crying poor is a win in my book.

Now, let’s see the Orioles take all that money MASN saved yesterday and sign Zack Greinke and shock the baseball world. Go ahead and laugh. It’s appropriate.

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who wins the davis and wieters sweepstakes?

Yesterday here at #DMD, I opined that I thought Darren O’Day (Toronto) and Wei-Yen Chen (Philadelphia) would have new homes in 2016. It shouldn’t be surprising that I think the Orioles’ other two marquee free agents, Chris Davis and Matt Wieters, are also going to be leaving the nest this winter and signing elsewhere.

Davis has helped his position tremendously over the last couple of years by becoming a very dependable first baseman. Even last June and July when Buck Showalter sent him out to right field while the club auditioned first basemen in the event the O’s parted ways with Davis at the deadline, he (Davis) was solid with the glove in the outfield. Strike-outs aside, there aren’t many blemishes in Davis’ game, which is why someone is going to fawn over him before Christmas and give him the biggest holiday gift of his life.

It wouldn’t shock me at all to see the Yankees and Red Sox both chase after Davis this off-season. New York could put him in right field or, they could try and pawn Mark Teixeira off on someone – pay part of his $23 million a year salary in 2016 – and give Davis the first baseman’s job in the Bronx. I could EASILY see the Orioles taking Tex for a season if New York is paying $13 of that $23 million.

The Red Sox are rumored to be moving Hanley Ramirez to first base, but if they had the chance to add Davis, they’d gladly reconsider the Ramirez move. Everyone’s going to say, “New York and Boston aren’t in position to spend big money” this off- season, but when those two teams really want a player, they figure out a way to make the money work. Davis might hit 45 home runs in Boston – and by that, I mean, 45 home runs AT Fenway Park. In one season. If you thought he could one- arm balls out of Camden Yards, what do you think he could do down the right field line at Fenway?

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Could Lucas Duda's awful throw in Game 5 of the World Series somehow open the door for Chris Davis to join the Mets this off-season?

I think Davis will ultimately land in New York. But it won’t be with the Yankees. I think he’s going to be wooed and chased by the Mets and I think that’s where he’ll wind up. I’m sure the brass at Citi Field will use their World Series loss as a sign that they’re only a player or two away, and with their bats being silenced for much of the 5-game series with the Royals, Davis makes a lot of sense to wind up in the Big Apple. The Mets have roughly $92 million in committed payroll for 2016 and GM Sandy Alderson has recently indicated he thinks the franchise can absorb a salary figure of $110 million or so next season.

Wieters is a much more difficult case to consider because he’s coming off of two lost seasons, basically. He hardly played in 2014 and when he managed to return for the final half of 2015, he was mostly unproductive. It’s certainly not the way he envisioned galloping into free agency, that’s for sure. My guess is someone in the American League will find him more attractive because of the option of using him as a DH on non-catching days. That severely limits the possibilities for Wieters, but one team that could certainly use him would be the Minnesota Twins, who made a remarkable August and September playoff run before falling short in the final week of the 2015 regular season.

The Twins would have to give up a draft pick if they signed Wieters (assuming the O’s make him a qualifying offer) and they already lost one in 2015 when they inked free agent pitcher Ervin Santana last winter. And since they have Kurt Suzuki ($6 million) under contract already for 2016, bringing on Wieters would make Suzuki a rather expensive second-string catcher. Still, I think the recipe for Wieters signing in Minnesota has a number of key ingredients. His stock has fallen, making him affordable for teams like the Twins; his health and apparent inability to catch 145 games a year makes him a more viable option in the American League; and the Twins might think they’re close to being a legit contender in the A.L. playoff race and a guy like Wieters could push them over the top. That’s my call: Wieters to the Twins.

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could harmon’s split with mickelson rekindle the fire with tiger?

For reasons only Phil Mickelson knows, the 5-time major champion parted company with instructor Butch Harmon recently, announcing on Wednesday that he’d no longer be working with him after eight successful years together.

Mickelson hasn’t played well over the last couple of years, which could have been the catalyst for his split from Harmon, who has taken on other high-profile players in the last 24 months like Rickie Fowler and Dustin Johnson. In the twilight of his career now, perhaps he just wants to figure it all out on his own. Or maybe there’s another instructor in the offing who has something new that might work for Phil as he desperately tries to sew up the career grand slam with a U.S. Open victory.

But the big news from Harmon’s exit is what might exist in the future for the teacher and not the student. With Butch now available – remember, Mickelson’s agreement with Harmon included a stipulation that Tiger Woods and Harmon couldn’t reunite without Phil’s approval – could a reunion be in the future between Harmon and Tiger? Since parting company with Harmon, Tiger’s instructors have been Hank Haney, Sean Foley and Chris Como. He won under Haney, but wasn’t the dominant force he was with Harmon. He didn’t win a major under Foley and his short game suffered miserably with Foley’s “use the ground” method of teaching. He’s been abysmal under Como, but that has little to do with Como and more about Woods and his various injuries and ailments.

Still, there are people in golf who insist Woods and Harmon getting back together could kick-start Tiger’s last ditch effort to equal or by-pass Jack Nicklaus and his all-time record of 18 major championships. It’s been said for a long time now: “The only way Woods catches Jack is if he goes back to Butch.”

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As you can see here, Woods was able to get -- and keep -- his body in a much more powerful, crouched position in his days with Butch Harmon. Now, to support his back and other ailments, Tiger is more upright and tall.

For the record, I don’t buy that notion. Woods can no longer make the golf swing Harmon taught him in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. His body simply can’t create the torque and leverage necessary to put himself in the hitting position that provides him with the best combination of speed and power. In his heyday, Tiger’s body released well ahead of his hands and he was able to “snap” the golf club into the ball with tremendous authority. Injuries to his knees, achilles, back and neck have mandated that Tiger change his posture and, thus, his overall power has diminished as a result.

And while there’s probably some truth to the fact that Tiger might marginally improve under Harmon because of confidence and nothing else, the fact of the matter is that Tiger’s golf swing in 2015 is one Harmon wouldn’t recognize from the one he established with Woods back in 1999. Summary: Butch Harmon can’t make Tiger healthy again. And that, more than anything an instructor can tell him or show him on video, is what Woods needs most now that he’s closing in on 40 years of age.

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umbc soccer earns home conference tourney game with 3-0 win over stony brook

UMBC sophomore midfielder Gregg Hauck tallied his third game-winning goal in America East play and freshman midfielder Patrick Jean-Gilles scored a pair of second half goals as the host Retrievers blanked Stony Brook, 3-0, in pristine autumn conditions at Retriever Soccer Park last night.

The Retrievers (10-5-3, 3-2-2 AE) will be the No. 3 seed in the America East Conference and host No. 6 New Hampshire on Saturday, Nov. 7 at 7:00 p.m. Tickets will be available at the stadium box office, but a large crowd is expected so if you're planning on attending, make it a point to get there early.

UMBC has now won three consecutive games, all by shutout and won for the 50th time in 13 America East seasons (50-33-16). Junior netminder Billy Heavner made seven saves in last night's win over Stony Brook to earn his seventh shutout of the season.

UMBC and Saturday's tournament opponent, New Hampshire, met once during the regular season and played to a 1-1 double OT tie at Retriever Soccer Park on October 17.


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calvert hall vs. curley highlights high school sports schedule today

There’s nothing in town quite like a Calvert Hall-Curley soccer match-up. Even Tuesday afternoon’s JV title game between the two schools was a barn-burner, with the Cardinals winning 3-2 on a goal with three minutes left in the game.

