Tuesday
April 16, 2024
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#3525


the worst -- and best -- possible scenario


When I saw the 2024-2025 NHL schedule last summer and noticed the Caps would finish the season at Philadelphia on April 17, the first thing that ran through my mind was this:

"What if the entire season comes down to that game?"

Well...

Here we are.

The Capitals need a win tonight in Philadelphia to secure a playoff spot. If they do that, they not only get in but the Flyers are bumped out of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Please let them be sad and dejected like this tonight in Philadelphia. Please...

But the Flyers could still make the post-season with a win and Detroit (Tues) and Pittsburgh (Wed) losing in their final games.

The entire season -- at least for the Capitals -- has come down to Game #82.

And it's against the worst franchise in the history of sports.

Think about that, if you will, for just a second. In our country, we have the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, WNBA, MLS and a bunch of other weird pro football, basketball and baseball leagues who all claim to be "professional".

Of all of those teams, in every league in our nation, the worst of those franchises is, by far, the Philadelphia Flyers.

And the Capitals could be nudged from the playoff picture by those creeps up in Philly tonight.

Personally, for me, it's my worst sports nightmare.

It's worth noting that the Caps could lose tonight and still get in, but they'd need to fall in overtime -- thus gaining one point in the standings -- and the Red Wings would have to lose tonight in Montreal and the Penguins would have to lose tomorrow night on the road against the New York Islanders.

But those are fine print details. The reality is if the Caps lose in regulation tonight, they're done. It's the worst thing that could happen.

It's the Steelers coming to Baltimore in the final regular season game and beating the Ravens to both eliminate Baltimore and push themselves into the AFC playoffs.

It's the Yankees coming to Baltimore for a 3-game series to close out the regular season, needing all 3 games to steal the A.L. East from the Orioles, and winning all three games, thereby not only claiming the division title but also eliminating the O's from a wild card spot as well.

We all have our own "worst nightmares" in sports.

This one, tonight, is mine. The Flyers eliminating the Capitals from the playoffs in the last game of the regular season is unthinkably heart breaking.

But there is a good side to this tilt tonight.

The Caps can also eliminate the Flyers. In their own building. And if they do that, Washington will make the post-season at the same time they're keeping the Flyers from getting in.

I hate the thought of the Caps getting eliminated. But it's a fair swap if the Caps can also kick the Flyers to the curb.

It would be better if the game was being played in Washington D.C., but it's not. The mental image of the fans up there going nuts in the final seconds as the Flyers polish off a 4-1 win is too much for me to stomach.

I saw the schedule last summer and said, "What if..."

And, well, here we are.

I hope the hockey gods have a soul. If they do, D.C. wins tonight and the Flyers go home to play golf.

Hockey gods? Are you there?

Please do the right thing tonight.


A lot has been made of the Tiger Woods/Neil Shipley controversy from Sunday's final round of the Masters. In case you haven't heard or followed along, Woods gave Shipley a folded up slip of paper while the two walked along the 8th fairway.

Moments before he handed Shipley the note, Woods was seen writing something on the piece of paper.

Shipley, an amateur, was asked about it in his post-round press conference on Sunday. He finished as the low amateur for the event and was invited to the press room to talk about his successful four days. Within minutes of sitting down, Shipley was asked about the paper Woods handed to him.

That's where things got weird.

Shipley shot a look to his right to a Masters official who was off camera.

"He didn't hand me anything," Shipley said to the reporter.

When the reporter doubled down and said, "We saw him hand you a note of some kind, we're just wondering what it said," Shipley tripled down and contended the whole incident didn't take place.

"That never happened," he said.

It did happen, though. Everyone saw it on video. Why wouldn't Shipley simply say, "Honestly? It's personal. I don't want to disclose what he wrote to me. That's between Tiger and I."

But, instead, he has created an issue by contending nothing happened.

The root of the issue relates to the rules of golf, which say playing competitors are not permitted to provide "advice" of any kind during a tournament round.

But why on earth would Tiger Woods offer any kind of "advice" to Neil Shipley on the 8th fairway of the final round of the Masters?

If, in fact, Woods did see something in Shipley's golf swing that he wanted to point out, Tiger would simply tell Shipley as they walked together between shots. Right? I mean, why write the kid a note when you can just say, "Hey, on your driver downswing, your hips are too level, which is why you're hitting a lot of blocks to the right. You're not getting any kind of release."

Right? If Tiger wanted to give Shipley a tip -- albeit, against the rules -- he'd just say it to him. He wouldn't write it down and give it to him in the middle of the round.

But why all the discretion and deception from Shipley?

It's a weird story, for sure.

We've seen all the internet memes and jokes.

Tiger was asking Shipley for the nearest Perkins Restaurant close to Ohio State.

Woods saw Shipley's 22 year old sister in the crowd and wanted the amateur to give her Tiger's number.

Shipley's dad is a car insurance salesman and Tiger needed a new rate.

But in all seriousness, why the uproar over this whole thing? It's a nothing burger.

Now, Zach Johnson 3-putting on Friday and telling the assembled gallery of "patrons" to f-off? That might be a story worth pursuing. But "NoteGate" isn't even a story, let alone something worth pursuing.


It's rare that I do this here, because I feel like everything is pretty much an open book and I'm not one to dodge questions or topics.

But, after today, I'm not going to offer any commentary on the multi-part series the former sports radio station I worked at for 12 years is putting together.

I answered a question about it recently in the Mailbag here. Several of you have followed up with e-mails asking me questions relating to it.

I don't want to answer them, for starters, because it's just not something I'm overly concerned about. If the station owner doesn't want to include me and other former employees in the station's history, that's his choice. I don't know how it's possible to fairly document the station's history without including certain others (not me) who played significant roles in the station's success and history.

But it's not my documentary.

And maybe the goal of the series isn't to be "fair", but it's being done more to promote the current on-air staffer(s) at the station.

If so, that's fine. It is what it is.

So I've offered my final comment on it here, today. It's all good. I know the role I played at the station. And I'm sure the others know the role they played, too. In the end, that's really all that matters.

Let's move on.

We have a hockey game to win tonight. And that's far more important.

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Americans are playing more and more of a vital role in international soccer these days, and Randy Morgan has his eyes on all of them for #DMD. Each week here, he looks at recent performances of American players and highlights upcoming games of importance.


orioles weekly recap, 4/8 to 4/14


Week Record: 4-2

Season Record: 9-6

AL East Standing: 2nd (2.5 GB of NYY)

Player of the Week: Colton Cowser - .435AVG 4HR 12RBI 9XBH 3BB

The Orioles concluded another up and down week by yet again escaping a sweep with a comeback win over the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday.

Last week began on a high note, with the O’s heading to Boston to conclude a road trip and coming away with a sweep as the Red Sox tripped all over themselves in the field. The excitement around the team jumped to a new level on Tuesday, when Jackson Holliday got the call up to the big leagues.

The phenom prospect made his debut in Fenway Park on Tuesday night, though he scuffled at the plate in his first taste of the majors.

The momentum from Boston didn’t make its way back to Baltimore where the Birds ran into a smoking hot Brewers lineup who touched up Tyler Wells and Dean Kremer for double digit runs in the first two games before the O’s took the third.

Last Tuesday, Corbin Burnes took the mound for his third Orioles start and was magnificent once again, throwing seven 2-hit innings with just a single home run and six strikeouts. He led the Birds to a comfortable 7-1 win behind a big night at the plate from Colton Cowser.

Wednesday was more dramatic as the O’s fought back from a five run deficit after a rough start from Cole Irvin. Seven runs in the 6th and 7th innings carried the O’s to victory with Jordan Westburg providing the game-turning Earl Weaver special in the 7th.

Thursday’s series closer was just as heart-pounding, with the O’s coming from behind to take a 3-2 lead into the 8th after an Anthony Santander homer. Connor Wong went deep off Danny Coulombe to draw even for the Sox but the Birds bats came alive in extra innings with Gunnar Henderson and Colton Cowser both going deep for a 9-4 win.

The Brewers came into Camden Yards with one of the hottest offenses in the league and O’s pitching proved little resistance in the first two games, giving up eleven runs in each game. The Orioles were never close in the opener and only held the lead until a four-run fourth inning implosion from Kremer in the second.

Corbin Burnes took the hill against his former team on Sunday and despite lacking his best stuff, managed to stop the bleeding. Burnes labored his way through five innings, giving up just two earned runs, though a third came home on his error throwing to first.

He still managed to strike out five and bring his season ERA to 2.28 in Sunday’s win.

Burnes left with the score tied, thanks to homers from Cedric Mullins and Ryan O’Hearn and it was up to the bullpen to close out the final four innings. After Yennier Cano gave up a blast to Blake Perkins in the 7th, the pen held the line and the bats provided some magic.

Jackson Holliday helped build a rally in the bottom of the 7th with his first major league hit. Gunnar Henderson and Adley Rutschman followed that by driving in two runs to give the O’s the lead and then Colton Cowser capped off a sensational week with another homer to provide the insurance.

The Orioles remain unswept since the arrival of Rutschman and the Sunday win ended the week on a positive note. There was some good off the field news during the week as well, as both John Means and Kyle Bradish began their minor league rehab stints, with both hoping to return to the O’s by some time in May.

The Player of the Week was a no-brainer.

Colton Cowser had one of the better weeks in recent memory. After a hot start earned him a more regular starting role, Cowser continued his torrid early-season pace, hitting four homers and driving in twelve runs against Boston and Milwaukee, bringing his season batting average up to .441 and his OPS to 1.445.

Cowser hasn’t just been the hottest Oriole thus far, he’s been arguably the best hitter in baseball. By Fangraphs wRC+ or Baseball Reference OPS+ he is the league leader by a wide margin for players with at least as many plate appearances.

He has a 298 wRC+, 80 better than 2nd place Mookie Betts at 218, and a 310 OPS+, also about 80 points ahead of Betts. Of course he can’t keep up this pace and will inevitably hit a slump, but many assumed the O’s would have a top rookie of the year candidate, they just might have been thinking of the wrong player.


Down on the Farm –

The Norfolk Tides rapidly fell back to Earth after their meteoric offensive output in the first week of the season. They dropped all six games to the Yankees affiliate Scranton Wilkes-Barre. Though the bats as a whole cooled off considerably, a few top prospects kept on their early season pace.

Coby Mayo picked up hits in all six games, adding two homers while maintaining a .377 average and 1.154 OPS. He continues to hit the ball really hard while swapping between 1st and 3rd base defensively.

Heston Kjerstad cooled from his insane start at the plate but added five hits and a homer to sport a .386 average and 1.296 OPS.

Though Kjerstad is the more seasoned prospect, Mayo could be the next in line to get a call-up, given the O’s dearth of right handed power and his versatility to play 3rd, 1st or outfield.

The pitching largely didn’t shine for Norfolk this week either, with top prospect Chayce McDermott continuing his early season struggles in a loss to Scranton.

However, top lefty Cade Povich delivered his third straight dominant start on Sunday, hurling 5.1 innings of one-run ball with ten strikeouts. He now has a 1.10 ERA and 24 strikeouts through three starts and 16.1 innings.

The lower minors started their seasons this week and there were some impressive pitching performances. In Bowie, 23 year old Trace Bright, a fifth round pick from 2022, racked up 14 strikeouts through 8.2 innings in his first two appearances. Down in Aberdeen, 20 year old Moises Chace K’d 15 in 8 innings through his first two appearances.


Question of the Week –

Can the rotation hold out until reinforcements arrive?

The top of the Orioles rotation has been dominant thus far, with Burnes and Rodriguez both carrying ERAs under 3.00, but the back end of the rotation was exposed as a possible achilles heel this week.

Dean Kremer had been outstanding in his first two starts but showed his inconsistency getting demolished by the Brewers. Cole Irvin has struggled in both his first two starts, with a 8.10 ERA and Tyler Wells survived his first two outings but fell apart against the Brewers as well.

Perhaps most of this can be attributed to running up against a blazing Brewers lineup, but the returns this week were certainly concerning. John Means has made his first two rehab starts at AAA Norfolk, but still has some time to go before he is stretched out to a full start in the majors. Kyle Bradish is set to make his first rehab start in Bowie this coming week, but figures to be about a month away from returning to the Orioles.

It will be difficult to keep pace with the Yankees if the O’s can’t get better production out of the back end of the rotation. Already this week it put a huge tax on the bullpen with multiple early exits from starters. Dean Kremer is a very solid fifth starter, but he may be too inconsistent to be valuable as the third man in the rotation.

Kremer will likely give the O’s enough to get by, however, Irvin and Wells may be a different story. Wells scraped by to generate quality starts in his first two outings, but he has yet to really impress in a start. Meanwhile, Irvin has looked outmatched as a starter, similar to the beginning of last season.

The Orioles have five bye days over the next month or so, and that may help them to manipulate the rotation to limit starts from Wells and Irvin, but even given that, they may need to find another solution if the struggles continue.

While he could still use more seasoning in AAA, Cade Povich has been outstanding in his first three Norfolk starts and it may get to a point soon where taking a flier on him is better than running out Irvin to get pounded.

Kremer and Wells have enough of a track record to think they will keep the O’s in most games, but some action may need to be taken to address that fifth spot in the rotation if Means can’t return soon.

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#dmd comments








Mike from Reisterstown     April 16
@DF, MFC, and others re the Masters greens throughout the week.



As Drew previously covered, this years Masters was like a US open in disguise. What really struck is the lack of come back spin on short wedge shots into the greens. It seems to me that the only shots that came back to the hole were the ones that used what Jonny Miller would call "side boards".



Did they change those greens?



I also heard that the sand is actually finely grained quartz to make it look so white? Any truth to that?




hal     April 16
Gotta give @MFC props I guess, he's willing to die on his little hills, no matter how wrong he is lol.

CIK     April 16
@MFC



How come men’s college basketball is ruined by NIL & the transfer portal…but the “women’s game is growing”? It can’t be fun for the men’s coaches…but the coaches of girls basketball are having a blast? What happens when the “Lia Thomas” of basketball comes along…just a dude dunking that little ball and nothing to see here? Nobody really cares about swimming…let’s see how that plays out on a basketball court. Should be interesting.

MFC     April 16
RC, have you been in a cave? Have you seen the tv ratings? They just sold out draft night in NY. (it was always free, no more) Maybe you don't care but the rest of America is waking up. More viewers than the men's final, some people actually care.

JWW     April 16
@CHRIS IN BELAIR



Agree mostly on the alibi for the AL division series vs. Texas. But that was played in two cities with a travel day in between. The same team? Sure. A traditional “sweep?” Not quite, IMHO. I’m okay with the asterisk.


Steve of Pimlico     April 16
@Richard ,I remember 50 some years ago when we couldn't stand the Bears

Randy     April 16
@Chris

Yes, Westburg has been hitting the ball really well. He was always a good hitter in the minors so its good to see it translating. He's actually 3rd in MLB in hard-hit percentage, behind only Witt Jr. and Gunnar.

Ron M     April 16
This so called documentary will play out like Spinal tap. The subject will be playing it straight, but the irony and unintended comedy will be what everyone remembers.

Larry     April 16
There is some irony in JeffWell using the words 'over the top hater', eh?

r.c.     April 16
As Richard points out, many of the youngsters manning up down the stretch have won titles in Hershey. They know the drill and it shows.

If Patrick Reed was the one who handed a note to Shipley, would we call that a "nothing burger"??

As DF pointed out, the kid made it a story, not the "lazy media". Media usually deserves the scorn it gets, not this time though.

And good god, will @MFC ever stop blabbering about women's bball? No. One. Cares

Richard     April 16
Being a huge fan of last year’s Calder Cup winning Hershey Bears, who are 52-13-0-5 this year, I guess I’m selfishly rooting for the Caps to lose, so that our 5 players, Iorio, Lapierre, Johansen, McIlrath, and Moroshenko,will be back to the Bears for the playoffs. Is that wrong?

Jeffwell     April 16
Will be watching to see if Karma rears its head in Philadelphia tonight. Not saying that the team deserves bad juju, but the over the top hater, probably.

Chris in Bel Air     April 16
Another excellent O's summary from Randy and completely agree on the pitching. Another player who has absolutely impressed so far is Westburg. Is it just clicking more for him how or is it Holliday knocking on the door and Mayo right behind him? All of the above? In any case, he's playing very well in all parts of his game. One little alibi, "The Orioles remain unswept *in the regular season* since the arrival of Rutschman. There was that one little series against Tex, last October :-(

Let's go Caps!

K.C.     April 16
I agree with @DF about the Tiger story. Just a lazy media looking for a story that isn't really there.

Ramey     April 16
For those who aren't aware, the title of the WNST documentary is "No one listens but everybody hears". And the little guy is claiming he's been in the media for 40 years and has been a sports radio owner for 25 years. Meanwhile it would seem the only two people he's going to mention in the doc are himself and Luke Jackson. How's that for self aggrandizing? As if Haney, Long, Conn, Forrester didn't exist. What a clown that guy is.

Such     April 16
Cedric Mullins is a ballplayer. Flat out. His catch last night was absolutely astonishing. I was fortunate enough to see it in person. And he follows it up with a homer later, because of course he did.

I agree with Randy; this team is going to need starting pitching in order to reach its full potential. It would be great if Means can come back and be his old self, but who knows? And counting on Bradish just seems so risky. I expect there will be some deals as we get into June and July.

MFC     April 16
Clark and Reese taking huge pay cuts to play in the WNBA. However I'm pretty certain the sponsorships will follow them. The #1 pick gets a 4 yr. deal worth a whopping $387,000, that's for 4 years NOT yearly.

I will give Reese credit she stole the night with her outfit. Far and away the best dressed. She looked like Whitney Houston in the Bodyguard when she was Queen of the Nile.

The evening however was the Caitlin Clark show. She was everywhere and seemingly on all evening.

The game is growing!



Upset by the reports about Rory but read today he's not going. Good for him but $850 million is a lot of money, not that he needs it. Maybe this is the impetus that gets things settled. Imagine $850mm spread over the golf season. Figure it out and stop all of the madness.



Anyone else notice how thin L. Jackson looked walking into the Castle. Wonder what's behind that, more speed?




Henry Wiler     April 16
God is a Flyers fan.

Tom J     April 16
@MFC.....coverage for the Masters starts at 2pm on the weekend days. They do it because they can.

Tom Mullens     April 15
The guy broke up with his fiance by text message. He told his agent that he wasn’t capable of representing somebody as good as he was. He ghosted his mentor and best friend when he won his second major. His word about LIV evil was good until his price was met. Don’t rely on him if your life ever depends on it.

MicMac     April 15
What's this I'm hearing about Rory McElroy being close to a deal with LIV? Last night (Monday) I was listening to the radio and they were saying that he's been offered $850 million to join and it looks like he's gonna do it. Then they started playing a bunch of sound bites where McElroy was saying he'd never play pro golf again if LIV was the only league, etc... Talk about a 180° and being hypocritical. Could there be a worse person to make the switch? Maybe Tiger, but McElroy was so outspoken against LIV that I don't know how he could ever live that down. Although he would have almost a billion reasons.

sammy     April 15
No matter what happens tomorrow, this Caps team has shown incredible grit. Between that and Carbery, I'm feeling pretty good about the Caps future. Being competitive without prime Ovie is a really good sign.

hal     April 15
Jealous? Ok "Bo", I'm sure in the future commenters will adhere to your sage advice lol.

Bo     April 15
It's amazing how many people here are jealous of DF's sage golf wisdom. No one can just say "Well done!"

MFC     April 15
Masters thoughts.

Changes to the course won't allow for the roars on the back nine. And when the new ball is in play you can really forget it. That's a shame.



Still ticks me off that they don't have tv coverage until 3 PM. I get it you're special and all of that but c'mon it's 2024. Yes you can stream but only featured groups and selected holes.



Tiger had one really bad round. Until that point he was what t-24 in making the cut. It was his iron and short game, which is confusing as it would seem to be less stress on the body. Congrats to him for showing up Sunday, shows the respect he has for the Masters. He was outdriving his partners.



Why did Ian Baker Finch have the most airtime on Sunday. It was like Nance and Immelmann weren't in the booth. No roars, no real excitement from the announcers. The shots and putts coming down the stretch were rather pedestrian, except for Scheffler and Adberg.



Adberg may be my new favorite player with how quick he plays.



Scheffler really seems like a great young man. Hope it continues.



LIV golfers and Greg Norman, take a hike.



In other golf news The Road is still alive in the MSGA A Team tournament. They have reached the quarterfinals. Huge weekend ahead. Sorry to report that Eagles Nest home of DMD's own DF did not make it past the first round, losing to the Naval Academy who then lost to Piney Branch in round 2.



Other topics, Caitlin Clark did a nice job on SNL Saturday. If you haven't seen, it's worth the search.


butch     April 15
Know what is worse than "I won this many dollars" stories?? The "I could have won this many dollars IF this happened or that happened".

Greg     April 15
Took DF's advice and played all 10 of his guys for $20 to finish Top 10 and $20 to finish Top 30.



Bet $400 and won $1660. Thanks DF!

Kyle P     April 15
If Aberg wins yesterday I win $1800 instead of $545. How is that dbag Larry?

larry     April 15
Agree with OG and RR. Betting $200 every week for the occasional "win" is a recipe for disaster. Sure, you'll be "happy" occasionally but in the end, not so much. No matter whose free advice you follow lol.

Ray Ray     April 15
old George ------- the irony is, the bets the chumps make pay for the commercials as well as make the stockholders of the companies wealthy.

Old George     April 15
If you're using your phone, tablet, or computer as the vehicle for placing bets, you have ZERO chance of a positive outcome in the long run. Unless you win one of the absolutely crazy bets that pays six figures, you are horsemeat. Some say that wagering is a form of entertainment. These folks are goofy -- who deems giving away money as a form of recreation? Better to make an imaginary bet in your mind and put the money in your Keough Plan or the fund for your kid's college education. These thousands of commercials on TV for various betting platforms are there for a reason. Don't be a chump.

Kyle P.     April 14
Bet $200, won a total of $545. You can say I'm pretty happy.

butch     April 14
The only thing more boring than golf stories is gambling stories. No one cares about someone else's bets, no offense.

JK     April 14
That CIK really knows his golf, can't you tell?

Mitch     April 14
LMAO, @DF had 4 of the top 10 players on his betting slip and these haters here will say "Anybody could do that."

CIK     April 14
Apparently Scheffler didn’t have the round 1 lead. I must of misunderstood what I was being told.

CIK     April 14
@Matt



Aren’t the payouts subject to be lower because of top 10 ties? A friend of mine had Scheffler 1st round leader for $25. He shared the lead with 2 others. The bet paid out $19 for a net loss of $6.

Matt C.     April 14
Here's what I am facing today.



If Scheff, Collin and Aberg all finish top 10 today but one of them doesn't win, I will clear $340.



If Scheff wins and the other 2 finish top 10 I clear $670.



If Morikawa wins and the other 2 finish top 10 I clear $2100.



If Aberg wins and the other 2 finish top 10 I clear $2860.




kj     April 14
People worrying about a baseball team in mid-April need to get a grip. They don't give out awards in April, nor will any team bury itself after 15 games. And love when fans "demand" Elias fix something. If any O's fan is not comfortable with Elias running this team, might be time to adopt a new team to root for

Unitastoberry     April 14
You have to wait until Mothers Day at least to get a feel for how this season will play out. For example Mike Cuellar could not pitch for you know what until the cold was totally gone. Just like some QBs can't play in the cold. Main thing is to stay healthy.

TimD in Timonium     April 14
Worried about the O's? in mid-April. Nah. They can win high-scoring games too. And Burnes WILL get them back on track today.



Given the constant Tiger coverage this week by ESPN, his Saturday morning practice session had an "Oh, man. I can't believe I have to do this again" vibe.



See ya on the Senior Tour, Tiger.


Delray RICK     April 14
Back in the day CADILLAC was sponsor for MASTERS and they had one commercial, that's it.

Ray Ray     April 14
Fritz Peterson, who was a stalwart pitcher for the ineffectual Yankees of the late 1960s and early ’70s, but whose lingering renown derived more from one of baseball’s most notorious “trades” — his exchange of wives with a teammate — has died. He was 82.



None of Peterson’s on-field achievements or off-field eccentricities proved to be as memorable as the disclosure, in March 1973, that he and another Yankee pitcher, Mike Kekich, were living in each other’s house with each other’s wife and children. As a headline in The Daily News declared, “2 Yank Pitchers Trade Wives: Peterson, Kekich Hurl Change-Ups.”



Peterson’s memoir, “Mickey Mantle Is Going to Heaven” (2009), is one of the odder artifacts of baseball literature. A combination of storytelling — from the ballpark and from the meandering path of Peterson’s journey to Christian evangelism — it ends several chapters by saying which of Peterson’s former teammates would go to heaven (Mantle and Bobby Murcer) and which would not (Bouton).




Billy     April 13
Picking Schefler and Morikawa is "amazing". JK sure knows golf lol.

larry     April 13
LOL @ JK.

Jk     April 13
3 guys in the current top 5 (4 pm) were DF picks. Scheffler, Morikawa, Aberg.



Amazing.

MUSHNICK     April 13
@delray dick



please stop slurping me - its unbecoming

Delray RICK     April 13
Another good article bout PHIL MUSHNICK on MESSIAH and he overtakes TV coverage from other golfers who aren't on nearly enough.

MFC     April 13
Tiger sets another record. Amazing, it’s not his driver that’s holding him back it’s his irons.

The collapse of JT and Harmon was incredible and if Hovland keeps composure he might be playing this weekend.



Just can’t understand The Masters not allowing total coverage until 3 PM.

I can stream but it’s limited.



The transfer portal and NIL continues to destroy college basketball. Forget hiring coaches they need fundraisers extraordinaire to be any good in this day and age.

James     April 13
Not a big Tiger fan but even I have to admit that was really special yesterday. Everyone is talking about Scheffler and Homa and no one is mentioning Bryson. I think he winds up winning.

Monday
April 15, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3524


any further questions?


If you're a casual-to-rabid fan of professional golf, you can't possibly be surprised with yesterday's outcome at the 88th Masters tournament.

It was inevitable. Scottie Scheffler was always going to win. Somehow, either by six, four or one, he was going to triumph.

He's the best golfer on the planet, by far. Like, it's not even close. It's the difference between Gunnar Henderson and someone like Rio Ruiz, for example. That's how close it.....isn't.

Scheffler answered any remaining questions about his position atop the world of golf yesterday with a remarkable final round 68 that gave him his 3rd win in 4 starts, his second career major title and his second Masters triumph in the last 24 months.

One thing not discussed all that much in the aftermath of the win was how hard it is for the favorite to come out on top. That was always one of the more interesting things about Tiger's 10-year dominant run.

Scottie Scheffler's final round 68 was more than enough to polish off his 2nd career Masters victory on Sunday.

Woods was supposed to win. He'd show up during tournament week and the rest of the field would mumble to themselves, "Well, we're playing for second..."

But then he had to go out and do it. It's one thing for people to think you're going to win. It's entirely different for you to then go out and beat every player in the field.

That's what Scheffler did over the last four days. He was supposed to win. And he did.

"The guy is just a gamer, plain and simple," Scheffler's caddie, Ted Scott, said afterwards. "He's an athlete in every sense of the word. He knows when to push. When to push harder. When to cruise. When to go full throttle. He just knows. He's an amazing player."

The 2024 Masters was a clinic, from Thursday through Sunday.

Oh, sure, there were some pursuers in yesterday's final round. It was tight for a while. But just like in Tiger's heyday when Woods would simply melt the opposition, Scheffler did the same thing to those who were chasing him on Sunday.

Ludvig Aberg fought gamely until he caved in at #11 with a double bogey. In tennis, they'd call it an unforced error. With the entire planet to the right of the flagstick on the 11th green, Aberg hit his 2nd shot into the water trying to jam the ball in tight for a tying birdie.

Moments later, Collin Morikawa did the same thing as Aberg. The shot wasn't that difficult. But that Sunday pressure, you know.

Five minutes after Morikawa's hiccup, Max Homa shot himself out of the tournament with a double bogey at #12.

All three of the chasers couldn't hit the shots they needed when it was their time to do it.

After a bogey at #7 dropped him into a share of the lead, Scheffler then made birdie at #8, #9 and #10.

It was then, right then, that Aberg, Morikawa and Homa had to answer back. Scheffler was starting to show some daylight on the leaderboard and the moment was...NOW...for those three to stand up and be counted.

Instead, all three of them buckled at the knees.

And when Scheffler hit his 2nd shot at #14 to a foot to go back up by three shots over Aberg, it was a done deal.

He made birdie at #16 for good measure, then finished off the win going par-par. Two years ago when he won at Augusta National, the former University of Texas star stumbled on the final hole with an embarrassing four putt to win by three instead of five.

There was no late stumble this time around. Scheffler's pitch at #18 from 15 yards off the green settled two feet from the cup and he rolled that one in to finish off a back nine 33.

For those who didn't see Tiger Woods at his zenith in 2000, 2001 and 2002, what you're seeing from Scheffler is what we saw from Woods over and over...and over and over.

As I wrote here in my Masters preview, "If Scheffler putts well, he wins by three shots. If he putts "just OK", he wins by one. But he's winning the golf tournament unless something really wacky happens on the greens."

Yes, he missed a few shorties over the four days.

But he more than made up for those with at least a dozen five or six footers for par that settled into the bottom of the cup.

Scheffler's putting has greatly improved over the last two months, which really spells trouble for the rest of the golf world.

His tee-to-green skill set is unmatched. There's no one who hits the ball with the combination of power, precision and creativity as does Scheffler right now. If his putting perks up, watch out, golf analysts everywhere were saying in January and February.

Well, his putting has perked up indeed.

And if he continues to putt the way he did this weekend, you're looking at four or five more wins this year. And who knows how many other major titles?

Tiger had his era.

Scheffler's in the beginning stages of his.

Settle in, folks, he's going to be here a while.


The five winners and losers -- other than Scheffler -- at the Masters? We're glad you asked.

Winner: Ludvig Aberg -- Other than that massive mistake at #11, he acquitted himself incredibly well, finishing in second place in his first-ever professional major championship. He's going to be around for a long, long time. And the bet here is he'll have a green jacket within the next five years. He's going to be a star. Has everything you need; can smash it off the tee, hits his irons straight and sky high, possesses a solid short game and can "roll the rock", as they say. Watch out for him. For a long time.

Loser: Bryson DeChambeau -- Shot 65 in round one on Thursday and failed to break par again in any of the final three rounds. The golf course -- despite his play on Thursday -- is just not a great fit for him. His short game is very mediocre, which will never give him a realistic chance to win a Masters title. And while he has stopped trying to hit every drive 375 yards, there's still far too much movement and thrashing about in his golf swing for all of it to hold up under pressure.

Winner: Max Homa -- Was right in the golf tournament until the faux pas at #12. But this was his best performance ever in a major championship and for a guy who occasionally lacks confidence, this was a significant step forward for him. Don't be surprised if he's not in the hunt again at one of the year's final three majors. Might not be a "closer", but his golf is very solid. Should be a nice fit at Pinehurst #2, where pars will be at a premium and the heat won't be on his "average" putter to make a bunch of birdies.

Loser: Rory McIlroy -- Still needs a Masters title for the career grand slam. And looks even more and more like it might not come his way, for whatever reason. He said during the week that perhaps he simply "wants it too much". Maybe that's true. Or maybe he's just not capable of putting four good rounds together at Augusta National. He still has a lot of great golf left in him. It just might not be at the Masters. That said, he needs a major championship win sometime soon. It's been since 2014 that he won one of them. Time is slipping by quickly.

Winner: Tiger Woods -- Battled his way through four rounds for the first time since February of 2023. Drove the ball great for four days. But his irons were "iffy" and his trademark short game and putting were both in dire need of a tune-up. Set a new Masters record by making his 24th consecutive cut, which is really something to admire when you take into account what he was dealing with, physically, and the weather and wind challenges on Thursday and Friday. Will he ever win again? It's very unlikely. But just to have him play, make the cut and entertain the "patrons" was a victory of its own.


The Birds avoided an embarrassing 3-game home sweep at the hands of the Brewers by picking up a 6-4 win on Sunday afternoon.

Jackson Holliday finally got his first Major League hit in Sunday's 6-4 win over Milwaukee.

Jackson Holliday even managed to record a base hit, so you had that and a win...on the same day.

Corbin Burnes didn't have his usual dominant stuff against his old club, but did go 5 innings and allowed just 2 earned runs.

Ryan O'Hearn, Cedric Mullins and scorching-hot Colton Cowser homered for the O's, who improved to shaky 5-4 at home thus far in the early stages of the 2024 campaign.

Craig Kimbrel pitched the 9th inning and made things interesting by bringing the go-ahead run to the plate with one out, but he struck out the last two hitters he faced to preserve the 6-4 victory.

One thing about Kimbrel: It's probably never going to be easy-peasy with him out there. Prepare yourself for a lot of nail biting when he comes into protect a late lead.


The Capitals playoff life is on the line tonight at home when they host the Boston Bruins. If the Caps win their last two games, they're post-season bound. They finish the year in Philadelphia tomorrow night.

Detroit has 87 points just like Washington. They've also played 80 games. They finish with two games against Montreal (Mon., Tues.).

The Flyers have somehow cobbled together 87 points as well, but they've played 81 games, with only Tuesday's home game with the Caps left on their schedule.

Pittsburgh has 86 points, with 2 games remaining. They'd need a miracle to get in. Namely, the Penguins need Detroit to lose or split their two games with Montreal, the Caps to lose or split their final two, and they, Pittsburgh, needs to win their final two.

Washington needs to win twice to secure their playoff spot.

They can still get in with a loss and a win in their final two, but they, like the Penguins, would need other help if they don't win out.

It's a 2-game season now. It starts tonight in D.C.

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#dmd comments








Mike from Reisterstown     April 16
@DF, MFC, and others re the Masters greens throughout the week.



As Drew previously covered, this years Masters was like a US open in disguise. What really struck is the lack of come back spin on short wedge shots into the greens. It seems to me that the only shots that came back to the hole were the ones that used what Jonny Miller would call "side boards".



Did they change those greens?



I also heard that the sand is actually finely grained quartz to make it look so white? Any truth to that?




hal     April 16
Gotta give @MFC props I guess, he's willing to die on his little hills, no matter how wrong he is lol.

CIK     April 16
@MFC



How come men’s college basketball is ruined by NIL & the transfer portal…but the “women’s game is growing”? It can’t be fun for the men’s coaches…but the coaches of girls basketball are having a blast? What happens when the “Lia Thomas” of basketball comes along…just a dude dunking that little ball and nothing to see here? Nobody really cares about swimming…let’s see how that plays out on a basketball court. Should be interesting.

MFC     April 16
RC, have you been in a cave? Have you seen the tv ratings? They just sold out draft night in NY. (it was always free, no more) Maybe you don't care but the rest of America is waking up. More viewers than the men's final, some people actually care.

JWW     April 16
@CHRIS IN BELAIR



Agree mostly on the alibi for the AL division series vs. Texas. But that was played in two cities with a travel day in between. The same team? Sure. A traditional “sweep?” Not quite, IMHO. I’m okay with the asterisk.


Steve of Pimlico     April 16
@Richard ,I remember 50 some years ago when we couldn't stand the Bears

Randy     April 16
@Chris

Yes, Westburg has been hitting the ball really well. He was always a good hitter in the minors so its good to see it translating. He's actually 3rd in MLB in hard-hit percentage, behind only Witt Jr. and Gunnar.

Ron M     April 16
This so called documentary will play out like Spinal tap. The subject will be playing it straight, but the irony and unintended comedy will be what everyone remembers.

Larry     April 16
There is some irony in JeffWell using the words 'over the top hater', eh?

r.c.     April 16
As Richard points out, many of the youngsters manning up down the stretch have won titles in Hershey. They know the drill and it shows.

If Patrick Reed was the one who handed a note to Shipley, would we call that a "nothing burger"??

As DF pointed out, the kid made it a story, not the "lazy media". Media usually deserves the scorn it gets, not this time though.

And good god, will @MFC ever stop blabbering about women's bball? No. One. Cares

Richard     April 16
Being a huge fan of last year’s Calder Cup winning Hershey Bears, who are 52-13-0-5 this year, I guess I’m selfishly rooting for the Caps to lose, so that our 5 players, Iorio, Lapierre, Johansen, McIlrath, and Moroshenko,will be back to the Bears for the playoffs. Is that wrong?

Jeffwell     April 16
Will be watching to see if Karma rears its head in Philadelphia tonight. Not saying that the team deserves bad juju, but the over the top hater, probably.

Chris in Bel Air     April 16
Another excellent O's summary from Randy and completely agree on the pitching. Another player who has absolutely impressed so far is Westburg. Is it just clicking more for him how or is it Holliday knocking on the door and Mayo right behind him? All of the above? In any case, he's playing very well in all parts of his game. One little alibi, "The Orioles remain unswept *in the regular season* since the arrival of Rutschman. There was that one little series against Tex, last October :-(

Let's go Caps!

K.C.     April 16
I agree with @DF about the Tiger story. Just a lazy media looking for a story that isn't really there.

Ramey     April 16
For those who aren't aware, the title of the WNST documentary is "No one listens but everybody hears". And the little guy is claiming he's been in the media for 40 years and has been a sports radio owner for 25 years. Meanwhile it would seem the only two people he's going to mention in the doc are himself and Luke Jackson. How's that for self aggrandizing? As if Haney, Long, Conn, Forrester didn't exist. What a clown that guy is.

Such     April 16
Cedric Mullins is a ballplayer. Flat out. His catch last night was absolutely astonishing. I was fortunate enough to see it in person. And he follows it up with a homer later, because of course he did.

I agree with Randy; this team is going to need starting pitching in order to reach its full potential. It would be great if Means can come back and be his old self, but who knows? And counting on Bradish just seems so risky. I expect there will be some deals as we get into June and July.

MFC     April 16
Clark and Reese taking huge pay cuts to play in the WNBA. However I'm pretty certain the sponsorships will follow them. The #1 pick gets a 4 yr. deal worth a whopping $387,000, that's for 4 years NOT yearly.

I will give Reese credit she stole the night with her outfit. Far and away the best dressed. She looked like Whitney Houston in the Bodyguard when she was Queen of the Nile.

The evening however was the Caitlin Clark show. She was everywhere and seemingly on all evening.

The game is growing!



Upset by the reports about Rory but read today he's not going. Good for him but $850 million is a lot of money, not that he needs it. Maybe this is the impetus that gets things settled. Imagine $850mm spread over the golf season. Figure it out and stop all of the madness.



Anyone else notice how thin L. Jackson looked walking into the Castle. Wonder what's behind that, more speed?




Henry Wiler     April 16
God is a Flyers fan.

Tom J     April 16
@MFC.....coverage for the Masters starts at 2pm on the weekend days. They do it because they can.

Tom Mullens     April 15
The guy broke up with his fiance by text message. He told his agent that he wasn’t capable of representing somebody as good as he was. He ghosted his mentor and best friend when he won his second major. His word about LIV evil was good until his price was met. Don’t rely on him if your life ever depends on it.

MicMac     April 15
What's this I'm hearing about Rory McElroy being close to a deal with LIV? Last night (Monday) I was listening to the radio and they were saying that he's been offered $850 million to join and it looks like he's gonna do it. Then they started playing a bunch of sound bites where McElroy was saying he'd never play pro golf again if LIV was the only league, etc... Talk about a 180° and being hypocritical. Could there be a worse person to make the switch? Maybe Tiger, but McElroy was so outspoken against LIV that I don't know how he could ever live that down. Although he would have almost a billion reasons.

sammy     April 15
No matter what happens tomorrow, this Caps team has shown incredible grit. Between that and Carbery, I'm feeling pretty good about the Caps future. Being competitive without prime Ovie is a really good sign.

hal     April 15
Jealous? Ok "Bo", I'm sure in the future commenters will adhere to your sage advice lol.

Bo     April 15
It's amazing how many people here are jealous of DF's sage golf wisdom. No one can just say "Well done!"

MFC     April 15
Masters thoughts.

Changes to the course won't allow for the roars on the back nine. And when the new ball is in play you can really forget it. That's a shame.



Still ticks me off that they don't have tv coverage until 3 PM. I get it you're special and all of that but c'mon it's 2024. Yes you can stream but only featured groups and selected holes.



Tiger had one really bad round. Until that point he was what t-24 in making the cut. It was his iron and short game, which is confusing as it would seem to be less stress on the body. Congrats to him for showing up Sunday, shows the respect he has for the Masters. He was outdriving his partners.



Why did Ian Baker Finch have the most airtime on Sunday. It was like Nance and Immelmann weren't in the booth. No roars, no real excitement from the announcers. The shots and putts coming down the stretch were rather pedestrian, except for Scheffler and Adberg.



Adberg may be my new favorite player with how quick he plays.



Scheffler really seems like a great young man. Hope it continues.



LIV golfers and Greg Norman, take a hike.



In other golf news The Road is still alive in the MSGA A Team tournament. They have reached the quarterfinals. Huge weekend ahead. Sorry to report that Eagles Nest home of DMD's own DF did not make it past the first round, losing to the Naval Academy who then lost to Piney Branch in round 2.



Other topics, Caitlin Clark did a nice job on SNL Saturday. If you haven't seen, it's worth the search.


butch     April 15
Know what is worse than "I won this many dollars" stories?? The "I could have won this many dollars IF this happened or that happened".

Greg     April 15
Took DF's advice and played all 10 of his guys for $20 to finish Top 10 and $20 to finish Top 30.



Bet $400 and won $1660. Thanks DF!

Kyle P     April 15
If Aberg wins yesterday I win $1800 instead of $545. How is that dbag Larry?

larry     April 15
Agree with OG and RR. Betting $200 every week for the occasional "win" is a recipe for disaster. Sure, you'll be "happy" occasionally but in the end, not so much. No matter whose free advice you follow lol.

Ray Ray     April 15
old George ------- the irony is, the bets the chumps make pay for the commercials as well as make the stockholders of the companies wealthy.

Old George     April 15
If you're using your phone, tablet, or computer as the vehicle for placing bets, you have ZERO chance of a positive outcome in the long run. Unless you win one of the absolutely crazy bets that pays six figures, you are horsemeat. Some say that wagering is a form of entertainment. These folks are goofy -- who deems giving away money as a form of recreation? Better to make an imaginary bet in your mind and put the money in your Keough Plan or the fund for your kid's college education. These thousands of commercials on TV for various betting platforms are there for a reason. Don't be a chump.

Kyle P.     April 14
Bet $200, won a total of $545. You can say I'm pretty happy.

butch     April 14
The only thing more boring than golf stories is gambling stories. No one cares about someone else's bets, no offense.

JK     April 14
That CIK really knows his golf, can't you tell?

Mitch     April 14
LMAO, @DF had 4 of the top 10 players on his betting slip and these haters here will say "Anybody could do that."

CIK     April 14
Apparently Scheffler didn’t have the round 1 lead. I must of misunderstood what I was being told.

CIK     April 14
@Matt



Aren’t the payouts subject to be lower because of top 10 ties? A friend of mine had Scheffler 1st round leader for $25. He shared the lead with 2 others. The bet paid out $19 for a net loss of $6.

Matt C.     April 14
Here's what I am facing today.



If Scheff, Collin and Aberg all finish top 10 today but one of them doesn't win, I will clear $340.



If Scheff wins and the other 2 finish top 10 I clear $670.



If Morikawa wins and the other 2 finish top 10 I clear $2100.



If Aberg wins and the other 2 finish top 10 I clear $2860.




kj     April 14
People worrying about a baseball team in mid-April need to get a grip. They don't give out awards in April, nor will any team bury itself after 15 games. And love when fans "demand" Elias fix something. If any O's fan is not comfortable with Elias running this team, might be time to adopt a new team to root for

Unitastoberry     April 14
You have to wait until Mothers Day at least to get a feel for how this season will play out. For example Mike Cuellar could not pitch for you know what until the cold was totally gone. Just like some QBs can't play in the cold. Main thing is to stay healthy.

TimD in Timonium     April 14
Worried about the O's? in mid-April. Nah. They can win high-scoring games too. And Burnes WILL get them back on track today.



Given the constant Tiger coverage this week by ESPN, his Saturday morning practice session had an "Oh, man. I can't believe I have to do this again" vibe.



See ya on the Senior Tour, Tiger.


Delray RICK     April 14
Back in the day CADILLAC was sponsor for MASTERS and they had one commercial, that's it.

Ray Ray     April 14
Fritz Peterson, who was a stalwart pitcher for the ineffectual Yankees of the late 1960s and early ’70s, but whose lingering renown derived more from one of baseball’s most notorious “trades” — his exchange of wives with a teammate — has died. He was 82.



None of Peterson’s on-field achievements or off-field eccentricities proved to be as memorable as the disclosure, in March 1973, that he and another Yankee pitcher, Mike Kekich, were living in each other’s house with each other’s wife and children. As a headline in The Daily News declared, “2 Yank Pitchers Trade Wives: Peterson, Kekich Hurl Change-Ups.”



Peterson’s memoir, “Mickey Mantle Is Going to Heaven” (2009), is one of the odder artifacts of baseball literature. A combination of storytelling — from the ballpark and from the meandering path of Peterson’s journey to Christian evangelism — it ends several chapters by saying which of Peterson’s former teammates would go to heaven (Mantle and Bobby Murcer) and which would not (Bouton).




Billy     April 13
Picking Schefler and Morikawa is "amazing". JK sure knows golf lol.

larry     April 13
LOL @ JK.

Jk     April 13
3 guys in the current top 5 (4 pm) were DF picks. Scheffler, Morikawa, Aberg.



Amazing.

MUSHNICK     April 13
@delray dick



please stop slurping me - its unbecoming

Delray RICK     April 13
Another good article bout PHIL MUSHNICK on MESSIAH and he overtakes TV coverage from other golfers who aren't on nearly enough.

MFC     April 13
Tiger sets another record. Amazing, it’s not his driver that’s holding him back it’s his irons.

The collapse of JT and Harmon was incredible and if Hovland keeps composure he might be playing this weekend.



Just can’t understand The Masters not allowing total coverage until 3 PM.

I can stream but it’s limited.



The transfer portal and NIL continues to destroy college basketball. Forget hiring coaches they need fundraisers extraordinaire to be any good in this day and age.

James     April 13
Not a big Tiger fan but even I have to admit that was really special yesterday. Everyone is talking about Scheffler and Homa and no one is mentioning Bryson. I think he winds up winning.

Sunday
April 14, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3523


this is the way a major should be


It's 2024 and a U.S. Open broke out at this year's Masters.

For the young pups who read #DMD, what you've been watching for the last two days at Augusta National is the way they used to play the U.S. Open before the USGA caved in and softened up the set-up of venerable old courses like Shinnecock Hills, Pinehurst, Oakmont, Pebble Beach and Oakland Hills.

In the old days, the U.S. Open was a par-fest and any round of 70, 71 or 72 was celebrated. A rare journey into the 60's meant you were making up ground on the rest of the field.

On Friday and Saturday, par was indeed a player's friend at the Masters. Scottie Scheffler leads the tournament at 7-under par, which is what the best score was in Thursday's opening round. The course has been the winner over the last two days, with some obvious help from Mother Nature.

Can 2-time major champion Collin Morikawa chase down Scottie Scheffler today to win his first-ever green jacket.

Scheffler's lead is just one shot over Collin Morikawa, who is halfway to the career grand slam and needs a Masters and U.S. Open win to complete the cycle. Max Homa is just two shots back after a super round of 73 on Saturday that included 17 pars and just one lone bogey.

Ludvig Aberg (-4), Bryson DeChambeau (-3), Xander Schauffele (-2), Cam Davis (-2) and Nicoli Hojgaard (-2) are the closest pursuers.

In the old days, anyone with six or seven shots going into the final round had a realistic chance of doing something magical on Sunday and chasing down a leader. But that 500 yards ago. While the tournament scores are indeed much higer thanks to a longer and more difficult layout, the course improvements (?) have also made it more difficult for an off-the-path challenger to stage a surprising final round uprising.

Could someone in the 1-under or even par range throw together a crazy-good round of 64 today? Of course. But it seems very unlikely given what we've seen over the last two days. The weather is supposed to soften in the Augusta area on Sunday, which means we'll likely see lower scores from just about everyone.

But make no mistake about it, the tournament is still very much up for grabs.

Scheffler's the favorite, obviously, as he has been for about a month now. He made a sloppy double bogey at #10 on Saturday and followed that up with a bogey at the difficult 11th hole. But two holes later, he rolled in a 35-foot eagle putt and then birdied #15 and #18 to seize the 54-hole lead over Morikawa.

We've chronicled Scheffler's play a lot here over the last month. His ball striking is out-of-this-world. When he putts well, he can't lose. When he puts "just OK", he can be had. In this year's Masters, he's in the "good" range, which is why he's ahead of the field. If he putts well today, he won't be caught.

It's far from over, though.

As usual, the Masters is going to provide great drama. The golf course always knows her role. And the players on the first page of the leaderboard are playing better than anyone else in all facets of the game.

There are storylines waiting to be written.

Morikawa wins his third major to tie Jordan Spieth, Vijay Singh and Nick Price for career major titles.

Homa establishes himself as a top American player with his first-ever major win.

Aberg does something that hasn't been accomplished since 1979 by winning the Masters in his first-ever appearance at Augusta National.

DeChambeau adds fuel to the PGA Tour/LIV fire with his first-ever green jacket.

Schauffele sheds the "can't win the big one" label and adds to his Olympic gold medal with his long-awaited major title.

Or......

Scheffler continues this mini-Tiger-run he's on and wins for the 9th time in 26 months and 3rd time this year.

No matter what happens, it will be, as always, a Masters to remember.


At least a half-dozen people -- including 105.7's Mike Popovec -- asked me on Saturday afteroon, "What happened to Tiger?"

Woods, who started the 3rd round at a very respectable total of 1-over par, posted a score of 82 on Saturday to completely wipe out any faint hopes he had of winning a record-tying 6th green jacket.

So what did happen?

Golf happened.

And Tiger's failing body happened.

A terrific second round 72 was followed by a lousy third round 82 for Tiger Woods on Saturday, leaving him still with 15 majors in his career.

And his golf swing, which used to be on auto-pilot, fell out of sorts late in the first round and never really recovered.

As I said during my late afternoon interview with Popovec yesterday, if the word was OVER and we were talking about Tiger's career, he has O-V-E.

He can still "play" golf, yes. There are moments when it almost looks like 2002 all over again.

But it's not 2002. Or even 2012. And Tiger's body just simply won't allow him to play the sport at the same level we saw from him for a decade or more starting back in 2000.

If your golf swing goes off track for a year, you can fix that.

Lots of great players have fallen victim to a golf swing that got out of whack.

But you're not recovering from four back surgeries, a neck surgery, a rehabbed ACL and achilles tendon and, of course, a right leg that was nearly amputated.

You might be able to piece something together for a day or two, like Tiger did on Thursday and Friday.

But you can't cobble together four great days in a row.

It just doesn't work that way on the PGA Tour.

I've been saying this for two or three years now about Tiger, to anyone who would listen. He's never going to be able to win again if he can't practice somewhat regularly and play in a handful of "tune up" events leading up to the big major championships.

Golf tournaments are hard enough when you can practice every day and play in 20-30 tournaments a year. Just ask Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Brian Harman and Viktor Hovland, all of whom just missesd the cut at the Masters.

It's 1000 times harder when you can't practice or play regularly.

Tiger can't even convince himself otherwise, I suspect. He knows this is not a recipe for success, but he can't do anything about it and he can't admit it, either.

Is it possible that two years from now Tiger is far more healthy and able to use his body more efficiently to produce effective, repetitive golf swings? Of course that's possible. I'd say "unlikely but possible" to be more accurate.

But in his current state, patched together like a cartoon character, Woods is not able to play four straight days of great golf.

Honestly, he's not even able to produce four straight days of "good" golf.

That he's returning today for the final round, supposedly, is a bit of a surprise to me, at least.

I assumed he'd withdraw from the tournament after Saturday's third round. Alas, he indicated in the post-round press conference last night that he would, in fact, attempt to play again on Sunday.

I'm not sure there's much to be gained from playing today other than to finish what he started. But that's why he has 82 wins and 15 major titles, I guess. He's never done anything on the golf course that wasn't "all out".

It will be interesting to see what happens over the rest of the 2024 PGA Tour season.

Will Tiger play the PGA Championship next month at Valhalla?

The U.S. Open in June at Pinehurst?

He'll need a special exemption from the USGA to play in that event. They'll give him one, of course, if he indicates an interest in teeing it up in North Carolina.

And then the 2024 British Open heads to Royal Troon in July.

Will Woods play one, two or all three of the remaining majors?

That's what we all we want to know.


So, sure, Milwaukee looks like they're pretty good, having clobbered the O's on consecutive days in Baltimore, winning 11-1 on Friday and 11-5 yesterday.

That hot streak at the plate will stop today when Corbin Burnes steps to the mound to face his old team. I can't see the Birds falling again this afternoon.

However...

Is there any reason yet to be concerned about the pitching?

My friend Mark reached out to me yesterday with this note: "Elias better figure out who he wants to trade for a reliable starting pitcher and quick. These arms we have aren't good enough. Should have traded for Cease when he had the chance instead of trying to short change the White Sox."

He went on to talk about Wells and Irvin, specifically, in follow up texts.

Me?

I'm not worried. Oh, sure, Wells has been nicked up pretty good in a few starts. Cole Irvin has been, as usual, very hot and cold. Even Dean Kremer, who got battered yesterday, hasn't been great.

But I'm far less concerned than Mark.

Could we use another starter? Of course, that's why getting John Means or Kyle Bradish back will help. If we get one of them, back goes Irvin to the bullpen. If we get two of them, Wells heads to the bullpen, too.

We know what we're getting every 5th day with Burnes. The O's will win 80% of his starts, I'm guessing. If he makes 33 starts this season, there's roughly 26 wins.

We know what we're getting every 5th day with GrayRod. Another 80% in the win column. 26 more wins. There's 52 wins without hardly trying.

The O's just need another 40'ish from the other three guys and they're rolling.

Easy math, there. That's why I'm not worried.

But I agree those two -- Wells and Irvin -- haven't been great thus far. That's because they're not "great" to start with and, frankly, both are far more suited for bullpen work.

Bradish or Means returning will help big time, especially Bradish as long as he's 100% healthy.

I know we like to worry a lot as sports fans, but I'm far from worried at this point. Mark might be. But I'm good.

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Saturday
April 13, 2024
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#3522


carnage at augusta and opacy


They were supposed to play the second round of the Masters on Friday but a complete fiasco broke out instead.

The same thing happened last night in Baltimore at the baseball stadium. A complete fiasco.

In one of the wildest days in the history of Augusta National Golf Club, only one player -- Ludvig Aberg -- in the entire field broke 70 on Friday. Winds whipped at 35 mph throughout most of the afternoon, with two gusts of 44 mph and one gust of 40 mph recorded just after 4 pm.

Scottie Scheffler, Bryson DeChambeau and Max Homa are tied for the lead at 6-under par. Scheffler has still not shot a round above par in a golf tournament in 2024. I'd call that "locked in".

33 year old Max Homa has never finished inside the top 40 at the Masters, but here is, tied for the lead through two rounds in 2024.

The cut wound up at +6, which allows 58 year old Jose Maria Olazabal to hobble around for two more days. It remains to be seen whether he's happy or sad to still be playing.

And Tiger Woods not only fashioned a remarkable even par round of 72 himself, but the 48-year old with one and a half legs made the cut for the 24th consecutive time, setting a new Masters record.

Woods has won 82 times in his career. He has 15 majors. And he's won the Masters on 5 occasions.

He also once made 142 consecutive cuts, a golfing record that will never be broken.

And while he'd never admit to it, what he did on Friday is one of the top accomplishments of his storied career.

Prior to Thursday, Woods had played a total of 24 holes of competitive golf this year. Yesterday, he played 23, in the most taxing conditions imaginable, and played those 23 holes in just 2 over par, finishing up his first round with a 73 before marching on and posting 72 in the second round.

Making the cut in his physical condition is a story by itself. Making the cut in those weather conditions, given his physical limitations, is something entirely different. And while it's highly unlikely he'll be in contention come Sunday afternoon, the reality is that Tiger is, still, "in" the golf tournament. If he could somehow piece together a round of 68 or so today, he'd be in the hunt with 18 holes to go.

It's remarkable to see how far he can hit the ball now relying mostly on upper body rotation and forearm strength. His damaged right leg makes it nearly impossible for him to use ground force and push off to make an efficient golf swing. He's doing it all now almost entirely with his upper torso.

Tiger's nothing if not resilient.

But back to what happened on Friday and how it's going to play out over the next two days.

Anyone who had a weak moment fell by the wayside.

Justin Thomas was even par for the tournament standing on 15 tee and had to say to himself, "Holy cow, I'm right in this thing. If I can make a couple of birdies coming in to finish at 2-under, I have a shot."

Four holes later, he finished at 7-over par and missed the cut, going double (#15), double (#16), bogey (#17), double (#18). There have been some epic late Friday collapses at Augusta. J.T.'s is in the top five.

Viktor Hovland, battling a bad putter and a bad attitude, one-handed a bogey putt from 9 inches on the 15th hole and watched in horror as it slid past the hole. Hovland's embarrassing act was part of an 8-over-par finish that has him headed home for the weekend.

A slew of guys at 5-over-par late in the round stumbled on the incoming holes to allow a bunch of players at 6-over par to make the cut, including the aforementioned two-time champion Olazabal, plus familiar names like Hideki Matsuyama and Rickie Fowler. Those guys, like Rory McIlroy at +4, will play the last 36 holes for pride and prize money only. Hopes of winning a green jacket are gone.

The conditions were beyond treacherous on Friday. Just ask Brian Harman, who went out in 2-under 34 and then posted an unthinkable score of 47 on the back nine to turn in a cut-missing score of 81.

Jon Rahm was the chief complainer among those who played late in round 2, as his ball continually moved on the putting surface due to wind gusts.

"We're really still playing?" Rahm said to an official on the 11th hole. It took his group of three players 13 minutes to putt out on that green.

On the 16th hole, Gary Woodland's ball caught a gust and blew some 50 feet away as he prepared to putt.

Rahm motioned to the rules official but the group played on.

It was a weird, weird day in round two, that's for sure.

A handful of players gutted it out and posted great scores. A bunch of players held on for dear life just to keep their tournament alive. And several big names caved in and produced big numbers en-route to an early departure from Augusta's private airport.

Weather conditions today are supposed to be much better.

The scoring should be, too.

We're halfway through the 2024 Masters and it's setting up for a doozy of a Sunday.


The carnage at Augusta National wasn't the only mess on Friday, as the Orioles got ripped by the Brewers, 11-1.

Jackson Holliday still doesn't have a base hit in his MLB career.

And Tyler Wells was again stiff and out of sorts early on, only this time he didn't right the ship and the O's powerful offense didn't save him.

Oh, and O's cast-off Joey Ortiz did what you knew he would do on his return to Camden Yards; he went 3-for-5 with a triple in Milwaukee's win.

It's what I call the "Paul Kitson theory". Anytime someone comes back to their old stomping grounds, it's almost a lock they're going to do something to help beat you. And remind you that letting them go was the wrong move.

That's why, deep down in places we don't talk about at parties, we were all worried about Joe Flacco coming back to Baltimore last January with the Browns. We just knew something weird was going to happen.

Paul Kitson was a Blast great in the 1980's and became one of the team's more popular players in his three full seasons with the team. He helped us win a championship in 1983-84. The next season, he set a league playoff record with 7 goals in one game against Los Angeles.

But in 1985-86, unhappy with his playing time and bickering with head coach Kenny Cooper, Kitson moved on to that same L.A. team as a free agent. Things didn't go well there and the Lazers shopped him at the trade deadline. He wound up in Cleveland, our arch-rivals at the time.

When the Lazers made their only appearance in Baltimore earlier in the season, Kitson was injured and didn't make his return to Baltimore.

Late in the season, the Cleveland Force came to town for a big game. I naturally was eager to see "Kitty" beforehand and made my way to the visitors locker room at the Baltimore Arena.

He called his friends "Sunshine". Kitson was one of the best men I ever met in soccer.

"Don't do anything stupid tonight like score two goals against us," I said to him with a smile.

"Ahhhh, Sunshine, you don't have to worry about that," he said in his English accent. "I'm not going to score two goals."

"I'm going to score three," he laughed. "Make sure you tell Coops, 'No hard feelings, boss. It's just business.'"

And son of a gun if Kitson didn't score three goals that night in his return to the Arena as Cleveland beat us.

"The Paul Kitson theory" was born.

Look it up. It's pretty valid.

Just ask Joey Ortiz.

Oh, and don't forget, D.L. Hall is on the mound today for the Brewers.

If you've never seen a no-hitter in person, you might want to snag a couple of seats to this afternoon's contest.

Don't laugh...


Shawn asks -- "Given what you saw from Tiger on Thursday and Friday, are you starting to think he might be able to win again? Will he play more this season now that he's going to play all four days at the Masters? I'm guessing this is a pretty big deal to him, right?"

DF says -- "I don't think it changes much about his chances to win again. I mean, he can always win if it somehow just comes down to actual "golf". But there's more to it than that. You have to be able to practice a lot to get/stay sharp. And then you have to be able to walk the golf course for four (or more) days.

I just don't think Tiger can do all of that stuff any longer. It says a lot about him that at 48 and on one-and-a-half legs he can still beat those guys on occasion. But I don't see him winning again, unfortunately.

That said, and I'll always contend this: If there's any course he might be able to win in the next 2-3 years, it's Augusta National. They can't make it any longer than it is now. He still has the length to compete. If he somehow gets a year where it's 85 degrees all week and he gets a favorable (early-late) tee time draw, who knows?"


Bart asks -- "Hey Drew, a quick question from Thursday's Masters. Why don't they allow the fans in attendance to run at the golf course? I saw a bunch of people talking about it on Twitter. Do they really throw people out if they run?"

DF says -- "First of all, Bart, they're not fans. They're patrons. And it's not a golf course. It's a "property". (I'm still trying to get my media badge for the Masters so I'm following all of their rules to a tee.)

The short answer is -- I assume they feel running "on the property" is undignified.

I also assume they could be concerned about injuries. People running into one another. People slipping.

But I think it's mostly about "the look" that running shows. It's just not what people do at Augusta National.

It's probably akin to bringing your own wine glass if you're ever somehow invited to play and dine at the club. They have their own wine glasses. And they're better than your wine glass, that's for sure."


T.J. asks -- "Another 0-for tonight for Jackson Holliday (Friday). Is there any chance at all they called him up too soon, Drew? He looks like a minor leaguer at the plate."

DF says -- "He's fine. I mean, his start's not fine, obviously. And, sure, he looks a little overmatched right now. But he's 20 years old. This time two years ago he was nervously asking a girl to his high school senior prom.

I remember Gavin Sheets once saying to me there is a massive difference between minor league pitching and major league pitching. That's the word he used: massive.

I don't think they called him up too early. He's going to hit. He's hit at every level. It might take him a couple of weeks to get into a groove of sorts, but he's tucked away nicely in the 9-spot in the lineup and he'll break out with a few hits today or tomorrow and that will get the monkey off his back.

I'll say the same thing about Holliday I said about Henderson last year when he had a miserable start. If he's hitting .150 by Memorial Day, then, yes, you have a right to be concerned.

But that's not going to happen. He'll be hitting .250 by Memorial Day."

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Friday
April 12, 2024
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#3521


scheffler sharp...who's surprised?


There are still 54 (plus) holes left in the 2024 Masters. A lot can still happen.

But the guy everyone feared might run away with the event played 18 holes on Thursday in wildly difficult afternoon conditions and didn't make a bogey. Scottie Scheffler shot 66.

He's not in the lead, funny enough. That honor goes to Bryson DeChambeau, who once told the assembled media at Augusta National that the course is "basically a par 67 for me." In that case, he was only 2 under on Thursday. But in real golf terms, he posted a 65, 7 under par, and owns the clubhouse lead with two dozen players still scattered on the course and needing to finish their first round early this morning.

Scheffler being within a shot of the lead after a wonderful 66 is not a surprise.

Bryson DeChambeau's opening round 65 on Thursday has him one shot ahead of heavily favored Scottie Scheffler.

But DeChambeau's 65 was a bit of an eye-opener, as was the 4-under round authored by 2016 champion Danny Willett. Max Homa, who made birdie at #13 in darkness, is also at 4-under par with five holes to finish this morning.

Denmark's Nicolai Hojgaard is at 5-under, let's not forget. No one knows much about him, but he's a player. It's unlikely he could do enough to get in the hunt on Sunday, but stranger things have happened at Augusta National.

Tiger Woods? He played a solid 13 holes on Thursday, a victim of the 2.5 hour rain delay that forced play to begin at 10:00 am.

Tiger made birdie at the first hole, bogeyed #4, then made birdie at #8. He made nifty par saves at 10, 11 and 12, the latter from the pin straw from behind the green that included a slippery seven foot par putt. Although he didn't birdie the par 5 13th, he did well to make five there after driving his tee shot well up into the pine trees that border the entire right side of the hole.

Woods probably can't win the tournament. But his golf swing looked great on Thursday. Other than the tee ball at #13 he didn't really hit a bad one all day. And his putting was solid, too, which has been a leaky part of his game over the last couple of years.

The challenge for Tiger will be to come out today at 8:00 am to complete his first round, then head right back out and play his 2nd round just after 10:30 am. A healthy 38-year old Woods wouldn't have a problem with that scenario. A hobbled 48-year old Woods, with a surgically repaired neck, back and right leg, isn't quite as "up and at 'em" as the 38-year old version.

There's tons of golf remaining and some big names are lurking in the 2-under and 3-under range.

It's still Scottie Scheffler's tournament to lose, as everyone knows, but those in pursuit aren't going to just roll over and give him the green jacket.

There's even a 5-time champion in the field who probably still thinks he has a shot.

And who knows? A couple of birdies this morning to finish his first round and a round of 69 or 70 in round two will certainly give Tiger a sliver of hope heading into the weekend.

A sliver of hope is all Woods probably expected anyway.


It was another fun night in Fenway Park for the O's on Thursday, as they ripped off six runs in the top of the 10th inning that had MASN's Kevin Brown bleeding orange and black just the way former owner Peter Angelos wanted Jon Miller to do once upon a time.

Brown had good reason to gush -- even if it was over the top -- in the extra frame. Gunnar Henderson clobbered a two-run homer to put the Birds up 5-3 and Colton Cowser followed with a 3-run shot a few minutes later to salt the game away.

Cowser is off to a great start. Like, more than great. Can we say it? Maybe he's the one we should be most excited about in 2024.

Not even Mike Baumann could cough up a 9-3 lead, although he did give up a run in the bottom of the 10th.

And so, the O's bats continue to percolate, like we suspect they will all summer and fall. And with Austin Hays at least temporarily reduced to a back-up role with the emergence of Cowser, there's not a weak spot in the Baltimore line-up.

Jackson Holliday doesn't yet have a Major League hit and no one cares.

The beer remains, much to Chuck Thompson's delight, ice freakin' cold.


Max asks -- "What do you make of all the guys transferring out of Maryland's basketball program? Is it Willard?"

DF says -- "No, it's not Willard. The guys who are leaving were already pretty much not playing. And they've seen Willard land several guys from the transfer portal and they know they're not going to play next year, either.

Why stick around and not play at Maryland when you can transfer to Richmond or St. Bonaventure or Kent State and play 20-25 minutes a game?

I'm more interested in the guys who are coming in than I am worried about the guys who are heading out. None of the departed players were going to do anything of note in '24-25 in College Park."


Carl in Owings Mills asks -- "What's your honest opinion on how many more years Harbaugh will coach the Ravens?"

DF says -- "I have no way of knowing. I mean, if they keep making the playoffs and appearing in the AFC Championship Game, he's going to coach for as long as he wants, I suspect.

I don't see Bisciotti ever firing John "just because they don't make the Super Bowl". That's just not the way Steve does things. Now, if they somehow go 7-10 or 8-9 next season? Who knows? But they're NEVER going 7-10 or 8-9 as long as Lamar is their quarterback and he plays the entire season.

I'm not dodging the question. I just don't see a situation where John is no longer the coach while the team continues to win the division and move forward in the playoffs."


Matt asks -- "Hey DF, please help settle a golf bet with my friend Dave (P), who is a daily reader of the Dish like I am. He's an 8 handicap. His last 5 scores at the Mount are 81, 80, 84, 78 and 84. From the tee boxes and with the same pins they use at Augusta National on Sunday, what are the chances he would break 100? Thanks and Go Tiger!"

DF says -- "It's a 7,500 yard course playing +100 with all the uphill shots. He has almost NO chance of breaking 100. I'd say there's a 2% chance he'd break 100. And a 0% chance he'd break 95. I know you didn't ask that, but I'm trying to give you a realistic view of how he would score. An 8 handicap would have a hard time making a par on any hole on the front nine. MAYBE he can piece together a 5-shot par at #8. But every other hole there is difficult. My guess is he wouldn't break 50 on the front. In fact, odds are better he shoots 60 or over than 50 or under on the front.

On the back, no chance he pars 10, 11 or 12. Maybe he can scratch out a par at #13, but even that will require a deft third shot to a tough pin. He'd be hard pressed to make a par anywhere else on the back. The course is just too hard.

Anyway, I think an 8 handicap (who would normally shoot somewhere around 82 on a "regular" course like Mount Pleasant) would probably post something like 55-55.

I think it's possible he would shoot 58-58.

If he played out of his mind, he'd shoot 48-48. And "out of his mind" would probably require at least 3 birdies, which is almost impossible for an 8-handicap to post from the tournament tees at Augusta National.

My advice to Dave? Try shooting 75 at Mount Pleasant in back-to-back rounds before tackling Augusta National."


Jason asks -- "Hi DF, my wife and I taking our forever trip to Australia/New Zealand in May. I'm looking to load up on some music for the flight and both she and I have found some new music artists from your suggestions. Give us some tips for the trip to Houston and then to New Zealand from there. Thank you."

DF says -- "I"m jealous. I've never been to either of those countries! Have a great trip. Here's what I think you should do. Download or somehow get your hands on Pete Yorn's first four albums -- Musicforthemorningafter, Day I Forgot, Nightcrawler and Back and Fourth.

Give all four a listen. I think you'll really enjoy them. That's a good 3 hours of music right there.

Depending on your tastes, I'd suggest doing the same thing with The Counting Crows first four albums -- August and Everything After, Recovering the Satellites, This Desert Life and Hard Candy. All four of them are outstanding. In fairness, their 5th album, Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings, is also pretty good. But give those four a listen in succession, at least.

Speaking of Pete Yorn, here's a favorite song of mine from him. Just to get you motivated for the long trip!"



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faith in sports


Kelly Schmidt delivers 9 minutes of powerful testimony in today's edition of Faith in Sports.

This is what FCA is all about. A true believer sharing their testimony in an effort to bring as many coaches and athletes as possible closer to Jesus.

Today's video is one that's on my personal "repeat" list. I love watching it. I love hearing Kelly's message and her teachings from the Bible.

Give it 9 minutes of your time, please.

Thanks, as always, to our friends at Freestate Electrical for their continued support of #DMD and our "Faith in Sports" segment every Friday.


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Thursday
April 11, 2024
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#3520


holliday era opens with a "w"


OK, so it wasn't the marquee debut we all were hoping for at Fenway Park last night.

Jackson Holliday made his celebrated first-ever big league appearance on Wednesday evening and was 0-for-4 at the plate, with a couple of strike outs along the way.

He did manage to drive in a run with a fielder's choice, but as far as debuts go, it was definitely a big, fat, "meh".

Let it be known: The Orioles have never lost a game when Jackson Holliday plays.

But who cares?

The O's battled back from a 5-0 deficit to win, 7-5, and that's really all that matters in the end. Holliday handled a couple of chances in the infield decently, by the way, for those looking for a bright spot.

And, no, despite some folks on Twitter claiming he "misplayed" an early fly ball that led to a run for Boston, that very much was a catch that should have been made by Cedric Mullins. Holliday couldn't haul it in, that much is true. But it was Mullins' ball all the way.

Anyway, Holliday is up, the future is now, and the rest of the American League better be on high alert for the rest of the 2024 campaign.

This Orioles team is gonna pile up the runs, folks.

And Jackson Holliday will be involved, don't you worry about that.

He might not have had much to do with last night's win, but there will be a lot of nights this season where Holliday makes a huge difference.

Oh, there's also Gunnar Henderson.

And Colton Cowser.

And Jordan Westburg.

And Adley Rutschman.

Don't look now, but the O's aren't going to lose many games this season.

The beer absolutely is.....ice freakin' cold.


I don't have any real rooting interests this week at the Masters.

I mean, I do have some storylines I would love to see play out. So, in that sense, I would wind up "rooting" for them to come to fruition if they started to materialize.

Of all the potential Masters storylines, a Rory McIlroy win would be among the most popular in the world of golf.

The biggest of those stories is also the one that's likely the least possible -- Tiger to win his 6th career green jacket to tie Jack Nicklaus. It would also be Tiger's 83rd career win, giving him the all-time record.

Chances of Tiger winning? I'd say they're less than 5%. It's not impossible, but it would be a miracle.

I'd love to see Scottie Scheffler win. I'm a huge fan, for starters, and I think he has the game to win all four majors in one year.

I'm a big golf history buff, so seeing someone win the calendar year grand slam would be epic, to say the least. Scheffler could win all four...but you have to win the Masters first.

I would also be pulling like heck for Rickie Fowler to win if, in fact, he were to work his way into the hunt on Sunday.

Fowler has had numerous brushes with major championships throughout his career, including at Augusta and in last June's U.S. Open. He finally got back into the winner's circle last summer in Detroit, but a major title has alluded him for the last 15 years. It would be really cool to see Fowler win the green jacket.

One other awesome storyline would be a local one. Denny McCarthy grew up in Silver Spring, MD, played high school golf at Georgetown Prep, and many people in this area -- including me -- played with (against) him at one point during his amateur days when he was competing in various Maryland State Golf Association events.

McCarthy had a chance to win his first-ever PGA Tour event last week in San Antonio but couldn't pull it off in the playoff with Akshay Bhatia. He's no stranger to the big stage as he was once a semifinalist in the U.S. Amateur and a member of the U.S. Walker Cup team. A Masters win for the Arygle CC member? Now that would be really cool.

A first-timer like Ludvig Aberg, Nick Dunlap or Wyndham Clark winning would also be a remarkable storyline. The last time a Masters rookie won the event was 1979 when Fuzzy Zoeller did it. It's going to happen at some point, obviously.

Clark is the defending U.S. Open champion, so we know he has the game to make it happen at Augusta Natinoal.

Aberg is Europe's next big star. He kills it off the tee, which is going to come in handy at Augusta as the years go by since it's now a 7,500 yard layout.

And Dunlap was in college back in December, won a TOUR event in January, and is now playing in the Masters as a professional. Life comes at you fast.

But the biggest and best storyline of all is the obvious one: Rory McIlroy. Rory needs a green jacket in the worst way, as it would complete the career grand slam for him and give him something that even Phil Mickelson doesn't have.

McIlroy has had several chances to put the green jacket in his closet, but something has always happened on Sunday that conspired against him. Along the way, as the pressure builds with each passing year, Rory probably "wants" the Masters so much that he's actually stunting his own abilities to win it. It would be great for him to finally put it all together and come out on top.

Other than Tiger winning, McIlroy capturing the 2024 Masters would be the best possible outcome. I'd love to see it.


C.J. asks -- "Of all the stuff that Tiger Wooods has battled (personal, health, car accident etc.), which one has impacted him the most?"

DF says -- "Without question it was the car accident in L.A. He won 15 more tournaments after the 2009 scandal with his ex-wife, he just didn't win a major for 10 years.

He also won again after the back and knee surgeries. It took a while, and it didn't happen quickly, but those injuries didn't crush him. He could still play golf.

But the car accident? He's never recovered from that. And he never will. That's the one that effectively ended his career."


Aaron asks -- "Any whispers from Owings Mills on what the Ravens will do with their first round draft pick?"

DF says -- "I haven't heard anything lately, but I'll stick with the whispers I heard back in December and January. If Mims from Georgia is on the board when they pick in the first round, that's their man. I think they're going either OL or edge rusher with that first pick. They obviously have a need in both areas, big time."

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Wednesday
April 10, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3519


will "x" (finally) mark the spot?


If you discount Scottie Scheffler at this year's Masters, you can make a very valid argument for at least two dozen guys who are fully capable of winning the green jacket.

Rahm, Brooks, D.J., Spieth, Willy Z, Finau, Cam Smith, Cantlay, Morikawa, Hideki.

I mean, there's 10 right there. Any of those 10 can win. I can easily rattle off another 12-14 guys, including Rory, Fitzpatrick, Hovland, Fleetwood, Lowry and others.

I think it's Scheffler's tournament to lose. If he putts "decent", he wins by three shots.

But if it's not Scheffler, then I'm thinking that, finally, it's Xander Schauffele who enters the winner's circle as a major champion.

After several close calls at Augusta National, is it finally time for Xander Schauffele to break through?

If you're a believer in the data that the golf analysts dig up -- and data is proving itself to be accurate in golf -- Schauffele is the guy with the next-best-chance to win this week.

He does everything well.

He might not be the best driver of the ball, but drives it great.

He might not be the iron player in the world, but he hits his irons great.

Short game? Same thing.

Putting? Same thing.

The only thing "X" hasn't done in his career is win a major championship. He's had some chances. He hasn't come through. But one thing about golf that is pretty much not arguable: With a few exceptions (Montgomerie, Westwood, Kuchar), all the great players win at least one major at some point in their career.

They might only win one, mind you. But they do win one.

Love III, Couples, Pavin, Azinger, Elkington, Day, Scott, Rose -- that's a quick list of great players who won one major.

Schauffele is a world class player. He just hasn't won a major yet. This could be his week.

Everything about his golf game dovetails nicely with what Augusta National has to offer. He also happens to have a nice track record there, with a T2, T3 and a T10 finish in the last five years. He knows the course. And he knows how to work his way around the layout when things are going well and when they aren't going well.

The former Olympic Gold Medal winner is going to win a major title someday. There's no doubt about it. It feels like a win is coming his way sooner rather than later. We think it could be this week.

Our final list of Top 10 #DMD favorites: #10 was Hideki Matsuyama. #9 was Viktor Hovland. #8 was Brooks Koepka. #7 was Collin Morikawa. #6 was Min Woo Lee. #5 was Brian Harman. Ludvig Aberg was #4. #3 was Nick Taylor. #2 was Scottie Scheffler.


If you're looking for a few players off the radar screen who are worthy of an investment this week, here are four players who have either the data to support a nice week or have been raising eyebrows this week with their solid play in practice rounds.

Corey Conners comes in at a great price of +6600. He can do everything well except putt. That's his achilles heel. But...he has had weeks where his putter has cooperated in a big way. And if he has one of those weeks at Augusta National, you might be in for a treat if you grab him for T10 and win wagers.

Tommy Fleetwood has been mentioned twice to me this week by people I trust, golf knowledge wise. "Followed him for 9 holes and he hit it within the flag on 6 of them," a friend who watched him on Tuesday reported. Now, practice rounds are practice rounds and nothing more, but even veteran golf reporter Todd Lewis, when discussing his picks for the week, said on Tuesday, "A lot of people are talking about Tommy Fleetwood this week." He's +4500, in case you're motivated to support him.

Matt Fitzpatrick is one of the most underrated players in golf. If the weather is nasty on Thursday as it appears it will be, I could see one of the U.K. guys piecing together a nice round of 67 in the rain and wind while everyone else struggles to break 70. Fitzpatrick is a perfect fit for Augusta National. He comes in at +3300, which is a fair price for a major champion. And a number of national media types are saying he's striping it on the range and on the course so far this week.

Last but not least: How about Phil Mickelson? I don't care that he hasn't played all that well in 2024. It's Augusta National. He no longer has to worry about Tiger one-upping him. He comes in at +20000, which is a remarkably attractive number. And Mickelson can do everything a champion is required to do at Augusta National. This would not be a crazy wager at all for you to make.


So, it's happening. Today, in fact. In Boston of all places.

"It" is Jackson Holliday.

Having apparently seen enough of the Tony Kemp Project, Mike Elias is doing what everyone in Baltimore has been hoping for...he's promoting Holliday from Triple-A Norfolk.

With righty Kutter Crawford starting for Boston tonight, the guess here is Holliday enters the lineup right away. Why bring him up if you're not giving him at-bats, right?

By the way, if you're up for winning a bar bet or office water cooler wager, Kutter's real first name is --- Kutter. I would have assumed it was Kenneth or Kennedy or something like that. Alas, it's just plain old Kutter.

So Holliday will spend two days with the Birds in Boston and then the O's return home to face the Milwaukee Brewers.

And wouldn't you know it, guess who is supposed to start Friday night for the Brew Crew? Mr. D.L. Hall.

He's a lefty, you might remember. Will Elias and Hyde eschew their spring training criticisms of Holliday and play him on Friday night against a southpaw?

Imagine the uproar if 30,000 people show up Friday and Holliday never sees the dish.

On the flip side, the Birds could potentially sell out the ballpark on Friday if they announced during tonight's TV broadcast from Boston that Holliday will, in fact, start on Friday evening vs. Milwaukee.

You only get one Jackson Holliday home debut, remember. Make the best of it, O's.


The Capitals stared playoff death in the face last night and turned in a remarkable defensive performance in Detroit to win a huge game, 2-1.

It was basically a 2-0 win as the Red Wings scored with one second left on the clock.

The victory moves the Capitals into the 2nd and final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. They have four games left to play.

Charlie Lindgren had a big night in goal for the Caps on Tuesday as Washington moved into a playoff spot -- temporarily -- with a 2-1 win at Detroit.

D.C. has 85 points.

Pittsburgh and Detroit both have 84 points.

All three of those teams have played 78 games.

Washington finishes with: at Buffalo, vs. Tampa Bay, vs. Boston and at Philadelphia.

Pittsburgh finishes with: vs. Detroit, vs. Boston, vs. Nashville, at NY Islanders.

Detroit finishes with: at Pittsburgh, at Toronto vs. Montreal, at Montreal.

When you're talking about three teams fighting for the last playoff it's hard to give anyone a "distinct advantage", but the schedule says Pittsburgh is in the driver's seat if they just hold serve and win out.

The Caps just got thrashed in Buffalo two weeks ago and they're probably not going 4-for-4, although that final game in Philly could be a tad easier since the Flyers will likely be eliminated by then. Philly has the Rangers (away) and Devils (home) before hosting D.C. in the finale.

The Flyers have 83 points, but only three games left. Their max is 89, which could get them in if Pittsburgh, Detroit and Washington all go sideways in the next week.

Washington's essentially playing playoff hockey right now. A loss in Buffalo on Thursday won't doom them, but it will pretty much force them to win out to have a real chance.

I liked it better when the Caps were a sure-fire playoff team by the time St. Patrick's Day came and went, but this is fun, if nothing else.

Last night was actually like watching a playoff game. And the good guys won.

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#dmd comments








Mike from Reisterstown     April 16
@DF, MFC, and others re the Masters greens throughout the week.



As Drew previously covered, this years Masters was like a US open in disguise. What really struck is the lack of come back spin on short wedge shots into the greens. It seems to me that the only shots that came back to the hole were the ones that used what Jonny Miller would call "side boards".



Did they change those greens?



I also heard that the sand is actually finely grained quartz to make it look so white? Any truth to that?




hal     April 16
Gotta give @MFC props I guess, he's willing to die on his little hills, no matter how wrong he is lol.

CIK     April 16
@MFC



How come men’s college basketball is ruined by NIL & the transfer portal…but the “women’s game is growing”? It can’t be fun for the men’s coaches…but the coaches of girls basketball are having a blast? What happens when the “Lia Thomas” of basketball comes along…just a dude dunking that little ball and nothing to see here? Nobody really cares about swimming…let’s see how that plays out on a basketball court. Should be interesting.

MFC     April 16
RC, have you been in a cave? Have you seen the tv ratings? They just sold out draft night in NY. (it was always free, no more) Maybe you don't care but the rest of America is waking up. More viewers than the men's final, some people actually care.

JWW     April 16
@CHRIS IN BELAIR



Agree mostly on the alibi for the AL division series vs. Texas. But that was played in two cities with a travel day in between. The same team? Sure. A traditional “sweep?” Not quite, IMHO. I’m okay with the asterisk.


Steve of Pimlico     April 16
@Richard ,I remember 50 some years ago when we couldn't stand the Bears

Randy     April 16
@Chris

Yes, Westburg has been hitting the ball really well. He was always a good hitter in the minors so its good to see it translating. He's actually 3rd in MLB in hard-hit percentage, behind only Witt Jr. and Gunnar.

Ron M     April 16
This so called documentary will play out like Spinal tap. The subject will be playing it straight, but the irony and unintended comedy will be what everyone remembers.

Larry     April 16
There is some irony in JeffWell using the words 'over the top hater', eh?

r.c.     April 16
As Richard points out, many of the youngsters manning up down the stretch have won titles in Hershey. They know the drill and it shows.

If Patrick Reed was the one who handed a note to Shipley, would we call that a "nothing burger"??

As DF pointed out, the kid made it a story, not the "lazy media". Media usually deserves the scorn it gets, not this time though.

And good god, will @MFC ever stop blabbering about women's bball? No. One. Cares

Richard     April 16
Being a huge fan of last year’s Calder Cup winning Hershey Bears, who are 52-13-0-5 this year, I guess I’m selfishly rooting for the Caps to lose, so that our 5 players, Iorio, Lapierre, Johansen, McIlrath, and Moroshenko,will be back to the Bears for the playoffs. Is that wrong?

Jeffwell     April 16
Will be watching to see if Karma rears its head in Philadelphia tonight. Not saying that the team deserves bad juju, but the over the top hater, probably.

Chris in Bel Air     April 16
Another excellent O's summary from Randy and completely agree on the pitching. Another player who has absolutely impressed so far is Westburg. Is it just clicking more for him how or is it Holliday knocking on the door and Mayo right behind him? All of the above? In any case, he's playing very well in all parts of his game. One little alibi, "The Orioles remain unswept *in the regular season* since the arrival of Rutschman. There was that one little series against Tex, last October :-(

Let's go Caps!

K.C.     April 16
I agree with @DF about the Tiger story. Just a lazy media looking for a story that isn't really there.

Ramey     April 16
For those who aren't aware, the title of the WNST documentary is "No one listens but everybody hears". And the little guy is claiming he's been in the media for 40 years and has been a sports radio owner for 25 years. Meanwhile it would seem the only two people he's going to mention in the doc are himself and Luke Jackson. How's that for self aggrandizing? As if Haney, Long, Conn, Forrester didn't exist. What a clown that guy is.

Such     April 16
Cedric Mullins is a ballplayer. Flat out. His catch last night was absolutely astonishing. I was fortunate enough to see it in person. And he follows it up with a homer later, because of course he did.

I agree with Randy; this team is going to need starting pitching in order to reach its full potential. It would be great if Means can come back and be his old self, but who knows? And counting on Bradish just seems so risky. I expect there will be some deals as we get into June and July.

MFC     April 16
Clark and Reese taking huge pay cuts to play in the WNBA. However I'm pretty certain the sponsorships will follow them. The #1 pick gets a 4 yr. deal worth a whopping $387,000, that's for 4 years NOT yearly.

I will give Reese credit she stole the night with her outfit. Far and away the best dressed. She looked like Whitney Houston in the Bodyguard when she was Queen of the Nile.

The evening however was the Caitlin Clark show. She was everywhere and seemingly on all evening.

The game is growing!



Upset by the reports about Rory but read today he's not going. Good for him but $850 million is a lot of money, not that he needs it. Maybe this is the impetus that gets things settled. Imagine $850mm spread over the golf season. Figure it out and stop all of the madness.



Anyone else notice how thin L. Jackson looked walking into the Castle. Wonder what's behind that, more speed?




Henry Wiler     April 16
God is a Flyers fan.

Tom J     April 16
@MFC.....coverage for the Masters starts at 2pm on the weekend days. They do it because they can.

Tom Mullens     April 15
The guy broke up with his fiance by text message. He told his agent that he wasn’t capable of representing somebody as good as he was. He ghosted his mentor and best friend when he won his second major. His word about LIV evil was good until his price was met. Don’t rely on him if your life ever depends on it.

MicMac     April 15
What's this I'm hearing about Rory McElroy being close to a deal with LIV? Last night (Monday) I was listening to the radio and they were saying that he's been offered $850 million to join and it looks like he's gonna do it. Then they started playing a bunch of sound bites where McElroy was saying he'd never play pro golf again if LIV was the only league, etc... Talk about a 180° and being hypocritical. Could there be a worse person to make the switch? Maybe Tiger, but McElroy was so outspoken against LIV that I don't know how he could ever live that down. Although he would have almost a billion reasons.

sammy     April 15
No matter what happens tomorrow, this Caps team has shown incredible grit. Between that and Carbery, I'm feeling pretty good about the Caps future. Being competitive without prime Ovie is a really good sign.

hal     April 15
Jealous? Ok "Bo", I'm sure in the future commenters will adhere to your sage advice lol.

Bo     April 15
It's amazing how many people here are jealous of DF's sage golf wisdom. No one can just say "Well done!"

MFC     April 15
Masters thoughts.

Changes to the course won't allow for the roars on the back nine. And when the new ball is in play you can really forget it. That's a shame.



Still ticks me off that they don't have tv coverage until 3 PM. I get it you're special and all of that but c'mon it's 2024. Yes you can stream but only featured groups and selected holes.



Tiger had one really bad round. Until that point he was what t-24 in making the cut. It was his iron and short game, which is confusing as it would seem to be less stress on the body. Congrats to him for showing up Sunday, shows the respect he has for the Masters. He was outdriving his partners.



Why did Ian Baker Finch have the most airtime on Sunday. It was like Nance and Immelmann weren't in the booth. No roars, no real excitement from the announcers. The shots and putts coming down the stretch were rather pedestrian, except for Scheffler and Adberg.



Adberg may be my new favorite player with how quick he plays.



Scheffler really seems like a great young man. Hope it continues.



LIV golfers and Greg Norman, take a hike.



In other golf news The Road is still alive in the MSGA A Team tournament. They have reached the quarterfinals. Huge weekend ahead. Sorry to report that Eagles Nest home of DMD's own DF did not make it past the first round, losing to the Naval Academy who then lost to Piney Branch in round 2.



Other topics, Caitlin Clark did a nice job on SNL Saturday. If you haven't seen, it's worth the search.


butch     April 15
Know what is worse than "I won this many dollars" stories?? The "I could have won this many dollars IF this happened or that happened".

Greg     April 15
Took DF's advice and played all 10 of his guys for $20 to finish Top 10 and $20 to finish Top 30.



Bet $400 and won $1660. Thanks DF!

Kyle P     April 15
If Aberg wins yesterday I win $1800 instead of $545. How is that dbag Larry?

larry     April 15
Agree with OG and RR. Betting $200 every week for the occasional "win" is a recipe for disaster. Sure, you'll be "happy" occasionally but in the end, not so much. No matter whose free advice you follow lol.

Ray Ray     April 15
old George ------- the irony is, the bets the chumps make pay for the commercials as well as make the stockholders of the companies wealthy.

Old George     April 15
If you're using your phone, tablet, or computer as the vehicle for placing bets, you have ZERO chance of a positive outcome in the long run. Unless you win one of the absolutely crazy bets that pays six figures, you are horsemeat. Some say that wagering is a form of entertainment. These folks are goofy -- who deems giving away money as a form of recreation? Better to make an imaginary bet in your mind and put the money in your Keough Plan or the fund for your kid's college education. These thousands of commercials on TV for various betting platforms are there for a reason. Don't be a chump.

Kyle P.     April 14
Bet $200, won a total of $545. You can say I'm pretty happy.

butch     April 14
The only thing more boring than golf stories is gambling stories. No one cares about someone else's bets, no offense.

JK     April 14
That CIK really knows his golf, can't you tell?

Mitch     April 14
LMAO, @DF had 4 of the top 10 players on his betting slip and these haters here will say "Anybody could do that."

CIK     April 14
Apparently Scheffler didn’t have the round 1 lead. I must of misunderstood what I was being told.

CIK     April 14
@Matt



Aren’t the payouts subject to be lower because of top 10 ties? A friend of mine had Scheffler 1st round leader for $25. He shared the lead with 2 others. The bet paid out $19 for a net loss of $6.

Matt C.     April 14
Here's what I am facing today.



If Scheff, Collin and Aberg all finish top 10 today but one of them doesn't win, I will clear $340.



If Scheff wins and the other 2 finish top 10 I clear $670.



If Morikawa wins and the other 2 finish top 10 I clear $2100.



If Aberg wins and the other 2 finish top 10 I clear $2860.




kj     April 14
People worrying about a baseball team in mid-April need to get a grip. They don't give out awards in April, nor will any team bury itself after 15 games. And love when fans "demand" Elias fix something. If any O's fan is not comfortable with Elias running this team, might be time to adopt a new team to root for

Unitastoberry     April 14
You have to wait until Mothers Day at least to get a feel for how this season will play out. For example Mike Cuellar could not pitch for you know what until the cold was totally gone. Just like some QBs can't play in the cold. Main thing is to stay healthy.

TimD in Timonium     April 14
Worried about the O's? in mid-April. Nah. They can win high-scoring games too. And Burnes WILL get them back on track today.



Given the constant Tiger coverage this week by ESPN, his Saturday morning practice session had an "Oh, man. I can't believe I have to do this again" vibe.



See ya on the Senior Tour, Tiger.


Delray RICK     April 14
Back in the day CADILLAC was sponsor for MASTERS and they had one commercial, that's it.

Ray Ray     April 14
Fritz Peterson, who was a stalwart pitcher for the ineffectual Yankees of the late 1960s and early ’70s, but whose lingering renown derived more from one of baseball’s most notorious “trades” — his exchange of wives with a teammate — has died. He was 82.



None of Peterson’s on-field achievements or off-field eccentricities proved to be as memorable as the disclosure, in March 1973, that he and another Yankee pitcher, Mike Kekich, were living in each other’s house with each other’s wife and children. As a headline in The Daily News declared, “2 Yank Pitchers Trade Wives: Peterson, Kekich Hurl Change-Ups.”



Peterson’s memoir, “Mickey Mantle Is Going to Heaven” (2009), is one of the odder artifacts of baseball literature. A combination of storytelling — from the ballpark and from the meandering path of Peterson’s journey to Christian evangelism — it ends several chapters by saying which of Peterson’s former teammates would go to heaven (Mantle and Bobby Murcer) and which would not (Bouton).




Billy     April 13
Picking Schefler and Morikawa is "amazing". JK sure knows golf lol.

larry     April 13
LOL @ JK.

Jk     April 13
3 guys in the current top 5 (4 pm) were DF picks. Scheffler, Morikawa, Aberg.



Amazing.