Today at Calvert Hall (4pm kick-off), the two schools will meet in varsity soccer for the 3rd and final time in 2015, with the winner advancing to Sunday’s MIAA A- Conference title game to face the winner of the other semi-final, McDonogh vs. Loyola.

Oddly enough, each team won on the other’s home field in the regular season, with Calvert Hall winning 3-1 at Curley in September and the Friars putting on a clinic at Kelly Field three weeks ago, pounding the Cardinals, 5-1. That brings us to this afternoon’s rubber match, where someone’s season continues and someone’s season comes to a close.

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Today's playoff showdown is an easy one to figure out for Calvert Hall coach Rich Zinkand. Stop Curley's dynamic forward Tre Pulliam. But that's easier said than done.

With all due respect to the other ten players on the field for Curley, everyone knows what the key is to overcoming the Friars. You have to somehow stop their explosive forward Tre Pulliam, who is headed to UMBC next fall to play for coach Pete Caringi and the Retrievers. Pulliam terrorized the Cardinals in the Friars’ 5-1 win earlier this month, as did midfielder Ben Stitz, son of Curley coach and former Baltimore Blast star, Barry Stitz.

Calvert Hall will rely on their well-known balanced attack led by junior striker Ben Alexander and a strong defense, with particular emphasis on Pulliam, who will be shadowed all over the field this afternoon.

Curley will look to push the pace and make the game a run-and-gun affair. Calvert Hall will want to keep the ball and earn the possession edge. The more time the ball spends on Calvert Hall’s feet, the less time there is for the ball to find the feet of Curley’s standout, Pulliam. If the Friars score three or more goals, they’ll win. If the Cardinals can hold Curley to two goals or less, Calvert Hall wins.

Wednesday
November 4
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XVI
Issue 4

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trying to figure out if you like Steve Smith isn’t as easy as it seems

Every Tuesday during football season, I write a piece for Russell Street Report, the outstanding Ravens-centric website run by Tony Lombardi. I always do my best to never “double-up” and write something there that I’ve written here and vice- versa.

If you'd like to read my piece from yesterday on Steve Smith, it's RIGHT HERE. It detailed a genuine conflict I’ve had over the last two seasons with regard to Smith, whom I’ve alternately been turned off by and yet, also -- sometimes in the same game -- awed by.

My Tuesday column triggered a handful of e-mails from Ravens fans who took me to task. From a writer’s perspective, interaction with the reader can usually be summarized as a “win”. If I got them to react, emote and challenge me, my publishing efforts succeeded. A few of them were angry with me for portraying Hines Ward and Steve Smith in the same light. One guy – Alex – said “Smith plays the game the right way, Ward played it the wrong way.” I would expect a Ravens fan to see it that way. I don’t agree with that statement, but certainly respect that there aren’t many Ravens fans out there who would ever utter a kind or complimentary word about Hines Ward. Sort of like me and former Philadelphia Flyers rat-fink Danny Briere.

One e-mailer got the best of me, though. And it wasn’t because he was critical. Or shaming. Or disrespectful. “Paul” e-mailed me and gave me the worst news a writer could hear or see:

Drew, your article in today’s Russell Street Report didn’t register with me. At one point, you wrote about disliking Steve Smith. Then in the next sentence, you said he could play for your team anytime. Were you intentionally trying to soft- peddle your stance? I didn't get your point. Please explain.

That, as it turns out, was almost precisely what I was trying to convey, actually. I was trying to create the picture of how difficult it has been for me to cheer for Steve Smith over the last two seasons because I don’t care at all for his style AFTER the whistle, but I absolutely love his style DURING THE PLAY. I can’t ever remember a player in Baltimore that I felt so strongly about on BOTH ends of the spectrum.

Spinning the ball on the ground after every catch? Absurd. Silly. Bush-league, honestly.

Getting into a shoving match on virtually every contested catch he makes? Tiring. Predictable. And a waste of energy, if you ask me.

The constant verbal jawing back and forth, even when the other guy is playing him clean and fair? Transparent. Nothing more than another attempt to start trouble when it doesn’t need to be started. Often times the other team just walked away and laughed. "There's Smith again, barking at the moon," they probably said.

As I wrote in the piece at RSR yesterday, I hate the way Steve Smith plays. But I’ll take him on my team any day. That’s what I tried to get across to the reader. Maybe I didn’t do a very good job of explaining that…but it’s a difficult thing to translate from thought to keyboard.

One thing I didn’t write in the piece at RSR was this: I couldn’t help but wonder on Sunday evening when I got home from the game and started catching up on the news from the win over the Chargers if Old Man Karma didn’t get the final say with Smith when #89 blew out his achilles tendon at midfield. All those years of stirring the s**t finally caught up to him on one simple, routine-looking play, a move he’s probably made 1,000 times in his career if not more. On that play, though, his season (and career, perhaps) came to an end.

I know Golf Gods exist. I’ve seen them play out way too many times over the last 30 years. What about the Football Gods? Do they exist? And if they do, was that THEIR doing on Sunday afternoon at midfield?

I have no way of knowing that, of course. I’m just throwing that out there to throw it out there, in much the same way there are a lot of people in the world who believe in their heart Tiger Woods will never win another major title because of his personal-life-failings back in 2009. Those people believe a higher source has orchestrated Tiger’s fall from grace. And even though I don’t necessarily think the two are connected, I’m also smart enough to know that a distraction like the one Woods created for himself isn’t easy to overcome, no matter how many green jackets you already own.

I likened Steve Smith to Hines Ward because I see great similarities in their body type, style and recklessness. My guess – and there’s no way to know this, so it’s truly just a shot in the dark – is that Pittsburgh folks had an easier time accepting and digesting Ward’s occasional dirty play because he was a “lifer” on their team and not a rental like Smith has been to the Ravens. It’s a lot like Ray Lewis, actually. His “act” here never got old because we saw him as a young puppy in 1996 and followed him all the way to the end in 2012. If Ray would have left in 2009 and played for the Eagles, how would their fans have reacted to the pre-game dance and the rest of his theatrics? I doubt he would have even done it up there, that’s how obviously disingenuous it would have been on his part. But we sure did love it here, because he was ours from the very beginning.

Carolina Panthers fans probably loved Smith’s emotion, energy, passion and all the fights, tension and skirmishes he created. They loved it because he was THEIR guy. Here, in Baltimore for the last two years, it’s looked purposely over-the-top to me, almost like he’s trying harder than he should to prove that the Panthers were wrong for cutting him loose.

If I didn’t get it right in the Russell Street Report, shame on me. I tried my best to show just how difficult it’s been to root for Steve Smith as a Raven, yet I can’t help but admire his skill-set and ability to go head-to-head with guys from the other team and make them wave the white towel. He’s a gamer, period. And those kind of guys are indispensible, especially in football, where getting the other team to say “Uncle” is half the battle in the trenches.

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here’s where the Orioles “big four” are headed

The bell has rung and it’s time for the money to start flowing. Baseball free agency is set to begin now that the Royals have finished off the Mets in the World Series, and the Orioles have four key players who are set to test the waters over the next month or so: Chris Davis, Matt Wieters, Wei-Yen Chen and Darren O’Day.

Today and tomorrow, I’ll offer my official predictions on where the four will wind up. Here’s the short version: None will be in Baltimore in 2016, unless they’re in town to face the Orioles. Today, I’ll opine on Chen and O’Day. Tomorrow, it’s Davis and Wieters.

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O's fans will get to see a lot of Darren O'Day next season. When the Blue Jays come to town, that is.

I’ve thought all along that Darren O’Day would be the easiest of the four to re- sign simply because he’d command the least amount of money. But, looking back at recent off-seasons, including last winter when the White Sox backed up the Brinks truck for David Robertson, I’ve changed my mind on O’Day’s status. Given what the Royals have done for the last two seasons with their amazing bullpen, it makes more sense than ever before that a team out there starved for relief help will pony up big bucks for a reliable arm like O’Day’s.