MUSHNICK     April 13
@delray dick



please stop slurping me - its unbecoming

Delray RICK     April 13
Another good article bout PHIL MUSHNICK on MESSIAH and he overtakes TV coverage from other golfers who aren't on nearly enough.

MFC     April 13
Tiger sets another record. Amazing, it’s not his driver that’s holding him back it’s his irons.

The collapse of JT and Harmon was incredible and if Hovland keeps composure he might be playing this weekend.



Just can’t understand The Masters not allowing total coverage until 3 PM.

I can stream but it’s limited.



The transfer portal and NIL continues to destroy college basketball. Forget hiring coaches they need fundraisers extraordinaire to be any good in this day and age.

James     April 13
Not a big Tiger fan but even I have to admit that was really special yesterday. Everyone is talking about Scheffler and Homa and no one is mentioning Bryson. I think he winds up winning.

Tuesday
April 9, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3518


why is this still so hard?


For the life of me, I can't figure out why people -- nearly all of whom are definitely smarter than me -- are having such a tough time piecing together a fair and equitable policy for transgender athletes.

The NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletes), which governs nearly all of the small colleges in the U.S., voted 20-0 on Monday in favor of banning transgender athletes from competing in women's sports.

That ruling, as expected, created a massive uproar.

I just don't understand why this one doesn't take 5 minutes to figure out.

If you're a biological male, you should be competing against other biological males.

If you're a biological female, you should be competing against other biological females.

Under a new rule approved by the NAIA, transgender swimmers like Lea Thomas would not be permitted to compete against biological females in NAIA athletic competitions.

If you're a transgender athlete, either simply "identifying" as a different gender or having undergone hormone replacement therapy, you can compete against other transgender athletes.

What's the issue with that?

Isn't that the fairest way possible to handle what has become an incredibly complex situation?

Female athletes don't want to compete against biological males.

It falls under the "not fair" category.

The NAIA decided on Monday they would make it as fair as they could. Biological males can no longer compete against biological females. That seems reasonable to me. Maybe even to you. But it's deemed "unreasonable" by folks at the National Women's Law Center.

"This is unacceptable and blatant discrimination that not only harms trans, nonbinary and intersex individuals, but limits the potential of all athletes," the senior law counselor at NWLC, Shiwali Patel, said in a statement. "It's important to recognize that these discriminatory policies don't enhance fairness in competition. Instead, they send a message of exclusion and reinforce dangerous stereotypes that harm all women."

I had to read that three times to pick apart all of the inaccuracies.

Whether it is, in fact, "unacceptable and blatant discrimination" is debatable. But the new NAIA policy most certainly doesn't limit the potential of ALL athletes. Patel is just saying stuff to say stuff with that statement.

"It's important to recognize that these discriminatory policies don't enhance fairness in competition." Again, whether the policies are discriminatory is something we can fuss over. But the policy actually does enhance fairness in competition. Males will play against males and females will play against females. If you want to argue that allowing transgender athletes to compete against females would somehow be more fair than not allowing them to compete against females, I'll pull up a chair and sit in on that debate with you for as long as you want.

"Instead, they send a message of exclusion and reinforce dangerous stereotypes that harm all women." If you mean banning a biological male from competing against biological females is "exclusion", than, yes, males get excluded when they want to use the women's bathroom and are told they can't. Dangerous sterotypes hurt anyone, that much is true. But creating a policy that says biological males have to play against other biological males, only, isn't stereotyping anyone.

You're a guy. You play with and against guys.

You're a girl. You play with and against girls.

And then...the other option.

If you're a transgender athlete, play against other transgender athletes.

I just don't understand why it's so hard to figure out.

One counter-point would be the obvious one: If a transgender athlete wanted to play on a women's basketball team, there simply might not be enough transgender athletes to field a competitive team or, even more likely, a full conference or division of transgender teams.

That's the counter-point. And I get it.

But that doesn't mean the alternative solution is to allow a transgender athlete to play with and/or against biological females.

That's simply not fair to the biological females.

Does that not matter?

Are we worried about fairness for everyone? Or just transgender athletes?

And, by the way, in no way am I suggesting that this entire situation is uncomplicated.

It's very complicated, even if only an estimated 1.8% of all 15.3 million public high school students in the country are transgender.

This isn't a dilemma for the meek of heart. It's a tough one, for sure.

But in the end, I think our first two most important categories -- in terms of "fairness" -- are biological males and biological females.

Things have to be fair for them.

Things should also be fair for transgender athletes.

But first things first. Make sure boys and girls, men and women, etc. are treated fairly. If we can pull that off, now let's figure out if we can do the same for the transgender athletes.

It's ultimately going to wind up in the Supreme Court someday. That's my guess. And we'll let them figure out what's fair and what's not fair.

Come to think of it, maybe we shouldn't be the ones creating the policies in the first place.

Let's do what we do best in this country: Turn it over to the courts.


College sports' other governing body, the NCAA, also made the news yesterday, as they laid the groundwork for a tweak to the transfer rules starting as early as the 2024-2025 season.

Currently, a student-athlete can transfer a maximum of twice in their college career. On the occasion of their first transfer, they can play in the next immediate season. On the occasion of their second transfer, they have to sit out one full season before beginning to compete with their new (second) school.

The new proposal -- which will be voted on later this month -- would allow for all athletes to be eligible to play immediately upon either their first or second transfer, providing they meet certain academic requirements.

The U.S. Department of Justice ruled back in January that forcing a student-athlete to wait a year upon their second transfer is an antitrust violation. Rather than challenge that ruling in court, the NCAA adopted the new policy change with a vote from their members on April 17-18.


You know how I feel about calling games "must win" games when they aren't....."must win". So, tonight's game in Detroit isn't "must win" for the Capitals. They could still lose and make the playoffs.

Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals have a huge game tonight in Detroit that could help decide Washington's playoff fate.

But it's definitely a "if you want to have a shot at the playoffs you better win tonight" game.

Pittsburgh helped out a little bit last night with a 3-2 OT loss in Toronto. The Flyers are helping out because -- wait for it, I know you'll be shocked -- they keep losing this month. The Islanders are currently "in", but if they stub their toe in the next 10 days they'll be on the outside looking in as well.

The Capitals still control their own destiny. But a win tonight in Detroit is critical.

The Caps and Red Wings both have played 77 games. There are 5 remaining. Detroit has 84 points. Washington has 83.

The problem in D.C. is that the Caps aren't winning. They had this playoff chase in the crosshairs two weeks ago and then they started losing every game they played. That's not a recipe for making the post-season.

After tonight, they have Buffalo (away), Tampa Bay (home), Boston (home) and Philadelphia (away) left to play. Most NFL analysts and stats nerds think, now, that the wild card team is going to need at least 90 points to make it. Washington needs 7 points in their last 5 games to hit that number.

That's 3 wins and an OT loss (to hit 90, exactly) in their last 5 games. Can it be done? Sure. But the Capitals haven't exactly been lighting it up recently, either.

Tonight sets the stage for a wild final week if Washington can pull off a win in Detroit.

It's not "must" win -- but if we're playing horse, the game has M-U-S on the board.

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our ten masters favorites


As the great Biz Markie once said, "It's spring again."

How do you know it's spring?

Because the Masters, the greatest tournament on the greatest golf course ever built, is once again upon us.

#DMD will feature our top 10 favorites for this year's event, which will be played April 11-14 at glorius Augusta National Golf Club.

Last year's winner, Jon Rahm, is considered one of the favorites, but no one really knows much about his form heading into the event because he plays for the competing circuit and none of us pays any attention to their schedule, who wins, who loses, etc.

The golf course is undoubtedly a nice fit for Rahm, though, as his play in 2023 showed us.

These ten players are our favorites. They're given to you in no real order. Any of these ten, we think, could win the golf tournament. We suggest wagering on them for Top 20, Top 10 and win positions if you're someone inclined to wager occasionally.

#10 was Hideki Matsuyama. #9 was Viktor Hovland. #8 was Brooks Koepka. #7 was Collin Morikawa. #6 was Min Woo Lee. #5 was Brian Harman. Ludvig Aberg was #4. #3 was Nick Taylor.

Will Scottie Scheffler add another green jacket to his collection on Sunday?

#2 Scottie Scheffler -- OK, so I've heard this question two dozen times over the last five days.

"Who's going to win the Masters?"

"Unless something goes sideways, Scottie Scheffler is winning," I say, on repeat, to everyone who asks.

I just don't see how he loses.

He drives it great. Hits his irons great. Has a great short game. (You sensing a theme?)

When he putts well, he wins by 10 shots.

When he putts "just OK", he wins by 3 shots.

When he putts lousy, he either wins by one or loses by one.

It's pretty simple this week.

Unless he has a disastrous four days on the greens, Scheffler is going to win.

That said, I listed him as #2 in our Top 10 Favorites just to have an extra day of suspense.

I'll have one more Top 10 guy tomorrow, plus a few other names to consider as well.

It's Scheffler's tournament to lose. It's been a long time since we looked at the Masters like that.

At +450, he's not a great wager from an investment standpoint. But winning a bet is always better than losing a bet.

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RANDY MORGAN
on American soccer


Americans are playing more and more of a vital role in international soccer these days, and Randy Morgan has his eyes on all of them for #DMD. Each week here, he looks at recent performances of American players and highlights upcoming games of importance.


champions league quarterfinal preview


The competition for the most coveted trophy in European soccer is down to its final eight teams. The Champions League quarterfinals, which begin today, feature a set of enticing heavyweight matchups.

There are several rematches from recent memorable knockout round matchups with Manchester City and Real Madrid paired up for the third year in a row and Barcelona and Paris St. Germain meeting once again after several encounters over the past few years.


Real Madrid - Manchester City –

The round kicks off Tuesday with the marquee pairing of Manchester City and Real Madrid. City enters the round as the betting favorites to defend their title, but whoever wins this matchup will likely be the favorite going forward.

This is a rematch of last year’s semifinal, where Man City won 5-1 on aggregate en route to winning the trophy. The teams also met in the previous year’s semifinals, which Real Madrid won with a dramatic comeback in the second leg.

Erling Haaland and Manchester City will face Real Madrid in a rematch of last year's semifinal.

Man City is favored to advance in this current iteration at -225 to make it through to the semis. Both of these clubs enter the matchup in good form, undefeated in their last five games.

City boasts the best attacking and defending statistics in the Champions League thus far, though Real Madrid is just behind them offensively, with the second best expected goals in the tournament. Arguably the most talented team in Europe, Man City finds themselves in a tightly contested three-team title race in the English Premier League.

Though they remain in good position to win both the domestic league and the Champions League once again, City has not fully clicked this season as they have the past few. They have not been able to pull away from the pack in the Premier League and have found some difficulty getting results against their toughest opponents.

Throw in the fact that they need to split their focus with must win league games in between each of the Real Madrid matches, and it provides an opening for Madrid to take advantage.

Real Madrid have been no slouches this season, with a commanding lead in the La Liga title race, where they have the top scoring attack and one of the stingiest defenses. They are as healthy as they’ve been all year.

Jude Bellingham has been the best player in Europe this season, his first with Real Madrid. He has spearheaded the attack from the top of midfield with Vinicius Jr. providing a dynamic threat down the wing. Man City defender Kyle Walker is questionable with an injury and he will be hugely missed as the best defensive matchup for Vinicius if he is unable to suit up. Pep Guardiola will need to find another defensive solution to handle the Brazilian’s speed and guile.

Of course Manchester City will look to score through Norwegian goal-scoring machine Erling Haaland. Real Madrid will need to focus attention on the big striker, which could create room for talents like Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Foden to operate.

Foden has had an outstanding season and provides a dynamic threat whether he lines up on the wing or in a more central attacking role. City will look to Rodri to control the pace and tempo of the game as the metronome in the center of midfield that helps them dominate possession.

You might think it would be critical for Real Madrid to get a good result in this first leg at home to avoid needing a win on the road in Manchester. However, Real Madrid’s history suggests they have some magic beans in this tournament and are capable of getting whatever they need.

Perhaps the magic is running out, as they couldn’t pull it off last year, we’ll see if they can restore it in this campaign.


Arsenal - Bayern Munich –

The second game kicking off on Tuesday is another heavyweight clash between storied clubs. Arsenal has been statistically one of the best teams in Europe this season and remain in the thick of the Premier League title race after finishing second last season.

Bayern Munich has had a disappointing season by their standards, as they will fail to win the Bundesliga for the first time in over a decade and are already eliminated from the German Cup. However, the Bavarian giants are still deeply talented and will be a tough out with the Champions League their last hope at a major trophy this season.

Arsenal is the favorite to advance from this matchup at -130, though it's a much closer margin than the previous pairing. The London club has been on an impressive run in the Premier League, dominating lesser teams and holding their own with their title competitors, earning a 0-0 draw away to Manchester City last weekend.

They have leaned on one of the top defensive units in all of Europe, conceding the fewest goals in the Premier League this season and second to only Man City in xG conceded in the Champions League.

While they have been lighting up the scoreboard in England, they haven’t had as much success in attack against Champions League competition, barely squeaking by Porto in the last round on penalties after a 1-1 aggregate tie over the two legs. They enter this game undefeated in their last six games, including the important draw with Man City.

Bayern Munich has been inconsistent since the new year, especially in the Bundesliga. They come in having won three of their last five, but with a tremendously disappointing loss at home to Borussia Dortmund, their first home loss to Dortmund in over a decade.

Their disappointing domestic campaign could help give Bayern a leg up in this matchup however. Arsenal can afford only limited player rotations with every point critical in the Premier League, while Bayern could rest key players in the intervening weekends between these Champions League battles, possibly making the German side a bit fresher and fitter for the games.

Bayern’s attack has remained potent this season, as they lead the German league in both goals scored and xG, but their defense has not lived up to their standard, ranking fourth in xG conceded. They will try to win the possession battle and push the game to be more frenetic to get a better chance of finding holes in the staunch Arsenal defense.

Despite their relatively poor Bundesliga performance, Bayern still has two of the best attacking players in Europe this season in Jamal Musiala and Harry Kane. They will hope Kane can provide a spark to find a hole in the Arsenal defense on his return to London.

Arsenal will try to dominate midfield with Declan Rice and Jorginho supporting Martin Odegaard, while looking to dynamic attackers Bukayo Saka and Kai Havertz to take advantage of a leaky Bayern defense.


Atletico Madrid - Borussia Dortmund –

On Wednesday, Borussia Dortmund will travel to Atletico Madrid for the first leg of their pairing. These are the two surprise entrants to the final eight, with each underperforming in their domestic leagues this season.

Dortmund benefitted from the draw in the last round, getting a PSV team that has dominated the Dutch league but doesn’t quite have the elite talent of the top clubs.

Atletico went back to their defensive roots to grind out an upset of an Inter MIlan team that has been one of the best in Europe.

Taking down that giant has made Atletico the favorite to advance at -150. They are led by Antoine Griezmann, who is tied for the top goalscorer in the Champions League and has been one of the best players in Spain this season. Atletico has been more attack-oriented than in previous years and despite the effort against Inter, their defense has not been as airtight as usual.

In the Spanish league, Atletico is barely clinging onto the final Champions League spot in fourth place, however they have managed to play up to their competition in some of their toughest games, beating Real Madrid twice this season and downing Inter Milan.

They also boast one of the best home atmospheres in Europe, giving them an advantage in the opening leg. Of course Dortmund similarly has one of the top home crowds in the game, so it will be crucial to defend their home turf.

Dortmund has similarly had a down year in the Bundesliga, where they are also barely holding onto fourth place for a spot in next year’s Champions League.

Despite that, Dortmund has found good form in the Champions League, where they won a difficult group including PSG and AC Milan. They seemed to have righted their ship a bit over the past few weeks, winning their last five games in a row, capped by the resounding win over Bayern in Munich a week ago.

Dortmund’s offense has been better than their defense this season, as they sit near the top of the Bundesliga in goals scored but only the middle of the pack in goals conceded. They have a decent collection of attacking talent, led by Donyell Malen, Karim Adeyemi and recently returned from Manchester United, Jadon Sancho.

They are likely to be the more open and expansive side in this pairing but will need to be cautious of Antoine Griezmann’s ability to quickly turn the tables when Atletico spring into attack.

The stats suggest that there will be goals in these games, but if Atletico opts for a similarly conservative approach as they did against Inter, it could end up being a tight, low-scoring affair decided by one or two key moments.


Paris St. Germain - Barcelona –

This represents another clash of the elite clubs of Europe, although neither is quite as formidable as the reputation that precedes them. This is a rematch of the famous 2017 knockout matchup that saw Barcelona win the second leg 6-1 to overturn a 4-0 aggregate deficit.

But gone are most of the pivotal figures from that game, with Leo Messi and Neymar moving on from Barcelona to Paris before heading off into semi-retirement. The teams met more recently in 2021 when PSG dominated with a 5-2 aggregate score to advance to the quarterfinals.

These teams have similar profiles and both will see key figures depart in the summer. PSG has a comfortable lead at the top of the Ligue 1 table, despite an uneasy locker room with the inevitable departure of Kylian Mbappe at the end of the season (likely to Barcelona rival Real Madrid).

Barcelona trails Real Madrid by a large margin in their bid to repeat as La Liga champions, though their underlying stats suggest they’ve been better than their results. Despite that, their coach, Xavi, has already announced he will step down at the end of the season.

The stats from this Champions League campaign suggest these teams are fairly evenly matched. They are neck and neck in expected goals and expected goals conceded in the Champions League and both teams have the best underlying attacking metrics in their respective domestic leagues.

Paris St. Germain certainly has more star power, and because of that they are the favorites to advance at -130. Barcelona has been decimated by injuries, forcing them to rely on multiple teenage academy prospects for much of the season, but several of those have emerged as potential stars of the future.

Players like 16 year old Lamine Yamal and 17 year old Pau Cubarsi have stepped in and admirably fulfilled their roles. However Barcelona hopes they will see two of their injured starters return in time for the game Wednesday, with key midfielders Pedri and Frenkie de Jong close to making it back.

Kylian Mbappe is the star of the show in this one and Barcelona will need to build their gameplan around stopping him. This will likely mean a showdown between Mbappe and Barcelona defender Ronald Araujo.

Normally a center back, Araujo has often moved wide to help shutdown talented wingers like Real Madrid’s Vinicius Jr. With his combination of size, speed and length, Araujo has been extremely effective in this role and will likely be deployed wide to try to contain Mbappe.

Barcelona is not as dynamic in attack as the Parisians, but they will look to veteran striker Robert Lewandowski to make the most of any chances they can create. PSG’s back line can be suspect and the wily Polish star is one of the greatest goal scorers of all time, fully capable of making the most of any mistakes.

JERRY'S TOYOTA banner
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Monday
April 8, 2024
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#3517


monday stuff


OK, now that Caitlin Clark's college career has ended, can we all go back to watching something else?

I'm kidding.

I assume the numbers are going to be eye-opening for yesterday's South Carolina-Iowa women's basketball final, won by the Gamecocks with relative ease.

But folks across the country who are jumping around and riding their high horse about the TV ratings for the women's tournament are missing the keyest-of-key-points. Most of those who tuned in were watching because of Clark. Or, when her team was still alive, Angel Reese. Some might have been tuned in because of UConn's Paige Bueckers, too.

Caitlin Clark's college career ended without a national title but she helped put the sport of women's basketball on the map during her time at Iowa.

The reality is this: In general, women's college basketball is a dud. But those three young ladies made it into something well worth watching in 2023-2024.

And because of those three, other 10, 11 and 12 year old girls might want to someday don the uniform of Iowa, UConn, LSU and South Carolina. That's how women's college basketball becomes "big time" --- with highly skilled and efficient players.

This is no different than other sports, by the way. So please don't think I'm picking on women's basketball when I call it a dud.

The TV networks choose their Sunday prime-time football schedule based on anticipated match-ups, mostly of the quarterbacks. Carolina vs. Chicago? Who cares? Like, who would watch and who would care? That game is a dud.

When you pair Caitlin Clark against Angel Reese, that's like having Mahomes vs. Lamar. You don't have to be a fan of either team to get your chips and salsa and sit by the TV in anticipation of a great game.

No one -- at least that I know -- is going to hustle down to College Park next winter when Iowa comes to town to take on the Lady Terps. Maryland vs. Wisconsin in women's basketball will draw the 3,000 it usually draws. Maybe.

Athletes make us tune in.

Just ask the PGA Tour. He no longer really plays so this is a bad comparison, but any tournament Tiger plays in draws huge ratings and the rest of them are just things on TV for three hours on a Saturday and Sunday. But when he was at his zenith, Tiger was must-see TV.

I think what Caitlin Clark did for women's basketball was great for their sport.

It was certainly very beneficial for the University of Iowa. She did more for that school's athletic department than virtually any athlete, ever.

But now that she's gone, they have a new challenge out there.

So, too, does LSU. Without Angel Reese, they might have a good team, but they've lost the one player that made the games interesting. Some of her antics were definitely off-putting, no two ways about it. But you watched. And so did a lot of other people.

The TV ratings are going to come out today and people are going to sing the praises of women's basketball and how it outdrew the World Series or a NBA game or a golf tournament or two.

Those numbers are what they are because of Caitlin Clark.

"Caitlin Clark" outdrew the World Series.

That's the truth.

If, beyond imagination and possibility, Tiger Woods owned a 2-shot lead heading into this Sunday's final round, the ratings for that particular four hours of golf would be through the roof. They wouldn't be huge because of golf or the Masters. They'd be through the roof because of Tiger.

When Scottie Scheffler leads Ludvig Aberg by two shots heading into Sunday's final round, only golfers who care about golf are going to watch.

I really enjoyed watching that young lady play basketball. She's a great competitor. I hope other young girls around the country took notice of her and want to be "the next Caitlin Clark" because that will be great for women's college basketball.

One thing for sure: Women's college basketball needs another Clark, Reese or Bueckers. A lot of them, in fact.


Denny McCarthy did something almost no professional golfer has ever done in yesterday's final round of the Texas Open.

He made 7 straight birdies on the back nine. And 8 of 9 overall.

McCarthy trailed by six shots standing on the 10th tee. And he then went completely nuts on the back nine to get into a playoff with Akshay Bhatia. Technically, it was Bhatia who forced the playoff because Denny made a 12-foot birdie putt at #18 that made Bhatia's 11-foot birdie putt "do or die".

And then, because it's golf, McCarthy went from doing something almost no one has ever done to doing something every single golfer on the planet has done.

He fatted a sand wedge from 100 yards into a small stream bordering the 18th green and lost the playoff to Bhatia, thus robbing McCarthy of a shot at his first PGA Tour title.

Denny McCarthy lost in a playoff for the second time in his career yesterday at the Texas Open.

The former University of Virginia star went from the penthouse to the outhouse in one shot.

Just 20 minutes earlier, from almost the exact same spot, he buzzed a sand wedge to 12 feet and made the putt.

His next shot from the spot made him look like a guy playing in the D flight of the club championship.

Golf, man.

For what it's worth, McCarthy admitted afterwards he was unsettled over the playoff shot.

"A bug flew on my ball, so I backed off," he explained. "Then there was some noise from one of the grandstand suites so I backed off again. Then the bug flew back on my ball. And I didn't back away. I figured I could hit the shot. Maybe I was distracted. I don't know what happened, but it was obviously not the shot I was looking for in that moment."

It might have helped McCarthy a little bit that Bhatia made birdie on the playoff hole to win his 2nd career PGA Tour event.

But probably not. Professional players hit fat sand wedges like that a few times a season, if that. It was a total outlier. But it came at the worst possible moment.

And so, McCarthy heads to Augusta National today for his first-ever appearance at the Masters having made 7 straight birdies and hitting one of the worst shots he's ever hit as a professional yesterday.

Golf is something else.

And speaking of Augusta and Denny, I wouldn't rule out that he has a solid tournament this week. He has picked up some much needed length off the tee and, as we saw yesterday and all weekend, he's a wild man with the putter in his hands. He's not among my Top 10 Favorites, but I'm going to throw a few bucks on him before Thursday because I think he's in good form and he can putt the lights out of it.

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our ten masters favorites


As the great Biz Markie once said, "It's spring again."

How do you know it's spring?

Because the Masters, the greatest tournament on the greatest golf course ever built, is once again upon us.

#DMD will feature our top 10 favorites for this year's event, which will be played April 11-14 at glorius Augusta National Golf Club.

Last year's winner, Jon Rahm, is considered one of the favorites, but no one really knows much about his form heading into the event because he plays for the competing circuit and none of us pays any attention to their schedule, who wins, who loses, etc.

The golf course is undoubtedly a nice fit for Rahm, though, as his play in 2023 showed us.

These ten players are our favorites. They're given to you in no real order. Any of these ten, we think, could win the golf tournament. We suggest wagering on them for Top 20, Top 10 and win positions if you're someone inclined to wager occasionally.

#10 was Hideki Matsuyama. #9 was Viktor Hovland. #8 was Brooks Koepka. #7 was Collin Morikawa. #6 was Min Woo Lee. #5 was Brian Harman. Ludvig Aberg was #4.

Can Nick Taylor become the first Canadian since Mike Weir in 2003 to win the Masters?

#3 Nick Taylor -- Yes, he's only played the Masters once. He finished T29 in 2020. And that's the only experience the 35-year old Canadian has at Augusta National.

But back then, he was "just a guy".

Now, he's Nick Taylor, a 4-time winner on TOUR and one of the top players on TOUR in 2024.

He has one achilles heel. He's not a great driver of the golf ball. But if there's one course among the rotation of major championship venues where you don't have to be a great driver of the ball, it's Augusta National. There's very little rough to deal with and the fairway landing areas are very generous.

Everything else? He does it VERY well.

His "shots gained" numbers are great, whether that's iron play, short game or putting.

Of course he's a bit of an outlier heading into this week given that he's never won a major and hasn't really ever even contended in one, either.

But his play in 2024 has been stellar and his putter is a magic wand.

He's a massive betting longshot at +180000. He'll provide a nice return on your investment with Top 30, Top 20 and Top 10 finishes.

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"Randy On The O's"


Randy Morgan takes #DMD readers through the recent week in Orioles baseball as the Birds try to lay claim to the 2023 A.L. East title.


orioles weekly recap


Week Record:5-4

Season Record:5-4

AL East Standing:3rd

Player of the Week: Grayson Rodriguez - 12.1 IP 2.19 ERA 16K 10H 3BB

The Orioles started the season on the right foot with an offensive explosion in the opening series vs. the Angels.

New ace Corbin Burnes lived up to expectations in his Orioles debut with a nearly perfect six innings on Opening Day. Grayson Rodriguez followed that with a dominant start of his own. The week (and a half) soured towards the end however, as the O’s found themselves on the wrong end of a pair of walk off wins from the Pirates.

Grayson Rodriguez is off to a great start in 2024.

As mentioned above, Burnes was sensational on Opening Day, surrendering just one hit, a homer to Hall of Famer Mike Trout, while striking out eleven and walking none. It's still early, but Burnes and Rodriguez look like one of the best 1-2 starters in the league. The O’s bats came out of the gates on fire, plating 24 runs in the first two games. Unfortunately they fell silent in the finale and the Angels avoided the sweep.

The Birds then hosted the potentially resurgent Kansas City Royals, taking the first of that series with a dramatic Jordan Westburg walk-off homer.

The next day they were shut down by Alec Marsh in a 4-1 loss. Then the team bounced back to take the series and finish the homestand 4-2 with another come from behind win with some real Orioles Magic as they overturned a 3-0 deficit in the late innings when James McCann hit a walk-off double on the final out to cap a 9th inning rally.

The O’s carried their momentum as they went on the road to Pittsburgh, winning the first game of the series with the Pirates 5-2, behind another outstanding outing from Grayson Rodriguez, who looks like the ace-type pitcher he was for the second half of last season. That’s where things turned for the worse. The Orioles were very close to closing out a third straight winning series, but couldn’t quite find the magic the last two days.

They managed to battle back from another 3-0 deficit on Saturday after being shut down for six innings by mediocre lefty Bailey Falter. However, they couldn’t seal the deal on the comeback when Tony Kemp grounded out to strand two runners in the top of the 9th. The O’s pulled ahead in the 10th inning but Mike Baumann blew his save chance and the Pirates won in the 11th.

On Sunday they came close once again, carrying a 2-1 lead into the final frame after an excellent start from Dean Kremer. This time it was Yennier Cano, who got his first blemish of the season at the worst time, blowing the save. Gunnar Henderson nearly bailed him out with a diving effort to initiate a near double play, but after tagging second, his throw was off the mark and the winning run came home.

Grayson Rodriguez earned the player of the week this go round. It’s generally hard for a pitcher to win, but in this extended week the young flamethrower got two starts and was exceptional in both. Corbin Burnes garnered mention with his Opening Day gem, but he struggled a bit in his outing against Kansas City.

Though it's nice to know a “bad” Burnes start still gives you nearly six innings with just two runs. Gunnar Henderson also had a solid week, though he cooled off towards the end against a barrage of lefty hurlers.


Down on the Farm –

It was quite a spectacular start to the year for the reigning AAA champion Norfolk Tides. Their lineup is unfair, with five or six regulars who could be starting for more than half the major league teams. Norfolk racked up 98 runs through their first eight games, the next best team had 55.

They had a run differential of 31 heading into Sunday’s game. In the second game of their six-game series with Charlotte, they put up 26 runs with several players posting insane stat lines, three homers for Kyle Stowers, ten RBI for Heston Kjerstad.

Entering Sunday, nearly the entire Tides lineup had an OPS over 1.000. Kjerstad currently sits at 1.548 and is tied for the league lead in homers with Kyle Stowers at six.

It's well known now that the O’s front office sent top prospect Jackson Holliday down to the minors to start the season to allegedly work on hitting against lefties and defense at second base. Well all the 20 year old phenom did was hit a homer in his first at-bat of the season, off a lefty.

Holliday finished the week with a 1.095 OPS, including a .342 average and .490 on-base percentage, with two homers. He hasn’t even been the best hitter on the team so far, with Kjerstad posting numbers that are going to force Mike Elias and Brandon Hyde to get creative to find a place for him in Baltimore.

Kyle Stowers has continued to build off his strong spring to prove he has legit major league potential.

Connor Norby, Coby Mayo and Peyton Burdick have all been on fire to start the season as well. The pitching hasn’t been nearly as strong as the offense, but one exception there is lefty prospect Cade Povich.

The 23 year old acquired in the trade of Jorge Lopez has been nearly unhittable thus far, throwing 11 innings and allowing just one run on three hits with fourteen strikeouts and just three walks.

The O’s rotation looks solid at the moment, though Cole Irvin struggled in his first outing. With John Means working his way back, there isn’t much room for a prospect, but if Povich keeps putting up numbers like this he could be the next man up if there are any other injuries.


Question of the Week –

The unprecedented offensive outburst from Norfolk leads into our question of the week: How Long?

This is a double-sided question. How long will the front office keep several of these super high upside prospects down in the minors and how long will they give some of the struggling vets to right the ship before they find a replacement from Norfolk?

As the bats went fairly quiet over the latter half of the opening week and a half, fans have already grown tired of seeing several light hitting vets coming up short at the plate. While it’s not that simple to replace an Austin Hays or even Ramon Urias with a hot prospect, there are others who should have a shorter leash.

Players like Hays, Urias and Mateo are established veterans on the team and it's hard from the outside to understand what impact trading one of them would have on the team’s psyche.

Maybe the front office can find that hole they used to make Ubaldo Jimenez step in to find an opportunity for one of the hot Norfolk bats. All jokes aside, someone like Tony Kemp doesn’t have the same locker room cache, and he should be thanked for his service and sent along with his $1 million in cash to make room for Jackson Holliday.

The team claimed that Holliday starting in Norfolk had nothing to do with service time and was all about getting additional reps, well, if he spends more time down there it will be hard to continue believing them. At some point you are just actively hurting a World Series caliber team to maybe gain an additional year in the far future.

Making room for Kjerstad, Stowers or Mayo is a bit more difficult. Cowser basically won the battle for one spot in the outfield during Spring Training and he has done nothing to lose his spot, batting .455 in his limited opportunities.

Austin Hays and Ramon Urias have notably struggled to start the year. Hays has two hits in 26 at-bats and Urias has just one in 17.

Hays was an All-Star last year and Urias has been a solid performer on both sides of the ball the past few years. So neither of them will be hastily discarded. However, at some point, the pressure from the Norfolk crew has to warrant some kind of move. The decisions are complicated by the fact that neither of the vets can be sent to the minors.

If the front office was convinced giving the time to one of the prospects was the best path forward they would likely hope to trade one of the veterans to get some kind of pitching back in return. Though early season trades are fairly few and far between.

Unless a team with a good trade match has a starting infielder go down with an injury, it might be hard to find the right partner, and that doesn’t account for the potential locker room effects too.

This is definitely a luxury problem for Mike Elias to have, but if the veterans continue to struggle and the prospects continue to rake, it will be a problem he has to solve.

The future is probably in Norfolk, but rookies are never a slam dunk and parting with players who led you to 100 wins last year is never easy. That’s why he gets paid the big bucks.

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Sunday
April 7, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3516


sunday mailbag


Before I get to a couple of Masters related questions that have piled up in the mailbag, it's important to note that Purdue, somehow, has finally made it.

After several of their highly ranked tournament teams fell short over the years, this edition of the Boilermakers is apparently the real deal.

Purdue coasted by a spirited N.C. State squad last night, 63-50, to earn a bout with UConn on Monday evening. The defending champs broke up a close game in the second half and cruised past Alabama in the late game, 86-72.

For all the grief Big Ten basketball gets, and rightfully so, they do have a team in the championship game. It's hard to imagine UConn losing on Monday night, but I wouldn't mind seeing it happen. Zach Edey seems like a decent kid.


South Carolina and Iowa play for all the marbles in today's women's college title game (3 pm, ABC). If South Carolina can stymie Caitlin Clark the way UConn did on Friday night (21 points), Dawn Staley's team will win by a dozen points.

Clark has to score at least 32 to give the Hawkeyes a chance to win.

I certainly don't care who wins, but I guess I'd like to see Clark and Iowa knock off the undefeated team from South Carolina. It's always good to see the underdog triumph.

But I'll go 74-64 South Carolina and hope I'm wrong.


I know you watched last night's Orioles loss in Pittsburgh and thought the same thing as me and countless others did when Tony Kemp came up to pinch hit in the 9th inning with the go-ahead run at third base.

"How is Kemp related to Mike Elias?"

There can't be any other explanation for having him on the team.

He might also be the distant cousin of Brandon Hyde as well.

How else do you explain Hyde inserting Kemp into the game in that very moment?

Kemp, as I've noted here previously, won't be on the team by Memorial Day. At least odds are he won't.

In the meantime, though, these games in April carry the same value in the standings as games won (or lost) in September. Having Tony Kemp playing anything remotely close to a "valuable role" in this team is absurd. But there he is, in the lineup, standing there with a bat on his shoulder in the 9th inning trying to drive in the go-ahead run.

I'm no Jorge Mateo fan, but Mateo must have gone back to the dugout and felt like his career was at rock bottom when Tony Kemp was announced as a pinch hitter for him.

That's like Charlie Brown coming off the bench to kick a 53 yard field goal in your spot.

"We're going with someone else to try this kick," the coach says.

"But coach, I can make this kick," you plead.

"Maybe you can. But we think the other guy can make it, too. We're pretty sure of it," the coach explains.

"OK, so you're letting McIntyre kick it, huh? He's pretty good. Hits an occasional 50 yarder in practice," you say.

"No, not McIntyre," the coach states.

"Oh, you're letting Matthews kick it? He's been having a tough time in practice, coach. I don't know about him," you reply.

"No, not Matthews, either. We're going with Brown," says the coach.

You look past the coach to see Charlie Brown fastening his helmet and running awkwardly onto the field.

And you know you're no longer able to walk anywhere on campus. You were pinch-kicked for by Charlie Brown.

Your girlfriend leaves you. That night.

Teachers ask you to move up to the back of the auditorium during your English Theories class.

The food preparers in the football dining hall remind you "one serving only for the back-ups."

The guy in the pro-shop at the school golf course now charges you the full $11.00 student rate instead of letting you play free of charge.

That's what happens when you get replaced by someone like Charlie Brown. Or Tony Kemp.

Poor Jorge Mateo.



Adam asks -- "I'm going to Augusta (Masters) on Thursday and have some questions. 1. What time should I arrive (lots open at 6 am). 2. What time should I hit the merchandise tent and how long will I wait in line? 3. What's the best hole to sit at to catch the most amount of action? 4. Any other tips/suggestions?"

DF says -- "Wow, that's going to be a great day! Let me first say this. I've never been on a tournament round day. I've been to the Masters 11 times, but always for a practice round. So, I'll answer #3 first by saying that I think #16 is a great spot because the stands are right next to the tee box and you can see the entire hole right there in front of you. #12 is also kind of cool, but the green is very narrow and it's kind of hard to see where the ball lands from the stands.

#16 also has food and bathrooms (or at least it did the last time I was there, back in 2019) fairly close to the tee box.

#1 is all based on your preference. If you want to be there from start to finish, get there at 6:00 am and make your way in. If I held Thursday tickets, I'd be doing that.

#2 is an easy answer, but everyone else is probably thinking the same thing. You should go near the end of your day so you can just carry your stuff right out to the car as you leave. But the "smart fan" would go at noon and walk your stuff out to your vehicle at that point. You're allowed back in with your ticket/pass, as long as you tell them you're returning when you exit (they'll ask you, actually, that's how nice they are). The lines will be shorter at noon, that's for sure. I have no idea how long you'll wait, but I'll just say this: It moves very quickly. I think the longest I've ever stood in line was 10 minutes, maybe.

#4 is also easy. Do NOT try to sneak in your cell phone. Just don't try it. You're going to get snagged at the entrance point.

Apply lots of sunscreen. More than you usually do.

Go to the practice range and watch guys hit balls for 30-45 minutes. It's a great way to rest and you get to see their golf swings on repeat.

Venture down #10 and go into the right tree line to see where Bubba Watson hit that wedge from in the 2012 playoff vs. Louis Oosthuizen. There will be other people hanging around there, I'm sure. It's like a monument without a monument. You will NOT believe someone could hit a wedge onto the green from that spot.

Above all, take in the elevation changes throughout the course and note how uphill the second shots are into holes like #9 and #18. It's the greatest golf course in the world. You'll never watch the tournament the same way again.

Have a great day!"


Brent asks -- "Hey Drew, I don't know if you've seen the Tiger Masters Pool that's been floating around but I'm thinking of entering and was wondering what you think about the options? You can wager any amount of money you want from $1 to $100 on any category but you're limited to a total of three bets."

Odds he makes the cut are +475

Odds he breaks par on any tournament day are +175

Odds he shoots higher than 75 on any tournament day are +175

Odds he shoots the lowest score (ties included) on Thursday or Friday are +30000

Odds he leads after two days are +40000

Odds he leads after three days are +80000

Odds he wins are +120000

Top 10 odds are +70000

Top 20 odds are +30000

Top 30 odds are +12000

Thanks, Drew. I want to get in, just need some advice on which three categories I should choose."

DF says -- "Well, let's eliminate the easy two. 1. He's not winning. 2. He's not shooting the lowest score on either Thursday or Friday. That's just not happening.

This one is kind of boring, really.

The "makes the cut" option is a definite. Those are pretty good odds for a guy who can easily cobble together rounds of 73-73 there and make the cut.

I think the other two are Top 20 and Top 30. I can see him shooting 72-73-70-69 and finishing T24. And there's a chance he's a few shots better, finishes -6, and ends up T19.

My official prediction for Tiger is he shoots 72-73-69-75 and finishes T32."

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our ten masters favorites


As the great Biz Markie once said, "It's spring again."

How do you know it's spring?

Because the Masters, the greatest tournament on the greatest golf course ever built, is once again upon us.

#DMD will feature our top 10 favorites for this year's event, which will be played April 11-14 at glorius Augusta National Golf Club.

Last year's winner, Jon Rahm, is considered one of the favorites, but no one really knows much about his form heading into the event because he plays for the competing circuit and none of us pays any attention to their schedule, who wins, who loses, etc.

The golf course is undoubtedly a nice fit for Rahm, though, as his play in 2023 showed us.

These ten players are our favorites. They're given to you in no real order. Any of these ten, we think, could win the golf tournament. We suggest wagering on them for Top 20, Top 10 and win positions if you're someone inclined to wager occasionally.

#10 was Hideki Matsuyama. #9 was Viktor Hovland. #8 was Brooks Koepka. #7 was Collin Morikawa. #6 was Min Woo Lee. #5 was Brian Harman.

Is Ludvig Aberg ready to break into the ranks of major championship winners in his first-ever appearance at The Masters?

#4 Ludvig Aberg -- This Masters appearance isn't just the first appearance at Augusta National for the 24 year old Swedish star. It's his first ever major championship. Like, ever.

But don't let that impact your thinking in the least. Aberg (pronounced Oh-bear, officially) can win. He has every tool needed to win any golf tournament, anywhere.

He's coming off an 8th place finish at The Players a few weeks ago and he's in the hunt, sort of, in San Antonio this week.

The former Texas Tech star emerged last year on TOUR and was a captain's pick by Luke Donald for the Ryder Cup. You know you're going to be a rock star when you turn pro in June and in September you're playing in the Ryder Cup.

Aberg is a star. He's going to be a massive force for the European Ryder Cup team for a long, long time.

And he can win majors on the world golf stage for a long time as well.

His current odds to win the Masters are +25000. That, we think, is a perfect number for him.

A first-timer doesn't win at Augusta National.

But this first-timer from Sweden just might.

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April 6, 2024
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#3515


danny hurley: "i can coach them harder"


The landscape of college sports -- as we knew it -- has changed forever.

You can like it or not like it. But it has changed.

Me? Personally? I think I've been clear about it. I don't like the way college sports has changed.

But I also know a new day has dawned and "this" is the way it's going to be.

One of the more interesting aspects of the new freedoms bestowed upon college athletes over the last couple of years has been the growing development of the Name, Image, Likeness situation. Better known simply as "NIL", players in college sports can now essentially be paid for playing.

UConn men's basketball coach Danny Hurley said on Friday he can coach his kids harder now that they're getting benefits in exchange for playing for the school.

There's no real limit to what they can make.

And, if we're being serious, there aren't really many rules, either.

Oh, sure, there are some rules. But they're easily circumvented, avoided or just downright disregarded. College athletes have the upper hand now.

Or do they?

UConn head men's coach Bobby Hurley might have opened pandora's box on Friday when he offered an interesting piece of commentary at the Final Four.

Hurley says the growth of the NIL now allows him to coach his players harder than ever before. Hurley says, in fact, he can now "Coach them the way I want."

"The resources the University of Connecticut and programs now invest in these players is not for their attendance. It's to produce and to produce winning," Hurley said. "The way we travel, you know, the residence, the full-service dining we have in our 40-million plus practice facility and, obviously, the NIL opportunities.

I coach the hell out of these guys because of everything they get. And they have a responsibility to work harder and to represent UConn and to fight their absolute ass off to win games for our donors, our fans and the university because of everything they get...that past players didn't get."

Hurley's commentary drew a wide range of responses on Friday.

I reached out to a local college hoops coach on Friday who said "Hurley knows he can say what he said and not get a lot of pushback because the kids at UConn are well taken care of. It might not be the same for mid-major coaches. Hurley, John (Calipari), Bill Self, sure, those guys might be able to put some pressure on players to perform because of their deals and the money that's coming in. I was glad to at hear someone say it, though. The opportunities these college players are getting now are wild."

If you think players are in the infancy of figuring out how to make the NIL work for them, the coaches are still three steps behind.

"We're working every day to learn more about it," the local hoops coach told me. "But more than that, we're trying to make sure we can still get them to buy into what we're trying to get them to do while they have these other obligations they're dealing with. It hasn't been easy, at least not for us."

There was a time, of course, when college athletes played college sports in exchange for a college education. There was a day, believe it or not, when simply getting a free four years of school was considered a "fair trade".

That's no longer true.

And with the brave new world college sports has entered, coaches have to figure out how to deal with players who are now making six figures to play 12 football games or 32 basketball games.

Hurley, apparently, has determined it's actually a blessing to have the NIL opportunities connected with his program.

"I coach the hell out of these guys because of everything they get..."

He didn't say it, but it's pretty obvious what he wanted to say.

"You guys all want to make $100,000 or $200,000 to play basketball at UConn? No problem. But now I get to demand more out of you, which might not be all that appealing to you in the long run. When it was "just a scholarship" you were playing on, I wasn't all that tough on you. But now...I'm gonna pound on you until you do things the way I want them done."

The sidebar to that, of course, is players can now just transfer if they don't like the way things are going.

A player doesn't like being yelled at? They can just quit.

A player doesn't like a 3-hour bus ride? They can just quit.

A player doesn't like the food service? They can just quit.

So, yes, Hurley has every right to coach his kids harder than he has in the past because now there's an actual real, living, breathing value attached to the players who are getting NIL benefits.

But the kids can always just pack up and leave if things get too dicey.

There's no telling where all of this goes.

As I wrote at the outset, the landscape of college sports has changed forever.

I don't know that it will get much worse, but the damage, in my opinion, has been done.

Danny Hurley is trying to get his pound of flesh, somehow. I'm not sure he'll win that battle, either, but at least he's trying to hold the kids accountable.


Last night's two women's college semi-finals were completely opposite of one another.

Undefeated South Carolina blew open a close game at the half and romped past North Carolina State, 78-59.

Everyone's darling, Iowa, survived a suffocating defensive effort by UConn and got some help from the officials in the game's waning seconds to advance to their second straight title game with a 71-69 over Geno and the Lady Huskies.

Caitlin Clark and Iowa will take on South Carolina on Sunday in the NCAA womens' final.

The NCAA got exactly what they wanted: An undefeated South Carolina vs. Caitlin Clark in the title game. Netflix is foaming at the mouth, presumably thinking about extending the Caitlin documentary from five episodes to six.

UConn did a nice job of locking Clark down. She finished the night with 21 points and was, by her standards, very ineffective from the outside. Clark did nail a late step-back three pointer that was huge, but had you told Geno Auriemma prior to the game that you saw the script and the Iowa superstar only scores 21 in the semi-final game, he would have thought UConn couldn't lose.

Alas, the Lady Hawkeyes rallied in the second half and eventually built a 7-point lead before UConn battled back to make it a one possession game in the final minute.

An Iowa turnover with 10 seconds left gave UConn the ball, down one, with a chance to win, but a controversial moving screen foul call on UConn's Aaliyah Edwards sealed the deal.

"You can call a moving screen on almost every possession," Auriemma said afterwards. "I just know there were three or four of them called on us, and I don't think there were any called on them. So I guess we just gotta get better on not setting illegal screens."

The play involving Edwards, despite her post-game claim that it was "pretty clean", was most certainly a foul.

The question posed afterwards was two fold.

Why call it at that point in the game when it hadn't been called all night?

And did the violation really impact the developing play?

Auriemma handled the loss with a philosophical overview of the final moments.

"Whether they were right call, wrong call, we had no control over the call on the screen," Auriemma said. "But we had control over whether we got the rebound or not. So we had an opportunity at the very end, and if we secured that rebound, now we have one more chance to win the game, and we didn't do it. You can say all you want, and yes we should have won the game, but we didn't deserve to win the game by the way we played the last couple of possessions."

Auriemma and Edwards have the right to contend that the foul was "harsh", but it was a foul. Should the refs keep their whistles in their pocket with 10 seconds left in a one point game? Maybe.

But it was a foul at every level of basketball where the officials know what they're doing.

Alas, I wish it hadn't been called and we could have seen UConn either hit the game-winner or lose on a heartbreaker.

The NCAA, on the other hand, is thrilled beyond belief.

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our ten masters favorites


As the great Biz Markie once said, "It's spring again."

How do you know it's spring?

Because the Masters, the greatest tournament on the greatest golf course ever built, is once again upon us.

#DMD will feature our top 10 favorites for this year's event, which will be played April 11-14 at glorius Augusta National Golf Club.

Last year's winner, Jon Rahm, is considered one of the favorites, but no one really knows much about his form heading into the event because he plays for the competing circuit and none of us pays any attention to their schedule, who wins, who loses, etc.

The golf course is undoubtedly a nice fit for Rahm, though, as his play in 2023 showed us.

These ten players are our favorites. They're given to you in no real order. Any of these ten, we think, could win the golf tournament. We suggest wagering on them for Top 20, Top 10 and win positions if you're someone inclined to wager occasionally.

#10 was Hideki Matsuyama. #9 was Viktor Hovland. #8 was Brooks Koepka. #7 was Collin Morikawa. #6 was Min Woo Lee.

Is Brian Harman the current day version of Mark O'Meara, circa 1998?

#5 Brian Harman -- Mark O'Meara once plodded along nicely and was enjoying a profitable PGA Tour career. He would win here and there but always had the tag of someone who wasn't quite as productive as everyone thought he was going to be.

Brian Harman might very well be this decade's version of Mark O'Meara.

He won the British Open out of nowhere last July, just like O'Meara captured the Masters in 1998 when virtually no one thought he would win.

And then he hung around at The Players last month but couldn't chase down Scottie Scheffler.

The 37 year old has never played Augusta National particularly well, but the course should be a nice set-up for him given his ball striking capabilities and his putting prowess.

And Harman has played the best golf of his PGA Tour life over the last 12 months. That accounts for a lot, in our opinion. He's clearly figured something out. In the early part of his career, his length off the tee was an issue because his iron play and putting wasn't all that great. These days, he doesn't crush it off the tee, but he more than makes up for that with the rest of his game.

We think he has a chance to sneak in and surprise people next week.

At +5000, he's probably right about where he should be. By no means is he a favorite, but he's also not a super longshot, either.

The key for his game next week will be the way he plays the four long, tough par 4's: #5, #10, #11 and #18.

If Harman gets around those four holes in even par, you might see him in the hunt come Sunday.

Let's just say this: If Zach Johnson can win the Masters hitting it 270 yards off the tee, on average, back in 2007, then Brian Harman can win it hitting his average tee ball 296 yards in 2024.

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Friday
April 5, 2024
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#3514


the swoon is underway


Let's hope the Orioles, this afternoon, don't have the same trouble with Pittsburgh as the Capitals had last night.

I suspect that won't be the case, even though the Birds are off to a bit of hot and cold start and the Pirates roll into their Friday home opener at 6-1.

The O's are a nice bet today at -140 and I see the total going over 8.5. Our game analysis machine, Wellington III, calls this one today a 9-4 Baltimore win. Take that and do with it what you like.

The Caps weren't so lucky last night when they tussled with Pittsburgh, as Washington dropped an important 4-1 decision to the Penguins in D.C.

Although they've played one less game than both Philadelphia and the Islanders, those teams have one more point (83) in the standings. With their win last night, the Penguins crept up to 81 points, one behind Washington. The Red Wings also have the same number of points as the Caps (82) but have played 75 games, just like Washington.

Confused?

Alex Ovechkin scored his 27th goal of the season last night in the Capitals 4-1 loss to Pittsburgh.

You should be. The fight for the second wild card berth is a mess.

The five teams fighting for that one spot are all essentially playing playoff hockey at this point. While every game isn't a must-win, yet, every game moves them closer to facing an elimination game if they don't pick up points. Last night's loss to the Penguins marked four straight defeats for Washington and they play in Carolina tonight. If you're thinking "that's five straight losses", I'm right there with you.

Folks in D.C. are starting to call this a choke job. Three weeks ago, Washington was in great shape, with a slew of home games on the March-April slate and several games in hand on both the Flyers and Red Wings.

Now they have two weeks left and probably need 12 points in their last 7 games to make it. That won't be easy.

Just play along with me for sticks and giggles, please.

They lose in Carolina tonight. Still at 82 points.

They beat Ottawa at home on Sunday. They're at 84 points.

They're at Detroit on Tuesday in a HUGE game. They lose in OT there. 85 points.

They're at Buffalo next Thursday, where they just lost 6-2. They lose there again. Still at 85 points.

They finish out with home games against Tampa Bay and Boston, followed by a season-ending road contest in Philadelphia.

A sweep of those three would only give them 91 total points.

So, you can see what's happening here. If the final points number needed to get in winds up being 94, the Caps are in trouble.

Maybe it won't be 94. Perhaps the other teams stumble as well and the number winds up more like 92. That would help.

But at this point in the season, based on the schedules the Islanders, Flyers, Red Wings and Penguins all play, you're simply not going to be able to limp in over the last seven games. You'll need to win 5 of the last 7, most likely, and maybe even 6 of the last 7.

The Caps haven't really been a team this season that you can say, "Oh, yeah, 6 of 7 is no big deal. They can do that."

The three pivotal games are tonight's tilt in Raleigh, the Tuesday night game in Buffalo and the home game against Tampa Bay. Those three set up everything. We're assuming, obviously, they handle Ottawa this Sunday. If they can snag 5 points (minimum) or 6 points from those three, the Caps just might pull off this late season playoff surge.

But if they lose all three and don't at least earn an overtime loss (one point), they're in deep doo-doo.

Three weeks ago, I was pretty certain they were going to make it. Barely make it, perhaps, but make it nonetheless.

Now, I'm thinking they're probably not going to make it.

If they don't, I just hope it doesn't come down to that last game in Philadelphia to determine who gets in and who stays home.

I'm not sure I could handle that one, especially if the worst franchise in the history of sports somehow eliminates the Caps that night.


We're a full week into the MLB season and a few teams are pretty much already eliminated from the playoffs. Well, OK, not really. But I'd say there are some clubs who are one more horrible week away from already being an also-ran in 2024.

The Marlins haven't won a game yet. They're 0-8, including 0-7 at home. In baseball, where the other team puts out "punt lineups" once a week at the very least (with the O's, it's usually on Sunday), it's really hard to not win a baseball game one time in seven tries.

The Marlins are the only team in baseball without a win.

Heck, even the White Sox, Athletics, Mets and Rockies have a win so far in 2024.

Of those four, the Mets might wind up being pretty decent. But Chicago, Oakland and Colorado are all going to be hard pressed to get to 65 wins. 60 might even be the high-water mark for those three if they don't get better in a hurry.

The two biggest surprises, one week in: Pittsburgh (6-1) and Detroit (5-1). Now, granted, neither of those two have played anyone worth a hoot yet, but winning is winning.

The Dodgers (7-2) are rolling, of course. But the Yankees starting off at 6-1 is a bit of a surprise, particulary given that four of those six wins came in Houston.

The O's?

They're fine. Once they bring up Kjerstad, Holliday, Mayo and Stowers, the league will be on full notice. I don't know where all of those guys will eventually fit, lineup wise, but that's why Hyde gets the big bucks. He'll figure it out.

The early part of the baseball season is always like this. A few teams who we thought would probably stink are decent in April and a few clubs who were supposed to be really good stumble out of the gate.

I do think Detroit is an up and coming team. I wrote in last week's season preview I think they have the makings of a playoff-type team in the near future, but this might be a season too soon for that sort of enthusiasm.

Pittsburgh, you might recall, raced out to a great start a year ago, something to the tune of like 19-9, before they flatlined in expected fashion and fell out of the race by July 4th.

I expect Houston will be better than their 2-5 start indicates. The same goes for the Giants, who are also 2-5 after one week.

And we all know what the best thing is about baseball: If you don't win today, there's always tomorrow. Like, actually, tomorrow.


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our ten masters favorites


As the great Biz Markie once said, "It's spring again."

How do you know it's spring?

Because the Masters, the greatest tournament on the greatest golf course ever built, is once again upon us.

#DMD will feature our top 10 favorites for this year's event, which will be played April 11-14 at glorius Augusta National Golf Club.

Last year's winner, Jon Rahm, is considered one of the favorites, but no one really knows much about his form heading into the event because he plays for the competing circuit and none of us pays any attention to their schedule, who wins, who loses, etc.

The golf course is undoubtedly a nice fit for Rahm, though, as his play in 2023 showed us.

These ten players are our favorites. They're given to you in no real order. Any of these ten, we think, could win the golf tournament. We suggest wagering on them for Top 20, Top 10 and win positions if you're someone inclined to wager occasionally.

Min Woo Lee's experience at Augusta National isn't vast, but his ball striking skills are a perfect fit for the golf course.

#6 Min Woo Lee -- There's not much about Min Woo Lee's 2024 PGA Tour season that says, "He might win the Masters!", so we can understand if you're perplexed by this one.

It's true he's made 6 of 7 cuts thus far, but other than a T2 at The Cognizant, his best finish this season is a T21 at the American Express back in January.

But we're bullish on Lee because he has the look of someone who plays "up" for the Majors, with at least one Top 15 performance in a major in both 2022 and 2023. Last year, he finished T5 at the U.S. Open at Los Angeles Country Club.

He's only played the Masters twice, recording a missed cut a year ago and a T14 in 2022.

There's not much that stands out about him as a potential contender for this year's green jacket, right?

In fact, most of his 2024 data is pretty dismal, particularly his iron play and putting.

But he's a very good driver of the golf ball, which is where it all starts at Augusta National. Guys who drive it well there can play into the greens with confidence. Guys who don't drive it well have to chip and putt their way around the golf course. And that, clearly, wouldn't be a strength of his next week.

Sure, he's a bit of an outlier heading into next week. His season hasn't been great. His stats are definitely some good/some bad.

But this 25-year old from Australia is a heckuva player. Our guess is he drives it well next week, leaves himself a lot of standard iron shots into the greens, and putts better than he has all year, giving himself a chance to win heading into Sunday's final round.

Would it be a shock if he wins? Not at all.

If you don't know much about Min Woo Lee, that's on you. He's a terrific player.

And at +5000, he would be a nice return on your investment.

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SUCH
a sports fan

MARK SUCHY is a lifelong Baltimore sports fan, youth basketball coach and father of three athletic sons. A former weekend sports radio host in Baltimore, "Such" occasionally offers his memories and insights on sports related topics here at #DMD.


the colts leave baltimore, part 2


By 1984, Memorial Stadium was in need of some improvements. If the building on 33rd Street was a house, it would’ve been considered a “fixer-upper” even then. For all of its charms and history and simplicity, her concourses were narrow, there weren’t enough concession stands, and the lower level had lots of obstructed view seats situated behind the circular concrete pillars supporting the upper deck.

The stadium was located in Waverly, a pleasant neighborhood in the northern section of the city. One of my fondest sports memories is sitting in the upper deck along the right field line on many summer evenings watching the Orioles. You could look over the rooftops of the rowhomes of Waverly and watch the sun setting beyond the Homewood campus of Johns Hopkins University.

Most cities had one stadium in that era. I remember plenty of Colts and Orioles games where the lines for the football field were visible in the outfield in September and October, and somewhere around the thirty-yard line was the dirt circle of the pitcher’s mound. It was quirky and ugly and would look completely out of place in today’s era of single-use stadiums.

But it was always home. You could park in the neighborhoods or across the street in the lot of City College. I had friends who lived in Homeland and Northwood, and sometimes we’d walk the mile or two to catch a game and avoid the traffic. I was slightly jealous of how they told me they could hear the roar of the crowd when the games were sold out.

Looking back at those days, it becomes clearer that many people in Baltimore had as much an attachment to the stadium as they did to the Colts and Orioles. The idea that we would abandon the old place seemed cruel, as if we would be putting a loved one away.

Not only had it hosted big league sports, there had been high school football and baseball games played there for generations. Memorial Stadium was a part of us.

Our teams and our legends had performed their athletic feats on that field. It was much more than brick and concrete; it was hallowed ground, and it was to be treated with respect.


++++++++++


I’m not giving away any civic secrets when I tell you that Bob Irsay had a problem with alcohol.

He was frequently inebriated in public, in front of the media, his coaches, his players and public officials. It was obvious by his slurred speech and his mean-spirited dialogue. He was a nasty man when he was drunk. And he seemed to be drunk a lot.

Having personal experience with alcoholism, and knowing how long it took me to admit that problem, my perspective on Irsay has changed through the decades. He was a very sick man, as all alcoholics and addicts are. Most of us are unwilling to concede just how powerless we are when it comes to alcohol.

I can’t help but wonder how the entire saga of Bob Irsay, Mayor William Donald Schaefer, the Baltimore Colts, and the citizens of Baltimore would have been if Irsay ever got sober. I know it would have been different in a lot of better ways. It certainly couldn’t have been any worse.

Irsay was the target of ridicule frequently due to his public drunkenness. It was as if the mean guy at the end of the bar had somehow gained possession of the one thing everyone loved. And he made it clear that it was his. Not yours, not the players, and damn sure not the City of Baltimore’s or the State of Maryland’s.

He had a contentious and nasty relationship with the Baltimore press, especially the columnists for The Baltimore Sun and The Baltimore News-American. He held grudges and feuded openly with his coaches and players. He always seemed to be angry and bitter.

The end of the Baltimore Colts era became apparent on January 20, 1984, at a hastily arranged press conference at BWI Airport.

A clearly intoxicated Irsay came out of the jetway and was met by a phalanx of local media. There was a microphone stand set up, and Mayor Schaefer was there to greet him as he came through the door.

Irsay slurred his words. He couldn’t even pronounce Phoenix, the city he had just flown back from after meeting with the mayor there. He repeatedly pointed a finger at one local sportswriter and said, “I’m not talking to you”.

He swore he was best friends with Mayor Schaefer and he wouldn’t do anything with the Colts before consulting with him. He angrily stated that he “wasn’t moving the goddamn team”. But he also threw in the caveat that “this is my team”.

If it hadn’t been clear in the eleven-plus years of his ownership, it was after that disastrous seven minutes at the airport: This time, Bob Irsay was taking the Colts and leaving Baltimore. It was only a matter of when, and to where.

It’s been written that “an alcoholic in his cups is an unlovely creature.” That night, Bob Irsay was deep in his cups and extremely unlovely, and like every true alcoholic, he was going to resent being ambushed by the mayor and the media. He would have the final say.


+++++++


At the north entrance to M&T Bank Stadium there are two statues to Baltimore football legends. One is Ray Lewis, the great middle linebacker of two Super Bowl championship teams with the Baltimore Ravens. The other is John Constantine Unitas, the great quarterback of the Baltimore Colts.

As you approach the gates, you’ll see men and women and children touching the shoes of each player’s statue.

I smile when I see fathers lifting their sons to touch Unitas’ cleats. Those fathers most likely never saw Unitas play. Their knowledge of Johnny U was handed down to them from their fathers and mothers and grandparents. That’s how legacies work.

In many ways, every time I go to a Ravens game I always think back to those last years of the Baltimore Colts. I can’t help it. Because this stadium, and Oriole Park at Camden Yards just to the north, are part of a vision that took hold after March 28, 1984.

The City of Baltimore and the Maryland State Legislature began putting together funding for a dual stadium complex in the mid-1980s. Their intention was to keep the Orioles in Baltimore in perpetuity and lure another NFL franchise to Baltimore.

It's obvious that now, in 2024, the plan worked. What seemed impossible to conceive of forty years ago is reality.

I think it’s worth asking, as a native Baltimorean, a very difficult question: What if Bob Irsay was right? I know it’s sacrilegious to even entertain such an idea, given our collective mutual loathing of the man. I could write another ten thousand words on his transgressions, and there are plenty of stories available that go into great detail about what an awful person he was. Hell, his own mother once called him “the devil on earth”.

But Irsay’s primary complaint with Baltimore was the inadequacy of Memorial Stadium. Carroll Rosenbloom hated the place, too, it should be noted. Irsay fought with the local government for funding to upgrade the place, or to build a new stadium somewhere else in Baltimore.

Irsay’s attorney at the time the Colts moved, a man named Michael Chernoff, said, “ The state legislature and the City of Baltimore not only threw down the gauntlet, but they put a gun to his head and cocked it and asked if he wanted to see if it was loaded”, after the state threatened to take over the Colts through eminent domain. That’s how ugly the divorce with the Colts had become.

That divorce was primarily over where the team was going to live. The old house was dilapidated and in need of serious repairs. The owner talked about finding a brand-new place to build something better. And yeah, he might’ve been drunk every time he asked for it, but it didn’t mean he was wrong.

Forty years later, I think it’s fair to ask if Bob Irsay was right. About that, at least.


+++++++


We were moving furniture around the house recently, rearranging the bedrooms, and I put a different dresser in my room. It’s been in the family since I was a boy, and it had been in one of my sons’ rooms, and he’s moved to Dallas, so I thought I’d take it.

As I went through the process of emptying the drawers, I came across an amazing discovery: The alarm clock that I’d had in my bedroom in 1984. I laughed to myself, wondering how I had managed to hang on to such a thing. And why? Slightly bemused, I set it on the dresser and plugged it in, and much to my astonishment, it still worked. So, I set the time and I left it there.

Sometimes I look at that clock and remember that morning in late February of 1984. I’ll smile and think of Mow.

Sometimes I look at that clock and think of that morning in late March of 1984. I woke up that day to three inches of snow on the ground and the sound of the television in the family room.

The images were hard to process. The line of Mayflower moving vans, driving past the Baltimore Colts sign at their headquarters in Owings Mills, heading west, destination unknown.

News anchors and sports reporters scrambling to find out any information they could.

Mayor Schaefer crying.

My parents and my little brother and I standing in stunned silence watching helplessly.

It was over. After twelve volatile, emotional, frustrating years, it was over. The Baltimore Colts were gone. Forever.

In 1984, I didn’t realize just how much I was beginning to learn about loss. They were starting to add up. And the thing was, I was powerless to control any of it.

I was losing the people and the things that had shaped me and formed my identity. A little bit here, a lot there, and before I knew it, there was a life ahead that would look completely different than the one I thought I’d live.

There’s another angle to that, though. Because those things from my past, from 1984 and even before then, they left memories. Nobody can ever take those away.

And I can share those experiences and times with my own children, so they can pass them on to their children, so little parts of the things that matter will always live on.

My family will always live on. Your family will always live on.

And here, forty years later, the Baltimore Colts will always live on. Count on it.

JERRY'S TOYOTA banner

faith in sports


This week's edition of Faith in Sports focuses on women's college basketball and the head coach at South Carolina, Dawn Staley, who leads her undefeated Gamecocks into the Final Four against NC State tonight.

Staley shares her faith and her basketball wisdom with a South Carolina TV reporter as she seeks her third national title. She'll need to dispose of pesky NC State first, and then tackle with either UConn or Iowa in the championship game.

This video is only 6 minutes long, but you get a great look into both the program Staley has built and how her players have been impacted by Staley throughout her coaching career.

Thanks, as always, to our friends at Freestate Electrical for their continued support of #DMD and "Faith in Sports" here every Friday.





Open Again
Thursday
April 4, 2024
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#3513


mlb's credibility is teetering


Mark Suchy sent me a piece last week about the Colts leaving Baltimore and I needed a little bit of time to weave it into something I've been meaning to write about here one morning.

Today's the day.

You'll find Mark's excellent piece below. Those of you born anytime before, say, 1977, will probably find it to be particularly interesting, in addition to stirring your emotions. Most people who came along after 1978 just didn't have the same attachment to the Colts that the rest of "us" did.

I'm still kind of amazed these days when my son will watch a game involving the Indianapolis Colts and he has no idea at all about the history of the franchise. I have to remember...he only knows the Ravens. To him, the Ravens have always been in Baltimore. At least that's what he knows.

Rob Manfred and Major League Baseball continue to work hard at pulling the A's out of Oakland instead of working hard to find new owners for the team.

Anyway, please check out Mark's work as he journeys back to the days of the Baltimore Colts.

These days, another franchise move is making the news. Somehow, the Oakland A's are still in Oakland, even though Major League Baseball has done everything they could do to help get them to Las Vegas

At this point, there's no telling what's going to actually happen with the Athletics.

Could they still wind up in Las Vegas?

MLB wants it that way, for sure. But the Vegas baseball stadium is falling more and more behind, construction wise, and is now potentially not going to be available to the A's until 2028.

Oakland has made several last ditch efforts to keep the team. New plans for a Bay-side ballpark were developed but the funding never materialized. They've recently tried to reach a new, short-term lease with the Coliseum, where they currently play, but that wound up failing at the 11th hour.

This week, A's officials organized meetings with the city of Sacramento in an effort to move the team there until the Las Vegas stadium is built and ready for play.

The whole thing is a gigantic mess.

The team is terrible.

Attendance is beyond terrible. A little over 3,000 people attended a home game earlier this week.

The organization is in the middle of clubhouse infighting with players who have worn apparel promoting the various "Sell the team" protests that have been ongoing since last season.

It's a complete s-show out there.

Major League Baseball should be embarrassed beyond belief.

But they're not.

Or, if they are, they're certainly not showing it.

It's easy to just throw up your hands and say, "The franchise is dead...just move it to Las Vegas."

And it's here where I'd submit to anyone familiar with the Baltimore Orioles that our very own local baseball team had an A's-like-look about 15 years ago.

Sure, we have (had) an amazing ballpark at that point. And they don't have a ballpark out there. They play in a football stadium, and an outdated one at that.

But circa 2008, the O's were a laughingstock, much like the A's are now.

No one was going to the games in Baltimore.

There was, you might recall, a mass protest at a September 2006 home game that drew national attention.

It's true, Baltimore wasn't nearly as "down" on the Orioles as Oakland is, currently, on the A's, but the sentiment was pretty much the same: "Fix this team or we're not coming to the games any longer."

To the organization's credit, they reacted.

They hired Andy MacPhail, Buck Showalter, Dan Duquette and, on the heels of those three hirings, a rebirth was underway.

But there was a time when Baltimore looked a lot like Oakland looks right now.

And somehow, the O's are now not only prospering, but potentially on the verge of being a multi-year championship contender. Sure, it took six years or thereabouts, but the Birds are back indeed.

Oakland could do that, too.

They could.

If Major League Baseball helped out, that is.

Instead, the powers-that-be with MLB want to bury Oakland.

And that's just not the right thing to do.

If you want a team in Las Vegas, go ahead and put one there.

Sure, you'll have 31 teams. Add another one if you want an even number of 32. Where? I have no idea.

But taking the A's from Oakland and transplanting them in Las Vegas is just not the right thing to do. It's not Oakland's fault that the ownership group is lousy, in the same way it wasn't Baltimore's fault that the Orioles went through a rough period of time with their most recent ownership group.

It's Major League Baseball's fault.

If they wanted to find a new owner in Oakland, they could do that. Just like David Rubenstein forked over $1.725 billion for the Orioles, there's someone out there interested in a cash-cow in Oakland who would pay more than the club is worth to own the A's.

No one has told me this, specifically, but enough people have hinted at it that I assume there's some truth to it. At some point over the last few years, Rob Manfred and others in MLB suggested to John Angelos they "might be able to help him find a new owner" if, in fact, the family was interested in that option.

Makes sense, right? MLB has been overseeing the fight between the Orioles and Nationals for well over a decade. There's plenty of other Oriole-ownership related strife, too, but there's no sense in going through all of that now. The team's been sold and brighter days loom and, well, let's just move on.

But it was always in baseball's best interest for someone fresh and new to come into the ownership scene in Baltimore. Just like it has been in Oakland for quite some time.

Major League Baseball wants a team in Las Vegas because of greed. Their own greed.

And if they have to tear the A's apart in the process to do that, they will.

Let's call it like it is: The problem in Oakland isn't the owner. It's not the players. It's not the won/loss record. And it's not the attendance.

The problem is they don't have a new stadium. That's all it is.

With a new stadium, a new owner would surely step up. That is, unless the current owner said, "Oh, wait, I like owning the team now."

And baseball, because of their own greed, would rather just force Las Vegas to build a new stadium than to help -- financially or otherwise -- Oakland build a new ballpark for the A's.

In the end, though, it's the baseball fans of Oakland who (will) get hurt the most.

They're losing their team. The one they cared about once upon a time when the owners also cared.

It's wrong, just like it was wrong when the Colts left Baltimore and, honestly, just like it was when the Browns moved to Baltimore.

The hope here is the entire saga continues to be a fiasco and Major League Baseball embarrasses themselves even more than they already have. If Oakland's going to lose their baseball team, let's hope MLB loses credibility, too.

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our ten masters favorites


As the great Biz Markie once said, "It's spring again."

How do you know it's spring?

Because the Masters, the greatest tournament on the greatest golf course ever built, is once again upon us.

#DMD will feature our top 10 favorites for this year's event, which will be played April 11-14 at glorius Augusta National Golf Club.

Last year's winner, Jon Rahm, is considered one of the favorites, but no one really knows much about his form heading into the event because he plays for the competing circuit and none of us pays any attention to their schedule, who wins, who loses, etc.

The golf course is undoubtedly a nice fit for Rahm, though, as his play in 2023 showed us.

These ten players are our favorites. They're given to you in no real order. Any of these ten, we think, could win the golf tournament. We suggest wagering on them for Top 20, Top 10 and win positions if you're someone inclined to wager occasionally.

Collin Morikawa is 4-for-4 in making Masters cuts and has a 5th place and T10 finish in his last two Augusta starts.

#7 Collin Morikawa -- Driving the ball well, hitting your irons with precision and a steady hand on the putter. Those are the three main traits of a player capable of winning the Masters.

Collin Morikawa has the first two in a big way. He's not the best putter on TOUR. He's not really close to having that sort of label attached to his work with the flat stick.

But when he hits the ball close and has a good putting week, he can win on any course, anywhere. And his results at Augusta National over the last four years lead us to think he's going to win a green jacket someday. Why not 2024?

His current season to date isn't all that great. He's even teeing it up in San Antonio this week in an effort to produce some pre-Masters momentum.

But Morikawa's other two major championship wins sorta-kinda came out of nowhere. Might this one as well?

A 5th (2022) and 10th place (2023) finish in the last two years shows he can play the course. Experience matters at Augusta National, which is one reason why it's very rare that first-timers win the Masters.

We're very bullish on Morikawa next week at +3100.

It would very much fit his career profile to win out of nowhere at Augusta National.

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SUCH
a sports fan

MARK SUCHY is a lifelong Baltimore sports fan, youth basketball coach and father of three athletic sons. A former weekend sports radio host in Baltimore, "Such" occasionally offers his memories and insights on sports related topics here at #DMD.


the colts leave baltimore


This story begins at 7:43 A.M. on a late February morning in 1984.

That exact time is forever imprinted on my memory.

I was a senior in high school, and like many American teenagers, I was very fond of sleeping. So much a fan that I habitually overslept, hitting the snooze button on the alarm clock repeatedly until I would hear my mother’s voice, calling from the kitchen, telling me in very specific terms that I was going to be late for school again.

So that particular morning was out of the ordinary routine. For reasons unknown, I woke up and looked at the alarm clock next to my bed, and the red LED lights read 7:43. Instead of closing my eyes and rolling over and waiting for the annoying buzz of the alarm, which I usually set for 7:50, I got up and started my day.

I had brushed my teeth and showered and was getting dressed when I heard my mother calling to me from the kitchen. By now it was a little past 8 in the morning. I thought perhaps she had to leave early, or had something she needed help with around the house before I left.

#DMD contributor Mark Suchy looks back at the Baltimore Colts and their eventual move to Indianapolis in a 2-part series that starts today.

As I opened my bedroom door and headed towards the kitchen, Mom was walking towards me with tears rolling down her face. Her brother had called from the hospital while I was in the shower, so I hadn’t heard the phone ring. Mow had died.

I’m not sure exactly how my grandmother became Mow. If my memory serves, I think my older brother used to say “Grandmow” when he was a baby, and it got shortened to Mow, and it just stuck. She always seemed to take a certain satisfaction in having such a unique name for grandmother.

Mow was a wonderful soul. She was sweet and funny and deeply devoted to her family. I spent a great deal of my childhood with her and her sister Mary Lou, who I always thought of as my bonus grandmother. Above everything else, I always felt secure and loved in their presence.

My grandparents and great aunt were avid supporters of all of their grandchildren. They seemed to be at all of my older brother’s plays and shows. I can remember looking into the bleachers during football and basketball games and seeing them. They would always go to my younger brother’s games and school activities. They were a constant in our lives.

But Mow had been sick for several weeks. She had gone in for a doctor’s appointment sometime in January, and he had admitted her to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Towson, and then there were surgeries, and then she was in ICU, and she never went home again.

The last memory I have of her is sitting at her bedside, holding her hand and trying not to cry as I talked to her while the machines kept her alive. She squeezed my hand. I’ll always remember that.

So that late February morning, as I hugged my mother and we each cried, I felt more of a sense of relief than anything else. Sometimes death can feel that way in the immediate aftermath of the news. Maybe it’s a coping mechanism to help navigate our grief. But it’s not a lie. Especially after watching somebody you love suffer and slip away.

Looking back, I realize just how lucky I am that the first truly significant loss in my life didn’t happen until I was seventeen. That’s enough time to build a lifetime of memories with a grandmother. Countless others never get that kind of a gift.

Mow’s passing was another loss during a stretch in my life where they were beginning to stack up. My experiences as an athlete growing up had helped me to gain an acceptance that losing was just a fact of living. There had been some really tough ones on the basketball court and the football field for me in 1982 and 1983. As painful as they were, I had no choice but to accept them and move along.

One month later, in March of 1984, there would be another loss. A loss that still echoes forty years later, a loss like every family endures.


+++++++++


It’s impossible to have grown up in Baltimore and not had some kind of relationship, no matter how casual, with the Baltimore Colts.

Even 21st Century kids, like my own, are taught a rudimentary history of the team and the players. Much like beloved family members who are a long time gone, the Baltimore Colts live on in the memories of generations of men and women who loved them.

The Colts had been in Baltimore since 1953, after owner Carroll Rosenbloom won the rights to the franchise previously known as the Dallas Texans, which had gone bankrupt.

The city was quick to embrace professional football. Baltimore, as any native can tell you, has a unique pride which is probably based upon the fact that it rests between Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia, and wasn’t regarded as quite as cosmopolitan or historic as those two cities.

The Colts didn’t have a winning season until 1957. Then, on December 28, 1958, the history of the Baltimore Colts and the National Football League changed forever.

On that date, in fabled Yankee Stadium, what became forever known as The Greatest Game Ever Played occurred. In the first nationally televised NFL Championship Game, legendary quarterback Johnny Unitas led a late fourth quarter comeback, Steve Myhra kicked a 20-yard field goal sending the game into overtime, and Alan Ameche scored the championship winning touchdown that made Baltimore fall head over heels in love with the Colts.

That love affair blossomed over the course of the next twenty seasons, as the players and the city developed lasting bonds. This was the era before the explosion of player salaries, so the men we cheered for on Sundays in the fall and winter had to work the rest of the year to support their families. They owned liquor stores and bowling alleys and restaurants. They sold insurance and cars. Their children went to school with the children of season ticket owners.

The Baltimore Colts were woven into the lives and the fabric of the city that loved them, the city they represented on the gridiron, the city of men and women and children who knew them as more than the heroes who brought championships and acclaim through their sweat and blood and effort. The people of Baltimore claimed the Colts as their own, and more importantly, the players on the Colts claimed the people and the city of Baltimore as their own.

I came into my relationship with the Colts in the early years of the 1970s, just as the legends who had won title in 1958, 1959 and 1971 were beginning to retire. I remember seeing Johnny U battle Joe Namath and the New York Jets on a hot September Sunday afternoon in Baltimore. I stood with my father when Unitas played his last game in Memorial Stadium and threw a touchdown pass to Eddie Hinton (his last completion as a Baltimore Colt).

A small plane flew around 33rd Street that day trailing a banner that read “Unitas We Stand”. And I can still see the headline on the Baltimore Evening Sun the day they traded Johnny U to the San Diego Chargers. The dinner table seemed somber that night.

But I had my own Colts generation during the mid-70s. Bert Jones, the young, cannon-armed quarterback who led them to three straight AFC East division titles. The Sack Pack, the ferocious defensive line that anchored those teams.

Lydell Mitchell, the quick and elusive running back capable of breaking off long runs or catching a little pass and turning it into a big gain. And my two favorites, the wide receiver tandem of Roger Carr and Glenn Doughty, who nicknamed himself “Shake ‘N Bake”.

As the decade progressed, there was a growing awareness that the city’s relationship with the football team was beginning to fracture. The ownership of the Colts changed hands in 1973, when Robert Irsay, an air conditioning company magnate from the Midwest, purchased the Los Angeles Rams. In a still unprecedented move, the NFL allowed Irsay to swap franchises with Rosenbloom, and suddenly, instead of owning a team in the entertainment capital of the United States, Irsay found himself in blue collar Baltimore.

His unhappiness with Baltimore became evident quickly. Irsay openly flirted with other cities in an attempt to leverage that interest against Baltimore for better lease terms at Memorial Stadium or construction of a new stadium.

There were also public outbursts with his coaching staffs. Irsay fired Head Coach Howard Schnellenberger at halftime of a game in Philadelphia in September 1974, replacing him for the second half with General Manager Joe Thomas.

There were numerous contract disputes with popular players that led to trades. John Dutton, a staple of the defensive line, was traded to the Dallas Cowboys after a holdout. Mitchell was dealt to the Chargers after accusing Irsay of bad faith negotiations and racial discrimination while trying to get a new contract.

And there was a constant tension between Irsay and the politicians of the city of Baltimore and the state of Maryland. His public trips to Tampa Bay, Jacksonville and Phoenix created an unsettling atmosphere around the future of the Baltimore Colts. It was obvious to everyone who loved the Colts that things were shaky, especially with such an irrational and volatile man owning the team.

But he’d never leave Baltimore, would he? No matter how bad it seemed, it wouldn’t come toThat.

Check back tomorrow for Part 2 and the conclusion of “The Colts Leave Baltimore”

JERRY'S TOYOTA banner
Wednesday
April 3, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3512


wednesday ramblings


I'm not in Baltimore this week, truth be told, but I know the weather up there was crappy yesterday.

So I know it's completely justified to have a crowd of 9,404 on hand last night to see the 4-1 loss to the Royals, one of K.C.'s expected 65 wins this season.

In today's #DMD, Parker asks me about expected attendance figures for the Birds in 2024.

Parker asks: "Now that we have one of the best teams in all of baseball do you think attendance will get back up to the 35,000 per-game range that we used to see? And what do you think the average weeknight attendance will be for the season?"

I don't see the attendance ever reaching 35,000 per-game again. 28,000? Maybe. 30,000? I don't know, that's a pretty big number.

Weekend crowds for the season (Fri, Sat, Sun) will likely average around 32,000 or so. I'll go with that. It's the rest of the games that impact the attendance totals.

Weeknight attendance is crucial: Can they average 18,000 on weeknights? That's a big ask. But if that number can be hit, then maybe the club can get up to that 28,000 per-game figure I referenced above.

But one thing about weeknight attendance -- and this is unrelated to last night, as I know that was a justifiable number -- is that I'd hope we're now officially past the days of seeing single digit crowds in the ballpark.

No more 9,000's on a Tuesday night, no matter the opponent, time of the year, and so on.

I know all about the obstacles people dream up for reasons not to attend games at the downtown stadium. Most of them are eye-wash. A few, sure, they might be legitimate. But where there's a will, there's a way.

Given where we are with the on-field product, sub-10,000 crowds should be a thing of the past.

I completely understood why folks abandonded the games in 2018, 2019, etc. The teams were terrible. Back in the "Decade of Despair", when ownership was putting out a minor league product, it was reasonable for anyone with a brain to object to buying a ticket to support an organization that was essentially not trying to win.

That was then. This is now.

You wanted winning baseball. You got it. That doesn't mean you have to go to all the games. It doesn't even mean you have to buy a 29-game or 13-game mini plan package. But you need to get out there once a month, in my opinion. As you'll see in my answer below to Parker, that's my benchmark, if you will, for the give and take from the club to the community.


The PGA Tour visits San Antonio this week for the Valero Texas Open and after filling everyone's bank accounts to the brim last week, I was thinking about doing what a lot of others do the week before a major and taking the week off. Alas, I'm here, handing out six players to watch at this week's event that begins tomorrow.

The field this week is actually strong. There are 11 of the top 30 players in the world teeing it up, including Rory McIlroy, Max Homa, Brian Harman and Ludvig Aberg.

The trend on TOUR this year, if you haven't been following, has leaned in the direction of "surprise winners". Sure, Scheffler (twice) and Matsuyama aren't surprises in the least, but they've been the exception, not the rule, in 2024.

With that in mind, we'll continue our trend as well and go almost exclusively with off-the-radar screen guys this week.

I do think Rory McIlroy could play well this week in his tune-up for the Masters. It certainly wouldn't surprise me to see him win.

You're just not getting a lot in return on his +1000 betting number, that's all.

Here's who we're featuring this week on a course that figures to favor good iron players and guys who can handle occasionally blustery conditions they're expecting in San Antonio over the weekend.

Back to back wins in San Antonio for Corey Conners? #DMD thinks it's very possible.

We talk a lot here about golf wagering being about "horses for courses", so Corey Conners gets heavy play from us this week. He comes in at a remarkably high number of +2800. That almost has to be a mistake, right? It's not. Grab him, now, before he posts 65 in round one and that number goes down to +1200.

Alex Noren seems like a great fit for TPC San Antonio. He's also coming off a decent week at the Houston Open as well. Ball striking is his specialty. If he finds any success with the putter, he could be a surprise winner. He starts off the week at +3300.

Don't look now, but Billy Horschel is starting to round into form at just the right time. He's been slowly starting to show up on weekend leaderboards after a tough patch of golf in 2023. His number (+3500) might be a smidgen low, in our opinion, but it's still worth grabbing.

Now we get to the meat of our wagering interests for the week. These next three will yield a really nice return on your Top 20, Top 10 and win bets.

We're leaning heavily in the direction of Tom Kim this week. He has a solid track record at similar courses to TPC San Antonio, he has a solid recent history (British Open, Scottish Open) in playing excellent golf in windy conditions, and he's among the TOUR's best "second shot" players. His number this week is staggering: +6500. We think he could be in the hunt on Sunday.

Aaron Rai was in the hunt well into the back nine last week at Houston and we're on him this week in a big way at +6500. He seems like this week's version of Stephan Jaeger, the winner last week in Houston. Rai is ready to win on TOUR. He just needs the right course to make it happen. Now, perhaps this week's field is a bit too strong for him, but we're going with Rai to have a big performance in San Antonio.

And there's nothing at all statistically that favors Adam Schenk this week. He's a nice player, yes, but he doesn't have a history at the course and his shots gained: approach numbers aren't all that great. This is just one of those "hunch" things we're going with that leads us to play Schenk on all of our cards. He comes in at +10000. We're bullish on his game in general and, while he hasn't played all that well of late, we're picking him from the group at +10000 and saying, "why not?"

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our ten masters favorites


As the great Biz Markie once said, "It's spring again."

How do you know it's spring?

Because the Masters, the greatest tournament on the greatest golf course ever built, is once again upon us.

#DMD will feature our top 10 favorites for this year's event, which will be played April 11-14 at glorius Augusta National Golf Club.

Last year's winner, Jon Rahm, is considered one of the favorites, but no one really knows much about his form heading into the event because he plays for the competing circuit and none of us pays any attention to their schedule, who wins, who loses, etc.

The golf course is undoubtedly a nice fit for Rahm, though, as his play in 2023 showed us.

These ten players are our favorites. They're given to you in no real order. Any of these ten, we think, could win the golf tournament. We suggest wagering on them for Top 20, Top 10 and win positions if you're someone inclined to wager occasionally.

Can Brooks Koepka make it two years in a row with a major championship in 2024?

#8 Brooks Koepka -- If we were putting our ten favorites in order in terms of who we like the most, Brooks Koepka would be in our Top 5.

His recent play is a bit of a mystery because no one follows LIV Golf or puts any stock in the performance of players who are on that circuit. So I have no idea if Koepka's form is solid or not.

But I know he can play Augusta National and I know he can perform in major championships. And next week, at Augusta National, that's all that matters.

Has three Top 10's at the Masters in the last five years (with two MC in '21 and '22), so it's obvious he can get around the course.

He has a pair of runner-up finishes (last year and in 2019), so he's also familiar with late Sunday golf at Augusta National.

He's also a player starving for more major championships. He currently has 5, one more than Rory, and would love to catch Phil Mickelson, who currently has six.

And a Masters win, of course, means he'd get to play the tournament for as long as he wants.

We'll be playing him quite heavily next week, particularly as a potential first-round leader.

And we're thinking there's a good chance he comes to the 16th tee on Sunday with a chance to win that coveted green jacket.

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JERRY'S TOYOTA banner
Tuesday
April 2, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3511


she's no angel


For all I know, the folks who run women's college basketball -- and, honestly, I don't know who that is -- might actually be overjoyed with the attention their sport has received over the last few weeks.

I remember once, circa 1985, when then-Baltimore Sun sports columnist Mike Littwin wrote a snarky, mostly inaccurate piece about the Blast and the sport of indoor soccer. It was, I think, one of the three times he even recognized the franchise, in writing, while he was in Baltimore.

Kenny Cooper was not pleased.

"At least he mentioned us and spelled our name right," I deadpanned to Cooper while we had coffee at Iggy's in Little Italy, which was a ritual of ours back in the day.

I was only half-serious.

Sure, I resented Littwin's "take", particularly given that he never bothered to come out to a practice, meet the players or the coach, and wrote what I thought was a hit job from the comfort of his Calvert Street desk.

But a part of me was simply happy he finally caved in and wrote something, anything about the franchise. It was more than we could get Ken Rosenthal to do, after all.

So, for all I know, that might be precisely what the folks at the helm of women's college basketball think when they see and hear and read all of the uproar about Angel Reese, Kim Mulkey and the LSU women's team.

There was no taunting from Angel Reese last night, as her Lady Tigers were dismissed by Iowa in the Elite Eight of the Women's NCAA Tournament.

Yes, those two and the program in general are painted in a bad light more often than not.

If we're being honest -- and I know that's a slippery slope in our country these days -- they've earned a lot of what has been cast upon them.

They haven't earned it all. There has been some piling on. But, in general, they've earned it.

But here's where I see the other side of things and think that, deep down in places they don't talk about at parties, both Reese and Mulkey probably see it the same way I do.

This negativity that surrounds them is necessary. They need it. They, in fact, actually want it.

High level athletes -- and make no mistake about it, Reese and Mulkey are both high-level -- need fuel to compete. That energy is sometimes self created. Sometimes it comes along very organically. And, sometimes, it has to actually be created out of nothing.

Michael Jordan famously created a conversation with a Wizards player in a playoff game to work himself into a frenzy and throw down a 36 point first half. Jordan would later admit the conversation never actually happened. He just made it up, but yet, convinced himself it was real.

Brooks Koepka once won the PGA Championship at Bethpage and after the tournament told reporters he was offended by the order in which he appeared in the press room on Tuesday of tournament week. He said -- and maybe this is true or maybe Koepka just wanted it to be part of his brand -- that the PGA of America's decision to have Rickie Fowler speak before him was such a slap in the face that he vowed to himself right then and there he was going to win the event.

Athletes need fuel. Baseball players are the best (worst?) at it. A pitcher can't even look at you wrong and you're stepping out of the box and waving your arms at him to come and fight you.

Angel Reese and Kim Mulkey are spotlight seekers.

In a big, big way.

That's not to say they're the only two in the country who are involved in women's college basketball and have massive, oversized egos. There are many others like them.

But they want the spotlight.

This season, they've been in it for five full months. The spotlight was turned off last night by Caitlin Clark and Iowa in their Elite Eight game. But for five months-plus, Reese and Mulkey wanted to be noticed.

There was an article recently -- two of them, actually -- that mostly featured Mulkey and her program, with some tentacles in the two pieces connecting with Reese, too. Those two are, for better or worse, attached at the hip.

Mulkey raised a fuss about both articles. Called them unfair. Threatened legal action. In one case, yesterday, a reporter from the LA Times was forced to apologize for the words that were written about the LSU coach.

I probably shouldn't write the word "forced" above. I don't know if it was forced or if Ben Bolch looked at the piece from 35,000 feet and said, "Yeah, that wasn't fair." But in my opinion, he was forced to apologize after someone in Mulkey's camp made it clear to the newspaper that only an apology would keep them from pursuing legal action.

I don't know that I like that, honestly. Ben Bolch wrote what he wrote. I read the article. Did it paint LSU to be demons and Iowa to be lily-white golden girls? Yeah, it did. But I'll contend, again, that's precisely the way Reese and Mulkey carry themselves in an effort to create a brand and compete with that brand at the forefront of their public personality.

I have no idea if Kim Mulkey is a good person or not a good person. A recent Washington Post article danced around the topic of homophobia with her, which, in women's basketball, is pretty much a death sentence if you're a coach.

"If you're a women's basketball or soccer coach and gay girls make you nervous, you'll never last," a local college athletic director once said to me.

I seriously doubt Kim Mulkey is against lesbian basketball players as the article suggested she had been in her past. In that regard, perhaps the Post article did owe her an apology, even though they supposedly had a source or two telling them of Mulkey's poor treatment of gay players on her team(s).

But the reality is this: Mulkey wants to be misunderstood. So, too, does Angel Reese.

That in and of itself does not make them bad people.

But it does make them an easy target when things don't go their way, which they didn't last night in the loss to Iowa.

When Reese and Mulkey won the national title last year, they were what they were. Spotlight seekers. They rubbed it in. Glorified themselves. For sure, like virtually anyone else who would have won, they went overboard.

However, unlike others who win, go overboard and then say, "Yikes, now that I see how I handled that, I'm kind of embarrassed by the whole thing," LSU played the other card.

"Yeah, we beat you by 14. We wanted to beat you by 24."

"Yeah, we're the best. Don't even think about challenging us again next year, either. We'll beat the brakes off of you next year, too."

"Yeah, we won and you didn't. We're better than you. The scoreboard says so."

And when things shift against them, which they always do, to everyone, Mulkey and Reese pull out the "everyone makes it personal with us" and throws that one out on the table.

The way I see it, ladies, you wanted the spotlight.

You got it.

You even needed it, I think.

And this time around, you didn't like the way the light made you look.

You'll get over it.

I would stop short of saying Mulkey and Reese deserved what they got over the last month or so. What I will say, though, is they got what they asked for, which was to be featured, promoted and made larger than life.

In the end, privately, I'm not so sure they're all that crushed with how things ended last night against Iowa.

Some of what the two of them do on and off the court is a bit of a wrestling skit, after all. They can either be the heel or the baby face in women's basketball and they both choose to be the heel.

So, last night's loss won't faze them much. The heel is supposed to lose occasionally to keep the gag running,

It is, after all, just a game.

You can't win 'em all.

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our ten masters favorites


As the great Biz Markie once said, "It's spring again."

How do you know it's spring?

Because the Masters, the greatest tournament on the greatest golf course ever built, is once again upon us.

#DMD will feature our top 10 favorites for this year's event, which will be played April 11-14 at glorius Augusta National Golf Club.

Last year's winner, Jon Rahm, is considered one of the favorites, but no one really knows much about his form heading into the event because he plays for the competing circuit and none of us pays any attention to their schedule, who wins, who loses, etc.

The golf course is undoubtedly a nice fit for Rahm, though, as his play in 2023 showed us.