Most teams NOT named the Kansas City Royals are pitching thirsty, so there’s no sense in reeling off which clubs would be good fits for O’Day. Instead, I’ll just point you in the direction of where I think he’s headed in 2016 and beyond: Toronto. The Blue Jays have money to burn, they desperately need a more reliable bullpen, and they’ve seen enough of O’Day over the last few years to have a complete book on what he can do for them. I say he gets $35.5 million for four years from the Blue Jays and heads off to Canada.

Chen, like O’Day, will be a hot commodity…mostly because he’s a left-handed starting pitcher with very good control. I think I have the perfect spot for him, even though his family lives in Southern California and the team I’m projecting him to land with is a stone’s throw from Baltimore. With the Phillies announcing yesterday they are NOT picking up the option on lefty Cliff Lee – and with the trade deadline departure of Cole Hamels – the brass in Philadelphia are in desperate need of a quality left hander. Oh, and the brass in Philly? None other than Andy MacPhail, who knows a thing or two about Baltimore players, even those who came in after his departure in 2011. Chen is so perfect for Philadelphia it’s scary. I’ll say he snags a 4-year, $66 million dollar deal from the Phillies and heads up I-95 sometime later this winter.

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grading the ravens defense through eight games

Yesterday here at #DMD, we handed out grades to eight prominent offensive players for the Ravens. Today, it’s the defense’s turn to get evaluated. And I don’t think this is going to be quite as pretty as some of those offensive grades were on Tuesday.

Elvis Dumervil: (C-) -- I was fearful the Suggs season-ending injury would adversely affect Dumervil and it looks I was right. Seventeen sacks a year ago…he’ll be fortunate to reach a dozen this year. Just hasn’t been active enough against the pass and isn’t involved in running situations, so his only chance to make an impact comes when the other team is throwing the ball. Very disappointing thus far in ’15.

Lardarius Webb: (C) -- A “C” grade might be a smidgen generous, but his play has leveled off the last few games after getting off to a very slow start. Still looks to me like he might be bothered by some sort of injury. Won’t play press coverage at the line of scrimmage and routinely gets out-run over a 20-30 yard distance. Hasn’t been awful, but hasn’t been all that good either, hence his “C” grade.

Brandon Williams: (A) – Likely grades out as the top defensive player through eight games this season. Has become a brutal force against the run and is starting to slowly pick up the nuances of getting to the quarterback, too. Not quite at the level Ngata was during his best years in Baltimore, but not that far off, either. For all the grief the Ravens have received about some of their draft picks in recent years, this kid was a steal.

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A beast in his rookie year last season, C.J. Mosley has taken a step back thus far in 2015.

C.J. Mosley: (D) -- He's the Ravens' version of the second album put out by the Counting Crows. He just couldn't follow up "August and Everything After" with something just as good the second time around. Maligned in pass coverage as a rookie last season, he hasn’t improved at all in that area this year. Gets picked on game in and game out, which now looks to be possibly affecting the rest of his game as well. His big highlight was the fumble recovery for a TD against the Bengals in week #3 that gave the Ravens a 4th quarter lead. There have a lot more lowlights than highlights thus far, though. He needs a strong second half to help even out his 2015 season.

Jimmy Smith: (C-) -- Like Webb, he won’t play “press” at the line of scrimmage either. Was outstanding in the season opener at Denver, then looked lost against the Raiders seven days later. Then, in week 3, he was terrorized by A.J. Green of the Bengals. Since then, he’s been steady – nothing more – but even the Browns had their way with him in their upset win in Baltimore in early October. Might still be feeling the affects of his foot injury from a season ago. Whatever the case, he’s not making much of a name for himself thus far in 2015.

Daryl Smith: (B) – Had a monster game against the Chargers in week 8 with 14 tackles. Gives the team a representative effort every Sunday, although he, like Mosley, has suffered in pass coverage situations. Can’t fault his effort and, for the most part, he’s productive week-in-and-week-out.

Kyle Arrington: (D-) -- I hate to be harsh – or overly harsh, as this might very well be – but he’s been perhaps the team’s worst defensive player through the season’s first half. Awful in coverage, rarely tight on his man, and just not reliable enough to have on the field for 35-40 snaps per-game. Yet, with all the injuries, he’s needed. It’s been a torture for him thus far. He can only get better, I think.

Timmy Jernigan: (B) -- The team’s defense hasn’t been good as a whole, but Jernigan has been one of the bright spots, even though he didn’t play in all eight games. Together with Brandon Williams he has softened the blow of losing Haloti Ngata in the off-season. Very good against the run and becoming a formidable interior pass rushing threat as well. Just needs to stay healthy.

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calvert hall wins miaa j.v. soccer title with dramatic win over curley

If you just flew in from Pluto and didn’t know better, you wouldn’t have thought for one minute you were watching a junior varsity soccer game on Tuesday afternoon at sun-drenched Kelly Field on the campus of Calvert Hall.

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Calvert Hall: 2015 MIAA J.V. Soccer Champions

Calvert Hall and Curley – who both finished the regular season at 12-3-1 – played off for the MIAA j.v. title yesterday and the two teams combined for five outstanding goals, with the Cardinals getting a tally late in the game to win the back and forth affair, 3-2.

Curley secured first half leads of 1-0 and 2-1, as clinical finishes near the goal highlighted their offensive efforts in the opening 35 minutes. Calvert Hall scored a terrific goal of its own off of a corner kick in the 25th minute, but a goal just seconds before halftime gave the visiting Friars the one-goal edge at intermission.

Calvert Hall knotted the score at 2-2 with 20 minutes left in the game and then the Cardinals goalkeeper took over, as he made three outstanding saves to keep the score deadlocked at 2. His best stop of the day – and perhaps a game-saver – came with just under 10 minutes left when he was able to get a hand on a door-step header from a Curley forward just five yards in front of the net.

With a little over three minutes left in the game, a loose ball was collected thirty yards out and a Calvert Hall player went in on goal all alone, finishing off the play with a nifty move around the goalkeeper and a quickly disposed of shot that just avoided the diving efforts of two Curley defenders who tried valiantly to get back into the play. It was the goal-of-the-game on a variety of levels, as it finished off the comeback for Calvert Hall and afforded those in attendance with yet another outstanding piece of soccer on a day both teams left everything on the field and played the game hard, but fair, and showed a lot of skill and composure at the same time.

Calvert Hall and Curley will meet in soccer one more time this week, on Thursday at 4pm, in the MIAA varsity semi-finals. That game will also take place at Calvert Hall.

Tuesday
November 3
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XVI
Issue 3

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empty stadium seats doesn't necessarily mean "lack of interest"

Here's the dirty little secret about the Baltimore Ravens: Tickets are easy to come by. And it's not because the team is off to a woeful 2-6 start in 2015. They've been readily available for years, actually. You just have to know where to look to find them.

In fact, right now, there are easily 5,000 tickets available for the November 15 home game against Jacksonville. I checked a couple of reputable ticket sourcing websites last night and that's roughly the number of available tickets from "legit" re-sellers. On StubHub alone, there are 3,847 tickets listed for the Jacksonville game.

By the way, that's probably the number of seats available on StubHub for ANY Ravens home game.