These ten players are our favorites. They're given to you in no real order. Any of these ten, we think, could win the golf tournament. We suggest wagering on them for Top 20, Top 10 and win positions if you're someone inclined to wager occasionally.

To get us started today, we're going to give you two players in an effort to provide you with our entire top 10 before next Thursday's first round.

#10 - Hideki Matsuyama -- The 2021 champion has a sparkling record at Augusta National, with 9 straight made cuts at the Masters and only one finish outside of the top 20 in those nine events.

He is enjoying a terrific 2024 season to date and seems like he's prepping for some kind of big win, which could come next week.

The only slight concern with him is a balky back that tends to flare up out of nowhere. His "golf concern" is a balky putter, but you can survive if that's your chief ailment. It's hard to play well if you're fighting a bad back.

Matsuyama contends he's feeling better, though, and we're going to roll the dice that he has it under control and will be able to play pain free next week.

You can get him at various sportsbooks right now at +3000, which is a really nice number for a guy who plays the course well, has won there recently, and has been showing great overall form over the last couple of months.


#9 - Viktor Hovland -- We're not huge believers in outliers when it comes to the Masters. If you look at the list of winners, you don't see many surprises in there. This time last year, Hovland was among the favorites heading into the tournament. Now, he's at +2100 and that, frankly, seems a little puzzling.

Hovland has done almost nothing in 2024 thanks to a revamped golf swing that is still taking to curate. The thought here -- and, admittedly, it's a swing for the fences -- is that perhaps he puts it all together next week and wins out of nowhere.

He is a terrific player, is Hovland. What we don't know about him is this: Does he prefer hunting or being hunted?

Some guys would prefer to be off the radar screen and doing the hunting rather than being the one in the spotlight being chased.

I don't know which of those angles applies to Hovland.

He's never missed the cut at Augusta, going 4-for-4, including a T7 finish in 2023.

If his golf swing changes have taken hold and his putting is decent next week, he very much has a chance. But nothing much about his 2024 form would indicate next week will be a big week for him.

We're going with a bit of a flyer, here, but something just tells us Hovland has put in the work on his golf swing and now good things are going to follow suit.

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April 1, 2024
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i smell a ravens trade in the air


I'm not even going to try and dupe anyone today with an April Fools joke.

For starters, they're no longer any fun. Our society, for the most part, has no collective sense of humor. Everyone gets offended at the drop of a hat these days.

So, no (poor) attempts at pulling one over on any of you today. You win.

But back in 2003, Terry Ford and I got the entire town, plus ESPN, plus the Ravens, plus most of Cleveland as well.

Just like the Counting Crows found it impossible to ever replicate their Mona Lisa first album, August and Everything After, there's no sense in trying to produce another April Fools joke to top the "Tim Couch trade" we manufactured when Terry and I did the morning show at a Baltimore sports talk station.

Honestly? I have no idea how we actually did pull it off. After all, it was April Fools Day. Everyone with a calendar knew that.

Tim Couch was once a Raven for about.....2 hours or so.

Ford and I didn't even plan the gag out, either. We concocted it around 7:30 am during a commercial break.

"We're getting reports of a Ravens trade," Ford said on the air. We ran with it. The Ravens had traded their first round pick to the Browns for quarterback Tim Couch, who during the 2002 season waved "bye bye" to the Baltimore fans after the Browns knocked the Ravens out of the playoffs.

We ran with the story for the better part of an hour.

It grew like a wildfire. The phone lines lit up. People were outraged. Tim Couch wasn't quite public enemy #1 in Baltimore, but he was darn close. And the Ravens were in the market for a quarterback after a season of Jeff Blake's mediocrity had worn them down.

Kevin Byrne's phone went bonkers around 8:30 that morning.

"Did you guys make a trade?" the Ravens PR Director was repeatedly asked.

The calls kept pouring in as he drove to Owings Mills. ESPN was checking in, too. The trade was running on the bottom of their SportsCenter screen. The Cleveland radio stations were jammed with callers talking about it.

Byrne stormed into Ozzie Newsome's office.

"How could you do that without telling me?" Byrne said to the longtime Ravens GM.

"Do what?" Ozzie asked.

"Make a trade for Tim Couch!" Byrne replied.

"What?" Newsome shot back. "I didn't trade for Tim Couch."

"Yes you did!" Byrne said.

"Kevin, I didn't make a trade for Tim Couch. Someone's pulling your leg," Ozzie said.

Byrne then looked at Ozzie's wall and saw the calendar. Tuesday, April 1.

He sat down in a chair. Defeated. Newsome was right. Byrne and everyone else, except Newsome, had fallen for the prank of all pranks.

By 9:20 am or so, Ford and I pulled the plug and came clean on the air.

It was, in a word, hilarious.

People were mad. Callers blasted us. A few goofs threatened to come to the station after embarrassing themselves at their office water cooler earlier in the morning.

Byrne wasn't pleased.

Neither was Steve Stewart, the morning sports guy at WBAL Radio, who was awakened by his general manager at 8:00 am and called out for "Letting that two-bit station at the end of the dial beat us on the biggest story of the year."

I assume the people at ESPN weren't thrilled, either.

It was quite a morning, to say the least.

You'd never be able to pull that off in 2024. For starters, people are paying attention now and social media would make it impossible. But more than that, no one thinks anything is funny in 2024. It's not even worth doing. Everyone has thin skin these days.

But back in 2003...

Now, that, right there, was an April Fools joke for the ages.


I've said here on numerous occasions over the last year or so that Scottie Scheffler's tee-to-green golf, over the last 12 months, is comparable to what Tiger Woods produced during his halycon days on the PGA Tour.

That doesn't mean Scheffler's a "better golfer" than Woods was at his zenith. It simply means his work off the tee and with his irons is as good as what Woods could do from, say, 2000 through 2008.

But Scheffler isn't as good as Tiger and won't ever be as good as Tiger because of what we saw late in yesterday's final round of the Houston Open. Scheffler is just a "good" putter, nothing more.

Woods was a great putter.

Beyond great, actually.

That's one of the primary reasons why he has 82 career wins and 15 major championships.

That 6 foot putt Scheffler missed on the 18th green yesterday that hand delivered the tournament title to Stephan Jaeger?

Woods would have never missed that putt. In fact, the outcome would have been decided long before the 18th green during Tiger's prime. One of the reasons Jaeger owned a 1-shot lead on the 18th tee was because Scheffler kept missing 20 foot birdie putts that Woods would have rolled in with remarkable ease.

And even Jaeger himself missed a simple 5-foot birdie putt at #17 to keep Scheffler in it.

Had Scheffler putted "well" in 2023 he would have won 8 tournaments at least.

His putting was horrible last season. He won twice.

He's already won twice this season and that's with his putting being "improved", even if it didn't look like it on Friday when he three putted from four feet or on the 18th green on Sunday.

Golf wise, just making swings and hitting the golf ball, Scheffler is approaching equal status to that of Woods. He might even be a better driver of the ball than Tiger was at the height of his dominance. Scheffler's iron play is sublime. His short game is incredibly underrated. He's just not a great putter.

That doesn't mean he doesn't have the ability to putt great at times. Scheffler has 8 wins on TOUR. When he putts well, he's almost a lock to win.

But he has to figure out a way to putt well more often.

It seems almost impossible to not figure him into the mix at the Masters in two weeks.

He is going to be the favorite in the same way Woods was the favorite for so many years. At this point, frankly, I'd be very surprised if Scheffler isn't in the lead or within a shot of the lead going into Sunday's final round on April 14.

His golf is Tiger-like, and I wasn't sure we'd ever say that again about another player.

His putting, though, is nothing close to what Tiger could do on the greens.

We saw that again yesterday, in high definition, unfortunately.

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March 31, 2024
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he is risen, indeed


Happy Easter to all of you.

As has been our habit here since 2014, we mostly take off today, which is to say you'll find a truncated, scaled down version of #DMD this morning.

We're not quite NASCAR in these parts -- they don't race at all on Easter -- but we keep it brief on Easter Sunday.

In the days after Jesus was resurrected, he was seen in the streets by his disciples.

One of them, Thomas, who had not yet seen Jesus since his death, was not a believer.

“Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe,” Thomas told his friends.

A week later, as the disciples continued to tell Thomas of more sightings of Jesus, he still refused to believed. They were gathered in a house, where the doors were locked, when Jesus suddenly appeared and stood before the men.

"Peace be with you," Jesus said.

He then approached Thomas. “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

Thomas fell to his knees. "My Lord and my God!"

Jesus then said something to Thomas that remains to this today one of the single most important messages ever conveyed on Earth: “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

And that, in the most simplest of terms, is what the resurrection of Jesus and the Easter holiday are all about.

Blessed are those who have not yet seen and yet have believed.

Jesus has risen.

He is risen, indeed.

May God grant you and your family abundant joy and peace on this Easter holiday and every day thereafter.


Maybe the Orioles aren't going to lose this season after all. They've scored 24 runs in two games against the Angels thus far, including a 13-4 romp yesterday at Camden Yards.

The only two downer moments; relief pitcher Cionel Perez left the game in the 9th inning with an injury and Brandon Hyde took Gunnar Henderson out of the game in the bottom of the 8th when the reigning Rookie of the Year needed a double for the cycle, instead giving an at-bat to a dude (Kemp) who won't be on the team by Memorial Day weekend.

Other than those two things, there were smiles all over the place at the ballpark on Saturday. Ain't the beer cold?


Scottie Scheffler pieced together a nice round of 66 yesterday and enters the final day of the Houston Open tied for the lead at 9-under par. Scheffler is going for three straight wins on TOUR. Some guys play their entire career and never win three times in one season. Scheffler's going for three wins this month.

Also at 9-under par are Stephan Jaeger, one of our #DMD selections earlier this week, David Skinns, Thomas Detry and Alejandro Tosti.

There are 7 other players within two shots of the lead going into the final round. Scheffler's going to have to play well to win today. Someone in the group of pursuers will put up a 66, at the very least, we're thinking.


The first two teams in the men's Final Four are set; Alabama and UConn. Two others will join them today.

Alabama knocked off Clemson last night to earn their first-ever Final Four trip and UConn blew open a tight game with a 30-0 run to send Illinois home with their tail between their legs.

UConn is sure looking like a team that isn't going to lose anytime soon. The basketball they're playing right now is of the "on another planet" level.

On the women's side, the much anticipated rematch between Clark (Iowa) and Reese (LSU) is now on tap tomorrow night at 7:15 pm. Reese made her way into the news -- shocking, I know -- again last night after telling a UCLA assistant coach to her "watch her mouth" during the post-game handshake line.

It was last year, remember, when Reese taunted Clark at the end of LSU's championship game win over the Hawkeyes. As fate and the basketball gods would have it, the two will meet up again tomorrow in the Elite Eight game.

Let's just hope this time the basketball gods help deliver an outcome different than the one they authored in 2023.

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March 30, 2024
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we're now in "abd" territory


There was a time, before Maryland caved into the pressure a bag of money brings, where folks in these parts were rabid with anti-Duke venom.

Those old enough to remember know why it was that way.

They had the crybaby coach. They got all the calls from the officials. They almost annually received a gift-wrapped NCAA tournament schedule.

There very well might have been other schools with similar traits, by the way, but we didn't come to know them the same way we came to know Coach K and the Duke Blue Devils.

And it might still be that way, minus Coach K, for all I know. I kind of let my foot off of the anti-Duke gas once Maryland pulled out of the ACC and got their belly full at the Big Ten table.

Even without him on the sidelines, we all still want Duke to lose in basketball.

Duke might be as bad now as they were back then. It's sports DNA, you know?

The Blue Devils moved on to the Elite Eight last night with a 54-51 win over #1 seed Houston. They now get to face their friends across the way, North Carolina State, in Sunday's contest that will decide which of the two ACC schools advances to the Final Four.

Like clockwork last night, Duke got a massive edge when Houston's best player, Jamal Sheed, suffered an ankle injury early in the game was only able to play 12 minutes and register 2 points. Without him, the Cougars fought hard, but Duke was a little better.

That Houston dug in so gamely without their top performer and only lost by three probably tells you more about them than Duke, honestly, but it was just that little difference in the game that Duke took advantage of that boosted them to the win.

I've never particularly cared for Duke, although I'm the first to admit the school itself is outstanding. In my former life in the soccer business, I visited the Durham campus several times while scouting college players for our annual draft. There is a special feeling when you're on that campus, I have to say.

But I've never liked Duke basketball.

My good friend Dr. Dave Bimestefer -- a Duke grad -- once chided me with one of the all time great lines: "You know why you don't like Duke?" he asked. "Because you couldn't get in."

True that. I couldn't. It's a helluva school. They didn't take many ne'er do wells from Glen Burnie back in the day.

But Duke basketball is separate from Duke the school, oddly enough. At least to me.

Duke the learning institution is awesome.

Duke the basketball program is not so awesome.

Sadly, Maryland getting tired of losing to Duke and North Carolina every year in basketball and jumping ship to the Big Ten -- where now they simply lose to Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State every year in football, plus occasionally in basketball, too -- has robbed me of my desire to maintain disdain for Duke.

It's not that different than when the Ravens no longer faced the Jaguars every year. There was a time when Ravens-Jaguars was the rivalry for Baltimore's new NFL franchise. Once the division aligment took place and the Ravens moved into the AFC North, no one here cared a lick any longer about Jacksonville.

Duke doesn't play Maryland in basketball any longer. So it's no longer a thing to hope the Blue Devils lose by 30 every time they play.

I mean, I don't want them to win tomorrow against NC State.

But if they do, they do.

I was, at one time, as ardent of a Duke anti-fan as you could find. You probably were, too.

Now...I hardly even follow them any longer.

But I still want them to lose tomorrow.

We're officially in "ABD" territory. You know: Anybody BUT Duke.

Let's go Wolfpack, make us proud up here in Maryland.


Bart asks -- "Hi Drew, I heard you mention this on Glenn's show today (Wednesday) and it definitely struck a nerve with me. I thought maybe you would answer it at DMD since you and Glenn talked about it. Is there a chance David Rubenstein becomes too much of a fanboy and becomes the kind of owner we don't like, one that seeks the spotlight all the time like Jerry Jones or Daniel Snyder or George Steinbrenner? Like you mentioned on the show, he is very visible and they haven't even played a game yet. Thanks."

DF says -- "Is there a chance? Well, of course there's a chance. I mean, anything's possible. Is it likely? I don't think so. Sure, he's definitely been more visible in his three months of involvement than Peter probably was in 30 years or so, but it's important to point out that Rubenstein's full ownership tenure will take place in the social media crazed world we live in today and the majority of Peter's tenure took place when "X" and Instagram weren't a thing.

Can the owner be too visible? I guess. I don't know what that would do to the ballclub on the field, by the way. I mean, are the Cowboys always bridesmaids in the NFC because Jerry Jones is the man out front, has his own radio show and is, for better or worse, the face of the Cowboys? I'm not sure. They might be bridesmaids because he also plays the role of general manager of the team and picks football players that don't wind up playing good football.

David Rubenstein is excited about owning the team. That much is true and obvious. He paid a lot of money for the right to slip on an O's jersey and parade around the stadium "like he owns the place". But guess what? He does own the place.

I'd let his track record speak for his actions at this point. He's a brilliant man worth a lot of money. He didn't get to where he is today by being dumb. He'll have a honeymoon period of ownership and, I'm guessing, eventually slip into the background, much like Steve Bisciotti has done with the Ravens."


Ramey asks -- "What did you make of the video that was published this week where Bryson DeChambeau claims he played a rollback golf ball and was hitting it 15-20 yards shorter than normal?"

DF says -- "I saw the video. I have no idea if that ball was "legit" or not. DeChambeau said it was a 15-year old "Nike One" ball that he believes has the same characteristics of the rollback version that's apparently going to be put into play in 2028 for professional golfers. So DeChambeau is now a golf ball engineer, too? Whatever...

Anyway, I saw the video. And despite my total lack of respect for him as an American who jumped into bed with the Saudi government, DeChambeau and I share the same general sentiment about the rollback idea: It's awful.

Now, the golf ball going 20 yards shorter and spinning more with the irons? If everyone's playing the same ball, I'm not sure that really matters. Sure, there will always be players with better hands who can work the ball -- any ball -- better than others, but the primary effort by the governing bodies of golf is to limit the distance a ball travels off the tee. I've always thought it was dumb to do that with the golf ball itself.

Just limit how high the player can tee the ball up and you're automatically shorten the distance it travels off the tee. Done.

If the USGA and R&A made the maximum tee height 2.5 inches, you'd have your 15-20 yards right there. You could also limit driver length to, say, 42 inches, and that would also do it. Either way, you don't need to touch the golf ball to regulate how far it goes off the tee.

In the end, I'm not sure DeChambeau is the right guy for a test-case, at this point. Because he's so adamantly against the concept of ball rollback, I'd be concerned that perhaps he's not giving it his all in these impromptu testing situations he creates.

Find someone who is wildly in favor of the rollback and let them hit 10 or 15 drivers and see what they think once they see the results. That would probably be a better way of making some sort of early assessment on the proposed rollback."


Will asks -- "What did you think of the incident in New York today (Friday) between Rhys Hoskins and Jeff McNeil. I know you hate unwritten baseball rules."

DF says -- "It was a perfectly fair and legal slide. McNeil's insane. I mean, if you're not allowed to slide into second base to break up a double play, just put that in the rules and get it over with. Just eliminate sliding into second entirely.

"Just a late slide. We've had a little bit of a past, so I knew there was a chance that he'd be coming in like that," McNeil said after the Mets lost to the Brewers, 3-1. "Didn't like his slide. I wasn't trying to turn a double play at all. Just trying to catch the ball. There was no need to break it up."

These baseball players are something else.

How on earth was Rhys Hoskins supposed to know you weren't trying to turn the double play?

And there was nothing "late" about it. He slid into second base, trying to beat the throw. He didn't beat it. But he was trying to beat it. Is that so hard for these neanderthals to understand?

But here's the biggest issue of all:

The Mets challenged the play via replay for a slide violation, but the call stood.

It stood because -- wait for it -- the slide was legal. Even the Mets own goofy manager admitted as such.

"It's a late slide. Obviously, we didn't like it, Jeff didn't like it, but it's legal," Mets manager Carlos Mendoza said. "He held onto the base and it's considered legal. Apparently there's some history there between them, too, and that's what got Jeff heated there."

So it's legal. The slide was fine. What, then, are you moaning about?

Baseball, man. These guys are so weird."





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March 29, 2024
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emphatic!


Mike Trout hit a first inning home run yesterday at Camden Yards and everyone giggled and said, "Wait until you see what we have in store for you."

Two innings later, it was 5-1 Orioles.

By the time the final pitch was thrown, it was an 11-3 O's romp and it was hard to tell who the stadium was more in love with on opening day: Corbin Burnes or David Rubenstein.

We'll go with Burnes, frankly. Anyone can own the team. But not anyone can strike out 11 in six innings and allow just that one Trout hit along the way. That dude can pitch.

Every O's starter except Ramon Urias had a hit. It was that kind of day at the plate for the Birds, who took advantage of what might be one of the worst pitching staffs in all of baseball on a cloudy Thursday afternoon in Balwmer.

Corbin Burnes made quite the debut in Baltimore yesterday, allowing just one first inning hit and striking out 11 Angels in six innings of work.

Don't look now, but Anthony Santander is on pace for something around 648 RBI for the 2024 campaign. That would probably be some kind of record. He knocked in 4 runs yesterday and owns the distinction of clubbing the team's first home run of the season as well.

As for Rubenstein, he ushered in his first day as the franchise's new owner like a kid parading around the neighborhood with his brand new bike. He met with fans, stadium employees, emergency responders and virtually anyone else who would reach out and shake his hand.

If Rubenstein had a hundred dollars for every cell phone picture he was a part of yesterday, he'd be a billionaire.

Well, more of a billionaire, I guess.

It was a most delightful day at Camden Yards, despite the backdrop of two recent unsettling stories, the death of Peter G. Angelos and the Key Bridge collapse. One game wouldn't have made a difference, obviously, but the O's going out and playing like that on Opening Day helped ease some hearts around the stadium and in the neighboring communities.

Baseball has a way of doing that in a manner other sports don't, for some reason.

For one afternoon, at least, we forgot about the real world and life and death and just enjoyed our really good baseball team playing really good baseball. The real world still beckons today, of course. But baseball can totally brighten your mood, that's for sure.


My bracket was already sorta-kinda done when Wisconsin bowed out of the NCAA Tournament in round one, but it lost all of its air last night when heavily favored North Carolina got dumped by surging Alabama, 89-87. amd Iowa State lost to Illinois.

I'm like a bad Slayer album. About eight minutes in and I was done.

Kevin Willard and the Terps patched up their backcourt this week with two impressive transfer portal additions.

Four teams who won last night will have a chance to play their way into the Final Four on Saturday: UConn (30 point winners over San Diego State), Clemson (a winner over Arizona) and aforementioned Alabama and Illinois. Two of those four teams are going to the Final Four.

Meanwhile, here locally, Kevin Willard and Maryland are making some noise in the transfer portal. Belmont guard Ja'Kobi Gillespie, rated the #5 guard in the portal, must have really liked the cafeteria food in College Park or the money he was given to join Willard for the '24-25 campaign. Either way, he's a Terp.

Earlier this week, ex-Virginia Tech Rodney Rice signed on at Maryland as well. He and Gillespie join coveted big man Derik Queen, who announced last month he'll play for Maryland next season.

I have no idea if either of those guys can become "the next Jahmir Young", but Willard certainly didn't take long to go out and find a replacement for his team's best player over the last two seasons.

Give the 3rd year head coach some credit. He hasn't been able to recruit any really good high school players to College Park just yet. But he's 3-for-3 in this off-season bringing in what a lot of people are three potential "game changing" athletes in Queen, Gillespie and Rice.

If Willard can't win with those three next season, then we might have to start talking about issues unrelated to the players themselves.

I assume you know what that means.


On this Good Friday, I hope you get a chance today to pause and reflect on the sacrifice made by Jesus Christ on the day of his death.

Over the last 20 years or so, Easter has become -- by far -- my favorite holiday of them all.

A lot of adults fancy Memorial Day or 4th of July because both of those occasions are marked with warm weather, revelry, food, beverages and friendly engagement on the boat, at the beach or in the backyard. I get it.

But Easter stands out to me as the best weekend we, as humans, are blessed to enjoy.

It was on this day that Jesus died on the cross. He was persecuted and, ultimately, executed, because he had the courage to spread God's message in a part of the world that didn't want that message shared publicly.

I don't know how many of you have studied and learned about the Passion of Jesus Christ, but in his final hours, Jesus was challenged by the man who was responsible for his death, Pontius Pilate.

"Are you the King of Jews, as these people claim you are?" Pilate asked Jesus.

"If that's what you say," Jesus replied.

Pilate, of course, wanted an argument. He wanted a confrontation with Jesus that would make it easier for him to order his death and avoid a conflict with his wife, who urged Pilate to release Jesus.

But Jesus wouldn't argue.

Because he knew how this story was going to play out long before Pilate's people arrested him and brought him in.

"One of you sitting at this table will betray me," Jesus told his 12 disciples at dinner the night before.

And Judas did just that, kissing Jesus on the cheek to show the identity of Jesus to the men in charge of arresting him.

The next day, there was Pilate, offering one final challenge to Jesus.

"Don't you know I have the power, right now, to have you put to death or released back into your community?"

Pilate assumed Jesus would beg for his life at that point.

Instead, Jesus said to Pilate: "You'd have no such power at all if weren't for God giving it to you in the first place."

That's always been my favorite moment in the life of Jesus Christ.

At the 11th hour, with the chance to stop his own crucifixion, Jesus took that time to glorify God to the man who was about to order his death.

The Bible and its various versions have "wordy" translations of that encounter with Pontius Pilate. I love hearing that story and closing my eyes and thinking about what Jesus might have said in real words.

"Dude, who are you kidding? You're a nobody without God. God gave you all the power you have because he gave you everything you have and everything you've been is because of Him, not you. Do whatever you want to me. Knock yourself out. But don't stand here and threaten me. The only power you have is power God gave you. You should thank Him for everything he's done for you."

I'd like to think, at his death, that was the message Jesus wanted all of us to remember on Good Friday.

Who are we kidding? We're nobody without God. Whatever power you have. Whatever job you have. Whatever house you have. Whatever success you have. It's because God allowed for those things. Let's not kid ourselves. With God, everything's possible.

And, so, today, as I've done for several years now on Good Friday, I'm including the most powerful 18 minute message I've ever heard.

It comes from a San Diego based minister named S.M. Lockridge. It's been called "The Greatest Sermon Ever Preached", from 1982.

I promise you. If you listen to this for 18 minutes, you'll be moved in a way you might have otherwise not thought possible. It can be listened to by anyone. Of any age. Of any faith. Or, if you're not a believer, you can still listen and get something from it, I'm sure.

S.M. Lockridge's incredible sermon below will serve as our weekly feature, "Faith in Sports". Nothing we can show you today from the world of sports is more meanginful than what you'll hear from Doctor Lockridge.

Thanks, as always, to our friends at Freestate Electrical for their continued support of Drew's Morning Dish and our weekly "Faith in Sports" feature.





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Thursday
March 28, 2024
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#3506


it just feels inevitable


OK, today I'm doing something I haven't done since this website started on August 25, 2014.

I'm predicting the Orioles to win the World Series.

Yes, the Baltimore Orioles.

The World Series.

They're winning it.

Are the Orioles going to win the World Series in David Rubenstein's first year of ownership? #DMD thinks they will.

How? I don't know, but I'm saying it's the Dodgers they beat and, just for kicks and giggles, I'll say they win Game #6 in Los Angeles to sew it all up.

Why?

Because of "things", that's why.

I'm a believer in fate. Not quite the same way Ben Crenshaw wagged his finger back in 1999 when the U.S. trailed 10-6 going into the singles matches at the Ryder Cup, but I'm here to say: "I'm a big believer in fate."

And I think, as fate will have it, that David Rubenstein and his ownership group will experience a world baseball title in their very first year at the helm.

I know that might seem particularly cruel to the now-departed Angelos family after their steadfast union as majority owners from 1993 through 2024, but it's not meant to be that way.

Sometimes, that's just how the cookie crumbles.

I'm certainly not saying the Orioles are going to win because the Angelos family is no longer involved as majority owners. That would be wildly unfair, since it was the Angelos family who brought the likes of Mike Elias and Brandon Hyde into the fold and, for that, the family is going to be connected to this organization for a long time.

I'm just saying it fits like a glove. At least to me. New owners take over a franchise that is "ohsoclose" to fielding a championship squad and, voila!, they wind up getting to the promised land right away.

I sure hope I'm right.

It all starts today at Camden Yards -- hopefully, weather permitting -- when the lowly Angels come to town for what should be a gift-wrapped home opening win for the O's.

Last year they won 101 games but flatlined in a 3-game playoff ouster at the hands of the Rangers.

I don't think the O's will win 101 games this year. I'm thinking more like 96, honestly. But I don't see them stubbing their toe in the post-season this time around.

There hasn't been a World Series game or title in Baltimore since 1983.

That's hard to believe, I know. But it's true.

A lot of cities have endured similar gaps in their championship history. Like, take for instance, the great city of Philadelphia. Their hockey team hasn't won a championship since 1975. Next year we'll -- I mean, they'll -- celebrate their 50 year anniversary without a hockey championship.

Baltimore's 40 year gap without a baseball title ends this year.

Plan your October 2024 schedule accordingly. You'll want to be in Charm City that entire month.


Champions Tour golfer Chris DiMarco made some waves in the golf world earlier this week when he suggested that perhaps LIV Golf should buy the senior circuit so the old guys can play "for a little real money out here".

Just to make sure he drove home his point, DiMarco added: "I mean this is kind of a joke when we’re getting $2 million. There were like seven guys last week from Sawgrass (Players Championship) that made more money than our purses.”

Where is Mr. Hand from Fast Times at Ridgemont High when you need him?

What is Chris DiMarco...on dope?

For starters, DiMarco seems to conveniently forget he can't break an egg out there any longer, let alone break 70. In 114 career starts on the Champions Tour, he has 17 Top 25 finishes and 4 Top 10's. Total.

Now, maybe he's doing the right thing and speaking up for the Langers, Harringtons and Alkers when he's trying to drum up more purse money for the over 50-group, but it didn't come across that way at all.

It sounded like DiMarco wasn't motivated by those miniscule $2 million purses the Champions Tour regularly plays for.

Maybe if he won more and stopped finishing T35 he'd have more money.

It's true that many of the top players on the Champions Tour were once significant PGA Tour members. There are still a few drawing cards out there, like Ernie Els, Fred Couples, Jim Furyk and Vijay Singh. But even their respective stars have lost their brightness over the last few years.

Chris DiMarco almost beat Tiger Woods once in the Masters.

Almost.

That, as it turned out, was his most memorable accomplishment.

He also lost in a playoff in the PGA Championship, but only me and 134 other people in the country who follow golf know that.

His brush with a green jacket was his career Mona Lisa.

The Champions Tour is the ultimate retirement community in the world of professional sports. It is, oddly enough, the only sport in the country with a legitimate "senior" competition. Tennis has tried to make a go of it by trotting out the old guys and gals, but it's been a flop.

Imagine if baseball had a league where guys like Jeter, Ortiz, Schilling, Palmeiro and other stars of the past traveled around and played three games a week in various cities. No one would watch and no one would care.

Tom Brady throwing to Julian Edelman in a game? Peyton Manning to Shannon Sharpe? You might watch it once. And that would be it.

But over the last 30-some years, senior golf has "worked", which is to say the players who have moved over from the PGA Tour to the Champions Tour have, for a short while at least, brought along a certain percentage of their fan base. The TV numbers are just OK, nothing more, nothing less. Attendance at the events range from impressive to "where is everybody?"

The senior events are cupcake golf compared to life on the PGA Tour. Players on the Champions Tour play three days (54 holes) and are not required to participate in pro-ams every time they play in a tournament. Most of the senior regulars show up on Wednesday, sometimes even Thursday if they're familiar with the course, and they're out on Sunday night.

There's no cut, except in the majors.

And in the non-major events, players have the option of riding in motorized carts. Their caddies still have to carry the bag and walk, which, I know, is very strange indeed.

Senior golf is, still, really good golf, don't get me wrong.

Those guys can definitely play, even if they're doing it on 6,600 yard courses instead of 7,400 yard layouts.

But the pressure for them to perform and earn a living is pretty much a thing of the past. DiMarco has made roughly $25 million in his career between the PGA and Champions Tour and that's just his on-course earnings. He likely made at least another $5 million peddling golf equipment, automobiles and anything else he could stitch on his collar or golf bag.

And now he's griping because he's playing golf tournaments that "only" have purses of $2 million, including $300,000 to last week's winner in Newport Beach, California, Padraig Harrington.

The dude has some nerve.

He doesn't have much golf game any longer. But DiMarco does have a lot of nerve.


Carter asks -- "I know you'll think I'm crazy but I'm going to either do a one off trip to the Masters in a couple of weeks or a one off trip to the U.S. Open in June at Pinehurst. Which would be easier to pull off in terms of travel, tickets, hotels and overall cost in your opinion? Thanks Drew and Go Hall!"

DF says -- "It's not crazy. They're both great trips. It's just expensive to do it last minute. But it can be done.

You can fly into either Atlanta or Charlotte for the Masters. It's pretty much a 2 hour and 30 minute drive from either location. I've done it both ways and I overwhelmingly prefer flying into Charlotte. The airport is much smaller, much less congested and you get your rental car and you're on the interstate in 3 minutes. Atlanta is packed.

I don't think you're getting any hotel rooms within one hour of Augusta for a one night or two night stay. Maybe you can accidentally stumble into something in Augusta that was canceled by someone last minute, but that would be a miracle akin to finding two good songs in a row on a Beatl -- I mean -- a Slayer album.

As for the tickets...that's where you're going to get set back a mortgage payment. If you don't have tickets, you're not getting in for any less than $1,000. And depending on what day you go, that number might wind up being $2,500. Also, here's the warning: Be very wary of anyone selling tickets well below their secondary value. You'll find guys who "just want you and your son (example) to go in and see the greatest golf course in the world" and, they say, that's why they'll sell them to you for $400 each and when you get to the entrance, you find out those tickets aren't real.

I'm not trying to push you away from going to Augusta, but it's not really a trip that makes a lot of sense to do last minute.

The U.S. Open at Pinehurst will be much easier to navigate. You can drive from Baltimore (6.5 hours if you're gung ho on making it there that quickly), for starters. And while you won't find any hotels in Pinehurst (because there aren't any, really), you'll be able to get a place in Raleigh (75 minutes away) without much trouble, I would think. Don't wait until the last minute to find that out, though.

Tickets at the U.S. Open will probably range from $100 to $500, a much easier pill to swallow than the Masters.

My advice on the U.S. Open is this: Pay whatever the rate is for their "Champions Pavilion" or whatever it is called now where you can go inside and get food, drink, etc. You might pay something like $500 a day for those, but you'll relish the air conditioning in mid June in North Carolina and you won't get wacked for $28 every time you want a hot dog and a beer.

Oh, and stock up on the bug spray. Like, grab the 4-pack and take it with you.

I'd tell you to do the U.S. Open over the Masters. It's far less expensive. You're still seeing one of the iconic U.S. courses where plenty of golf history has been made. And you're actually going to see more golfers at the U.S. Open than you will at the Masters.

That said, you do -- if you're a golf enthusiast -- need to see Augusta National in person at some point in your life. It's beyond spectacular.

Have a safe trip whatever you decide and please follow up and let me know how it all went."


John L. asks: "Drew, I'm not sure you know but in all of the 25 year anniversary stories published by the radio station you once worked at, you and the others who were all let go are basically wiped out and never mentioned on social media. If you don't want to answer this I understand, but I'm wondering if that bothers you. Have you talked to Glenn or anyone else about it? Just curious. Hope your golf season goes great at Calvert Hall."

DF says: "I wasn't aware, no. I'm certainly not overly concerned about it, either, but, sure, it's sort of patently offensive to put in 12 years of what I think was loyal, steadfast work and be intentionally overlooked as if I was never there. I don't know how Glenn, Ryan, Ashley or Paul feels, so I can't speak for them.

History is history, whether it's good or bad. I certainly don't overlook or forget that I worked there and I'm both grateful for the opportunity I received and proud of what I did and put up with in an effort to provide a show every day that people enjoyed.

If the five of us have been removed from the station's 25 year history, that's a pretty big chunk of time. It's one thing to remove President Nixon from the history of the U.S. We're almost 250 years in...there's lots of other history to reflect upon. It's another thing to remove people who were essentially involved in at least half (Paul was probably involved for more like 15 of the 25) of the station's history, and, more importantly, helped make the station what it once was.

But far more important than the five of us: Have guys like Bob Haynie, Rob Long and Jeremy Conn also been wiped out of the history of the station? In some ways, frankly, Haynie was probably the most popular figure ever to be on the air there.

I realize he's been at another station for 12 years now, but so what? When Eddie Murray came back to play against the Orioles did they act like he never played in Baltimore? When Evgeny Kuznetsov returned to D.C. last week to play for Carolina, the Caps didn't act like he wasn't a huge part of the franchise and the team that won the Stanley Cup in 2018.

It's amateur-hour stuff, if I'm being honest.

Anyway, it's all good. On we go..."

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Wednesday
March 27, 2024
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#3505


caps are stayin' alive


It appears that some readers want to double as content editors here, so I'm not sure if this submission falls within their guidelines since it relates to that certain hockey team 75 miles to our north.

But the worst franchise in the history of professional sports lost a big game last night at "The Gahhden" and the Capitals pulled off a nice 4-3 overtime win over Detroit. It was all you could ask for if you're a supporter of the Caps and a non-supporter of the Flyers.

The Caps are now two points ahead of Detroit in the race for the second wild card spot in the NHL's Eastern Conference. And they've played one less game than the Red Wings, too.

Even better, with last night's Flyers OT loss in New York, Washington is now just one point behind the Flyers in 3rd place in the Metropolitan Division. The top 3 teams in each division automatically qualify for the post-season. The next two teams with the best record in the conference also earn a playoff spot as wild card entrants.

The Mona Lisa photo of all NHL photos. Flyers, dejected, after a tough loss.

The Caps have 11 games left, with 5 of those at home and 6 coming on the road. Two of those away contests will likely be of critical importance; April 9 at Detroit and April 16 at Philadelphia.

When you're fighting for your playoff lives and every point matters, each game is urgent, of course. But those two in particular stand out.

It won't be an easy road for the Capitals. They still have away games at Toronto and Carolina. Those two teams are all well-oiled and rolling. They face the Bruins twice, both in D.C. And even though they face the Sabres twice, it's worth noting that Buffalo -- not a playoff team in '23-24 -- has scored 18 more goals than Washington this season and can put the puck in the net with the best of them on any given night.

Although he failed to score last night, Alex Ovechkin's second half resurgence has certainly helped push the Caps into the playoff picture. After scoring just 8 goals in the team's first 43 games, the future Hall of Fame Capital has tallied 18 times in the last 25 games. What was once looking like a collosal egg-laying of a season has been turned around quite dramatically over the last two months.

The Caps are not without blemishes. They are essentially now down to one goaltender, with Charlie Lindgren clearly moving into the #1 spot on the depth chart and Darcy Kuemper only being used if Lindgren has malaria or something else that prohibits him from being able to stand up on skates.

Washington's defense, as we saw recently in a 7-3 thrashing at the hands of the Maple Leafs, is prone to an off night at the worst possible moment. The offense isn't great, even with Ovechkin turning things around of late. Without Dylan Strome and Connor McMichael, D.C. might be lucky to score twice a night.

But they are playing "up" as the season goes on, despite those warts. Maybe it was the departure of Evgeny Kuznetsov that galvanized them. Perhaps it had something to do with Anthony Mantha being shipped to Vegas at the trade deadlin. Whatever it might have been, the Caps are percolating nicely with three weeks left in the season.

Oh, and the Flyers have now lost 5 of their last 7 games, which is glorious to anyone who believes that evil doers deserve no good gains.

Their schedule is infinitely easier than the one facing the Capitals, so if Philly somehow squanders this playoff spot it will go down as one of the more epic choke jobs in their history. And that's saying something for a franchise that hasn't won a Stanley Cup since Elton John delivered one of his all-time great hits in 1975, Philadelphia Freedom.

I think the Capitals are going to make it, but it will likely come down to their final three games of the season, including the season-ender in Philly on April 16.

I also think the Flyers are going to make it, which, of course, isn't great for mankind.

But if the Caps somehow don't make it, we can always spend the first playoff series rooting for the team that winds up facing the Flyers.

Last night was a great night for sports fans everywhere.

The Caps won a big game.

The Flyers lost a big game.

As I always say, an angel earned their wings with that loss by Philadelphia.

And the Caps might just pull this off after all.


The PGA Tour moves to Texas this week for the Houston Open, which includes a great field. A bunch of the world's top players will compete in this event as their final tune-up for the Masters in two weeks.

From a wagering standpoint, this event is very enticing. It feels like the kind of tournament an off-the-radar screen betting card might wind up being profitable. We have six good ones for you, below.

Scottie Scheffler is in the field and the favorite at +260. You can go ahead and bet on him if you want but you're not getting a whole lot in return if he triumphs. I don't see any reason why he won't win, by the way. He's starting to enter "Tiger territory" in that you just assume he's going to win unless he doesn't.

Wyndham Clark (+1200) is also in this week's event in Houston. He's slowly starting to look like a guy who might be on the verge of breaking into the ranks of "elite" status on TOUR. If it's not Scheffler winning, it might well be Clark. Again, there's not much to be made there, but for those of you who still play fantasy golf, having one of those two on your team isn't a dumb idea.

Will Zalatoris (+2000) is also lurking. Despite a missed cut at the Players, it's apparent his back issues are a thing of the past and he's ready to once again join the list of top American players. A win for him this week wouldn't be surprising in the least, although he's been prone to one "off" round over four days.

But for our six, we're going more with recent form and that's about it. The golf course (Memorial Park) is relatively new to the TOUR's rota and the tournament has been, over the last three years, the 6th least predictive event on the entire PGA Tour schedule.

Si Woo Kim is enjoying a nice 2024 PGA Tour campaign. Could he be a winner in Houston this week? #DMD thinks so.

So we're not sure the course is a "horses for courses" kind of place just yet. There's just not enough data. But we like the chances of six guys who have been playing well and whose own data (shots gained: tee to green) supports their inclusion on our favorites list.

We suggest playing anyone above +2000 in win, top 10 and top 20 wagers.

Mackenzie Hughes was in the hunt all last week at the Valspar but couldn't produce the last round magic that Peter Malnati displayed. Hughes is especially interested in playing well this spring and summer because the Presidents Cup this year will be played in his native Canada. He's at +6000 this week, which seems like a great number for him.

Stephen Jaeger has quietly played the best golf of his career this season. He's yet to win or get himself into a final group on Sunday, but he's closing in on both of those features. He has to beat Scheffler and Clark (and several other top players) to win this week, but at +4500, he's a nice addition to your team.

If the favorites don't come through, we're thinking this is a great spot for Si Woo Kim to post a victory. Kim is at +3000 for the event, which is just about a perfect number for the win, top 10 and top 20 spots. I'd be surprised if he's not in contention on Sunday afternoon.

Alex Noren is precisely one of those "off the radar" screen guys we referenced above. He's too good not to win more than he does. And this week, if one of the big boys doesn't triumph, it could be Noren who sneaks into the winner's circle. He's at +3500.

We've been waiting a long time for Beau Hossler to win. In fact, truth be told, even if Hossler does triumph this week, we're probably still upside down on him for the years we've spent throwing a few bucks on him here and there. But he returns to his home state this week and we're just thinking that maybe, just maybe, this is his breakthrough event. He's a great find at +5500.

And speaking of guys who are ready to break through, we're going with an old standby in Sahith Theegala. Memorial Park is a bit of a wide open place, for TOUR standards, and the pressure won't be on Theegala to hit every tee ball dead straight. His occasionally wild driver is his achilles heel. That might not matter all that much in Houston. His number (+1800) is a little misplaced, we think, but he's worth the wager.


And now, let's finish up on our baseball picks for the 2024 campaign.

If you were around these parts yesterday, you saw that I went chalk-chalk in the National League and picked the Dodgers to beat the Braves in the NLCS. I just don't see anyone else being able to beat those two teams.

It's not quite the same in the American League, though. Sure, the Rangers are going to score a gazillion runs and the O's appear to be on a major upswing, but you have the Astros (always) lurking, the Mariners are improving and, I have to think at some point the Blue Jays are finally going to break through if their bullpen stays solid and intact.

Here's how we see things this season in the American League.


A.L. East -- It's definitely the Orioles division to lose. They were a 101-win team a year ago and essentially return the nucleus of that club minus Kyle Gibson and, for now, Kyle Bradish. But they've added Corbin Burnes, so that's pretty much a wash right there. Toronto and Tampa Bay will both immerse themselves in the playoff hunt. The Yankees? Age, injuries, etc. Forget them. And the Red Sox will labor in last place again, which is a real shame.

A.L. Central -- By far, this is the most luke warm division in all of sports, with perhaps only the NFC South in the mix with them. It feels like the Tigers are maybe a year away from taking over. The Twins and Guardians are both the perennial favorites here because no one else in the division is any good. Kansas City might be getting a little better. The White Sox might be getting a little worse, unfortunately.

A.L. West -- You have three teams, Rangers, Mariners and Astros, who can each potentially win the division. You have two teams, Angels and A's, who will be hard pressed to combine for 120 wins. Texas will again mash the ball everywhere. Seattle seems to have the best combination of hitting and pitching. And the Astros have the championship pedigree, still. This division might feature three 90 win teams.


Division winners --

East: Orioles

Central: Guardians

West: Mariners


Wild Card teams --

Rangers

Astros

Rays


Playoff breakdown --

Wild Card: Rays beat Guardians

Wild Card: Rangers beat Astros

ALDS: Orioles beat Rays

ALDS: Rangers beat Mariners

ALCS: Orioles beat Rangers


Tomorrow here at #DMD, we'll tell you how that Orioles/Dodgers World Series turns out.

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RANDY MORGAN
on American soccer


Americans are playing more and more of a vital role in international soccer these days, and Randy Morgan has his eyes on all of them for #DMD. Each week here, he looks at recent performances of American players and highlights upcoming games of importance.


nations league recap


In their first competitive action of a packed 2024 schedule, the US men took home their third straight CONCACAF Nations League trophy.

The US squeaked by Jamaica in the semis on Thursday then downed Mexico in a comprehensive “dos a cero” (2-0) win in Sunday’s final.

Despite concerns about his fitness level coming into the camp, Gio Reyna took home the Player of the Tournament award, coming off the bench to spark the US comeback against Jamaica with two assists and then scoring the second goal against Mexico.

The semifinal against Jamaica did not get off to a great start, as the Americans found themselves behind less than a minute into the game. The goal was somewhat fluky as Antonee Robinson couldn’t clear a throw-in on the edge of the US box and Bobby De Cordova-Reid lofted a cross to the back post where Greg Leigh had a clear run on to head it past Matt Turner.

Gio Reyna, the subject of much controversy at World Cup 2022, was the tournament MVP in the Nations League win for the United States.

Despite dominating possession and creating numerous chances, the US struggled to find an equalizing goal. Although they had over 80% possession and 20 shots to Jamaica’s 5, it took a Jamaica own goal in the fleeting seconds to miraculously send the game to overtime.

Miles Robinson glanced a header across the box off a Christian Pulisic corner kick and it pinged off the head of Jamaican attacker Corey Burke and into his own net to give the US a lifeline.

In overtime the US finally capitalized on their dominance. Six minutes into the first period of overtime, Gio Reyna won a ball in the middle of the field and quickly chipped a pass that put Haji Wright in on goal, who then finished with a left footed shot past the keeper.

Ten minutes later it was Reyna finding Wright through a tight window once again, where Wright settled and spun in the box before slotting it in the far corner, capping off the 3-1 win for the Americans.

The final didn’t require quite the drama of the first game as the US gradually pressed their talent advantage to a 2-0 win over rival Mexico.

Similar to the Jamaica game, the US had the better of the play in the first half but failed to generate much danger until Tyler Adams changed the game with a thunderbolt strike from long range just before halftime. Adams is not known as a goal scorer but this was one of the most aesthetically pleasing US goals in recent memory.

Throughout the game Mexico struggled to play through the US press, with the Americans consistently winning the ball back quickly whenever Mexico gained possession. With the lead in the second half the US amplified this advantage.

Mexico often resorted to hopeful long balls which resulted in a chance or two but were mostly handled with relative ease by the US back line and Matt Turner.

Then in the 63rd minute it was the man of the tournament providing another moment of brilliance for the US.

The sequence was initiated with Reyna picking off a Mexico pass and bursting into counterattack before he was dragged down for a yellow card and a free kick. He played the ensuing kick short to Pulisic on the wing, who then skinned his defender near the end line and sent in a dangerous low cross. Mexico cleared the cross, but only to the edge of the box where Reyna ran on to it and drilled a shot off the bounce, low and hard inside the near post to move the score to the trademark “dos a cero”.

Mexico had a few moments down the stretch, including a penalty that was reversed on VAR, but they never made the US too nervous and mostly grew more frustrated and petulant as the game went on.

Of course there were multiple stoppages towards the end of the game as the Mexican fans once again embarrassed themselves with their stupid chant that the federation refuses to actually punish them for.


Takeaways –

With one title under their belt already, the US will look to build off the momentum of these two wins as they head into a summer with a Copa America on home soil and the Olympics in Paris. Two things became apparent in this window, but there also remain some questions for the summer.

The first takeaway is that the US is clearly a tier above the rest of the region at this point. Canada has some very talented players, but their federation is a disorganized mess and this game once again demonstrated the definitive talent gap between the US and Mexico.

El Tri simply did not have players at the skill level of Gio Reyna, Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie and Sergino Dest, who could eliminate multiple defenders on their own and stress the opposing defense.

Their most pedigreed player, defensive midfielder Edson Alvarez of West Ham, got flustered by the end of the game and lost his head, getting lucky to not be sent off for a late studs up slide tackle into Weston McKennie. The US is just producing more top end talent and a larger depth of talent than their southern rivals and it shows in the results, with the Americans unbeaten in their last seven matchups.

From a US roster perspective, it was evident from these two games that no matter what is going on at his club, Gio Reyna must start in the US midfield whenever he is healthy. He possesses a skill set that no one else can replicate. Not only is he one of the best Americans in one-on-one attacking situations, but his ability to effortlessly pick out passes in the final third is a level above anyone on the team.

In the Mexico match he was playing a little different role, dropping deep in the US setup to receive balls from the backline and initiate attacking sequences instead of setting up goals around the box. Additionally, what really stood out to me in each game was his tackling and willingness to aggressively get stuck-in to challenges.

Both of the goals Reyna assisted against Jamaica came from winning balls in the middle of the field and he didn’t shy away from physical battles against Mexico either. His physicality was part of the reason Alvarez got so frustrated.

It remains a bit of a mystery to me why Gio has not found more playing time in his club career. Perhaps he has an attitude problem or maybe he needs to work harder in training or it may be he just hasn’t found the right coach/club fit.

Whatever it is, he needs to get it sorted out, because he has the pure talent to be the best player the US has ever produced, and it would be a shame for him to not realize his true potential.

A couple of questions remain for Gregg Berhalter as the team prepares for some stiff competition this summer in the Copa America. The optimal center back pairing continues to be a debate. Chris Richards and Miles Robinson were a mixed bag with some good and some bad.

Richards showed his upside with his ability to hit passes with either foot and the athleticism to contain attackers like Mexico’s Chucky Lozano. However he also had a few sloppy moments and poor decisions. Robinson has great athleticism as well, but had some iffy moments himself and doesn’t bring much in the way of passing ball progression.

On the other hand, Tim Ream got the start against Mexico and demonstrated that he can largely make up for his athletic limitations with his reading of the game and his positioning. He also remains the best passer from the back line, helping to break presses and initiate attacks.

The other question mark in the lineup comes up top, where the striker competition remains open. Folarin Balogun started in the semifinal against Jamaica but had a quiet game and didn’t make much impact off the bench against Mexico. After scoring two goals to save the US in overtime against Jamaica, Haji Wright got the start in the final, but he too was mostly ineffective.

Ricardo Pepi got into the Jamaica game in the second half and found some advantageous positions but couldn’t finish a tough chance when Pulisic found him with a cross into the box.

Each of the striker options has different strengths. Balogun has the most overall talent of the group, combining skill with physicality, but he hasn’t quite clicked yet in the US setup. Josh Sargent, who missed this window with a minor injury, is having the most productive club season, putting up some of the most efficient goal scoring numbers in the English Championship (2nd division).

Meanwhile, Ricardo Pepi has the highest upside of all the options and has been effective in limited time for PSV this season. Haji Wright has had a strong season for Coventry City in the Championship and has had a knack for scoring in big moments for the US, with a goal in the World Cup against the Netherlands and the two against Jamaica.

It should be a good competition down the stretch of the club season as these guys all battle to see who will get the invite this summer. There’s also a decent chance that whoever doesn’t make the full US team for the Copa America will still get a chance to prove themselves with the U-23 team at the Olympics.

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Tuesday
March 26, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3504


we know you're honest, shohei


Shohei Ohtani went to great lengths on Monday to openly discuss and explain his involvement -- or lack thereof, really -- in the spiraling sports wagering story that has thrown the Japanese star directly into a delicate spotlight.

Nothing he said on Monday was a surprise, really.

Ohtani's former interpreter stole $4.5 million from him, essentially, and funneled that money to a bookmaker to pay off his gambling debt.

Check.

The Los Angeles Dodgers star had no idea his former interpreter/employee was betting on sports and running up a huge gambling bill.

Shohei Ohtani addressed the media on Monday and refuted a gambling story that tied him to a $4.5 million debt.

Check.

Ohtani had no idea his account was being tapped into and funds were being transferred to the bookmaker.

Check.

And, most importantly, Ohtani himself has never once bet on sports, including baseball. Not once. Never.

Check.

It seems like we're all done with this story.

Sure, the law enforcement folks aren't done with it. They're still investigating the theft and will likely continue to do so until some kind of arrest is made.

If this plays out as we think it might, the interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, is potentially going to jail. Any amount that's stolen is an issue, of course. But it's one thing to steal $4,500 or $45,000 from someone. It's another thing, completely, to steal $4.5 million.

Ohtani's image has been tarnished for the time being, but in the end, all will be forgotten.

I'm sure his future employees will be more carefully vetted, for starters.

And someone he trusts will be in charge of the baseball star's finances.

Fortunately, though, for the sport both in the U.S. and Japan, this was simply a case of a friend getting too close for his own comfort.

Ohtani has learned his lesson.

Now......back to baseball.


And there's yet one more gambling story making the rounds today and this one has a lot more meat on the bone than the one involving Shohei Ohtani.

Toronto Raptors member Jontay Porter is under investigation for two games in particular in which his production and playing time were part of a massive betting irregularity on several prop bets involving him, directly.

Unless this is the coincidence of all coincidences, Porter is going to be linked via an easy "connect-the-dots" angle.

In a game on Jan. 26 against the Los Angeles Clippers, there was increased betting interest on the under for Porter props, which for the night were set at 5.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists. There was also an over/under for Porter's made 3-pointers, which was 0.5.

In the game, Porter played only four minutes before leaving the contest because of what the Raptors said was an aggravation of an eye injury he had suffered four days earlier in a game against the Memphis Grizzlies. Porter did not score against the Clippers that night but had three rebounds and one assist, and he did not attempt a 3, meaning the under hit on all of four of the prop bets.

The next day, as part of their daily report to users on betting results, DraftKings reported that the under on Porter's 3-pointers was the biggest money winner for bettors of any NBA player props from games the previous evening.

Weird, huh?

Two days later, by the way, Porter's eye injury was all cleared up and he scored 12 points, to go along with 7 rebounds and 3 assists, in 19 minutes of action.

You have to love those eye doctors in Toronto.

In a March 20th game against the Sacramento Kings, Porter played just three minutes before leaving the game because of what the Raptors said was an illness. He did not return. He did not score, attempted and missed one shot, and had two rebounds in his 3 minutes of action.

In that March 20th game, Porter's over/unders were set at 7.5 points and 5.5 rebounds.

The next day, DraftKings reported that Porter's prop bets were the leading moneymaker from the previous night in the NBA.

Isn't that strange?

By the way, in case you care or think it matters, Porter is on a two-way contract with the Raptors and makes $415,000 this season.

I mean, this one is so open and shut that Encyclopedia Brown would have it solved by page 14.

Jontay Porter has missed the Raptors' last two games due to "personal reasons".

I guess that's the fancy term for "being investigated for gambling involvement".


Without further adieu, let's get to the feature you've been waiting for since last October. It's #DMD's 2024 Baseball Predictions Preview.

We'll give you the National League today. The American League will follow on Wednesday.

You might recall that last year we had the O's making the playoffs as a wild card team before bowing out in the ALDS.

We got half of that one right. They bowed out in the ALDS, but as American League East champs.

We're looking to upgrade our picks in '24 and be a little more accurate.

Can Bryce Harper and Phillies unseat the Braves in the N.L. East?

In the National League East, it's obviously Atlanta and everyone else. The Phillies are good. The Marlins and Mets are probably going to hang around for a while. One of them will falter in July, the other might falter in September. The Nationals? Yeah, probably not going to get the job done.

The N.L. Central is a total crapshoot. Maybe the Reds? Or the Cubs? It looks like the Brewers and Cardinals are both in the beginning stages of a quick rebuild. The Pirates? They're the Pirates. Enough said.

The N.L. West will almost certainly go to the Dodgers unless something incredibly bizarre happens. Arizona can't possibly pull that rabbit out of their hat again. The Giants added some pieces in the off-season. They could hang around. San Diego had their window and it has closed. The Rockies will have a tough mountain to climb just to get to 75 wins.


Division winners --

East: Atlanta

Central: Cubs

West: Dodgers


Wild Card teams --

Phillies

Reds

Giants


Playoff breakdown --

Wild Card: Phillies beat Reds

Wild Card: Giants beat Cubs

NLDS: Braves beat Giants

NLDS: Dodgers beat Phillies

NLCS: Dodgers beat Braves


And this last note from the world of college basketball, where the Sweet Sixteen is set and we can now see just how much it costs for these schools to operate top-shelf programs.

Here are the operating costs of the Sweet Sixteen teams. These figures do NOT include NIL monies. This is how much it costs the schools themselves to field their men's basketball teams.

San Diego State - $7.2M

Clemson - $8M

Purdue - $8.8M

Houston - $9.8M

NC State - $10M

Creighton - $10.2M

Alabama - $10.9M

Arizona - $12.2M

Illinois - $13.2M

Tennessee - $14.3M

North Carolina - $14.4M

Iowa State - $15.2M

Marquette - $15.8M

Gonzaga - $17M

UConn - $24M

Duke - $28M

I don't know what to make of that, other than to say $15 million is a lot to spend on 12 kids and a coaching staff. I've noticed during the tournament at least four or five assistant coaches on every bench during the tournament. That's a lot of guys making $150,000.

Anyway, make of those figures what you will. Clemson spends $8 million on basketball. Duke spends $28 million. And, yet, here they are, both in the same spot.

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#dmd comments








Mike from Reisterstown     April 16
@DF, MFC, and others re the Masters greens throughout the week.



As Drew previously covered, this years Masters was like a US open in disguise. What really struck is the lack of come back spin on short wedge shots into the greens. It seems to me that the only shots that came back to the hole were the ones that used what Jonny Miller would call "side boards".



Did they change those greens?



I also heard that the sand is actually finely grained quartz to make it look so white? Any truth to that?




hal     April 16
Gotta give @MFC props I guess, he's willing to die on his little hills, no matter how wrong he is lol.

CIK     April 16
@MFC



How come men’s college basketball is ruined by NIL & the transfer portal…but the “women’s game is growing”? It can’t be fun for the men’s coaches…but the coaches of girls basketball are having a blast? What happens when the “Lia Thomas” of basketball comes along…just a dude dunking that little ball and nothing to see here? Nobody really cares about swimming…let’s see how that plays out on a basketball court. Should be interesting.

MFC     April 16
RC, have you been in a cave? Have you seen the tv ratings? They just sold out draft night in NY. (it was always free, no more) Maybe you don't care but the rest of America is waking up. More viewers than the men's final, some people actually care.

JWW     April 16
@CHRIS IN BELAIR



Agree mostly on the alibi for the AL division series vs. Texas. But that was played in two cities with a travel day in between. The same team? Sure. A traditional “sweep?” Not quite, IMHO. I’m okay with the asterisk.


Steve of Pimlico     April 16
@Richard ,I remember 50 some years ago when we couldn't stand the Bears

Randy     April 16
@Chris

Yes, Westburg has been hitting the ball really well. He was always a good hitter in the minors so its good to see it translating. He's actually 3rd in MLB in hard-hit percentage, behind only Witt Jr. and Gunnar.

Ron M     April 16
This so called documentary will play out like Spinal tap. The subject will be playing it straight, but the irony and unintended comedy will be what everyone remembers.

Larry     April 16
There is some irony in JeffWell using the words 'over the top hater', eh?

r.c.     April 16
As Richard points out, many of the youngsters manning up down the stretch have won titles in Hershey. They know the drill and it shows.

If Patrick Reed was the one who handed a note to Shipley, would we call that a "nothing burger"??

As DF pointed out, the kid made it a story, not the "lazy media". Media usually deserves the scorn it gets, not this time though.

And good god, will @MFC ever stop blabbering about women's bball? No. One. Cares

Richard     April 16
Being a huge fan of last year’s Calder Cup winning Hershey Bears, who are 52-13-0-5 this year, I guess I’m selfishly rooting for the Caps to lose, so that our 5 players, Iorio, Lapierre, Johansen, McIlrath, and Moroshenko,will be back to the Bears for the playoffs. Is that wrong?

Jeffwell     April 16
Will be watching to see if Karma rears its head in Philadelphia tonight. Not saying that the team deserves bad juju, but the over the top hater, probably.

Chris in Bel Air     April 16
Another excellent O's summary from Randy and completely agree on the pitching. Another player who has absolutely impressed so far is Westburg. Is it just clicking more for him how or is it Holliday knocking on the door and Mayo right behind him? All of the above? In any case, he's playing very well in all parts of his game. One little alibi, "The Orioles remain unswept *in the regular season* since the arrival of Rutschman. There was that one little series against Tex, last October :-(

Let's go Caps!

K.C.     April 16
I agree with @DF about the Tiger story. Just a lazy media looking for a story that isn't really there.

Ramey     April 16
For those who aren't aware, the title of the WNST documentary is "No one listens but everybody hears". And the little guy is claiming he's been in the media for 40 years and has been a sports radio owner for 25 years. Meanwhile it would seem the only two people he's going to mention in the doc are himself and Luke Jackson. How's that for self aggrandizing? As if Haney, Long, Conn, Forrester didn't exist. What a clown that guy is.

Such     April 16
Cedric Mullins is a ballplayer. Flat out. His catch last night was absolutely astonishing. I was fortunate enough to see it in person. And he follows it up with a homer later, because of course he did.

I agree with Randy; this team is going to need starting pitching in order to reach its full potential. It would be great if Means can come back and be his old self, but who knows? And counting on Bradish just seems so risky. I expect there will be some deals as we get into June and July.

MFC     April 16
Clark and Reese taking huge pay cuts to play in the WNBA. However I'm pretty certain the sponsorships will follow them. The #1 pick gets a 4 yr. deal worth a whopping $387,000, that's for 4 years NOT yearly.

I will give Reese credit she stole the night with her outfit. Far and away the best dressed. She looked like Whitney Houston in the Bodyguard when she was Queen of the Nile.

The evening however was the Caitlin Clark show. She was everywhere and seemingly on all evening.

The game is growing!



Upset by the reports about Rory but read today he's not going. Good for him but $850 million is a lot of money, not that he needs it. Maybe this is the impetus that gets things settled. Imagine $850mm spread over the golf season. Figure it out and stop all of the madness.



Anyone else notice how thin L. Jackson looked walking into the Castle. Wonder what's behind that, more speed?




Henry Wiler     April 16
God is a Flyers fan.

Tom J     April 16
@MFC.....coverage for the Masters starts at 2pm on the weekend days. They do it because they can.

Tom Mullens     April 15
The guy broke up with his fiance by text message. He told his agent that he wasn’t capable of representing somebody as good as he was. He ghosted his mentor and best friend when he won his second major. His word about LIV evil was good until his price was met. Don’t rely on him if your life ever depends on it.

MicMac     April 15
What's this I'm hearing about Rory McElroy being close to a deal with LIV? Last night (Monday) I was listening to the radio and they were saying that he's been offered $850 million to join and it looks like he's gonna do it. Then they started playing a bunch of sound bites where McElroy was saying he'd never play pro golf again if LIV was the only league, etc... Talk about a 180° and being hypocritical. Could there be a worse person to make the switch? Maybe Tiger, but McElroy was so outspoken against LIV that I don't know how he could ever live that down. Although he would have almost a billion reasons.

sammy     April 15
No matter what happens tomorrow, this Caps team has shown incredible grit. Between that and Carbery, I'm feeling pretty good about the Caps future. Being competitive without prime Ovie is a really good sign.

hal     April 15
Jealous? Ok "Bo", I'm sure in the future commenters will adhere to your sage advice lol.

Bo     April 15
It's amazing how many people here are jealous of DF's sage golf wisdom. No one can just say "Well done!"

MFC     April 15
Masters thoughts.

Changes to the course won't allow for the roars on the back nine. And when the new ball is in play you can really forget it. That's a shame.



Still ticks me off that they don't have tv coverage until 3 PM. I get it you're special and all of that but c'mon it's 2024. Yes you can stream but only featured groups and selected holes.



Tiger had one really bad round. Until that point he was what t-24 in making the cut. It was his iron and short game, which is confusing as it would seem to be less stress on the body. Congrats to him for showing up Sunday, shows the respect he has for the Masters. He was outdriving his partners.



Why did Ian Baker Finch have the most airtime on Sunday. It was like Nance and Immelmann weren't in the booth. No roars, no real excitement from the announcers. The shots and putts coming down the stretch were rather pedestrian, except for Scheffler and Adberg.



Adberg may be my new favorite player with how quick he plays.



Scheffler really seems like a great young man. Hope it continues.



LIV golfers and Greg Norman, take a hike.



In other golf news The Road is still alive in the MSGA A Team tournament. They have reached the quarterfinals. Huge weekend ahead. Sorry to report that Eagles Nest home of DMD's own DF did not make it past the first round, losing to the Naval Academy who then lost to Piney Branch in round 2.



Other topics, Caitlin Clark did a nice job on SNL Saturday. If you haven't seen, it's worth the search.


butch     April 15
Know what is worse than "I won this many dollars" stories?? The "I could have won this many dollars IF this happened or that happened".

Greg     April 15
Took DF's advice and played all 10 of his guys for $20 to finish Top 10 and $20 to finish Top 30.



Bet $400 and won $1660. Thanks DF!

Kyle P     April 15
If Aberg wins yesterday I win $1800 instead of $545. How is that dbag Larry?

larry     April 15
Agree with OG and RR. Betting $200 every week for the occasional "win" is a recipe for disaster. Sure, you'll be "happy" occasionally but in the end, not so much. No matter whose free advice you follow lol.

Ray Ray     April 15
old George ------- the irony is, the bets the chumps make pay for the commercials as well as make the stockholders of the companies wealthy.

Old George     April 15
If you're using your phone, tablet, or computer as the vehicle for placing bets, you have ZERO chance of a positive outcome in the long run. Unless you win one of the absolutely crazy bets that pays six figures, you are horsemeat. Some say that wagering is a form of entertainment. These folks are goofy -- who deems giving away money as a form of recreation? Better to make an imaginary bet in your mind and put the money in your Keough Plan or the fund for your kid's college education. These thousands of commercials on TV for various betting platforms are there for a reason. Don't be a chump.

Kyle P.     April 14
Bet $200, won a total of $545. You can say I'm pretty happy.

butch     April 14
The only thing more boring than golf stories is gambling stories. No one cares about someone else's bets, no offense.

JK     April 14
That CIK really knows his golf, can't you tell?

Mitch     April 14
LMAO, @DF had 4 of the top 10 players on his betting slip and these haters here will say "Anybody could do that."

CIK     April 14
Apparently Scheffler didn’t have the round 1 lead. I must of misunderstood what I was being told.

CIK     April 14
@Matt



Aren’t the payouts subject to be lower because of top 10 ties? A friend of mine had Scheffler 1st round leader for $25. He shared the lead with 2 others. The bet paid out $19 for a net loss of $6.

Matt C.     April 14
Here's what I am facing today.



If Scheff, Collin and Aberg all finish top 10 today but one of them doesn't win, I will clear $340.



If Scheff wins and the other 2 finish top 10 I clear $670.



If Morikawa wins and the other 2 finish top 10 I clear $2100.



If Aberg wins and the other 2 finish top 10 I clear $2860.




kj     April 14
People worrying about a baseball team in mid-April need to get a grip. They don't give out awards in April, nor will any team bury itself after 15 games. And love when fans "demand" Elias fix something. If any O's fan is not comfortable with Elias running this team, might be time to adopt a new team to root for

Unitastoberry     April 14
You have to wait until Mothers Day at least to get a feel for how this season will play out. For example Mike Cuellar could not pitch for you know what until the cold was totally gone. Just like some QBs can't play in the cold. Main thing is to stay healthy.

TimD in Timonium     April 14
Worried about the O's? in mid-April. Nah. They can win high-scoring games too. And Burnes WILL get them back on track today.



Given the constant Tiger coverage this week by ESPN, his Saturday morning practice session had an "Oh, man. I can't believe I have to do this again" vibe.



See ya on the Senior Tour, Tiger.


Delray RICK     April 14
Back in the day CADILLAC was sponsor for MASTERS and they had one commercial, that's it.

Ray Ray     April 14
Fritz Peterson, who was a stalwart pitcher for the ineffectual Yankees of the late 1960s and early ’70s, but whose lingering renown derived more from one of baseball’s most notorious “trades” — his exchange of wives with a teammate — has died. He was 82.



None of Peterson’s on-field achievements or off-field eccentricities proved to be as memorable as the disclosure, in March 1973, that he and another Yankee pitcher, Mike Kekich, were living in each other’s house with each other’s wife and children. As a headline in The Daily News declared, “2 Yank Pitchers Trade Wives: Peterson, Kekich Hurl Change-Ups.”



Peterson’s memoir, “Mickey Mantle Is Going to Heaven” (2009), is one of the odder artifacts of baseball literature. A combination of storytelling — from the ballpark and from the meandering path of Peterson’s journey to Christian evangelism — it ends several chapters by saying which of Peterson’s former teammates would go to heaven (Mantle and Bobby Murcer) and which would not (Bouton).




Billy     April 13
Picking Schefler and Morikawa is "amazing". JK sure knows golf lol.

larry     April 13
LOL @ JK.

Jk     April 13
3 guys in the current top 5 (4 pm) were DF picks. Scheffler, Morikawa, Aberg.



Amazing.

MUSHNICK     April 13
@delray dick



please stop slurping me - its unbecoming

Delray RICK     April 13
Another good article bout PHIL MUSHNICK on MESSIAH and he overtakes TV coverage from other golfers who aren't on nearly enough.

MFC     April 13
Tiger sets another record. Amazing, it’s not his driver that’s holding him back it’s his irons.

The collapse of JT and Harmon was incredible and if Hovland keeps composure he might be playing this weekend.



Just can’t understand The Masters not allowing total coverage until 3 PM.

I can stream but it’s limited.



The transfer portal and NIL continues to destroy college basketball. Forget hiring coaches they need fundraisers extraordinaire to be any good in this day and age.

James     April 13
Not a big Tiger fan but even I have to admit that was really special yesterday. Everyone is talking about Scheffler and Homa and no one is mentioning Bryson. I think he winds up winning.

Monday
March 25, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3503


now those are satisfying wins


In a year, thus far, where more uncommon names are winning than ever before, Peter Malnati came through in a big way on Sunday afternoon to win the PGA Tour event in Palm Harbor, Florida.

There are wins.

And then there are WINS.

Malnati's triumph yesterday was huge.

Sure, the $1.5 million winner's check was nice. In golf, that's a big check for a guy who is among the rank-and-file professionals trying to make a living on the PGA Tour.

Even if you're just a casual follower of the sport, you know the household names: Scheffler, Spieth, Cantlay, Thomas, Fowler, McIlroy, Tiger and so on.

Peter Malnati went 9 years in between wins on the PGA Tour before capturing the Valspar Championship yesterday at the Innisbrook Resort.

You don't know Peter Malnati.

But you do, now.

With his win yesterday, Malnati not only gets the $1.5 mil, he also makes a little trip to Augusta, Georgia in a couple of weeks.

On April 11, he'll achieve a lifelong dream of playing in the Masters.

"I don't have any idea where to start," he said yesterday with tears rolling down his face. "I guess we need a place to stay. I need to figure out the tickets and who in my family wants to go. How are we all getting there? Does my wife need help with the kids while I'm practicing and playing? It's a lot to take in right now. But I'll figure it out."

He also gets a 2-year exemption on TOUR. Unlike the players who jumped ship from the PGA Tour to the LIV life of luxury, a player on the PGA Tour has to earn his freedom. Malnati was essentially playing the 2024 TOUR campaign on a one-year contract. Play well, and you get to stick around. Play just OK, and it's back to the (Korn Ferry) minors.

You can't just freewheel it for two years, though. If you stink it up, you'll be back among the rank-and-file in three years time, trying to figure out, again, where it all went wrong.

Malnati also gets to play in the "majors" for the next two years and, this season, will also receive invites to the final four Signature Events on TOUR, where the best players gather to play for the most money.

His life on TOUR will be a little less tense for the next couple of years, but he knows the good golf must still continue.

Yesterday marked Malnati's second career win and first time in the winner's circle in 9 years.

"It's a great living, but it's a hard one," he said in tears on the 18th green. "I won when I first got out here and I figured it would be a regular occurrence. Then I went through a 3-year period where I couldn't do much right at all and I started to think about the responsibility I have to my family and how it might be time for me to look at other work."

Malnati broke down when his children surrounded him on the green. "When I won the first time, I didn't have them," he said. "I was playing a lot of golf and all I was worried about was making checks and money for me. Things change with children. You look at yourself and the world differently. I took a while to adjust to it because I wanted to win for them and my wife so much."

"This one feels great," he said. "Because I know I earned it. I know I beat a lot of really good players this week. This is why we all play golf. For this feeling right now."

When a casual observer of the sport wants to know the difference between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf, the TOUR should simply produce a 3-minute video of Malnati playing the 18th hole yesterday and then include the post-round interview in the video.

LIV golfers get their money handed over to them, in advance, as part of a poorly disguised attempt at sportswashing by the Saudi government. Performance matters very little. The money is already doled out.

PGA Tour players earn their money and their future security by playing great golf.

To anyone who understands the merits of a performance-based competition, the PGA Tour is king.

If you're a fan of easy street, LIV Golf is probably your thing.

Easy street is nice. But it doesn't build character.

Peter Malnati has character. He built it over 9 years of not winning and struggling to make ends meet while trying to provide for his family.


It's always good to see someone who has been maligned and criticized have things swing in their favor.

Enter U.S. soccer coach Gregg Berhalter.

After the U.S. bowed out of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, Berhalter was the chief recipient of most of the blame.

He even lost his job for roughly 9 months while the U.S. Soccer Federation investigated him for a bogus, two decades old domestic violence issue and sifted through evidence from current and former players regarding his coaching acumen.

Last night in Arlington, Texas, Berhalter's U.S. team defeated Mexico (again), 2-0, to win the Nations League championship.

It's not the World Cup. Or anything even close to it.

U.S. men's soccer coach Gregg Berhalter led the Americans to an impressive 2-0 win over Mexico last night in the Nations League title game.

But it's a tournament title. And it's an important one because it comes against the main rivals of the U.S. in the CONCACAF region.

Sure, they needed a bit of a miracle just to reach the Final after pulling off a 3-1 OT win over Jamaica last Thursday in the semifinals. But what's better? Needing a miracle to win and producing one. Or needing a miracle to win and not producing one?

Last night's performance for the U.S. was one of the most impressive of the last three years for Berhalter's squad.

Goals from Tyler Adams and Gio Reyna supported a staunch defensive effort that left -- here's a shocker for you -- the Mexican side spending most of the final 20 minutes trying to break as many U.S. ankles as they could.

In the end, it was an American triumph and a showcase night for Berhalter, the oft-criticized boss of the U.S. side who still, to this day, faces claims of "he can't coach a lick" despite the U.S. winning far more meaningful games than they've lost in his tenure.

Reyna was one of the U.S. heroes last night, which added even more irony to the evening because it was his relationship with Berhalter at Qatar 2022 that started the entire "investigation" by the USSF.

The story there isn't really worth rehashing, but it looked and smelled like a scene from Little League baseball. Reyna's parents were mad that their son wasn't getting playing time in the World Cup, so they leaked a story about Berhalter and his now-wife from their college days in an effort to get revenge on the man who wouldn't put their son in the game.

To his credit, Berhalter didn't let that situation scar his belief in Reyna.

And last night, the coach and player were better for it, as Reyna notched the game's second goal to put the title in the bag for the American side.

As we see here in the "major" sports, everyone on the outside knows how to coach. And the coach, of course, doesn't know how to coach.

Berhalter's no different.

He's extremely polarizing. Some people think it's the players who kick the ball into the net. Other people think it's the coach's fault when the players don't kick the ball into the net.

The critics are quiet this morning, though.

Berhalter and the U.S. soccer team scored a huge win last night. It was, the complainers say, a win "in spite of the coach".

I see it this way: It was a win.

And a good win, at that.

Winston Churchill said: "We can achieve anything as long as we don't care who gets the credit."

Gregg Berhalter doesn't need credit. He just wants the win.

And last night, he scored a big one.

The critics have been silenced. For now.

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a visit with john rallo


Two years ago, I would have never thought about going to see a mixed martial arts fight card.

I wasn't interested.

Knew nothing about it.

And didn't really care to discover it, either.

But just like those neanderthals who think the Beatles are terrible only to find out how wonderfully crafted their music was, there's always time for growth.

I've grown to really admire mixed martial arts fighting. I'm not saying I watch it every week or plunk down $49.99 for a UFC fight card or anything like that.

But I've now been twice to see John Rallo's Shogun Fights event at the Maryland Live! Casino and I'm a certified "regular" there. I wouldn't miss it.

This Saturday night, they once again have a full fight card at Maryland Live!

If you've never been and you're willing to give it a shot, I promise you...it will be an enjoyable evening.

I spent some time recently chatting with Rallo about his promoting career and this Saturday's fight card. Please check it out below.




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Sunday
March 24, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3502


let's be thankful


Peter G. Angelos, who served as a majority owner of the Baltimore Orioles for more than 30 years, passed away on Saturday after a long illness.

He was 94 years old.

Angelos had not been directly involved in Orioles ownership decisions for more than four years. His sons, John and Louis, were chiefly responsible for the majority of significant baseball decisions made by the family during Peter's time away from the day-to-day operations.

Earlier this year, the Angelos family sold the Orioles franchise to Baltimore native David Rubenstein.

There are elements of the life of Peter G. Angelos that are without dispute.

He bought the baseball team for $173 million in 1993 and sold it for $1.725 billion some 31 years later. The Angelos family and the minority partners he brought into the franchise made a lot of money as a result of their ownership.

His ownership tenure in Baltimore was littered with good results, bad results and ugly results.

The team won 101 games last season and captured the American League East title, only to lose in three straight games to Texas in the ALDS.

The Orioles never advanced to a World Series under Peter's guidance. They advanced to the ALCS twice (1997 and 2014) and lost both times. And they were among the worst teams in baseball for a decade long period (2000-2010).

From a baseball standpoint, those are the facts.

Angelos was also involved in a controversial regional sports network deal with Major League Baseball and the Washington Nationals, one that is still being litigated to this day. When he was of sound mind and able to handle his own affairs, Angelos was known as a tenacious court room fighter. He never seemed afraid of a day in court.

But for all of the cynical opinions many people in Baltimore had for Peter Angelos, there was a side of him that not many witnessed.

He wanted it that way.

We all saw the public side of Peter Angelos. It was there, in the open. And we all had an opinion.

What we didn't get to observe, though, was the way he supported and uplifted the city of Baltimore in his own, private terms.

Angelos donated millions of dollars to charity throughout his life.

He was always about Baltimore, even if the way he ran the baseball franchise sometimes suggested he wasn't.

Charities and civic groups throughout Baltimore were the benefactors of his benevolence, but Angelos would never ask for or demand any kind of public praise or admiration.

In a world where nearly everyone in sports demands attention, Peter Angelos did many a favorable deed in Baltimore and very rarely ever said, "Look at me."

Yes, his speech at Cal Ripken's 2131 game was a source of ridicule and embarrassment. There were moments of his ownership tenure that certainly didn't show him in a positive light. To avoid those right now would be disingenous.

But now, upon reflection of his full and entire life, Peter Angelos should be appreciated.

He bought the Orioles in 1993 and kept them in our city.

His stewardship included labor strife, a steroids scandal and a complicated revenue sharing plan among the 30 MLB teams.

It wasn't easy to own the Orioles, even if the $1.725 billion price tag at the end made it all well worth it.

And now, upon his death, the logical and responsible thing for everyone to do is applaud Peter Angelos for the good that he did in our community.

He'll be thought of mainly as a baseball owner. The public eye is hard to remove yourself from once you've entered it. And people are far more prone to remember the bad than they are to applaud the good.

And for that, your scorecard on Angelos as a baseball owner is likely the same as most in town who followed the team.

But God keeps his own records.

While alive, Angelos shared his time, talent and treasure, as the Bible asks us to do while we're here on Earth.

Peter Angelos loved Baltimore.

Those of us that love it should ultimately be thankful for him, no matter the ups and downs of his baseball ownership tenure.

God put us here on earth not to own things, but to make an impact and make the world a better place.

Peter G. Angelos made Baltimore a better place.

We should remember him that way.


I noted in the Comments section where some folks were bellyaching about Jackson Holliday's demotion to Triple A Norfolk to start the season.

"Demotion" is probably unfair, since he was never promoted in the first place. But nearly everyone who watched the O's play this spring assumed Holliday was going to come north with the team for this week's season opening series vs. the Angels.

Mike Elias had other ideas, obviously.

I'll once again lean on what I've been saying about Orioles front office decisions for most of the last year.

If Mike Elias thinks it's best for Jackson Holliday to start the season in the minors, who am I to think otherwise? All the guy has done since he showed up here is generate success.

Holliday apparently needs to work on his defense. Fair enough.

He also needs to fare better against left handed pitching, Elias says. I get that, too.

The "service time" dilemma is most likely not an issue Elias is considering. That's my guess. I think Mike Elias wants to win baseball games in 2024.

If he thought Jackson Holliday was ready to play every day and help the O's win games right now, he'd start the season in Baltimore.

Holliday will be up soon enough. Early May? Mid May? After Memorial Day? Whenever it is, I'm sure he'll be ready.

In his tenure, Elias has had to handle two high-profile minor league promotions; Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson. Based on their respective performances, I'd say the GM knew exactly what he was doing.

Would it have been cool to see Holliday run down that orange carpet this Thursday and hit a double in his MLB debut in front of a sell-out crowd at Camden Yards? Of course.

Does it seem strange that Jackson Holliday might not be on the team's opening day roster but Kolten Wong, Tyler Nevin or Ryan McKenna might be? Sure does.

But Mike Elias knows what he's doing.

Has he been perfect? Of course not. But his track record is as impressive as The Beatles' White Album. Yes....it's that good.

And when Holliday is ready for Baltimore, Mike Elias will give the go-ahead and the former first round draft pick will never look back.


The final round of today's Valspar Championship in Palm Harbor, Florida is going to be fun to watch.

Keith Mitchell (-10) owns a 2-shot lead after a sizzling back nine that saw him play the final seven holes of Saturday's third round in birdie, par, birdie, par, birdie, birdie, eagle.

Mitchell holed out his 2nd shot into 18 to jump ahead of a jammed first page of the leaderboard. Seamus Power, Mackenzie Hughes and Peter Malnati are tied for second at 8-under-par.

Can Cameron Young rally from three strokes back to win his first ever PGA Tour event today at Innisbrook?

Three shots back are Cameron Young, Brendon Todd and Chandler Phillips.

Under normal circumstances, a 2 shot and 3 shot lead in a TOUR event is almost like having no lead at all.

But at the Copperhead course at Innisbrook, a multi-shot lead is huge. Mitchell could likely close out a trip to the winner's circle with a round of 68 (3-under par) or better today. Most weeks, a 68 in the final round would get you lapped by the field. But this golf course is much different.

Of those looking for a comeback victory, Cameron Young is probably the guy to watch the closest. He has yet to win on TOUR, so he definitely has the "it's his time" thing going for him. Young is also a player who can have an occasional out-of-this-world putting round jump up out of nowhere, like he did a couple of years ago on Sunday at the British Open.

If any of the guys 3 or 4 shots back are capable of storming past Mitchell with a round of 66 or 65 today, it's Young.

Mitchell is a remarkably steady and poised player, though. This event, where "good golf" is more important than club-head-speed, 340 yard drives and the pursuit of 10-under par rounds, fits his game and mentality perfectly. He's among the TOUR's steadiest performers from tee-to-green. It would not be a surprise at all today to see him neatly pick the course apart, make 4 birdies and a lone bogey, and post a nifty final round of 68 to win by a single shot.

As you watch the final round of today's event, here's something to remember. Mitchell is as close as you can probably get to having "just a regular guy" on the PGA Tour. He has the look of someone who would stroll up to Mount Pleasant at 2 pm on Sunday to "get a round in" because the kids went with their Uncle to the O's game and his wife and her sister are thrift shopping on the Eastern Shore.

"I used to be pretty good," he tells the group he joins on the first tee. Four hours later, he posts a round of 70 and the other three players recall over a beer in the clubhouse how "that guy never missed a shot."

Mitchell has the look of that particular golfer.

Nothing flamboyant.

Attire neat, but not extravagant.

He's just a guy who is really good at golf.

Here's hoping he wins today.

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Saturday
March 23, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3501


bracket, obliterated


I'm already done.

Not that I care, mind you. As I mentioned here earlier this week, I have close to ZERO interest in the men's basketball tournament if Maryland's not involved.

I filled out exactly one bracket, contributed $20 to charity in order to participate, and I'm already out of the tournament after Wisconsin slipped on the choke collar and it fit perfectly on Friday evening. The Badgers fell to James Madison last night in one of two 5/12 upsets.

So, the good news for me: I made a donation to charity.

The better news: I no longer have to sweat out any games over the next three weeks. I can go back to the real world and prepare for the only spring sports event that really matters, the Masters golf tournament. Or, as the members down there call it: the "Masters toon-a-mint".

Boys' Latin grad Cam Spencer and pre-tournament favorite UConn blasted #16 seed Stetson yesterday, 91-52.

32 games have been played thus far. What's the best anyone has done out there in #DMD world? Be honest. No sense in fibbing about something as (generally) meaningless as a basketball bracket contest. My 16-year old son, who will be the first to tell you he knows NOTHING about college basketball, somehow went 28-4. There are experts who follow the sport and they didn't go 28-4. That just goes to show you, I guess.

Remember the year George Mason went to the Final Four? My wife had that one. Yep, she did. But not because she knew anything about college basketball. Matchbox 20 was her favorite band in those days and she had recently seen them perform live at George Mason, so she figured she'd pick them to to the Final Four.

There were probably 50 people in the country that year who George Mason going to the Final Four. 49 people affiliated with the basketball program, like family members, and my wife.

I have UNC, Iowa State, Wisconsin and Tennessee in my Final Four.

If the remaining three of those teams escape this first weekend I'll be surprised.

The great equalizer in this tournament is actually a two-part theme: Lack of home court and lack of referees being swayed to favor the home team.

When you throw those two things into the mix, now you have a reasonably fair contest from the jump. Sure, for the most part, a year or two notwithstanding, the #1 seeds are just going to pound the #16 seeds. The #2 seeds usually toy with the #15 seeds, too. But after that, it starts to become more of a crap shoot.

I'd say, once you get past the 4/12 match-ups, you can probably make a fair analysis on all the rest of the games and pick anyone to win those. A 12 can beat a 5, as we've seen time and time again. An 11 can beat a 6. A 10 can beat a 7. It happens all the time.

The two equalizers: No home court and "fair" officiating.

Maybe I'm wrong on this, I don't know. But if Wisconsin played James Madison 10 times in Madison (Wisconsin, that is), they probably beat them 8 or 9 times. Move it to a neutral court and that becomes more like 6 out of 10. I'm no Stats Nerd -- we have one of those here, already -- but not having teams play at home probably changes the potential outcome of games by something like 25% or more.

All that said: It's not the same, at least to me, without Maryland in it.

And I don't know why. It's still fun to have Thursday and Friday with basketball from lunch until midnight. It will be fun today and tomorrow to have 8 games scattered throughout the afternoon and evening both days.

But this is not "required viewing" for me. I don't know, maybe I'm just old.

I can own that, I guess. I spent a lot of Friday night watching Padraig Harrington swing videos until my son came wandering in bragging about his bracket and laughing about how "I don't know anything and I'm beating all of my friends!" It was fun to sit with him for a little while and watch the games.

But as soon as he headed to bed, I went back to Harrington explaining how he stops his hands at impact in order to speed up the clubhead through impact.

Please, Kevin Willard, fix those Terps.


The Shohei Ohtani gambling story is going to be in full flight this coming week, it would appear. Major League Baseball announced their own investigation yesterday and says they will immediately start interviewing people, but because of MLBPA rules -- get this, it's hilarious -- Ohtani does not have to submit to the questioning or the interview because a criminal investigation is already underway.

Ohtani is now claiming his interpreter paid off a $4.5 million gambling debt using the star Japanese player's money without his consent. Originally, word was Ohtani had paid off the debt as a one-time measure of friendship, but that explanation has now been clarified to suggest the debt was paid off as a result of a theft, which triggered the criminal investigation.

There was a flurry of activity on Friday when a gambling watchdog website "apparently" matched three poor Ohtani performances with three large wagers on Angels games last season, but a few hours later it was reported those wager amounts were, in fact, not accurate. People will do anything for clicks these days.

Just like when The Beatles arrived and they were sensational right from the start, Ohtani has captured the hearts of baseball fans nationwide since coming over from Japan to play in the majors. If any part of this gambling story somehow connects him to the wagers that were made, it would be a massive blow to the league's credibility and, of course, Ohtani's as well.

That said, something I saw on the internet yesterday made me laugh so hard I nearly spit out my Royal Farms coffee.

"Welcome back in here to the ESPN DraftKings News Desk, where this baseball update is brought to you our friends at Fan Duel. We turn our attention now to the story out of Los Angeles involving Shohei Ohtani. Let's head out to L.A. and talk to Bob Schmedley, our Bet MGM Sports baseball analyst, for the latest update."

If not for gambling, baseball would be in trouble.

And now you're mad because one of the players is involved in.......gambling?

This is different than the days of Pete Rose. A) There was no association with gambling from a league standpoint back then. B) Gambling on sports was illegal. C) Pete was the manager of the team and he was betting on games involving his team.

If Ohtani somehow wagered on games he pitched or played in (which, I've said from the start, I don't believe he did that), he has to be suspended. No two ways about that. But there's nothing at all stopping any major league player from calling up a friend of his on a Thursday morning and saying, "Jones, the guy starting for us tonight, was out all night with a girl he met. He didn't stumble back into the lobby of the hotel until 10:30 am this morning. He looked like death warmed over."

Every player in the league can provide some kind of "private information", almost every day, whether it's about an undisclosed injury, a hangover, tension at home with the wife, etc.

And all of that information can be used to help gamblers.

Major League Baseball will conduct their "thorough investigation" because they have to conduct it now that the story is out. This would be akin to the PGA Tour investigating Tiger Woods or Rory McIlroy for something. It's NOT in the best interest of the TOUR to discover something about either of those two guys in the same way it's bad, bad, bad for business for MLB to find out something bad about Ohtani.

I can't see this really going anywhere, other than perhaps Ohtani's interpeter being pressured into admitting he stole the money and paid off his $4.5 million debt.

Oh, and that brings me to one final thing.

What kind of moron loses $4.5 million gambling on sports? At one point, maybe once you've lost $50,000, do you say, "You know, this gambling thing just isn't my bag. I'm not very good at it."

I get it. Gambling is an addiction and a disease. It generally doesn't go away itself. You need treatment once you get the point where it takes over your life.

But you have to be some kind of degenerate to lose $4.5 million. And you have to be really goofy to lose $4.5 million of someone else's money.


It's interesting that rolling the golf ball back isn't a topic this week at the PGA Tour event in Tampa, Florida, where 6-under par is the leading score through 36 holes.

The Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort is holding up just fine. Yes, I realize the field is just OK, with a large number of the top players taking the week off. But you have still 144 of the world's best 200 golfers on hand and the best they can do through two rounds is 6 under par.

Seeking his first win in almost two years, Justin Thomas is one shot off the lead through 36 holes at Innisbrook.

That goes to show you: If you make the golf course difficult, the scores will be reflective of that difficulty.

The Copperhead course is a tough test. The par 5's are fairly benign, which is where the bulk of the scoring takes place, but the five par 3's are very tough, which is where the majority of the high scores come in. And tournament organizers went out of their way this year to firm up the place, shutting it down to public play two weeks earlier than in previous years so they could prepare the layout the way they wanted.

The leaderboard is really wonky. Pre-tournament favorite Sam Burns is likely going to miss the cut, although a handful of players who weren't able to finish their 2nd round could falter this morning and move the cut line to +1. Jordan Spieth and Brian Harman are also on that same number and could miss the cut if things stay as they are and even par makes it.

Five guys are tied at 6-under: Stewart Cink, Mackenzie Hughes, Brendon Todd, Kevin Streelman and some dude named Chandler Phillips, who I thought was a character on "Friends". I've never heard of him before.

A few other prominent names are sniffing around through 36 holes, including Lucas Glover and Justin Thomas at 5-under and Cameron Young at 4-under par.

And if you think some of the big boys had a disaster at Innisbrook this week, they were on fire compared to our flatlined effort with our Wednesday picks.

Only Doug Ghim (even), Sam Ryder (-3) and Justin Thomas (-5) made the cut out of the 8 names we gave you.

For about 6 weeks we were the windshield.

This week, we're the bug.

That is, unless either Ryder, Ghim or Thomas happens to win. Our toes will be still be tappin' if that happens on Sunday.

Now...if the cut somehow slips back to 1 over par, then the likes of Sam Burns and Andrew Putnam make it and suddenly we have 5 of 8 playing the weekend and we're almost back to being the windshield again.

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Friday
March 22, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3500


friday ramblings


Don't look now, but today is the 3,500th issue of Drew's Morning Dish.

3,500 days. It's a nice round number. That's a lot of publishing and a lot of sports we've covered since August 25, 2014.

Thanks to all of you who have stopped by either occasionally or every day. Reggie Jackson thought he was the straw that stirred the drink, but it turns out that you are.

I'd love to know if there's anyone out there who has read this website every day for the last 3,500 days. You'd be on the honor system, of course, but if you've visited the website every day since August 25, 2014, please make yourself known in the Comments section below.


With Brandon Hyde pretty much granting Jorge Mateo a spot on the opening day roster during a conversation with the media yesterday, that makes it almost a done-deal that Jackson Holliday is going to start the regular season in the minor leagues. There could always be a late injury or a surprising DFA, of course, but those two scenarios seem unlikely.

I'm "eh, whatever" when it comes to Holliday's status to start the season. Would I like to see him with the club from start to finish in 2024? Sure. But if doesn't come up until mid-May, what's the difference, really? Maybe the O's go 28-20 without him and 30-18 with him. I have no idea.

I don't know the logic behind not bringing Holliday up to start the season, but I'm not the GM of the team. I'm sure Mike Elias sees something we don't or knows something we don't. He's pretty good, you might have figured out by now. It's a little bit like Steely Dan putting all of those great songs on the album, Aja. Why not save "Peg" or "Josie" for another album since you already had "Black Cow", "Home At Last", "Aja" and "Deacon Blues" on the Aja album?

In the end, I guess Walter Becker and Donald Fagen knew what they were doing. I also think Mike Elias knows what he's doing.

Mateo I can give or take. I see the reason(s) behind keeping him. He's going to play a lot against lefty starters, he's a fairly capable defensive replacement if you need one of those, and, of course, he's the fastest guy on the team. He's not a guy you'd want playing every day, that's for sure. But as one of the last guys on your bench? That works just fine.

Holliday will be up sooner rather than later and he's going to be a star. Mateo is just a guy, here for a little while, helping out where he can.

It's nothing to get bothered by.