I was in the stadium on Sunday and, like a lot of folks, I was interested in seeing how many "no shows" there were given the Ravens' record and a less-than-flattering opponent. There were a lot of empty seats, particulary in the upper deck, which, by the way, is where you'll find the majority of seats on the various ticket re-selling websites. Those are bought by brokers, some of whom own 10 or more season tickets. I remember last January when the Ravens played in Pittsburgh, I was able to secure 38 tickets in three groups of seating: a group of 16, a group of 12 and a group of 10 -- each group in its own row. Those are owned by people in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and New York, for example, who own tickets in virtually every stadium or arena in America.

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It wasn't quite this bad on Sunday vs. San Diego, but pockets of empty seats at the Chargers game have some in town concerned.

The people not showing up for the game last Sunday -- and presumably on 11/15 and 11/22 when two other crappy teams come to town -- were mainly the "one off" ticket buyers, not season ticket holders. Sure, some of the empty seats were those of full-plan holders who either couldn't make the game, weren't interested enough to go, etc. But for the most part, empty seats are representative of ticket re-selling sources who didn't have enough action to sell all of their available inventory. As I walked into the stadium on Sunday, I heard a guy selling tickets. He had them in his hand -- they were clearly season tickets, with Ray Lewis on the front -- and he yelled out, "Lower deck, 50 bucks!". That was the going rate on Sunday, I guess. Fifty dollars to see the Ravens play a game, in what likely was a pretty decent seat if, in fact, they were "lower deck".

There's a certain segment of the team's fan base that's turned off by the team's 2-6 start, sure. That's natural. The Orioles certainly won't see an INCREASE in their season ticket sales this winter over what they experienced last winter when they entered the off-season as a hot commodity after advancing to the ALCS in 2014. Winning teams have more fans, losing teams have less fans. It's just the way it is.

But I don't think the folks who didn't show up on Sunday were people like you and I who left the tickets in their glove compartment or magnetized to the front of their refrigerator. I think the majority of unoccupied seats from Sunday were those belonging to ticket brokers and their market, by and large, is the fan who goes to a game or two a season when their hectic schedule permits or the game is ultra-attractive. Sunday's game between a 1-6 team and a 2-5 team wasn't attractive at all, unless you're either a Ravens or Chargers die-hard.

I was in Arizona last Monday night for the game and I'd say there were easily 2,000 Ravens fans in the building. That's not an overwhelming number of people in a 70,000 seat facility, but 2,000 people traveling from Baltimore to Phoenix is noteworthy -- and guess what? They all got tickets. Just like all of us who took the bus up to Pittsburgh on October 1st got tickets, too.

If the Ravens are 5-9 on December 27 when they host the Steelers, you'll definitely see a lot more Steelers fans in the stadium than if John Harbaugh's team was, say, 9-5 or 10-4. Either way, though, there WILL be Pittsburgh supporters in the building on December 27 because those people have easy access to tickets through a variety of outlets and sources.

In the coming weeks, though, our natural inclination will be to look at the empty seats in Baltimore and somehow connect that to a city that's lost interest in its team. Sure, there's a small degree of that which is true, but for the most part, it's all a simple element of the ticket industry. A hot ticket sells and a cold ticket doesn't.

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ravens first-half grades start trickling in

We're at the eight-game mark of the 2015 campaign, which makes it a natural time to sit back and do some simple grading for the primary figures of the local football team. We'll spotlight eight offensive players today and then grade eight defensive players tomorrow.

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We haven't seen this smile from the Ravens' QB much this season, but his hair sure does look good.

Joe Flacco: (B-) -- Given what he's had to work with -- and I can't stress enough how important that is -- Flacco has performed admirably for the most part thus far in 2015. He's been good, not great, which is why he gets a "B". A couple of balls that Steve Smith should have caught for touchdowns (Denver, San Francisco) might be the difference in the team being 4-4 instead of 2-6. All in all, the Ravens' record isn't a by-product of Flacco's play. It's been a by-product of the team's horribly inconsistent defense. That said -- and I've been critical of him at times this year -- when you're the quarterback and you're the one making all the money, you get more of the skeptic's eye than you might deserve. That's why you get paid the big bucks, as the saying goes.

Steve Smith: (B-) -- It's hard to give Smith anything better than a B- and, honestly, if you want to bark at me for grading him too high, I might shrug my shoulders and say, "Yeah, maybe you're right." He dropped a huge game-winning TD in Denver in week one that could have been a season-defining moment for the Ravens. A few weeks later in San Francisco, Flacco twice found him in the end zone only to see the wide receiver fail to corral either of those for a touchdown. When he's been good -- like in the Cincinnati loss at home -- he's been a game-changer. When he's been off, he's also been a game-changer. Unfortunately.

Justin Forsett: (B) -- While he hasn't been as productive as he was in 2014, Forsett is once again putting up good numbers and will likely be called upon even more in the season's second half now that Flacco has lost his primary pass-catching target. I thought they'd use Forsett more as a short-pass option out of the backfield this year, but Marc Trestman evidently doesn't favor that scheme.

Kamar Aiken: (C) -- Only a strong game against the Chargers saved him from a "D" grade, but Aiken has some NFL-caliber tools that Flacco seemingly connects with more and more with each passing week. He's a good route runner and his hands are reliable enough; he just doesn't have enough speed to become anything more than a move-the-chains guy, I'm afraid. Still, if you need someone to run a quick 10-yard slant and have the ability to catch it when it's thrown his way, Aiken is looking like a candidate for that sort of option.

Crockett Gillmore: (B) -- He's been hot and cold, depending on the game, depending on the score, and depending on what plan of attack Trestman has for the opposition that day. He was a beast in the first half of the Oakland game, then disappeared in the second half when they keyed on him and Trestman went away from him, too. I'm fairly certain he'll never be as good as Todd Heap was in Baltimore, but he can probably be as important to the offense as Dennis Pitta was back in 2012 when he was an integral part of the team's Super Bowl run.

Marlon Brown: (D) -- It's a wonder he still has a job, frankly. I guess that's more of a testament to the fact that receivers with experience in the league are at premium than anything else. Hands are shaky, route running is suspect and, for the most part, he almost looks out of place now. His confidence has to be low, which might be one of the biggest reasons why he's barely a factor in the offense. Perhaps with Steve Smith sidelined it will open some things up for Brown, but it's hard to see him on the team past this season unless some dramatic improvements are made in the next eight weeks.

Buck Allen: (B) -- I like what I've seen out of him, but it seems Trestman and Company don't have as much confidence in the rookie from USC as I do. He's been a good counter-point to Forsett's sneaky style and isn't afraid to put his head down and get in the mix on short yardage situations. Like Forsett, I think his role gets expanded now that Smith is out of the lineup. If there's one player I'd like to see get more calls thrown his way in the second half, it's this guy -- and the guy below.

Nick Boyle: (B) -- He gets a "B" based on what he's done, not the overall contribution he's made. That's to say, basically, when he's been utilized, he's been very effective. Has good hands, runs a good route and seems reliable enough to go to 2-4 times a game, at least. Might lack the overall size you'd like to see in an elite NFL tight end, but when the ball gets throw his way, he holds on to it. I'd love to see the Ravens figure out a way to use him more in the second half, but my guess is those play calls go more to Kyle Juszczyk over the next two months.


only 14 seats remain for our #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 started with 30 available seats for our 2016 trip to the Masters but we're now down to just 14 remaining seats. If you're interested, e-mail me directly, please: 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.


As if the 2015 season couldn't go from bad to worse, there was Steve Smith Sr. writing in agony on the field late in the third quarter on Sunday. The injury proved to be a torn Achilles, and he's done for the season.

The Ravens somehow managed to win the game without Smith, thanks to a big three-and-out stop by the defense and a clutch late drive from Joe Flacco -- two things that have been largely absent this season -- along with a last-second kick by Justin Tucker. But it's fair to wonder how the Ravens plan to keep winning games without Smith, the catalyst for the Ravens offense all season.