The U.S. men's soccer team pulled a complete rabbit out of their hat last night in the Nations League semifinal vs. Jamaica, as the Americans were down to their last "engagement" (fancy soccer term for "final play") of the game, in extra time, before scoring the game-tying goal at the buzzer and then going on to win, 3-1.

Gregg Berhalter and the U.S. men's soccer team escaped with an improbable 3-1 win over Jamaica last night.

Because the Jamaican goalie laid on the ground for 20 seconds every time he collected a ball and a late Jamaican substitute took 45 seconds to stroll off the field while he was pulled from the game, the game official correctly added five minutes of extra time to the game clock.

In the 95th minute, on what was very much the final play of the game, the U.S. scored on a corner kick, with the ball actually deflecting into the net off the head of a Jamaican defender.

On this night, at least, the U.S. did not wind up waiting in vain.

The American side then got two extra time goals from Haji Wright on wonderful feeds from Gio Reyna to win, 3-1.

The U.S. will now face Mexico in the championship game on Sunday night.

During the contest, social media was on fire with commentary about the U.S. performance and their "useless" coach, Gregg Berhalter, whom many out there believe couldn't bag groceries, let alone coach a professional men's soccer team.

Berhalter, like he has done throughout his U.S. tenure, got the last laugh. Instead of bagging groceries, he bagged a trip to the Nations League final.


The Shohei Ohtani gambling story is probably about as big as it's going to get, but I'd still bet that Major League Baseball knows more of the details than they're letting on.

20 years ago, before baseball sold their soul to the gambling enterprises of the world, this would have been a massive story.

Now? Baseball can't make that big of a deal about it. They're in bed with every gambling house in the country, basically.

But it's still a slippery slope anytime a player in any league is connected with gambling on their own games and own sport. That one doesn't pass the sniff test.

Do I think Ohtani bet on baseball games? I most definitely don't.

Do I think his interpreter bet on baseball games? I don't know. He says he didn't. My guess is he didn't bet on baseball. That said, I don't know for sure that he didn't.

Did the interpreter bet on other sports? That's a definite yes. He even admitted as such.

As much as I'm aware betting on baseball, if you're in baseball, is definitely suspect, I don't quite see why a baseball guy betting on hockey games is a big deal.

Because he's an Ohtani employee, some people are going to say that the Japanese mega-star is responsible for the interpreter's conduct and willingness to obide by the rules.

I'm not sure I agree with that.

In fact, I'm actually quite sure I don't agree with that.

Now, Ohtani paying off the dude's $4.5 million gambling debt is a little bit of an odd twist, I'll admit that . I mean, the guy gambled and lost. Why pay his debts for him?

That said, Ohtani's probably hoping once he pays the debts off he'll never have to worry about this story again.

And let's face it, $4.5 million to Shohei Ohtani is akin to $200 to you and I. We don't necessarily like giving it away for no reason at all, but it's $200. It's not changing our lifestyle. And $4.5 million is not changing his, either.

You're probably shaking your head at that last sentence above like I am, right?

When $4.5 million isn't changing your lifestyle, something's probably out of whack with regard to your salary.


You may or may not have seen Nicolas Timberlake play for the Towson Tigers when he was a member of Pat Skerry's roster. But you're seeing Timberlake now if you're watching the NCAA basketball tournament.

Timberlake has taken advantage of some late season injuries to Bill Self's Kansas squad and is now in the starting backcourt for the Jayhawks. He scored 19 points last night in the 93-89 Kansas win over Samford.

He was a "good" player at Towson, which is to say, he filled a role for the Tigers and was a central figure for a Towson team that never really threatened to win a CAA title. When he announced last summer he was transferring to Kansas for his final collegiate campaign, most basketball folks in town giggled.

Timberlake might just be getting the last laugh, as his 19-point performance on Thursday evening helped Kansas get past a pesky Samford squad.


Longtime #DMD reader/contributor TimD in Timonium posed a question earlier this week about golf books and wanted me to list my top five.

I'm a golf book nerd, admittedly.

As my wife would certainly attest to, I have far, far too many golf books in our house. I'd say I have upwards of 100, at least.

Today's golf generation watches golf content on TV, mostly via YouTube or specialty channels on the internet.

30 years ago, I read about golf almost every day. Circa 2000 or so, I'd go through a golf book every month, maybe even two books a month.

That said, I'm now an ardent golf watcher like everyone else. If you're currently someone engaged in golf looking to get better, the very best YouTube "series" to check out is the one featuring Padraig Harrington's golf tips.

I'll get to the golf "books" in a second. Let me tell you about Harrington.

He's a very gifted communicator, in addition to being a world class player with 3 major championships. And Harrington really knows the golf swing, much more than you and I both figured he probably did when he was at the height of his game 15 years ago.

The video below is one of my favorites from Harrington. It's a terrific explanation of how your body works in the downswing and the training aid he uses is very functional and helpful.

Now, back to the books.

I've written this here before, so my #1 favorite is not "new news".

The best golf book I've ever read is written by two brothers, Pete and Fred Shoemaker. It's called Extraordinary Golf.

The book is, yes, extraordinary.

It's 90% about the way to approach the game of golf and 10% about your golf swing and how to make it work. It's not an instructional book, per se, but the entire manuscript is a lesson about golf. I offer this to anyone and everyone when I mention the book to them.

"If you buy Extraordinary Golf" and you read it front to back and you don't get anything out of it or think it's a terrible book, I'll buy it from you for whatever you paid for it."

I've recommended the book to hundreds of people. I've never had someone take me up on the offer.

Golf in the Kingdom was written by Michael Murphy back in 1971. It's a golf novel, yes, but it's much, much more than. Like Extraordinary Golf, the book is mostly about the appreciation of the journey one takes to discover why they love golf and why they want to get better at golf.

But there are lessons after lessons in the book itself. You just have to dig in and find them.

This next book is probably going to be hard to find, but if you can find it, buy it. Immediately. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Buy the book on the spot if you can get it. It's called The Inner Game of Golf by a tennis player named Timothy Gallwey.

He also wrote a similar book about tennis.

Gallwey's approach to golf instruction and teaching back in the 1970's was "new frontier" kind of stuff. He was so far ahead of his game it wasn't even funny. Like The Beatles did when they came to the U.S. and cut a new, amazing path in the world of music, Gallwey did the same thing in golf instruction, putting the spotlight on how your mind works during the swing.

This one might be a hard find, I don't know.

But grab it if you can.

There was a time, probably in the mid 2000's, when I was really into learning about the golf swing. The Stack and Tilt Golf Swing by creators Andy Plummer and Michael Bennett is an amazing instructional book that was one of the first of its kind to highlight the "ground force" concept that most of today's great instructors utilize in their teachings.

I had the pleasure of visiting with Plummer in Florida 15 years ago and playing a round of golf with him. He's a genius above whatever a genius is, honestly. His knowledge of the way your body works in the golf swing and how you can teach yourself to swing "from the ground up" is amazing.

The book is, frankly, a smidgen complicated, but there are several key points you have to master and then you're on your way. Learning where the low point is in your swing and how to control it is the paramount feature of "Stack and Tilt". Nothing more, nothing less. Once you've nailed that part of it, the rest falls into place.

And last but not least is probably my all-time favorite instructional book: LAWs of the Golf Swing, by Dr. Jim Suttie, Mike Adams and T.J. Tomasi.

As a golfer, you're put into three types: Leverage, Arc or Width. You're one of those three "kinds" of players and it's all dependent on your body size/type.

From there, you learn how to swing the golf club based on your body.

I also had the pleasure of visiting with Dr. Suttie a decade ago in Florida and spent an amazing afternoon with him talking about the book and the golf swing. He was a man in the golf world way before his time. He knew so much about the swing it was almost comical, and he could take one look at you and say, "Spread your arms as wide as you can and then reach down to the ground for me" and immediately tell you everything about your golf swing.

If you can get that book, get it. And read it. And discover if you're a Leverage, Arc or Width swinger of the golf club.

And now, here's the Padraig Harrington video I referenced above.



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faith in sports


FCA serves athletes and coaches all over the world. Many times here at #DMD, I give you a video presented by a well known athlete in the the professional and college ranks.

Today, you're going to hear from Sarah Narbone.

I know what you're thinking. "Who is she?"

Pour yourself a cup of coffee and give this video 10 minutes of your time.

Narbone is a gifted presenter of FCA's message.

Thanks, as always, to our friends at Freestate Electrical for their continued support of #DMD and our Friday feature, "Faith in Sports".



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JERRY'S TOYOTA banner
Thursday
March 21, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3499


hanging around the cardinals, part 3


An observer asks Calvert Hall head golf coach Drew Forrester how he knows when the team is ready for the season that starts on March 20.

Forrester laughs.

"You know when that first match is over and you see the final score," he says. "There have been years when we've worked hard in pre-season, did what we thought were 'the right things', and then we lost the opening match. Were we ready? Could we have done more? You never know, I guess. But you put a lot of emphasis on that first match because it does tell a bit of a story."

On this day at Hillendale, the Cardinals are early in the qualifying tournament the program stages to determine who will play in the first three of their twelve regular season matches.

"We're seeing some really good things from players that didn't get much playing time last season," Forrester states. "You like to see that from them, because, for the most part, these guys do almost all of their improving on their own, in the summer and fall months."

The team gets together several times a month during the fall once school begins. Forrester says while that's helpful, it's not always the best barometer of what's to come in the spring.

"I've seen a lot of young players hit the ball great on the range in October or shoot a 9-hole round of 38 at Country Club of Maryland on a nice, 70 degree fall day," the coach explains. "Then March rolls around and it's 48 and breezy and we're doing qualifying and they post 44 every time we go out. For better or worse, we're a spring sport. And we know what means in Maryland. 55 degrees one day, 35 degrees the next day. But you have to be able to play in that kind of weather."

"But some of the players who didn't play much last season that are showing good signs so far this year have definitely stepped up their games. Maybe it was winning the championship last spring and not playing that motivated them. It's tough when you're not playing, I know that. So whatever it took to get them to go out over the last 10 months and improve, I'm all for it."

Several of the team's players are just finishing up winter sports at Calvert Hall. Forrester is asked if he's a fan of multi-sport high school athletes or would he prefer they just focus on golf.

"I think high school athletes should play every sport they can," he says. "I encourage it. Now, I'm also not going to lie and say it doesn't concern me when a kid is playing rec basketball on the weekends or indoor soccer on Tuesday nights, because you can get injured in January or February and that can linger into the spring. But it is what it is. You have to let them be kids, too."

"On the whole, though, I like to have kids on the golf team playing other sports here (at Calvert Hall). They develop good relationship skills with their teammates, they learn about other coaches, they get to win and lose, they stay in good physical shape. It's all a plus to me. As long as they don't get hurt, I'm good with it."

Forrester notes this year, alone, the golf team is comprised of soccer players, track and field athletes, wrestlers, swimmers and squash players. The coach mentions this is the first year in almost ten years the golf team hasn't had a hockey player on its roster.

"I've always been partial to hockey players," Forrester says with a smile. "It was my favorite sport growing up. And there are some definite synergies between the leverage that's used to shoot a hockey puck and swing a golf club. The movement is similar. And as a general rule, hockey players are tough. They practice every morning at 6:30 am. They're out there on the ice nearly every day of the week. They get bumps and bruises. And they just keep on playing."

"Not because my son swims, but I personally think swimming is the best thing a golfer can do for pre-season workout," Forrester states. "I've definitely seen a change in Ethan's golf over the last two years during the months of March and April because he's coming into the season fresh off of swimming every day for four months with the Calvert Hall swim team."

"The guys wouldn't like me much, but if we had access to the pool at school in the month of January, we'd be swimming every day, as a team, at some point. It might be 6:30 in the morning or 6:30 at night, but we'd be swimming. But our pool at Calvert Hall isn't available because the swim team is obviously using it. And that's fine. But it's a great workout for young athletes, even if you're not a great swimmer."

When asked what's the single most important attribute a high school golfer can have, Forrester doesn't hesitate.

"You have to be tough," he says. "It's a volatile sport. You play great today and lousy tomorrow. Sometimes you play great for three holes and then lousy for three holes. It's up and down, up and down, up and down. If you're not tough, it wears you out, quickly. The elements aren't always favorable in March and April. You're playing with two or three layers of clothing. You're playing golf courses that aren't always in prime condition in the winter months, which is understandable. Grass isn't growing much in February and March. You need to be tough to deal with all of that and still play good golf."

Forrester watches a group putt out on the 9th green in front of him.

"All four of those kids are tough," he says proudly. "They are good players. But more than that they are tough competitors. If you beat them in a match, you've accomplished something. They never, ever back down."

As the guest wraps up his day, he asks Forrester a final question: What's the most challenging part of coaching?

"It's the playing time issue," he quickly states. "They all can't play in the matches. As a coach, you want to reward them, somehow, for the work they put in. But only six guys can play, plus two others who play in what we call an "exhibition match". So, only eight guys to get to tee it up. The others have to watch. In almost any other sport, if the coach wants to get everyone into the game, he or she can do that. It doesn't work that way in golf. So the most challenging part is trying to reward the players who don't get much playing time. I try to remember that all the time. The guys that aren't playing, what are we doing for them?"

This is the final installment of the series, Hanging around the Cardinals. The author notes that Calvert Hall started its regular season on March 20 with a 12-9 win over McDonogh. Thank you to those of you who read this week's series.

This feature, along with other Calvert Hall pieces this week, was written by Greg Trehane, a former contributor to the City Paper in the 2000's who loves sports, photography and collecting vintage baseball cards. He will be contributing to #DMD throughout 2024 on Ravens, Orioles and stories of local interest.

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and my ncaa final four is...

During my weekly visit on Glenn Clark Radio yesterday, Clark and I discussed the NCAA basketball tournament.

"How many player's names do you know playing in the tournament?" Clark asked me.

My immediate first thought was, "Maybe none?"

#DMD goes with...North Carolina to win it all in this year's NCAA basketball tournament.

Then I gave it some consideration and realized I probably know the names of roughly ten players. A couple on Kansas, Wisconsin, North Carolina and so on.

This is all a way of telling you: Don't pay any attention to my bracket or my Final Four picks. I know next to nothing about this NCAA tournament.

There was a time, of course, when I'd be a maniac about it. I'd fill out a half dozen brackets. One would be my "real" bracket, the one I'd proudly claim was mine if things turned out favorably. Then I'd fill out a couple that were littered with upsets and upstarts, just to be able to say, "I told you those guys were going to make some noise" if it worked out that way.

That was then.

This is now.

I filled out exactly one bracket and it was to support a charitable endeavor that Clark's involved in. If not for that, I wouldn't have a bracket to my name.

So my one bracket has to fit all the angles. It's the one I'll stand by. It has a few upsets along the way and a pretty weird Final Four, too. I try to remember that someone "wacky" almost always makes it to the Final Four. Two of the #1 seeds generally don't make it to the Elite Eight. And so on.

So here's what you get from me.

My Final Four consists of Iowa State, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Tennessee.

I have Wisconsin beating Tennessee and North Carolina beating Iowa State, with North Carolina winning it all.

If I get two of the final four teams right, I'll be happy.

Here's the other funny thing. I don't even have a rooting interest in the tournament. I don't care who wins. I'm not "pulling" for anyone in particular.

I just want the tournament to come and go because I know what comes after March Madness: The Masters.

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RANDY MORGAN
on American soccer


Americans are playing more and more of a vital role in international soccer these days, and Randy Morgan has his eyes on all of them for #DMD. Each week here, he looks at recent performances of American players and highlights upcoming games of importance.


u.s. soccer update


The European season is about to enter its stretch run, but this week it breaks for international games. The US men will gather the first-choice players for their first competitive games since November to kick off an important year en route to hosting the 2026 World Cup.

The US will play Jamaica at 7pm on Thursday in Arlington, Texas in the CONCACAF Nations League Semifinal. If they win they will then play the winner of Panama and Mexico in the final on Sunday. If not, they’ll play the loser in the third place game.

These games are the first steps towards a crucial summer, where the US will host the Copa America against the best teams from South America. With the US automatically qualifying for the next World Cup, this will be the only major competition for the team and its biggest test before 2026.

In addition, the US will play in the Summer Olympics in Paris, with a team of mostly Under-23 players.

Closer to home, the US men will play one of their warm-up games for the Copa America just down the road, hosting Colombia on June 8th at Commanders Field in Landover, MD.

With the Nations League this week and the Copa America on the horizon, let’s take a look at the Nations League roster and a stock report for the current player pool to see who comes in hot and who has work to do.


Nations League Roster –

Matt Turner remains the starter and incumbent goalkeeper on the U.S. men's soccer team, but others are starting to press him for playing time.

GOALKEEPERS: Drake Callender (Inter Miami), Ethan Horvath (Cardiff City), Matt Turner (Nottingham Forest)

DEFENDERS: Sergiño Dest (PSV Eindhoven), Kristoffer Lund (Palermo), Mark McKenzie (Genk), Tim Ream (Fulham), Chris Richards (Crystal Palace), Antonee Robinson (Fulham), Miles Robinson (FC Cincinnati), Joe Scally (Borussia Mönchengladbach)

MIDFIELDERS: Tyler Adams (Bournemouth), Johnny Cardoso (Real Betis), Weston McKennie (Juventus), Yunus Musah (AC Milan), Gio Reyna (Nottingham Forest)

FORWARDS: Brenden Aaronson (Union Berlin), Folarin Balogun (Monaco), Malik Tillman (PSV Eindhoven), Ricardo Pepi (PSV Eindhoven), Christian Pulisic (AC Milan), Tim Weah (Juventus), Haji Wright (Coventry City)

There weren’t any real surprises on this roster. The biggest decisions came at striker and center back, but injuries largely made the choices for Gregg Berhalter.

Josh Sargent has been on fire, as we’ll discuss below, but unfortunately picked up an injury in his game last weekend and had to be replaced by a similarly hot Haji Wright. Luca de la Torre was also injured last week for Celta Vigo and he was replaced by Brenden Aaronson.

At center back, Cameron Carter-Vickers had a good case to be on this roster but has been dealing with nagging injuries for Celtic and was given the time to rest instead.

There aren’t a lot of questions with the starting lineup either. Sergino Dest is suspended for the game on Thursday due to his ball-punting antics in Trinidad. He will likely be replaced by Joe Scally at right-back, or potentially Tim Weah, if Gregg Berhalter opts for a more attacking lineup.

The other questions revolve around fitness. Tyler Adams is usually a locked-in starter at the base of the midfield, but he has just returned to action for Bournemouth this past week with a 19 minute cameo, his first Premier League minutes of the season. So it seems unlikely he’ll be able to play a full game. Berhalter may opt to instead start Johnny Cardoso, who has been one of the top US performers in Europe in 2024.

The other concern is Gio Reyna, who on talent alone would be a starter, but has yet to play more than 17 minutes this calendar year after his transfer to Nottingham Forest. He could be replaced by Malik Tillman, who has been playing well for PSV.


Stock Up –

As referenced above, Johnny Cardoso is one option to start in midfield this week. He is probably the most suitable replacement for Tyler Adams. Johnny has been a revelation since transferring to Real Betis in Spain in January.

He was instantly thrust into the starting lineup for Betis who sit 7th place in La Liga and he has made himself at home in their midfield. Cardoso has been solid defensively while bringing some goal and assist contributions in attack as well.

His standout play earned him a spot on stats site WhoScored’s February Team of the Month for La Liga. While he doesn’t possess quite the athleticism of Tyler Adams, Cardoso reads the game well and uses his body effectively to win challenges. He also brings poise on the ball and passes efficiently, preserving the flow of the offense.

PSV Eindhoven has continued to dominate the Dutch league since the last time we checked in and their American trio continue to play a key role. PSV remains undefeated in the league, with 23 wins and 3 draws. Sergino Dest has continued his solid play and has been one of if not the best fullbacks in the league, also playing well in PSV’s knockout round loss to Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League.

Malik Tillman has only grown his profile since the start of the new year. Tillman has worked his way into the PSV starting lineup and has produced the results to keep his spot. He has six goals and six assists in the league this year, providing the highlight for PSV this weekend when he tracked down a loose ball then assisted US teammate Ricardo Pepi for a game winning goal in the final seconds of a 1-0 win over FC Twente.

Pepi has been impressive as well. He hasn’t seen as many minutes as Dest and Tillman, stuck behind veteran Dutch striker Luuk de Jong, but Pepi has certainly made the most of his limited opportunities. His seven goals off the bench this season are tied for the most goals as a substitute for any player in Europe’s top ten leagues.

As mentioned above, Josh Sargent was another US player coming into this camp red-hot, though now missing due to injury. Sargent missed much of the early season for Norwich City with a long term injury, but has been outstanding since returning. He has racked up 13 goals in 18 games in the Championship.

His rate of nearly one goal per 90 minutes has made him one of the most efficient scorers in the league this season. While he won’t play in the Nations League semis, Sargent is making a strong case for himself to be on the Copa America roster if he can remain healthy.

Another American in the midst of an exceptional season is Antonee Robinson. The Fulham left back and USMNT mainstay has been one of the top performing fullbacks in the Premier League this season.

He has been in the stat site Fotmob’s Team of the Week several times since the turn of the year, notching a key assist with a well placed cross in a 3-0 win over Tottenham this past weekend. Robinson will be critical for the US in the Nations League and Copa America and could very well be in line for a move to an elite Premier League team this offseason.

Not to be left out, USMNT stars Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie are both enjoying sublime campaigns in Italy this season. Pulisic comes into this camp scorching, with goals in his last four games for AC Milan. He is having his most productive season of his career after the move to AC Milan, with 12 goals and 8 assists in all competitions and has been one of the best wingers in Italy this season.

Weston McKennie started the season with one foot out of the door at Juventus, with rumors swirling he would be transferred before the deadline. Since then he has solidified himself in the midfield of third place Juventus and has arguably been their best midfielder and among the best in the league. He enters camp with a pair of assists in two of his last three games and is a lock to start for the US when healthy.

A few others that have boosted their stock over the past few months are Folarin Balogun, Haji Wright, Luca de la Torre, Chris Richards and Kevin Paredes. Balogun hasn’t been as prolific a scorer as he was last season but he’s had some strong outings for Monaco over the past month, including a good performance against league leaders Paris St. Germain.

Chris Richards has become a regular starter for Crystal Palace over the course of the season, first as a defensive midfielder, but now at his preferred position of center back. He will likely start on Thursday for the US.

Kevin Paredes has likewise worked his way into a regular starting role for Wolfsburg in the German Bundesliga. He was a snub for this roster, and probably deserved a spot over Kristoffer Lund. However, Paredes is age-eligible for the Olympic roster and may be viewed as a key player for that team who is better served getting more playing time with that group.

Haji Wright has been hot of late for Coventry City in the Championship. Last weekend he assisted the game-tying goal and then scored the game winner in the final moments of their 3-2 win over Premier League club Wolves, to secure their spot in the FA Cup semifinals. Wright has 13 goals and 6 assists in the Championship this season as Coventry pushes for a promotion playoff spot.


Stock Down –

Gio Reyna remains a potentially important piece for the US team both this summer and in the future, but his loan to Nottingham Forest has not gone as anyone would have hoped. Reyna has yet to play more than 17 minutes in a game for his new team and has been left on the bench entirely in several recent games.

The loan has not garnered the increased minutes Reyna was looking for after struggling to find playing time for Borussia Dortmund. His talent on the ball is undeniable but his lack of breakthrough at a second club is certainly worrisome.

Also at Nottingham Forest, Matt Turner has seemingly lost his starting job, with the club bringing in another veteran goalie recently to usurp him. Turner is still the top choice for the US, but that may have more to do with the other options than his individual performance. Hopefully he can shake it off and still perform at a high level in a US shirt.

Brenden Aaronson is another one who has seen his minutes reduced dramatically. He was brought in to Union Berlin after Leeds got relegated last season and expected to be a key attacker for the German team. However, he has fallen out of favor and has only seen limited substitute minutes over the past months. He did manage to score a goal this past weekend to give him some momentum as an injury replacement on this US roster.

A few others whose stocks are slightly down are Yunus Musah, Tim Ream and Miles Robinson. Musah has had a solid season for AC Milan, but with several of their veteran midfielders returning from injury, he has seen his minutes reduced recently, mostly coming on as an impact sub in the second half of games.

He has also seen increased pressure on his spot in the US lineup, with a possible shift to use an attacking player like Gio Reyna or Malik Tillman in the midfield it means he could be squeezed out in certain matchups.

Tim Ream has seemed to only get better with age, but it's possible Father Time has finally started catching up with him this season. After missing some time with an injury, Ream has found it difficult to regain his starting job for Fulham as they shift to some younger center back options. It makes you wonder if Ream may be reaching the end of his Premier League career and might head back to the states to finish his time in MLS.

Miles Robinson’s stock is not necessarily down for anything performance related, but it was disappointing to see him make the lateral move to FC Cincinnati in MLS this offseason instead of taking on a bigger challenge in Europe.

His decision was ultimately financial, with MLS clubs offering a much better contract, but it does seem like it could cause his career to stagnate heading into a crucial few years for the USMNT.

JERRY'S TOYOTA banner
Wednesday
March 20, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3498


hanging around the cardinals, part 2


It's a cloudy but mild late winter day in Baltimore. The weather has turned unseasonably warm, which has made practice for the Calvert Hall Golf program lively and enjoyable.

"It will probably be 45 and windy next week when we start playing the matches," says Cardinals head coach Drew Forrester with a shake of the head. "We should have started the season this week, but who would have thought it would have been 65 and 70 degrees in mid-March?"

Calvert Hall's final full week of practice before the start of the season is filled with tension in spite of the balmy weather. Qualifying rounds are in full bloom and the team's roster for the first few matches is being formulated through a 54-hole test over six days.

"I say this all the time," Forrester states. "Not to brag about how tough these kids have it or anything like that. I just say it because it's true and it paints a picture about the character of golfers. We're one of the only sports where once you start, you're in for the entire duration of the competition."

Calvert Hall opens their 2023 title defense today against McDonogh at Woodholme CC.

Six players play in MIAA matches and they play 12 holes to determine the scoring that adds up to the final result.

"In baseball," Forrester explains, "if you're the pitcher and you give up 6 runs in the second inning, the manager comes out and says, 'Not your day today' and takes the ball from you and you go sit in the dugout. You're spared any further embarrassment. In football, if you're the defensive back and the same wide receiver beats you for a touchdown three times in the first half, you probably get pulled to start the third quarter and the coach says, 'Let's see if someone else can stop him'. In basketball, if you miss your first six shots the coach can pull you out and give you a breather on the bench and then put you back in later in the game."

"In golf, if you start the day double-bogey, double-bogey, double-bogey, there's no pulling you out," the coach continues. "There's no substitute waiting for you on the bench. You either dig in and figure it out on the 4th hole or you buckle up for the worst 2 hours you can imagine. In most other sports, you get time to take a break, reflect, catch your breath and gather yourself. In golf, once you start, there's no turning back. It's hard. The sport is hard to play and the team sport part of it is very difficult because you're out there by yourself for better or worse."

One Cardinal in particular is struggling through an uncharacteristically bad round when he approaches a tee box. Forrester and his assistant coach, Brian Hubbard, are scanning the scorecard as players tee off.

"How'd you make 6 at the first hole after that drive you hit?" Forrester asks the player. The two talk for thirty seconds before the players leave the teeing area.

"Two birdies in the last four holes changes everything," the coach says. He gets a thumbs up from the player as he walks away.

The next group hits into the 5th green at Hillendale. Forrester and Hubbard watch the play from behind the green.

"One out of ten times he can get this up and down from back here," Hubbard states. "It's quick going down to the hole."

The player, sophomore Ryan Hoffner, hits an excellent shot that appears for a minute like it might go in before stopping eight feet below the hole.

"Unreal," Forrester says. "There are guys on (PGA) Tour who couldn't hit it that close."

Hoffner unfortunately misses the putt for par but the two coaches have an encouraging word for him as he walks off the green. "You probably make six from there more often than you make four, actually," Forrester tells him. "Once you hit it back there, you needed to make four or five, max. Nothing higher. Good job."

As the players walk to the 6th tee, Forrester reminds them about the locations of the holes. "Pay attention to what you're doing," he says. "These cups are in similar spots to what we'll see during the season. That one on number 5 is there all the time. In the back right part of the green."

Practice concludes under a warm sky. Players are in short sleeves and the mood is light. The tension of qualifying isn't as evident as it was earlier in the week.

"The only way to get better is to compete," Forrester tells the team as they gather together. "It doesn't always go the way you want. That's when you start to improve. When you have an off day and you come back the next day and you're better, that's when you know things are starting to turn in your favor. And for those of you who had a good day today and played well, you should know that's not a given for tomorrow. You have to come back here ready to go again tomorrow because these guys behind you are going to push you."

The practice ends with a spiritual message from a player. There's applause and fist bumps as the players head off to the parking lot.

As a guest of the team leaves, he notices a lone figure still on the practice green, putting.

Forrester is asked if that's a good sign or a bad sign.

"Overall, it's a great sign," he says. "He didn't putt well today. And hasn't putted all that great in the qualifying rounds, I don't think. So the fact that he recognizes that and he wants to put some work in, by himself, is a great sign. (Ben) Hogan said it best. 'If you want to find the secret to golf you have to dig it out of the dirt'."


This feature, along with other Calvert Hall pieces this week, was written by Greg Trehane, a former contributor to the City Paper in the 2000's who loves sports, photography and collecting vintage baseball cards. He will be contributing to #DMD throughout 2024 on Ravens, Orioles and stories of local interest.


Scott Kremer asks -- "Any late season hopes for the Capitals to make a run? They're playing a lot better since the deadline."

DF says -- "I can not figure them out for the life of me. I don't think anyone can.

At this point, it looks like they're going to make the playoffs, which is kind of crazy considering their spotty play in January and February and the deals they made at the trade deadline.

I don't hold out much hope for an extended run but just making the playoffs after missing it last year would be a nice gift to the fans.

And to think they've done all of this with Ovechkin having the worst season of his career and Kuznestov having little impact and Backstrom no longer part of the team. It's definitely unexpected. But here they are, with a month left, and they have a real chance of making it."


John L. asks -- "The Orioles win 100 games and go to the World Series, Tiger wins his record breaking tournament in 2024, The Ravens start their 2024 season 10-0. Which one has the best chance of happening in your opinion?"

DF says -- "It's hard to predict the Ravens season without knowing their schedule, but no matter what it is, I don't see them starting 10-0. That one is the least of the three that could happen.

Tiger is going to have a tough time winning a tournament if all he's going to play in are the majors and one or two other tournaments along the way. It's hard to win any tournament, but it's really hard to win one when you only play in 6 or 8 of them.

Of those three things, the Orioles winning 100 games and going to the World Series is the one I'd think has the best chance of happening.

I know it's not easy to do that, as well. Winning 100 is very difficult. And then getting to the World Series is really hard.

But you're talking about a 48 year old golfer with a bad leg and a start to the football season that almost never happens.

I'll take the O's in this scenario. I wouldn't bet much on it happening, but that's who I would go with."


Noah asks -- "Is there a good putting drill for a teen ager who is just starting to enjoy golf but is having trouble with putting the ball way too far past the hole almost every time?"

DF says -- "Take a small piece of 2 x 4 if you have one, and lay it down horizontally about 15 inches behind the hole. Play a game with him for an iced tea or something. He gets 25 putts. His goal is to not hit the board more than 5 times. He will probably wind up missing most of the putts short, but that's the idea. Get him to learn how to "drip" the ball into the hole and see if that doesn't help.

Setting the board up behind the hole gives him a visual "stop sign", if you will, that tells him the ball has to come to rest before it hits the board.

In real golf, a putt that races past the hole 3 feet or so gets the same result as a putt that stops 3 feet short of the hole. But you're NEVER making a putt that stops short. Occasionally a putt that's intending to go past the hole can still fall in.

But you can't be hitting the ball past the hole by 3, 4 or 5 feet every time. So you teach speed control. The board should help him with that."

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valspar picks


The PGA Tour stays in Florida this week and heads just down the road to the Tampa Bay area for the annual journey across the famed Copperhead golf course at Innisbrook resort.

Other than a couple of years where Sam Burns lit it up, Copperhead usually gives the players all they can handle. Single digit winning scores aren't all that surprising at Innisbrook.

Two time Valspar champ Sam Burns is in the field this week as the TOUR closes in on the annual trip to Augusta National in a few weeks.

Accuracy off the tee is more important than length at Copperhead and the players with the best shots gained approach numbers usually reign supreme at the Valspar. Get it in the fairway and then get it on the green. That's the goal.

We're on a nice roll over the last four weeks. Here's to a fifth straight week of helping you make Ocean City vacation money.

Andrew Putnam (+7000) is quietly putting together a very nice last 12 months on the PGA Tour. It feels like a win is coming his way soon. While he might not have the game for a Signature event victory, an "off week" like this one at Valspar is right up his alley. We're thinking Putnam could be in one of the final two or three groups heading into Sunday.

Doug Ghim (+4500) has played great golf in 2024 and is one of those "under the radar screen" guys that is making a really nice check on a regular basis. He does everything well, but this season, in particular, his ball striking data is through the roof. The former University of Texas star is close to a break out moment. Might it come this week at Copperhead? We think it very well might.

Sam Ryder (+9500) might seem like an unlikely candidate this week, but he's coming in fresh off of a nice performance at The Players and a win here would follow right along with the TOUR's 2024 season to date. Meaning, someone "different" is winning most of the time, with only Scheffler and Matsuyama being the household name types who have ventured into the winner's circle thus far. Ryder's approach stats from 175-200 yards are as good as anyone's. We think there's a good chance he's in the hunt this week.

Tony Finau (+2800) is one of the "big names" in the field this week and, honestly, one of the only one of those we're favoring on our cards. Why? Mostly just a hunch. He didn't play particularly well last week at The Players but he did putt the greens there very well. If his putter stays cooperative this week, the driving accuracy and ball striking prowess should help him contend. We wouldn't be shocked at all to see Finau win the event.

Sepp Straka (+4500) is another one of those guys with great data on courses that demand precise ball striking both off the tee and on the approach shots. He has putted Florida greens well in the past (a win at the Honda in 2022), don't forget. He's only played the Valspar one other time (2019), but he was the first round leader that year. Comes in on the heels of a nice T16 pay day at The Players.

Aaron Rai (+5000) is one of those guys we think is going win on the TOUR this year, but we just don't know when and where to pencil him in. This is the week he might get that elusive "W". Rai is great in accuracy off the tee numbers and hits it far enough to have a shot at reaching the par 5's in two shots. Because Copperheard isn't a birdie-fest, he can get away with so-so numbers on the greens. If there's any wind at all, a score in the 10 or 12 under range might very well be enough. Rai can put up those kind of numbers.

It's hard to not include Sam Burns (+1200) on any of your cards because he's won at Copperhead twice and can make birdies in droves when his putter is "on". Like Scheffler was last week, Burns is almost a given to have a great chance to win over the weekend. His history at the course is just too hard to ignore. Unfortunately, you're not getting much back on your investment.

The same goes for Justin Thomas (+1600). At some point, he has to break out of this funk and win again. And this tournament, with just a "meh" field, might be the perfect chance for him to do that. I'd hate to not be on Thomas, even at +1600, when he does win again.

We're playing the first six heavily this week and sprinking win (only) money on Burns and Thomas because it feels like the obvious thing to do given their history at Innisbrook and their potential.

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Tuesday
March 19, 2024
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#3497


hanging around the cardinals


Reggae music seeps out of a speaker in a faded red golf bag with the words Calvert Hall in script along the side.

It's a Wednesday in early March and the Cardinals are immersed in a competitive qualifying round where spots are up for grabs in the team's first three matches that begin later in the month.

The music bumps along with the cadence of the clubs as senior Ryan Henneman approaches the green at Hillendale Country Club.

"It's not allowed in matches," Coach Drew Forrester says when he's asked about the music playing from a small speaker attached to Henneman's bag. "But I don't have a problem with it in practice as long as it's kept at a low volume and the others in the group are OK with it."

"The funniest thing about it," Forrester says, "is none of these guys know anything about Bob Marley. But they like his music."

The Cardinals might not know much about the legendary Jamaican singer and musician, but they do know golf. They're seeking to repeat as champions of the MIAA A-Conference in 2024. And with 12 of 15 players returning this spring, they have every reason to be excited.

"It's a great conference for golf," states Forrester, who guided the Cardinals to a title in 2013 in addition to the one they captured in 2023. "Every team has quality. There are some terrific future Division I college players amongst the seven teams."

Calvert Hall's roster features 10 seniors, 5 sophomores and 5 juniors. It's the biggest group Forrester has ever coached.

"It's all by design," he says. "The players we brought up from JV had accomplished all they could accomplish down there. They need to see what the next level is like. Varsity golf in the MIAA is a big step up from JV golf."

Among the JV call ups are Forrester's son, Ethan, who is a junior at Calvert Hall.

"This is new territory for me," the coach admits. "I taught him how to play golf, but I've never been his coach. It's a unique challenge. I have to wear the coach hat with him occasionally and then change into the Dad hat. I'm excited to have him on the team but at the same time, I want him to grow as a golfer and a student-athlete in the same way he would if someone else was the coach."

On this day in March, the Cardinals are moving freely through the front nine at Hillendale, which Forrester and his assistant coach, Brian Hubbard, keenly observe from afar.

Some days the coaches will follow along and watch the play, other times they'll station themselves at one or two holes and watch the player stream past them.

"I like it when they're uncomfortable in practice," Forrester claims. "If they can't play well because the coaches are hanging out watching them play, how are they going to play well in a match when everything's on the line and 20 or 30 people are out there watching them?"

The players play in groups of four, competing in a 9-hole qualifying round that is one of six such rounds they'll play to help the coaches determine who plays in the conference matches.

"54 holes is a lot of golf," Forrester states. "But we like that number for qualifying. It separates the pack. You have to play hard for six days. If you slip up and have two bad 9-hole rounds, you're in trouble."

Calvert Hall started preparing for the 2024 season in mid-January with after school workouts three days a week. They've been on the course for a month or so, a fact Forrester contends is one of the reasons why the Cardinals will be well prepared for their March 20 season opener.

"Thirteen of our twenty players shot a 9-hole round in the 30's during the first four days of qualifying," he says. "Two of the players haven't shot anything above 39 for 9 holes. Our scoring average through 4 rounds of qualifying for 20 players is 40.8 for 9 holes. We think a lot of that has to do with the fact that we've been "in season" for two months now, whether it was working out in January and February or playing golf in February and March."

Senior Sam Telljohann hits a shot into the 9th green that stops about 10 feet past the hole. "What a good shot that is, from that angle," Forrester says to Hubbard as they watch the group approach the green.

Telljohann was a starter and played all 14 matches for Calvert Hall a year ago. "He's been with us since 9th grade," Forrester says. "One of the nicest young men we've ever had in the program and a great competitor."

The environment on this day is competitive, but, as Forrester points out, that's all part of the plan.

"Brian (Hubbard) and I say this all the time. The idea is for the practices and qualifying to be more challenging and nerve-wracking than the actual matches themselves. We like competition. We want it to be friendly and fun, because at the end of the day we're on the same team, but we want our guys to think of it like they're playing in a real golf tournament."

Senior Caleb Itzoe finishes up his round and initiates the standard handshake amongst the group of players as one of them replaces the flagstick.

"Great playing Caleb," Telljohann says as he looks at the scorecard to verify his round.

"Get the scores right and sign off on them," Forrester reminds the players.

Assistant Coach Hubbard strolls down to the back of the 2nd green to observe a group finishing up their day on that hole while Forrester chats with several of the players who have finished their day.

"That pin on #7 is brutal," says someone sitting along the wall watching the final group play into the 9th hole.

"You've been playing the same pin for three days," Forrester says. "You should know where to hit it on the green and where not to hit it by now."

The cards get turned in and Forrester and Hubbard meet with the team. Senior Felix Endler leads the squad in a post practice prayer.

"Faith is an important part of what we do," the head coach states. "Everyone gets a chance to lead the team in prayer at some point during the season. We want them to be excited about leadership. They're at Calvert Hall to learn. We're trying to teach them to be great teammates and great leaders."

A day that started with players listening to reggae music ends in a circle near a practice green. Forrester reminds the players there's one day left of qualifying and a number of players are still in the running for open spots.

"Treat this just like you would a golf tournament," he says. "Drink some water, get your homework done if you have any. Get a good night's rest. Let's start getting ready mentally and physically for the season."

As the players gather their clubs and walk to the parking lot, Forrester nudges one of them and says, "Good playing today. You're right in it."

The player nods his head in agreement. "Thanks, Coach. I'm trying. I just need one more good day."


This feature, along with other Calvert Hall pieces this week, was written by Greg Trehane, a former contributor to the City Paper in the 2000's who loves sports, photography and collecting vintage baseball cards. He will be contributing to #DMD throughout 2024 on Ravens, Orioles and stories of local interest.

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"Randy On The O's"


Randy Morgan takes #DMD readers through the recent week in Orioles baseball as the Birds try to lay claim to a second straight A.L. East title.


Opening Day is fast approaching as the Orioles continue their preseason prep down in Florida.

Today we take a look at how the reigning AL East Champions stack up against the rest of the division heading into the new season.

Following the order of their finish from last year, we’ll check in on the roster additions and subtractions for each team, as well as their average projected 2024 win totals from multiple projection systems (Zips, Pecota, DraftKings).

We’ll also rank each team from best to worst in six categories: Starting Rotation, Bullpen, Catchers, Infield, Outfield and Overall Depth.


Baltimore Orioles

2023 Record: 101-61

Additions: Corbin Burnes, Craig Kimbrel

Subtractions: Kyle Gibson, Adam Frazier, Aaron Hicks, DL Hall

Average Projected Wins: 89.07

Odds to win Division: +205

Starting Rotation: 2nd

Bullpen: 2nd

Catchers: 1st

Infield: 2nd

Outfield: 4th

Depth: 1st

Dating back to the Buck Showalter days, the projection systems have always had a problem with the Orioles.

If you can remember back to last year, ZIPS was the most optimistic projection with the Orioles at 80 wins. We all know how accurate that was.

This year it seems nothing has changed. Despite finishing with the best record in the American League and over 100 wins, the projection systems are relatively down on the Orioles.

PECOTA projects just 86.7 wins for the Os, a drop off of over 14 wins from last year. Meanwhile ZIPS comes in at 90 wins and the betting over/under at DraftKings is set at 90.5 as of writing. To be sure, some regression is expected after last year’s dream regular season where the Orioles eclipsed their Pythagorean win expectation (based on run differential) by seven.

However, there are many reasons to think the Birds overall talent level will be improved in 2024, to help combat that regression. Most notably, the Orioles added one of the top starters in the game with the acquisition of Corbin Burnes.

In addition to Burnes and free agent closer Craig Kimbrel, the O’s will be augmented by the top prospect in all of baseball and Rookie of the Year favorite Jackson Holliday, who has done nothing to dampen the excitement with his spring performance.

It is reasonable to expect further improvement from their two young stars, Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson as well, two legitimate MVP candidates. The Orioles could also see the back end of the roster bolstered by their top ranked farm system, with promising prospects like Heston Kjerstad, Colton Cowser, and Coby Mayo fighting for big league spots.

Concerns remain in the Orioles starting rotation, with Kyle Bradish and John Means both scheduled to miss the early part of the season with injuries. They are replaced by Tyler Wells and Cole Irvin, who have both shown the ability to be solid starters at times.

If Bradish and Means can return for the majority of the season, the rotation should shape up pretty nicely, but if they end up missing significant time, it could hamper the O’s division-winning hopes. That top-ranked farm system could also come in handy to make any necessary trade deadline acquisitions to further push the team over the top.


Tampa Bay Rays

2023 Record: 96-63

Additions: Ryan Pepiot, Amed Rosario, Jonny DeLuca, Richie Palacios, Jose Caballero

Subtractions: Tyler Glasnow, Luke Raley, Manuel Margot, Jake Diekman, Robert Stephenson

Average Projected Wins: 84.87

Odds to win Division: +600

Starting Rotation: 4th

Bullpen: 1st

Catchers: 3rd

Infield: 1st

Outfield: 3rd

Depth: 2nd

Similar to the Orioles, the Rays continually defy expectations. They pushed the Birds to the final month of the season for the division title last year, despite losing their best position player and top starter midseason. They won’t see either of them returning this year, with McClanahan out with Tommy John recovery and Wander Franco unlikely to return to baseball anytime soon (if ever) due to his legal issues.

In addition, the Rays have suffered some severe attrition in free agency, with another key starter, Tyler Glasnow, heading to the Dodgers in the offseason. Two other starters, Drew Rasmussen and Jeffrey Springs, were injured earlier in 2023 and will likely miss the first half of the season.

On top of that, Taj Bradley suffered an injury in Spring Training that will keep him out for the start of the season. That is a lot of starting pitching to make up for in 2024.

All that being said, the Rays are probably being underrated by the projections and betting lines. Their bullpen looks formidable again and they always seem to work some magic to produce capable starters out of thin air.

Even without Franco they have the strongest infield in the division, led by Yandy Diaz and Isaac Paredes.

The Rays also could get a significant boost down the stretch if Rasmussen and Springs return to the rotation. Like the Orioles, the Rays have several top prospects, like #4 overall Junior Caminero, on the cusp of graduating to the major leagues. Dismiss the Rays at your own peril.


Vlad Guerrero Jr. and the Blue Jays are looking for a return to the post-season after a quick elimination by the Twins in 2023.

Toronto Blue Jays

2023 Record: 89-73

Additions: Justin Turner, Isiah Kiner-Falefa

Subtractions: Matt Chapman, Hyun Jin Ryu, Jordan Hicks

Average Projected Wins: 87.47

Odds to win Division: +400

Starting Rotation: 1st

Bullpen: 3rd

Catchers: 2nd

Infield: 3rd

Outfield: 2nd

Depth: 4th

The Blue Jays also lost some juice in free agency this offseason, with star third baseman Matt Chapman leaving for the Giants and last year’s trade deadline acquisition Jordan Hicks also departing. Those losses might suggest that the Jays will regress from their 89 wins last season, however, several of their stars underperformed in 2023 and a bounce back from a few of them could put Toronto back in convention again.

With the Rays severely depleted and a Yankees team that may not be as improved as they seem (see below), Toronto could end up being the toughest divisional competition for the O’s.

They still boast what is probably the best rotation in the division, headlined by former Oriole Kevin Gausman and have a lot of pop in their lineup to back it up.


New York Yankees

2023 Record: 82-80

Additions: Juan Soto, Marcus Stroman, Alex Verdugo, Trent Grisham

Subtractions: Luis Severino, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Kyle Higashoka, Jake Bauers

Average Projected Wins: 91.9

Odds to win Division: +165

Starting Rotation: 3rd

Bullpen: 4th

Catchers: 4th

Infield: 4th

Outfield: 1st

Depth: 3rd

Here are your consensus AL East division favorites. Consider me confused.

Yes, the Yankees have the star power, with arguably three of the top five players in the game with Aaron Judge, Juan Soto and Gerrit Cole.

Nevertheless, this exercise of ranking the strengths of each team has uncovered how shockingly top-heavy the Yankees are. Judge, Soto, and Cole are all exceptional players, but this is not the NFL or NBA where one QB or a couple of superstars can single handedly win a bunch of games.

Reigning Cy Young winner Gerrit Cole is likely to miss at least the first month or two with an elbow injury that sounds ominous.

Cole’s injury seems similar to the issue Kyle Bradish is dealing with, except Bradish has a several month head start in his recovery. Losing Cole for two months is a serious blow to New York’s division title hopes, but if he misses more time than that it could really sink their season.