For now, barring another trade or signing, the Ravens will be dealing with this jarring fact of life: Of the five healthy receivers on their roster -- Breshad Perriman is still hurt, after all -- four of them went undrafted. Then again, maybe that's just as well: The Ravens track record of drafting and developing wide receivers has been abysmal. Maybe Perriman will ultimately develop into the big-time playmaker the Ravens envisioned when they invested the No. 26 overall pick on him this past spring. Or, maybe he'll join a long line of Ravens wide receiver draft busts.

What is it with the Ravens and wide receivers in the draft? Is it some kind of curse? Smith has been one of the Ravens shrewd veteran receiver acquisitions -- Derrick Mason and Anquan Boldin also come to mind -- but the Ravens have repeatedly swung and missed at receivers in the draft. To be fair to Ozzie Newsome and his staff, no one bats 1.000 in the draft, and draft hindsight is 20-20. And the Ravens' consistent success over the years is testament to the fact that the Ravens have this whole draft thing figured out better than most organizations. Still, for whatever reason, that success comes to a screeching halt at the wide receiver position.

Here are all the receivers the Ravens have picked in the last 10 drafts, dating to 2006: Demetrius Williams, Yamon Figurs, Marcus Smith, Justin Harper, David Reed, Torrey Smith, Tandon Doss, Tommy Streeter, Aaron Mellette, Michael Campanaro, Breshad Perriman and Darren Waller. Of all the players in that group, exactly one -- Torrey Smith -- became a regular NFL starter. (Perriman obviously still might be, but he sure hasn't yet.)

Wait a minute, you say. Most of those guys were mid- to late-round draft picks. Those picks often don't pan out. Fair point. But the Steelers found Antonio Brown in the sixth round (one pick after the Ravens drafted Ramon Harewood; like I said, draft hindsight is always 20-20). Marques Colston and Stevie Johnson were both seventh-round picks. Late-round gems are out there, but the Ravens haven't found them.

And even the Ravens early-round receiver draft picks have not fared all that well. Perriman is the third receiver taken in the first round by the Ravens. The others -- Travis Taylor in 2000 and Mark Clayton in 2005 -- never truly lived up to that stature. Both put up some decent numbers, but neither ever had a 1,000-yard season. And of course Perriman's story isn't yet written, but he has not played a down in the NFL and we're two months into his first season.

There is no doubt that the Ravens receiver position continues to need upgrading in a major way, whether Steve Smith Sr. decides to return for one more season or not. Come April, the Ravens once again will be looking for receiver help in the draft. The only problem is, time and time again in the past, they haven't found it that way.


Monday
November 2
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XVI
Issue 2

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ravens show some grit with last-second win over chargers

It wasn’t pretty, but I don’t think any of us expected it to be, right?

The Ravens’ 29-26 win over San Diego on Sunday wasn’t a thing of beauty, but after a handful of losses that featured narrow misses, dropped passes and bad officiating, Baltimore finally got a game to go their way – and it sure felt good.

At 2-6, there’s too much damage done to start trying to carve out a reasonable road to the playoffs for John Harbaugh’s team, but the truth of the matter is the AFC is most likely going to have at least one Wild Card team finish up at 9-7 and, if you look at everyone’s schedule, 8-8 could also snag one of the two AFC playoff spots. That means, even at 2-6, the Ravens are still mathematically alive for additional January football.

If you want my “official call” at the mid-way point of the season, I’ll say I think the Ravens finish the season at 5-11. I’d love to bear witness to one of those miraculous second-half runs where the club goes 7-1 and claims a playoff spot after being dead-and-buried at 1-6…but it’s not going to happen. I think you know that, too. I’m assuming they’ll beat Jacksonville in a couple of weeks, lose to the Rams, beat the Browns, lose to the Dolphins, lose to the Seahawks, beat the Chiefs, lose to the Steelers and lose to the Bengals. That’s 5-11.

But let’s not lose sight of what happened on Sunday, when the club put together a spirited fourth quarter rally after their best wide receiver tore his achilles at midfield in plain sight of his teammates and coaches. Sunday’s win over the Chargers was gut-check-time for the Ravens, plain and simple, and for one day at least, they came through with flying colors. Joe Flacco stepped up with his best overall game of the season, Kamar Aiken looked like he might be worth keeping around and the defense, while far from spectacular, was good enough to keep things close for Flacco and the offense.

And the Chargers helped out, too. They were in great shape to win the game until Jacoby Jones was afraid to catch a Sam Koch punt in the 4th quarter and the ball bounded away from him some 23 yards downfield and pinned San Diego on their own three yard line. A pair of “interesting” calls from the refs actually wound up helping the Ravens and hurting the Chargers, as it appeared the Baltimore defense forced a safety on successive plays midway through the final quarter, but the officials deemed “forward progress had been stopped” and gave San Diego the ball on the one yard line instead of awarding the Ravens two points.

In hindsight, it would have been better for San Diego if the officials would have given Baltimore a safety. The Chargers were up at the time, 23-19, so the two-points would have made it 23-21, but they would have been allowed a free kick in the aftermath and the Ravens would have likely started somewhere around their own 20 or 30 yard line with eight minutes left in the game. Instead, the Chargers were forced to punt from within their own end zone and when Jeremy Ross returned it to the San Diego 38, the field – and game – had been flipped. And it all started when Jones alligator-armed a punt three minutes before.

The Ravens also got a huge break on a blocked extra point in the 2nd quarter, where Asa Jackson (who blocked the kick) was CLEARLY offsides as he raced around the edge and got his hand on the ball. That blocked kick, which made the score 16- 13 instead of 17-13, would loom rather large near the game’s end when the Chargers kicked a field goal to make it 26-26.

When you’re 1-6, though, and your own share of oddities have helped get you to that point, all good breaks are a blessing. The breaks might not even out over the course of the 16-week regular season, but at least on Sunday, good fortune finally went the way of the Ravens and gave them a much-deserved win to temporarily keep their miracle-candle burning.

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royals rally again, win world series with five-run 12th inning

It might have only been a 5-game World Series in 2015, but it will surely be remembered as one of the most memorable of this era in major league baseball, as Kansas City won their first world title since 1985 last night with a 7-2 victory in 12 innings over the New York Mets.

The Royals finished off a remarkable two-year run with a stirring 9th inning comeback which saw them behind 2-0 before finally getting to Mets' starter Matt Harvey, who forced himself back into the game in the top of the 9th after manager Terry Collins had decided to go with closer Jeurys Familia to try and finish off K.C. and send the series back to the midwest for Game 6.

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Last night's win over the Mets gave the Royals the title they so richly deserved after coming up 90 feet short in a 7-game loss to the Giants in last year's World Series.

Down 2-0, K.C. knotted the game and sent it to extra innings on a walk, a double from Eric Hosmer, a ground-out to first that sent Hosmer to third -- and then the most improbable of plays pushed across the tying run and stunned the Citi Field crowd. On an infield ground ball, David Wright double-pumped the throw, which gave Hosmer the green light to try and get a jump on things and head for home. In complete hindsight, it was a base-running blunder, as a good throw from first baseman Lucas Duda would have had the Royals' runner out at the plate by 15 feet. Duda didn't make a good throw, though, as it sailed wildly past the catcher and Hosmer dove in with the tying run to give the Royals new life.

It's the type of play they'll be showing for years and lauding Hosmer for "heads up baseball", but the reality is he was stone-dead at the plate if Duda makes even a halfway decent throw to home. Give Hosmer credit, though. He's a gutsy kid and in, in that situation, making the other guy make a play is all part of the process.

Kansas City ripped open the game in the 12th inning, scoring five times, and Wade Davis needed to face just four batters in the bottom half of the inning to give the Royals their first title in 30 years. Hats off to the Royals, who have constructed themselves a whopper of a baseball team out there in Kansas City. They put wood on the ball, keep counts alive, get on base, pitch well enough to give the game to their stunningly-good bullpen and, most importantly, field their positions like nine guys named Brooks Robinson. They are, in my opinion, as complete of a team (sans perhaps some home run beef, which they don't really need because it would take away from the other stuff they do so well) as I've seen in baseball over the last twenty years.

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acc should do the right thing and award duke a win

It’s simple, really. Duke beat Miami in football on Saturday. On the final play of the game, with Miami players hurling the ball all over the place, the contest ended when a Hurricane holding the ball was tackled and his knee touched the ground. Game over. Except, it wasn’t. Somehow, the refs missed the call, and a few “blocking in the back” infractions, and it all led to Miami pulling off one of the most improbable last-gasp plays in college football history.

Well, except they didn’t actually pull it off. I mean, the scoreboard says they did, but everyone who watched the final frantic thirty seconds knows the Miami player’s knee hit the ground and the game should have ended right there with Duke winning.

The ACC, much to their credit, admitted their colossal foul-up on Sunday when they suspended the entire officiating crew for their oversights (plural) on the final play. Unfortunately, the ACC fell short of doing the right thing, which would have been to simply award Duke the victory yesterday and put the game away in its proper historical context. Instead, they admitted the refs cost Duke the game, but allowed Miami to keep the win anyway. It doesn’t add up.

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Here's where the game actually ended on Saturday at Duke. Except, of course, it didn't end...

This was the most unique of circumstances, because it came on the very last play of the game. There wasn’t 1:30 left or even 50 seconds remaining. This. Was. The. Last. Play. If Miami doesn’t score a touchdown, they lose. So, with that factor in mind, it would have been easy for the ACC to say yesterday, “On the last play of the game on Saturday, a Miami’s player knee touched the ground while he was still in possession of the ball. The officiating crew, even with video replay as an option, didn’t detect that situation and improperly allowed the play to continue, which would ultimately result in a Miami touchdown and victory. However, upon review, it’s very clear that the play should have been whistled dead once the player’s knee hit the ground, so we’ve awarded the victory to Duke."

There you go. That would have been the right thing to do. Sure, some folks would have complained about “setting a precedent” to which the ACC could have quickly replied, “Well, if sometime in the future, on the very last play of the game, the officials in the ACC fail to make a call that would have ended the game and given the victory to “Team A” -- only to see “Team B” convert that mistake into a game- winning touchdown then, yes, we will also change THAT result as well.”

This is just like the perfect game of Armando Galarraga’s that was foiled in 2010 when first base umpire Jim Joyce CLEARLY botched the final out of the game and called a guy “safe” at first who was clearly out. The right thing, the next day, would have been to award Galarraga with the perfect game that he pitched. Because that’s what he did. 27 guys came up and 27 guys made an out. And because it was the last play of the game, and the 28th guy made an out, it would have been completely reasonable for Major League Baseball to simply award Galarraga with a perfect game the next day once everyone had a chance to see the play 250 times and realized the 27th player was OUT, not safe.

On Saturday in Durham, NC, Duke won a football game. The officials got in the way on the last play of the game and helped Miami score an apparent game-winning touchdown, but by its own admission on Sunday, the ACC knows the officials were wrong. And if they wanted to right their own wrong, they’d simply award Duke with the win that they won. End of story.

I scratch my head sometimes at how people who appear to be well educated and reasonably intelligent can’t make a SIMPLE decision like the one facing the ACC with regard to Saturday’s Miami/Duke game. It’s a no brainer. On the last play of the game, a Duke player tackled a Miami player and the game was over and Duke won. That’s what happened. Everyone knows it. So, change the records to reflect a Duke victory and give Miami the loss they earned.

Oh, and yes, I'm quite aware that "Vegas" would go nuts and be thrown for a loop from gamblers who would want some sort of restitution for the overturned game. Oh well...that's for those guys to figure out. That's why the big wigs at Caesars have huge houses and big swimming pools.

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put your money
where your mouth is

Let's see what our resident antagonist -- PGAV -- has to say about my wizardry yesterday, as I whisked through a NFL Sunday without a loss. He's always quick to poke at me when I have an off-day, let's see if he'll man-up today with plaudits for my 4-0-1 mark AND a Ravens win that I also correctly called.

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.

After a brief resurgence with a 4-1 mark in Week 6, I was awful in Week 7, going 0-4 before the Cardinals gave me my lone win of the weekend when they covered against the Ravens. So, at 13-22 through seven weeks, I'm in dire need of another 4-1 week to get myself back on track.

Unlike last week when I didn't really feel good about ANY of the games, I have the warm and fuzzies on a few of them today.

CARDINALS (-7) AT BROWNS: I wasn't overly impressed with Arizona on Monday night, but they definitely have enough weapons to punish the leaky Cleveland defense. This one might be close for 35-40 minutes, but Arizona will do more than enough to win. Take the Cardinals and give the Browns seven points here, as Arizona wins 30-20.

RESULT: WINNER (1-0) -- This one went almost exactly as I predicted, as the Browns led at one point 20-7 before an Arizona rally in the 2nd half gave them a 34-20 win.


GIANTS AT SAINTS (-3): I don't know about the Saints. I thought they were doomed to be chopped liver last week in Indianapolis and they went in there and beat the Colts. Then again, there's no telling what Giants team shows up today, either. Let's just keep it simple and go with the home team as the Saints win and cover, 27-23.

RESULT: PUSH (1-0-1) -- When it was 42-28 in favor of the Saints, I was giggling like a schoolboy who just stumbled on to one of Dad's magazines, but in the end, the Saints and Giants pushed on this game when New Orleans won by three points.


49'ERS AT RAMS (-8): Huh? What? The Rams -- the freakin' Rams -- are EIGHT POINT FAVORITES? Holy cow. Vegas is just dying for you to grab the 49'ers, right? I mean, they're practically BEGGING you to snatch San Fran and those eight points. Well, they're not gonna get me. No sir. I'm taking the Rams and dishing out eight points, too, as St. Louis wins 31-21.

RESULT: WINNER (2-0-1) -- I'm so proud of myself for not biting on that outlandish 8-point number Vegas handed the 49'ers. Sometimes you're the bug and sometimes you're the windshield. St. Louis has a good defense, one that will give the Ravens fits on 11/22 in Baltimore.


VIKINGS AT BEARS (PICK 'EM): Is Minnesota good enough to go on the road, in the division, and win a game? And are the Bears bad enough to let that happen? I think so. It sure looks like former Maryland WR Stefon Diggs is going to be a hit in the NFL and that Peterson guy can run the ball pretty well, too, so let's go with the Vikings to win a close one, 20-17.

RESULT: WINNER (3-0-1) -- "Let's go with the Vikings to win a close one" it says above and that's exactly what happened as Minnesota came out on top, 23-20. I was on a roll by this time game hit the scoreboard.


BENGALS AT STEELERS (PICK 'EM): As much as I think a healthy Roethlisberger makes Pittsburgh a legit playoff team come January, I don't see him coming back today and engineering the Steelers to a win over the undefeated Bengals. Pittsburgh might win the rematch in Cincy later this season, but the Bengals come out on top today at Heinz Field, 23-21.

RESULT: WINNER (4-0-1) -- Ahhhhh, the joys of an undefeated Sunday were only enhanced by the fact that the Steelers were the ones who helped me get there with a home loss to the Bengals.


BEST BET OF THE DAY: I'm going with the Saints (-3) as my "Best Bet Of The Day".

RESULT: PUSH (4-3-1 on the season) -- Selfishly, I wanted this one to go to overtime so perhaps the Saints could win by six and cover for me, but a tie is always better than a loss, particularly when you're gambling. Which, of course, we're not "really" doing here, but you know what I mean.


RECORD TO DATE: 17-22-1

LAST WEEK'S RECORD: 4-0-1

BEST BET OF THE DAY (SEASON): 4-3-1


and my #1 favorite of all-time album is...

Note: I ran this in yesterday's "Game Day" edition of #DMD, but figured it was worth running again this morning just to put a lid on the whole project.

Ten days ago I started a new trip down memory lane where I put together my own personal Top 10 favorite albums list. A few of them I hadn't listened to in a while, so it was good to go back and throw them on in the car or on the iPod flying to Phoenix for last week's golf trip.

The Doors are my favorite band of all time. By the time I discovered them in the summer of 1979, lead singer Jim Morrison had been dead for eight years and the band was actually no longer putting out new music. That didn't stop me from becoming a complete Doors nut, though, and I have owned every album from the Southern California-based band for the last 35 years or so.

X
The Doors' best music and best vocal work from Jim Morrison can be found on Morrison Hotel.

My favorite album from The Doors AND my favorite album of all-time is probably one of their more obscure records, but to me it features the band at its best -- sound wise -- and Morrison at his very best vocals-wise. Unlike the early records where his voice was still prone to some screeching and the late record like L.A. Woman where he was starting to sound old and husky, Morrison's vocals on the album "Morrison Hotel" are flawless. He rocks it out in "Roadhouse Blues", croons for you in "Indian Summer" and bounces along merrily in "Land Ho!". The best song on the record is "Queen of the Highway" (listen to it below) and it's also one of my top five favorite Doors songs of all-time (L.A. Woman is #1 in that category).

I can still listen to The Doors today, 35 years later, and get the same enjoyment out of them as I did back in the summer of 1981 when a bunch of high school kids from Glen Burnie converged on Ocean City for "Senior Week" and vowed to change the world. If you wanted me to play you one album that showcased the music of The Doors, "Morrison Hotel" would be that record, hands down.


The Doors: Morrison Hotel
"Queen of the Highway"

Sunday
November 1
#DMD GAME DAY
presented by
Volume 16
Issue 1
Baltimore Ravens vs. San Diego Chargers

1:00 PM EDT

M&T Bank Stadium
Baltimore, MD

I'm the guy who almost never refers to a game as "must win" unless your season ends with a loss...but let's call this one like it is today for the Ravens: A must win game.

At 1-6, there's literally no more room for error -- or losses -- if the Ravens want to even THINK about playing post-season football in the 2015 season. It's going to be tough enough to win today, let alone win seven or eight of their last nine games, but every journey starts with a first step and that's what today's game with San Diego represents.

X
It could get VERY ugly in Baltimore today if the Ravens can't stop this man and his group of wide receivers.

Lots of people see this is as a mismatch because the Chargers can throw the ball as well as almost any team in the league, but I don't think the game sets up that way. The Ravens can score points and they're always more prolific at home than on the road. Less crowd noise, players more aware of the footing and stadium turf, and more familiar sight angles for Flacco and the receivers. In general, the club just has a better comfort level at home. Yes, yes, I know -- that stuff didn't help them earlier this season when the Bengals and Browns came to town.

I wrote earlier this week here at #DMD about watching how a team reacts when they're losing. It tells you a lot about the character of the club, the players, the coaches, etc. I think everyone would agree there's been no quit in the team, even at 1-6. They've been overwhelmed with injuries, had their fair share of bad breaks, and the refs haven't exactly been all that forgiving -- or beneficial -- either, but the Ravens have offered up a challenge in every game so far in 2015. With each passing week, though, the odds stack higher and higher against them, which might lead to a breakdown in the team character department. It's human nature, of course, to lose a little bit of interest when you're 1-5, 1-6, etc., but you're paid to play, not to brood. So, I'll be watching EVERYTHING today as this unfolds in Baltimore. How do they start? How do they finish? Keep the lead? Give up the lead? Everything is worth watching this afternoon.

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today's main storylines:
ravens vs. chargers

*Can the Ravens generate a pass rush? -- The Baltimore secondary isn't getting any better. I think we'll agree on that. So, in order to keep San Diego QB Philip Rivers in check today, Dean Pees has to dial up some schemes that gets the defensive front seven in Rivers' face. With no pressure on him, it could be a looooonnnnggggg day for the Ravens on the defensive side of the ball. I'd go as far as saying if the Ravens can't generate at least FOUR sacks today, they can't win.

*Let Flacco throw the deep ball -- Our deep threat weapons are limited, yes, but Flacco and Chris Givens looked like they might be on to something on Monday night in Arizona. Why not give him 3-4 deep shots today against the Chargers? Same with Kamar Aiken, who can be hot and cold (unlike Marlon Brown, who is just "cold") but does have a little bit of speed to get downfield and get underneath a long throw or two like he did against the Browns a few weeks ago. Joe likes to air it out. Let's cater to him a little bit today and give him 5-6 deep throws and see what happens.

*Get ahead early -- I know the Ravens' problems have been at the end of the game, not at the beginning, but the pressure is ON today and there's one really good way to relieve it: get ahead early and make the Chargers come to the Ravens. It's important to see Baltimore come out of the gate playing well, scoring early and, preferably, staking themselves to a lead at halftime. The more breathing room, the easier it will be in the 4th quarter.

*No dumb penalties -- Self explanatory, but easier said than done. No hitting the quarterback late. No roughing the kicker penalties. Nothing stupid. Just play football. Sure, a flag here and there is expected, but keep the penalties to a minimum, particularly the "dumb ones".

Here’s how Drew sees today’s game:

I actually feel pretty confident about today's game for some weird reason. Maybe, more than anything, I just don't think the Ravens are a 1-7 football team. At some point, they have to get a good break, a ball bounce their way or a game-changing call go against the other team. As much I can concede the match-up doesn't look favorable, I think the Ravens offense can somehow outscore the San Diego offense. Here's how I see it playing out this afternoon in Baltimore:

The Ravens jump out to a 10-0 lead on a Flacco to Steve Smith touchdown pass and Justin Tucker field goal. San Diego ties it at 10-10 but the Ravens score again before the half to lead 17-10 after two quarters. They up the lead to 24-10 and then the fireworks begin, as the team's trade scores and the Ravens tack on a safety before the Chargers rally in the 4th quarter. Baltimore's defense holds on this time, though, leading the Ravens to a much-needed 36-31 win.


percentage points

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

48% - If you said to me, "Drew, what are the chances the Chargers win today?"

22% - Chances of the Chargers holding Flacco to under 300 yards passing?

46% - The chances Philip Rivers throws for over 400 yards?

62% - What are the chances the Ravens rush for over 100 yards?

78% - The chances any Ravens WR catches a TD pass?

2% - 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.

After a brief resurgence with a 4-1 mark in Week 6, I was awful in Week 7, going 0-4 before the Cardinals gave me my lone win of the weekend when they covered against the Ravens. So, at 13-22 through seven weeks, I'm in dire need of another 4-1 week to get myself back on track.

Unlike last week when I didn't really feel good about ANY of the games, I have the warm and fuzzies on a few of them today.

CARDINALS (-7) AT BROWNS: I wasn't overly impressed with Arizona on Monday night, but they definitely have enough weapons to punish the leaky Cleveland defense. This one might be close for 35-40 minutes, but Arizona will do more than enough to win. Take the Cardinals and give the Browns seven points here, as Arizona wins 30-20.

GIANTS AT SAINTS (-3): I don't know about the Saints. I thought they were doomed to be chopped liver last week in Indianapolis and they went in there and beat the Colts. Then again, there's no telling what Giants team shows up today, either. Let's just keep it simple and go with the home team as the Saints win and cover, 27-23.

49'ERS AT RAMS (-8): Huh? What? The Rams -- the freakin' Rams -- are EIGHT POINT FAVORITES? Holy cow. Vegas is just dying for you to grab the 49'ers, right? I mean, they're practically BEGGING you to snatch San Fran and those eight points. Well, they're not gonna get me. No sir. I'm taking the Rams and dishing out eight points, too, as St. Louis wins 31-21.

VIKINGS AT BEARS (PICK 'EM): Is Minnesota good enough to go on the road, in the division, and win a game? And are the Bears bad enough to let that happen? I think so. It sure looks like former Maryland WR Stefon Diggs is going to be a hit in the NFL and that Peterson guy can run the ball pretty well, too, so let's go with Vikings to win a close one, 20-17.

BENGALS AT STEELERS (PICK 'EM): As much as I think a healthy Roethlisberger makes Pittsburgh a legit playoff team come January, I don't see him coming back today and engineering the Steelers to a win over the undefeated Bengals. Pittsburgh might win the rematch in Cincy later this season, but the Bengals come out on top today at Heinz Field, 23-21.

BEST BET OF THE DAY: I'm going with the Saints (-3) as my "Best Bet Of The Day".

RECORD TO DATE: 13-22

LAST WEEK'S RECORD: 1-4

BEST BET OF THE DAY (SEASON): 4-3

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royals rally -- again -- and win game 4 to take 3-1 world series lead

Almost 30 years later, fans of the New York Mets felt the Red Sox pain. It wasn't exactly the same set of circumstances as the Game 6 error committed by Boston first baseman Bill Buckner in the 1986 World Series, but Daniel Murphy's 8th inning gaffe last night was eerily similar and it set off a chain of events that sent the Royals to a 5-3 victory in Game 4. Kansas City now leads the series 3-games-to-1 and can sew up its first world title since 1985 with a win tonight at Citi Field in New York.

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It seems like every time there's a big post-season moment for the Royals, Eric Hosmer is always right in the middle of it.

This was yet another post-season rally for K.C., who trailed Houston 6-2 in the 8th inning of Game 4 of their earlier series with the Astros before staving off elimination with five runs in the 8th and two more in the 9th to win, 9-6, and set up a Game 5 victory back in Kansas City. It goes without saying -- but I'll say it anyway -- that a 2-2 series is COMPLETELY different than a 3-1 series. A New York win last night and the whole thing becomes a best-of-3 with the Mets owning the first home game (Sunday) of that mini-series. Advantage: Mets. With the loss, though, it's now 3-1 in favor of KC and they have two of those three games in their building and need just one win to seal the deal. Big advantage: Royals.

On Saturday night, several things hurt the Mets, including the lack of a reliable left-handed arm in the 8th inning to face K.C.'s solid duo of Hosmer and Moustakas. Remember near the trade deadline when rumors surfaced that the Mets were interested in Orioles' lefty Brian Matusz? Last night's 8th inning showed why. Forced to use righties Tyler Clippard and Jeurys Familia, the Mets couldn't wiggle their way out of the 8th inning without coughing up a 3-2 lead. Clippard walked two hitters and Murphy let Hosmer's slow grounder roll under his glove to plate the tying run. The Royals then rattled off two more hits to take the lead and then they turned the game over to closer Wade Davis, who got himself in a little bit of 9th inning trouble before Yoenis Cespedes got doubled off of first base on a soft liner to third base that ended the game.

Kansas City, in the understatement of the day, has themselves one helluva ballclub. They are as solid at the plate, collectively, as any team that's come along in recent memory. Much like the Yankees teams of the late 1990's, they're more than happy to stand at the plate and foul off pitch after pitch after pitch after pitch after pitch just to stay alive in the at-bat and force a good pitch to come their way. They're also uniquely blended to use their "ball in play" philosophy to start, ignite and finish off rallies because their team speed is worth an extra base or two per-inning. If the Royals get a guy on base with no one out, it's almost always going to yield at least one run for them, if not more.


umbc soccer earns 1-0 road win to secure conference tournament bid

UMBC sophomore midfielder Gregg Hauck scored the game's lone goal in the 72nd minute and junior goalkeeper Billy Heavner made it stand up with a career-high eight-save effort as the visiting Retrievers clinched a spot in the America East Tournament with a 1-0 victory at U.Mass Lowell's Cushing Field on Saturday, October 31.

The Retrievers will participate in their ninth consecutive championship and their 11th in 13 league seasons. UMBC improved to 9-5-3 overall and 2-2-2 in league play, while UML slipped to 7-8-1 and 2-3-1 in the conference.

Midway through the second half, UMBC earned its first and only corner-kick of the match. Senior back Malcolm Harris drove the ball towards the near right post and midfielder Michael Scott flicked it on further. Hauck followed Scott and headed the ball past the UML goalkeeper from seven yards out to put the Retrievers up, 1-0.

The UMBC defense tightened up over the final 15 minutes and the River Hawks could not muster any high quality chances.

Retrievers' goalkeeper Billy Heavner made a pair of outstanding saves to keep the first half scoreless. He challenged and stopped a Nana Osei effort in the fourth minute and made a diving stop of an Augusto Trento longer range effort in the 24'. The Retrievers' best chance came moments later on a cross from sophomore Cormac Noel, but freshman midfielder James Gielen (Edgewater, Md./DeMatha) was just unable to get a boot on it from the six-yard area.

UMBC improved to 3-0-0 all-time versus the River Hawks.

The Retrievers will try to improve their seeding when they host Stony Brook in the regular season finale at Retriever Soccer Park on Wednesday, Nov. 4. UMBC's seniors will be honored just before the 7:00 p.m. kick-off.


and my #1 favorite of all-time album is...

Ten days ago I started a new trip down memory lane where I put together my own personal Top 10 favorite albums list. A few of them I hadn't listened to in a while, so it was good to go back and throw them on in the car or on the iPod flying to Phoenix for last week's golf trip.

The Doors are my favorite band of all time. By the time I discovered them in the summer of 1979, lead singer Jim Morrison had been dead for eight years and the band was actually no longer putting out new music. That didn't stop me from becoming a complete Doors nut, though, and I have owned every album from the Southern California-based band for the last 35 years or so.

X
The Doors' best music and best vocal work from Jim Morrison can be found on Morrison Hotel.

My favorite album from The Doors AND my favorite album of all-time is probably one of their more obscure records, but to me it features the band at its best -- sound wise -- and Morrison at his very best vocals-wise. Unlike the early records where his voice was still prone to some screeching and the late record like L.A. Woman where he was starting to sound old and husky, Morrison's vocals on the album "Morrison Hotel" are flawless. He rocks it out in "Roadhouse Blues", croons for you in "Indian Summer" and bounces along merrily in "Land Ho!". The best song on the record is "Queen of the Highway" (listen to it below) and it's also one of my top five favorite Doors songs of all-time (L.A. Woman is #1 in that category).

I can still listen to The Doors today, 35 years later, and get the same enjoyment out of them as I did back in the summer of 1981 when a bunch of high school kids from Glen Burnie converged on Ocean City for "Senior Week" and vowed to change the world. If you wanted me to play you one album that showcased the music of The Doors, "Morrison Hotel" would be that record, hands down.


The Doors: Morrison Hotel
"Queen of the Highway"
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.