Add to that concerns of the lingering toe injury that forced Judge to miss significant time in 2023 and you can already see the wheels starting to come off.

Of course, the one thing the Yankees always have to their advantage is a deep pocketbook and the ability to sign whoever they please for whatever price necessary, which they can use to help assuage these concerns.

However, that superpower may be waning a bit. Under the current luxury tax, any new player the Yankees sign will cost them almost twice as much as their contract because of their current obligations. Perhaps this is why they haven’t already signed remaining free agent prizes Blake Snell or Jordan Montgomery.

Behind Cole they do have last year’s big free agent addition, Carlos Rodon, who missed most of the season with an injury, but could be a significant rotation piece if he can return to his 2022 form. The Yankees also went out and signed Marcus Stroman to bolster their rotation in the winter.

After those two, the staff is not that impressive.

They will fill out their rotation with starters like Nestor Cortes, Clarke Schmidt and Cody Poteet. Cortes was good in 2022 but mediocre in 2023 as he battled injuries, while Schmidt and Poteet project to be mediocre at best.

The Yankees won 82 games last year which actually exceeded their Pythagorean expected win total of 78. In 2023 the Orioles were 19 wins better than the Yanks and even by underlying stats they were 16 wins better.

Is the addition of Soto and Stroman plus a fully healthy season from Judge enough to close that gap? Seems unlikely to me without some significant luck or a miracle recovery from Cole.


Boston Red Sox

2023 Record: 78-84

Additions: Lucas Giolito (injured), Liam Hendriks, Vaughn Grissom, Tyler O’Neill

Subtractions: James Paxton, Chris Sale, Alex Verdugo

Average Projected Wins: 78.6

Odds to win Division: +1600

Starting Rotation: 5th

Bullpen: 5th

Catchers: 5th

Infield: 5th

Outfield: 5th

Depth: 5th

There isn’t much to say about this team. The Red Sox stink.

Their big offseason acquisition was starter Lucas Giolito and he is already out for the season with an injury. The projections expect them to finish with a similar record to last season, but in a stacked AL East, even that seems like a difficult task. It's hard to picture many scenarios where they don’t finish last in the division.


My Projected Division Standings

1. Baltimore Orioles

2. Toronto Blue Jays

3. New York Yankees

4. Tampa Bay Rays

5. Boston Red Sox


As of this writing, there are still several online books where you can get the Orioles at +200 to win the division.

I’m not giving out any betting advice here, but that seems like a good price to me. Even with some expected regression in the intangible/luck department, the Birds have enough talent to hold off the overrated Yankees and potentially resurgent Blue Jays.

It’s baseball and it's a long season where anything can happen, but the Orioles significant advantage in depth of talent should make them the most able to withstand any injuries to key players while also giving them significant upside.

The Rays and their front office magic are always lurking as well, but after gaining some valuable seasoning and experience from their pennant winning run last year, the Orioles stand in a great place to repeat.

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Monday
March 18, 2024
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#3496


i've been telling you...


As far as golf tournament finishes go, that one in Florida yesterday was hard to beat.

Huge gallery on hand at the final green.

One man, left standing, with a 15-foot putt to win the whole thing.

And he rolls it in, much to the delight of the partisan crowd on hand.

"That's what champions do," said former President Donald Trump after he made the putt that earned him another club championship.

My guess is somewhere along the way over the final 18 holes yesterday, the former President broke a rule or two. But a win is a win, right?

OK, enough of the shenanigans. Let's talk about real golf and real triumph now.

The final 2 hours of yesterday's Players Championship was about as riveting as professional golf can get.

I love golf, obviously, and I'm the first guy to admit that most of the PGA Tour schedule runs together like a bad Beatles album. They aren't "awful" tournaments or anything like that. But a lot of the regular events are played on golf courses that just don't yield a lot of drama and high tension.

Make it 8 wins in 25 months for Scottie Scheffler after yesterday's stirring back nine rally and one-shot win at The Players Championship.

There's no arguing about yesterday's piece of property, though, or the excitement The Players seems to provide on an annual basis. It's the Masters without the green jacket, the PGA without the big trophy, the U.S. Open without the legacy and the British Open without the Claret Jug.

The Players Championship is golf's "5th major", even if the history books don't cement it as such. 20-under par was the winning score yesterday and no one seemed to care. If they tightened up the fairways by 20%, 10-under would be the winning score. TPC Sawgrass is a gem of a golf course, that's for sure.

And the player who won is certainly, now, starting to create a position for himself in the sport of golf that hasn't been seen since Tiger Woods circa 2000.

Scottie Scheffler is the best golfer on planet Earth.

I've won a tournament or three in my life. I've been the best player in my neighorhood and that felt great. I have no idea what it feels like, though, to be the golfer on the entire planet. That must be some kind of emotional high.

At one point on the back nine during Saturday's third round, Scheffler sat at 9-under par and trailed leader Wyndham Clark by 8 shots. Winning the tournament was starting to look like a mountain he couldn't climb.

Scheffler ran off three birdies to end his round and finish at 12-under, trailing eventual 54-hole leader Xander Schauffele by 5 shots.

And then, yesterday, he capped off one of the best finishes in tournament history with a blistering final round of 64, including a birdie at #16, a remarkable two-putt par at #17 and a fairway/green/two-putt at the final hole that firmly applied pressure to Schauffele and Clark.

Both of those guys stuck with it and had a chance for a playoff at the final hole, but it didn't materialize. Schauffele hit a whiffy drive on the 18th and couldn't get the ball close enough to have a legitimate birdie putt and Clark's attempt to create a playoff with Scheffler lipped out in shocking fashion.

"Cruelty on the 18th" was the Sirius/XM description as Clark's tying putt dove into the hole and spun out to give Scheffler his 8th career win.

Gritty Brian Harman also had a chance to make the playoff but his 18-foot putt at the last hole wouldn't drop. Much to the delight of "some of us" here at #DMD, Harman finished T2 at 19-under par and continues to show that last July's British Open triumph wasn't an outlier.

When the dust settled, it was Scheffler at 20-under with a second straight Players title, something that's never been done before.

I wrote this here last week and it rings even more true this morning: Scheffler's play over the last two years is the closest thing we've seen to Tiger in the last two decades.

What he did yesterday was akin to what Tiger would have done -- and did do -- time and time again during his career. Had Schauffele and/or Clark produced a round of 66 on Sunday, there wouldn't have been much Scheffler could have done. But they gave him hope. And a sliver of a chance. And, like Tiger circa 2000, Scheffler pounced.

The great ones are never out of it.

Scheffler, who won last week, too, you might remember, is a great one.

Clark is also a great one, but he has a long way to go to be mentioned in the same breath as Tiger Woods.

He'll win some more this season, you can count on that. There's a little tournament down in Georgia in a few weeks that might be to his liking, if you know what I mean. Clark is not a fluke or a one season wonder. He's found his stride.

Schauffele? The jury might still be out on him, as he found yet another way to fritter away a tournament he otherwise had in his grasp yesterday with two late bogeys and a missed 10-footer at the 17th hole that would have given him a share of the lead with Scheffler.

He's a great player, is "X", but he's not a great finisher. He's now 2-5 when he owns an outright 54 hole lead. Tiger had to giggle in his Grey Goose and O.J. yesterday when he saw The Golf Channel flash that statistic during the post-round press conference.

I'm sure Tiger wasn't snickering at Scottie Scheffler, though.

Because Woods knows, unless something really wacky happens at Augusta National, that he can't beat the big guy from Texas.

Scottie Scheffler is the best player in the world right now and it's not even close.


The March Madness brackets were released last night and, to no one's surprise, the enthusiasm level for the tournament drops down several notches here in the Free State when the Terps aren't invited to the dance.

Sure, I'm interested.

Of course you're going to fill out a bracket or three.

We will probably even have a contest of some kind on Tuesday or Wednesday here, like we always do.

But when Maryland isn't playing in the NCAA tournament, it's just not the same.

N.C. State helped wreck things with their surprising win over North Carolina. Teams like St. John's, Oklahoma and Pitt were left out after other conference tournament wins led to automatic invites.

It's the same old story. A few schools feel like they were treated unfairly, which, of course, means they should have won a few more games along the way and they wouldn't have been sweating their invite in the first place.

I'll have my (very) unofficial predictions for the tournament later this week. I don't know how many brackets you're filling out or how much money you'll spend/wager on the tournament, but I can tell you it's probably 100% more than I'll participate.

It's just not something that interests me all that much when Maryland isn't in the field. I know that sounds silly. But it's true.


Ramey asks -- "Hi Drew, question for your Mail Bag feature. What are the cons to the Orioles bringing up Jackson Holliday at the start of the season? I don't see many. Do you?"

DF says -- "The only one that really matters is he comes up too early, gets overmatched, loses his confidence, and stumbles through a bad rookie season.

I don't see that happening, by the way.

But that's the only major risk.

Sure, bringing him up now costs you a year of his service time, but if he wins the Rookie of the Year award you get either the 31st or 32nd pick in the 2025 draft. So that sort of evens out the service time issue in my opinion.

The reality is, unless you somehow sign them to an extension before their rookie deal expires, that almost all of the young, super-talented players, are eventually going to test free agency. Your best bet to making them happy is to treat them great right from jump street. And hope they remember that down the road.

"Service time" used to matter. Just like pitching wins and batting averaged used to matter. Service time doesn't really matter all that much any longer.

Bring the kid up and let's see what he can do. If he completely bottoms out after 4 weeks, ship him back to Norfolk for "seasoning". If not, let him be a big leaguer and learn all about the ups and downs right away."


Alex asks -- "I'm in a Masters contest where we have to pick 5 players on or before March 24 and then 3 more on the Monday of the tournament. Of the 5 you pick on March 24, only one is allowed to have a major championship. I need help, DF!"

DF says -- "OK, let's see what I can do for you. Just go ahead and put Scheffler in there on March 24 and get it over with. I realize everyone else in the pool you're in is probably going to have him, but you can't not have him on your roster of 8.

Now, four more who don't own a major: I know his form isn't very good right now and he's working on a swing tweak, but I have a funny feeling Viktor Hovland is going to play well there. I also love the golf game of Corey Conners and I think Augusta National is a really nice fit for his ball striking skills.

I'm going with my old standby, of course: Sungjae Im. I know his putter is very streaky, but if he keeps hitting it to 20 feet every hole, he's going to make a bunch one week and win something big.

Last but not least, let's go with a bit of a flyer and throw Sam Burns in there. I'm on him a lot and some weeks I get burned a lot. But he's just too good and too talented to not win a major at some point soon.

There's your five. Scheffler, Hovland, Conners, Im and Burns."


Will asks -- "Do you think the Steelers have upgraded their offense with the additions of Wilson and Fields at quarterback?"

DF says -- "Well, the easy answer is: Yes. Because anything was an upgrade. That's like asking: "Do you think The Little River Band was an upgrade over The Beatles". I mean.....sure.

I don't know what happened to Russell Wilson in Denver. It might just be that the sun has set on his career. I never thought he was a "great" quarterback in Seattle, frankly. I thought was very good at times, but nothing more than that. I assume he still has something left in the tank, but it might not be much.

Fields had some good days in Chicago, but he, too, might be more style than substance.

One thing for sure, though. Wilson and Fields are an upgrade over Pickett and Trubisky. Big time.

Now, is Pittsburgh a threat to the Ravens? I doubt it. But it is a quarterback's league, of course. And if Wilson and/or Fields has a nice year in 2024, who knows what that might do for the Steelers?"

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Sunday
March 17, 2024
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#3495


"x" is now the hunted


Xander Schauffele is, almost without question, one of the two or three best players in the world who has never won a major golf championship.

Whatever happens today at TPC Sawgrass, he still won't have one. The Players Championship is not a major. But it's everything a major is and should be, with a course that can reward or penalize, a remarkably talented field, and a huge, life-changing pay day for the guy who is left standing at the end.

Schauffele, who sits at 17-under par, has a gold medal from the 2020 Olympics. He has played Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teams. He has won in the U.S. and abroad.

But today would be different if he manages to hang on and win.

A victory at TPC Sawgrass would be, up to now, his career Mona Lisa.

Xander Schauffele has an Olympic gold medal in his career, but still lacks a significant PGA Tour win. He owns a 1-shot lead heading into today's final round at The Players Championship.

History is working against him, though.

Eight other players in the history of The Players have owned a 1-shot lead after 54 holes. None of those eight went on to win.

So Schauffele (pronounced: Shoff-a-lay, in case you're new to golf and aren't quite sure) will have to beat the course, several huge names lurking closely behind and the odds this afternoon if he wants to be a trend-breaker at the outstanding Pete Dye layout on the outskirts of Jacksonville, Florida.

It's not going to be easy, in other words.

The guy who owned a 4-shot lead after 36 holes is still right there. Wyndham Clark didn't have his best stuff on Saturday but still managed to piece together a representative round of 2-under par 70. His tee ball found the water at the iconic 17th hole, but he made a terrific bogey after his penalty drop and a nice par at the 18th to keep himself in today's final group with Schauffele.

Brian Harman, the lefty British Open champion from a year ago, is right there as well, trailing by just two shots at 15-under. Those of you might have heeded #DMD's pre-tournament advice and put a quid or two on Harman will have more than just a rooting interest today as the final round unfolds.

The flag on the 16th hole, the final par 5 on the course, will likely be placed in its usual Sunday location in the middle right portion of the green, with water all down the right side of the hole as players hit their approach shots into the green with $4.5 million on the line.

Why is that important?

Because as a southpaw, Harman can play away from the water with his second and still draw the ball comfortably into the green, like he did yesterday from 249 yards out. Right handed players will have to move the ball into the green from left to right which, while occasionally favorable, also leads to shots that start left but end up too far right...and water claims any ball that's hit 5 or 10 yards too far to the right.

If Harman can get near the lead going into the final three hole stretch, he might have a distinct advantage on the incoming stage.

Maverick McNealy and Matthew Fitzpatrick are next on the leaderboard at 13-under. The golf tournament is well within their respective grasps, particularly if they can carve into that deficit on the front nine. McNealy is not only looking for his first-ever big win, he's looking for just a win on TOUR, period. Fitzpatrick is used to winning, both here in the U.S. and in Europe. You couldn't have two opposite players at 13-under par.

And then there's Scottie Scheffler at 12-under par, 5 shots off the pace set by Schauffele. He claimed in his post-round press conference on Saturday to be "on the outside looking in", which could have been truthfully how he feels or a morsel of overconfidence he wanted to feed Schauffele, Clark, and those ahead of him.

Sure, it would require a blast of a final round from Scheffler and ho-hum golf from the leaders, but the 2022 Masters champion is far from out of it. A round of 64 is well within his reach and some kind of score like that would make the leaders press the gas pedal down the stretch.

Sahith Theegala, another #DMD play this week, joins Scheffler at 12-under par. He doesn't quite have Scottie's firepower tee-to-green, but he's extraordinarily talented. This might not be his week, but his big win is coming sometime soon.

So what happens today?

I think it's Wyndham Clark's tournament to lose, despite trailing by a shot going into the final round.

Schauffele has held 54 hole leads six times in his career. He went on to win two of those tournaments. He has not yet earned a distinction as a "closer" and, so, until he does that, I'll shy away from him. And while I don't put a whole lot of stock in the stat about 54-hole, 1-shot leaders being 0-8 at TPC Sawgrass, I think it moves to 0-9 after today.

It's difficult for any player to put together four stellar, mistake free rounds. It's golf. It's hard. Things happen. Clark had a "so-so" round yesterday and still shot 70, which is why building that four-shot advantage after 36 holes was so critically important for him. It gave him a chance to have an "off day" -- if 70 is an off-day -- and still be in the hunt.

I see Clark shooting 67 today on a difficult layout with tricky back-nine pin locations and winning by two shots over Schauffele, who produces his own round of 70. Scheffler finishes T3 with McNealy at 16-under.

If you're a golf novice and wonder about the uproar of this particular golf tournament, grab a refreshment and settle in front of the TV around 3:30 pm to catch the back nine of the leaders.

You're going to see great golf, heroic shots, failure, sadness and triumph over a 2-hour period. Guys will hit shots into #17 that will ultimately boost their back account by hundreds of thousands of dollars and a player or two will dump a shot into the water that surrounds that hole and potentially cost themselves a million bucks or more.

Most golf courses on the PGA Tour are just layouts with green grass and 18 flags out there. These players, the best in the world at their craft, just decimate those pieces of property over 72 holes.

But the golf course at TPC Sawgrass doesn't get decimated. Sure, a handful of guys handle it well over four days, but, in the end, the course will bear its teeth at just right the time.

Settle in for something special today in Ponte Vedra Beach.

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Saturday
March 16, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3494


how about we call him "win-dham"?


Before I get into a few topics people are definitely interested in, I'll touch on the subject some of you might be interested in here this morning.

Unfortunately, I don't have much to share about the departure of Calvert Hall basketball coach Gary Neal.

I know some of you expect some commentary from me about his tenure coming to an end but I don't have much of anything to say, really.

I like Gary and thought Gary did a good job at Calvert Hall.

The MIAA and the Baltimore Catholic League are very competitive. Even "good" programs can get relegated to the middle of the pack or below in those two leagues. There's excellent basketball being played in Baltimore. I thought Gary upgraded the program from the point where he took it over in the '21-22 season.

Sure, maybe I'm not willing to share other things I know or believe about his departure, but that's simply because I can't. And wouldn't, either.

Gary will move on and find something he enjoys, I'm sure, and the school will bring in another outstanding basketball coach who will hopefully follow Gary's lead and continue to make progress with the program.

Go Hall!


If I'm wrong on Sunday evening, I'll be here Monday morning to say so, but I don't think Wyndham Clark is going to run away and hide at The Players Championship.

I suspect things are going to tighten up at TPC Sawgrass over the final 36 holes because the course and tournament simply don't yield themselves to blow out, runaway winners.

Wyndham Clark is looking for his 2nd big win this weekend at The Players Championship. The 2023 U.S. Open champion has a 4-shot lead through 36 holes at TPC Sawgrass.

But Clark is certainly looking like a player starting to hit his full career stride. He has won 3 times in the last 10 months, including a victory at last June's U.S. Open, and is the owner of a 4-shot lead at The Players after opening rounds of 65-65.

If he goes on to win this weekend, there could be an argument that Clark is, currently, the 2nd best American player on the PGA Tour, trailing only Scottie Scheffler, of course.

Someone wrote in a question to the mailbag back in late January, you might recall, and asked me for a player or two on the TOUR who might have massive, breakout years in 2024. One of those I gave was, indeed, Wyndham Clark. (The other was Sahith Theegala).

Clark does everything well.

Don't get me wrong, all players have a flaw of some kind, albeit perhaps incredibly small or "picky". Some of the best players in the world, for example, are yippy on putts within 3-feet that break left to right. They work hard to control that blemish in their game and most of us watching probably don't even realize it's something of a concern to them.

But Clark's flaws are very hard to detect.

He's a great driver of the ball. He's hardly ever in trouble off the tee, which is one of the biggest reasons why he conquered L.A. Country Club last June. He currently ranks 9th on TOUR in the critically important statistic, Shots Gained: Total.

When you're on the PGA Tour and you're hitting your approach shots (on greens in regulation) within 20 feet of the hole -- on average -- you're going to make a lot of birdies, particularly if you're good on the greens.

Clark hits it close and makes a lot of putts. Hence, the 3 wins in 10 months and the 4-shot lead at The Players.

Whether he holds on to this lead over the weekend remains to be seen, but he is certainly the favorite at this point, even with an ailing Scottie Scheffler still lurking behind at 8 under par. There are plenty of big names within striking distance with 36 holes to play. Anyone at 6-under or better still realistically has a chance to win.

Prominent chasers include 2022 U.S. Open champion Matthew Fitzpatrick at 9-under par and two guys looking for not only a huge payday, but a massive win to add to their already impressive pedigree: Xander Schauffele and Nick Taylor, both at 10-under par.

Maverick McNealy is perhaps the most interesting of the players "in the hunt". He is the former world #1 amateur who played college golf at Stanford and has carved out a nice professional career for himself thus far, but has yet to hit the mark that many thought he would when he turned professional six years ago.

A win at Sawgrass, while perhaps unlikely, would be just what he needs to prove he belongs in a different class of players on the TOUR.

It seems like just about every year someone we would probably not anticipate hangs around the lead throughout the weekend and arrives at the back nine with a chance for a life changing moment. Most times, those guys falter under the pressure. Whether McNealy stands up to it or caves in will be worth watching, but I have a funny feeling he's going to be within a couple shots of the lead on Sunday when the tournament reaches the 10th tee.

McNealy is not a fluke. He's just a player looking for his break through. I'd keep an eye on him, particularly if you're interested in wagering on the final two rounds.

Two of our pre-tournament #DMD picks are also in the hunt and worth following over the final 36 holes; Tom Hoge and Brian Harman. All one of those guys needs today is a 64, 65, 66 and they are probably making up some ground on Clark. Sure, Clark might go back out there again today and post another mid 60's round, but the data says that's unlikely, even for a great player like Wydham Clark.

My guess is Clark shoots 69 today and sits at 17-under through 3 rounds.

Anyone who can get it to the 14 under par range after today definitely has a chance going into Sunday.

But if Clark holds on to win this tournament, he should probably give strong consideration to a short term name change.

From Wyndham -- to -- Windham.


We're having a very good week thus far at The Players, with 9 of our 10 selections making the cut and a half dozen of them having a very legit shot at a Top 10 or Top 20 finish, which would ring the registers nicely.

Tom Hoge is 8-under and Brian Harman is 7-under, as is Sahith Theegala.

Those three

Cameron Young sits at 5-under.

Ludvig Aberg played the first 36 holes at 4-under and Shane Lowry is at 3-under par.

Sungjae Im (-2), Min Woo Lee (-1) and Sam Burns (-1) are back of the pack at this point, but a couple of good rounds is all they need to get in the money.

Only Erik van Rooyen missed the cut out of our 10 guys. Of course, they could all slip over the weekend and we'd wind up with nothing, but if a handful of boys can produce good golf over the weekend, we might be ordering a case of Silver Oak instead of the traditional two bottle box.


Randy Morgan returns next week with an excellent A.L. East preview, as we're now less than two weeks away from Orioles opening day.

I guess this is really the first time I've thought about it: Opening Day is almost here. Baseball's back. Spring's upon us.

Pretty soon, we'll all be packing up for a week at Ocean City.

The older I get, the more I simply don't like cold weather. Maybe you're the same.

There was a time, three decades ago, when I cherished the change of seasons. I enjoyed a few months of cold temperatures. Those days are definitely gone.

I love the Fall in Maryland. September, October...those might be my favorite two months. But I've definitely grown to dislike winter, even here in the Mid-Atlantic, where it's hardly even "winter" any longer.

And, so, with the Orioles about to take flight once again and warmer days on the horizon, let's get ready for what many of us believe is going to be an incredibly special Summer of '24.


Scott sent me an e-mail on Friday chastisting me for being a "Debbie Downer" about the Ravens and the changes they've made -- or been forced to make -- over the last two months.

"Don't be like the afteroon guys on The Fan," he wrote. "Stay positive."

I don't think it's unfair or "negative", in the least, to think that perhaps losing Mike Macdonald, Geno Stone, Patrick Queen, Gus Edwards and, potentially, Odell Beckham Jr. and Jadeveon Clowney, is going to hurt the Ravens.

It is what it is.

They won 13 games and a playoff game with those guys on the team playing prominent roles a season ago.

Those guys are now gone.

The guy that replaced Macdonald has to do a similar job in 2024 or that's a net/net loss.

The guy replacing Patrick Queen has to do a similar (or better) job in 2024 or that's a net/loss loss.

I could do that with all the departed players. Someone has to step in and perform at a similar level in 2024.

And, sure, I realize it doesn't work exactly like that, but if you know anything about sports, you know what I'm talking about.

The Ravens replaced Gus Edwards, in principle, with Derrick Henry. I think that's a very good swap, if you will. A season of Henry is probably going to be better than a season of Edwards, in my opinion.

Now, we just need guys to replace Beckham and Clowney and Queen and Stone and we're in good shape.

It's not "negative" in the least to look at the departed players and defensive coordinator and say, "Yikes..."

It is what it is.

I hope they all get replaced with superior talent and the Ravens go 13-4 again and, this time, don't flatline in the AFC Championship Game.

That's what I hope.

But I also know that's easier said than done.

The other teams are trying, too.

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#dmd comments








Mike from Reisterstown     April 16
@DF, MFC, and others re the Masters greens throughout the week.



As Drew previously covered, this years Masters was like a US open in disguise. What really struck is the lack of come back spin on short wedge shots into the greens. It seems to me that the only shots that came back to the hole were the ones that used what Jonny Miller would call "side boards".



Did they change those greens?



I also heard that the sand is actually finely grained quartz to make it look so white? Any truth to that?




hal     April 16
Gotta give @MFC props I guess, he's willing to die on his little hills, no matter how wrong he is lol.

CIK     April 16
@MFC



How come men’s college basketball is ruined by NIL & the transfer portal…but the “women’s game is growing”? It can’t be fun for the men’s coaches…but the coaches of girls basketball are having a blast? What happens when the “Lia Thomas” of basketball comes along…just a dude dunking that little ball and nothing to see here? Nobody really cares about swimming…let’s see how that plays out on a basketball court. Should be interesting.

MFC     April 16
RC, have you been in a cave? Have you seen the tv ratings? They just sold out draft night in NY. (it was always free, no more) Maybe you don't care but the rest of America is waking up. More viewers than the men's final, some people actually care.

JWW     April 16
@CHRIS IN BELAIR



Agree mostly on the alibi for the AL division series vs. Texas. But that was played in two cities with a travel day in between. The same team? Sure. A traditional “sweep?” Not quite, IMHO. I’m okay with the asterisk.


Steve of Pimlico     April 16
@Richard ,I remember 50 some years ago when we couldn't stand the Bears

Randy     April 16
@Chris

Yes, Westburg has been hitting the ball really well. He was always a good hitter in the minors so its good to see it translating. He's actually 3rd in MLB in hard-hit percentage, behind only Witt Jr. and Gunnar.

Ron M     April 16
This so called documentary will play out like Spinal tap. The subject will be playing it straight, but the irony and unintended comedy will be what everyone remembers.

Larry     April 16
There is some irony in JeffWell using the words 'over the top hater', eh?

r.c.     April 16
As Richard points out, many of the youngsters manning up down the stretch have won titles in Hershey. They know the drill and it shows.

If Patrick Reed was the one who handed a note to Shipley, would we call that a "nothing burger"??

As DF pointed out, the kid made it a story, not the "lazy media". Media usually deserves the scorn it gets, not this time though.

And good god, will @MFC ever stop blabbering about women's bball? No. One. Cares

Richard     April 16
Being a huge fan of last year’s Calder Cup winning Hershey Bears, who are 52-13-0-5 this year, I guess I’m selfishly rooting for the Caps to lose, so that our 5 players, Iorio, Lapierre, Johansen, McIlrath, and Moroshenko,will be back to the Bears for the playoffs. Is that wrong?

Jeffwell     April 16
Will be watching to see if Karma rears its head in Philadelphia tonight. Not saying that the team deserves bad juju, but the over the top hater, probably.

Chris in Bel Air     April 16
Another excellent O's summary from Randy and completely agree on the pitching. Another player who has absolutely impressed so far is Westburg. Is it just clicking more for him how or is it Holliday knocking on the door and Mayo right behind him? All of the above? In any case, he's playing very well in all parts of his game. One little alibi, "The Orioles remain unswept *in the regular season* since the arrival of Rutschman. There was that one little series against Tex, last October :-(

Let's go Caps!

K.C.     April 16
I agree with @DF about the Tiger story. Just a lazy media looking for a story that isn't really there.

Ramey     April 16
For those who aren't aware, the title of the WNST documentary is "No one listens but everybody hears". And the little guy is claiming he's been in the media for 40 years and has been a sports radio owner for 25 years. Meanwhile it would seem the only two people he's going to mention in the doc are himself and Luke Jackson. How's that for self aggrandizing? As if Haney, Long, Conn, Forrester didn't exist. What a clown that guy is.

Such     April 16
Cedric Mullins is a ballplayer. Flat out. His catch last night was absolutely astonishing. I was fortunate enough to see it in person. And he follows it up with a homer later, because of course he did.

I agree with Randy; this team is going to need starting pitching in order to reach its full potential. It would be great if Means can come back and be his old self, but who knows? And counting on Bradish just seems so risky. I expect there will be some deals as we get into June and July.

MFC     April 16
Clark and Reese taking huge pay cuts to play in the WNBA. However I'm pretty certain the sponsorships will follow them. The #1 pick gets a 4 yr. deal worth a whopping $387,000, that's for 4 years NOT yearly.

I will give Reese credit she stole the night with her outfit. Far and away the best dressed. She looked like Whitney Houston in the Bodyguard when she was Queen of the Nile.

The evening however was the Caitlin Clark show. She was everywhere and seemingly on all evening.

The game is growing!



Upset by the reports about Rory but read today he's not going. Good for him but $850 million is a lot of money, not that he needs it. Maybe this is the impetus that gets things settled. Imagine $850mm spread over the golf season. Figure it out and stop all of the madness.



Anyone else notice how thin L. Jackson looked walking into the Castle. Wonder what's behind that, more speed?




Henry Wiler     April 16
God is a Flyers fan.

Tom J     April 16
@MFC.....coverage for the Masters starts at 2pm on the weekend days. They do it because they can.

Tom Mullens     April 15
The guy broke up with his fiance by text message. He told his agent that he wasn’t capable of representing somebody as good as he was. He ghosted his mentor and best friend when he won his second major. His word about LIV evil was good until his price was met. Don’t rely on him if your life ever depends on it.

MicMac     April 15
What's this I'm hearing about Rory McElroy being close to a deal with LIV? Last night (Monday) I was listening to the radio and they were saying that he's been offered $850 million to join and it looks like he's gonna do it. Then they started playing a bunch of sound bites where McElroy was saying he'd never play pro golf again if LIV was the only league, etc... Talk about a 180° and being hypocritical. Could there be a worse person to make the switch? Maybe Tiger, but McElroy was so outspoken against LIV that I don't know how he could ever live that down. Although he would have almost a billion reasons.

sammy     April 15
No matter what happens tomorrow, this Caps team has shown incredible grit. Between that and Carbery, I'm feeling pretty good about the Caps future. Being competitive without prime Ovie is a really good sign.

hal     April 15
Jealous? Ok "Bo", I'm sure in the future commenters will adhere to your sage advice lol.

Bo     April 15
It's amazing how many people here are jealous of DF's sage golf wisdom. No one can just say "Well done!"

MFC     April 15
Masters thoughts.

Changes to the course won't allow for the roars on the back nine. And when the new ball is in play you can really forget it. That's a shame.



Still ticks me off that they don't have tv coverage until 3 PM. I get it you're special and all of that but c'mon it's 2024. Yes you can stream but only featured groups and selected holes.



Tiger had one really bad round. Until that point he was what t-24 in making the cut. It was his iron and short game, which is confusing as it would seem to be less stress on the body. Congrats to him for showing up Sunday, shows the respect he has for the Masters. He was outdriving his partners.



Why did Ian Baker Finch have the most airtime on Sunday. It was like Nance and Immelmann weren't in the booth. No roars, no real excitement from the announcers. The shots and putts coming down the stretch were rather pedestrian, except for Scheffler and Adberg.



Adberg may be my new favorite player with how quick he plays.



Scheffler really seems like a great young man. Hope it continues.



LIV golfers and Greg Norman, take a hike.



In other golf news The Road is still alive in the MSGA A Team tournament. They have reached the quarterfinals. Huge weekend ahead. Sorry to report that Eagles Nest home of DMD's own DF did not make it past the first round, losing to the Naval Academy who then lost to Piney Branch in round 2.



Other topics, Caitlin Clark did a nice job on SNL Saturday. If you haven't seen, it's worth the search.


butch     April 15
Know what is worse than "I won this many dollars" stories?? The "I could have won this many dollars IF this happened or that happened".

Greg     April 15
Took DF's advice and played all 10 of his guys for $20 to finish Top 10 and $20 to finish Top 30.



Bet $400 and won $1660. Thanks DF!

Kyle P     April 15
If Aberg wins yesterday I win $1800 instead of $545. How is that dbag Larry?

larry     April 15
Agree with OG and RR. Betting $200 every week for the occasional "win" is a recipe for disaster. Sure, you'll be "happy" occasionally but in the end, not so much. No matter whose free advice you follow lol.

Ray Ray     April 15
old George ------- the irony is, the bets the chumps make pay for the commercials as well as make the stockholders of the companies wealthy.

Old George     April 15
If you're using your phone, tablet, or computer as the vehicle for placing bets, you have ZERO chance of a positive outcome in the long run. Unless you win one of the absolutely crazy bets that pays six figures, you are horsemeat. Some say that wagering is a form of entertainment. These folks are goofy -- who deems giving away money as a form of recreation? Better to make an imaginary bet in your mind and put the money in your Keough Plan or the fund for your kid's college education. These thousands of commercials on TV for various betting platforms are there for a reason. Don't be a chump.

Kyle P.     April 14
Bet $200, won a total of $545. You can say I'm pretty happy.

butch     April 14
The only thing more boring than golf stories is gambling stories. No one cares about someone else's bets, no offense.

JK     April 14
That CIK really knows his golf, can't you tell?

Mitch     April 14
LMAO, @DF had 4 of the top 10 players on his betting slip and these haters here will say "Anybody could do that."

CIK     April 14
Apparently Scheffler didn’t have the round 1 lead. I must of misunderstood what I was being told.

CIK     April 14
@Matt



Aren’t the payouts subject to be lower because of top 10 ties? A friend of mine had Scheffler 1st round leader for $25. He shared the lead with 2 others. The bet paid out $19 for a net loss of $6.

Matt C.     April 14
Here's what I am facing today.



If Scheff, Collin and Aberg all finish top 10 today but one of them doesn't win, I will clear $340.



If Scheff wins and the other 2 finish top 10 I clear $670.



If Morikawa wins and the other 2 finish top 10 I clear $2100.



If Aberg wins and the other 2 finish top 10 I clear $2860.




kj     April 14
People worrying about a baseball team in mid-April need to get a grip. They don't give out awards in April, nor will any team bury itself after 15 games. And love when fans "demand" Elias fix something. If any O's fan is not comfortable with Elias running this team, might be time to adopt a new team to root for

Unitastoberry     April 14
You have to wait until Mothers Day at least to get a feel for how this season will play out. For example Mike Cuellar could not pitch for you know what until the cold was totally gone. Just like some QBs can't play in the cold. Main thing is to stay healthy.

TimD in Timonium     April 14
Worried about the O's? in mid-April. Nah. They can win high-scoring games too. And Burnes WILL get them back on track today.



Given the constant Tiger coverage this week by ESPN, his Saturday morning practice session had an "Oh, man. I can't believe I have to do this again" vibe.



See ya on the Senior Tour, Tiger.


Delray RICK     April 14
Back in the day CADILLAC was sponsor for MASTERS and they had one commercial, that's it.

Ray Ray     April 14
Fritz Peterson, who was a stalwart pitcher for the ineffectual Yankees of the late 1960s and early ’70s, but whose lingering renown derived more from one of baseball’s most notorious “trades” — his exchange of wives with a teammate — has died. He was 82.



None of Peterson’s on-field achievements or off-field eccentricities proved to be as memorable as the disclosure, in March 1973, that he and another Yankee pitcher, Mike Kekich, were living in each other’s house with each other’s wife and children. As a headline in The Daily News declared, “2 Yank Pitchers Trade Wives: Peterson, Kekich Hurl Change-Ups.”



Peterson’s memoir, “Mickey Mantle Is Going to Heaven” (2009), is one of the odder artifacts of baseball literature. A combination of storytelling — from the ballpark and from the meandering path of Peterson’s journey to Christian evangelism — it ends several chapters by saying which of Peterson’s former teammates would go to heaven (Mantle and Bobby Murcer) and which would not (Bouton).




Billy     April 13
Picking Schefler and Morikawa is "amazing". JK sure knows golf lol.

larry     April 13
LOL @ JK.

Jk     April 13
3 guys in the current top 5 (4 pm) were DF picks. Scheffler, Morikawa, Aberg.



Amazing.

MUSHNICK     April 13
@delray dick



please stop slurping me - its unbecoming

Delray RICK     April 13
Another good article bout PHIL MUSHNICK on MESSIAH and he overtakes TV coverage from other golfers who aren't on nearly enough.

MFC     April 13
Tiger sets another record. Amazing, it’s not his driver that’s holding him back it’s his irons.

The collapse of JT and Harmon was incredible and if Hovland keeps composure he might be playing this weekend.



Just can’t understand The Masters not allowing total coverage until 3 PM.

I can stream but it’s limited.



The transfer portal and NIL continues to destroy college basketball. Forget hiring coaches they need fundraisers extraordinaire to be any good in this day and age.

James     April 13
Not a big Tiger fan but even I have to admit that was really special yesterday. Everyone is talking about Scheffler and Homa and no one is mentioning Bryson. I think he winds up winning.

Friday
March 15, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3493


friday ramblings


Our main hoops guru, Dale Williams, will handle the disastrous Maryland performance in the Big Ten tournament yesterday. The Terps lost by, I don't know, 77 or something like that.

A loss is a loss is a loss.

If you lose to Wisconsin, 71-70, on a last second bucket, it's a loss.

Getting blown out, 87-56, is the same thing. Your season's over and you're going home.

But it speaks volumes about this group of guys that Kevin Willard assembled that they flatlined like they did on Thursday afternoon.

Because we've changed so much as a society over the last two decades, you can't just come right out and say "Those kids had no heart yesterday."

So, I won't say that.

Kevin Willard's Terps suffered the 3rd worst loss in Big Ten conference tournament history yesterday.

But the proof is in the pudding when you look at the season as a whole.

Maryland lacked good basketball players. We know that.

Dale has said on numerous occasions this season that the Terps lacked "poise", too.

And if we're going to be completely honest, they lacked -- I'll dance around it in case you're squeamish -- the necessary intestinal fortitude to play in the Big Ten.

But why? That's the question.

Why the give-up?

Just the wrong kids, plain and simple?

Or did Willard, somehow, wear them out to the point they just said "eff it"?

I do not know the answer, obviously. I'm not there in practice and have zero interconnection with the players or the program.

But when you're losing the way Maryland lost this year, it's more than just "we weren't very good".

Dale will take you through the painful 40 minutes in his column below.

I'm just here to state the obvious: Kevin Willard is officially "on the clock".

He doesn't have to make the Elite Eight next year or anything like that. He's not getting canned three years into his 7-year deal, either.

But he's the guy in charge of getting the program back on track and that effort begins now.

He needs better basketball players. That much is for certain.

Willard also needs players who won't accept losing 87-56 in the conference tournament. Or losing to Rutgers at home. Or getting run out of the gym by Penn State.

Losing to Penn State in football? Understandable.

Losing to Penn State in basketball? Not cool.

Willard was brought to College Park to get the program's chakras back in line. Right now, they're disturbingly out of line, I'd say.

You're on the clock, coach. Get this program's heart beating again, please.


Rory McIlroy had the most talked about 7-under par round in the history of The Players Championship yesterday. He made 10 birdies in 18 holes...on a golf course that just isn't that easy.

But it was his controversial play on the 7th hole and the 18th hole yesterday that garnered more headlines than his 65 that earned him a first round tie with Xander Schauffele and Wyndham Clark atop the tournament leaderboard.

McIlroy, to his credit, faced the media after the round and answered every question they threw at him concerning the drops he took after finding the water off the tee on #7 and #18.

"I felt comfortable with it (where he dropped)," McIlroy said, "so I think that's all that really matters. Jordan (Spieth) just wanted to make sure I was doing the right thing, that's all. He's protecting the field, which I totally appreciate and respect."

Rory McIlroy shares the first round lead at The Players, but it's a controversial share of the lead after two questionable drops in Thursday's opening round.

Viktor Hovland, who was also in the group, seemed far more suspicious than was Spieth. "I don't know," Hovland said as McIlroy surveyed his drop options. "From where I saw it, I don't think it crossed here."

McIlroy even moved back some 30-40 yards "to be safe", he told a tournament rules official who came in to assist with the procedural part of the process.

But the post-round chatter wouldn't die down.

Did McIlroy take what golf calls "a bad drop"?

If so, intentional or not, that's the way professional golfers start earning the "cheater" label.

You know, the one Patrick Reed took with him to LIV after several brushes with the rules and a couple of -- *ahem* -- arithmetic problems when he played at the University of Georgia a decade and a half ago.

That said, I don't think Rory McIlroy is a golfing cheat. Reed? He is, yes. Rory? I don't think he is at all.

Had their been evidence showing where his ball crossed into the penalty area -- or a rules official or someone else on record saying "here's where it went in" -- I'm quite certain McIlroy would have just said, "Oh, they footage/evidence of it? I was off by 10 or 15 yards? OK, let's get the drop straightened out in the right spot and play golf again."

McIlroy is always under the spotlight because he's one of the top players in the world. And he's scrutinized even more when it comes to the rules and playing the game the right way.

TV footage of both situations on Thursday didn't settle anything. Failing video evidence, the players were totally on their own to make the right call.

McIlroy definitely thinks he was within the rules to drop where he dropped on the 7th hole.

Hovland seemed fairly adamant Rory's drop at #7 was "off".

Spieth repeatedly said, "I didn't see it very well, but others are saying you're dropping in the wrong place."

They went back and forth for 8 minutes.

Without a conclusive agreement between the three, they hashed out the best solution possible and moved on from there.

One thing for certain: If Rory goes on to win this weekend at TPC Sawgrass, the discussion about Thursday's first round will carry well into next week and beyond.

People don't forget.

Ask Patrick Reed.


Dennis asks -- "Is there a chance in your mind that the Ravens are going to go through a one year recovery season where they miss the players (and coaches) who are leaving and they stumble to a 9-8 or 10-7 record next season? I have that feeling. That things aren't going to be the same. You?"

DF says -- "Sure, I think there's a chance of that. The guys they've lost, some of them at least, were pretty important to last season's team. People poo-poo guys like Queen and Gus and Clowney but they were important pieces last season. How many wins were they worth? I have no way of knowing.

The same goes for Mike Macdonald. I think he was a good defensive coordinator. The Baltimore defense was excellent on his watch. Will Zach Orr be equal to or better? I have no way of knowing.

But, sure, there's a chance they don't replicate their 2023 campaign in 2024. Anyone who just assumes they'll be 13-4 again isn't thinking it through all the way."


Bill P. asks -- "In today's (Thursday's) first round of the Players, the announcers said that the players were telling them the greens weren't quite as fast this year as they were a year ago in the first round. How do the players know that or remember that?

DF says -- "Some of them just do it by memory and "feel", I guess. They'll remember a putt from last year on a certain green where they had 15 feet and barely touched it and it raced 3 or 4 feet past the hole and this year, maybe it just got to the cup and came to a stop.

They also keep incredible notes from year-to-year, especially the elite guys who know in advance they're going to be playing in the tournament for several consecutive years.

And their caddies are also paying attention to that kind of stuff and making their own notes.

TOUR players have an incredible sense of detail. And they can remember putts from last year or the year before that they hit that broke a certain way or were quicker or slower than they might have otherwise thought."


John Broome asks -- "Is there ever a chance we see minor league hockey back in Baltimore?"

DF says -- "I don't know anything about the infrastructure of the AHL, so I don't know if teams move or if they have expansion or any opportunity for "new teams". I think the Baltimore Arena is certainly a worthy venue for minor league hockey. It is, after all, the only place we have that could field a team.

Would the city support it? That's the question.

And by "city", I mean "the area in general". Would minor league hockey work in Baltimore? I just don't know.

Thomas Wolfe said, "You can't go home again."

I tend to believe that's true, to some extent, with niche sports like minor league hockey, indoor soccer, etc. They both had their day in the sun in Baltimore. But it would appear the sun has set at this point.

I'm a hockey guy, of course, so I'd be delighted to see the AHL set up shop in Baltimore. I'd go to games, for sure. But I just don't see it happening, sadly."


Brendan asks -- "First time with an e-mail to you, I hope you have the ability to answer it honestly since I know you work for the station. Why don't radio stations pay attention to the listeners when most of them all don't care for one certain on air personality? You have thousands of people on Twitter just crushing Jason LaCanfora at The Fan and I know the station must read the tweet messages. Why do stations keep a guy around like that?" Thanks and good luck to your Capitals, they are going to need it."

DF says -- "I can answer the question very honestly by saying, "I have no idea of knowing what the station thinks."

But my guess is they feel about on-air hosts the same way the football team feels about its players. They're not going to let the listeners of the station decide who works on the air and who doesn't work on the air.

It might just that simple.

Now, you can elect not to listen, in the same way you can elect to not attend the game(s) if you don't like certain players or coaches. That's part of the give and take.

I also think the station probably realizes that people hammering away at one or more of their on-air personalities make up a very small fragment of the listener base. And radio, like football, is about "the numbers".

If the team goes 13-4, the coach isn't getting fired, no matter how many of you people think he's lousy and doesn't know how to coach.

If the radio numbers are good and meeting the goals of the station and its management, that shows the station that the on-air personalities are doing the job they've been asked to do, which is -- and this is important -- get people to listen to the show.

If people are listening, that's pretty much all that matters to the station, since they're using those numbers to sell advertising."

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shellacked in minneapolis


In 55 years of being a Terrapin basketball fan, I can honestly say that I’ve never been as embarrassed for the UMD basketball program as I was yesterday while witnessing the heartless effort this team gave while being humiliated by the Wisconsin Badgers.

Tired legs because of the quick turnaround from Wednesday night’s game, a red-hot shooting Badger team, combined with no effort from the two Terp bigs, combined to produce a lopsided 87-56 blowout loss.

The Badger lead at one point reached 42 points. It was that bad.

After bombing Maryland with 10 made threes in the first half and gaining a 47-26 lead, Wisconsin stepped on the Terps' throats by running off 18 straight points to start the second half. The league should have invoked the mercy rule.

How bad was it? With 10 minutes left in the game, Wisconsin had more points from the three-point line (39) than Maryland had in total (35). With 8:08 left in the game, the Terps were down by 42 points.

Donta Scott's Maryland career ended yesterday with a thud, as he failed to score a point in the first 14 minutes of the game in Maryland's eventual 31 point loss to Wisconsin.

To sum up how this happened in just a sentence or two, let’s go with Maryland failing to guard the three-point line and having little interest in rebounding. Also, Wisconsin buried everything they looked at. There you go.

The Badgers made 16 threes in 25 attempts. Their threes and foul shots, alone, accounted for enough points to beat Maryland 57-56.

The Terps were slow and Wisconsin took advantage of it with quick dribbles, lots of off the ball movement, and crisp passes.

Wide open three-point shots led to 3 Wisconsin triples and a 13-7 lead at the first break with 15:41 left in the first half. The Badgers had made all three of their long-range attempts and 6 of their first 10 tries overall.

It was an early hole for Maryland that had reached 11 points, 18-7, when the Badgers buried their 4th three-pointer of the half. A fifth three, after a Donta Scott butterfingers give-away, forced a Terrapin timeout while trailing 21-9. All 5 of the successful Badger three-pointers were wide open, uncontested tries.

With 11:23 left in the half, Wisconsin still led by 10 points, 23-13. The Badgers were 9-14 from the floor, and had yet to miss a three. The Terps were looking like the quick turnaround from last night’s game was dragging them down.

Maintaining their hot hand, Wisconsin ripped two more threes, and a very early blowout was in the making. The Badgers had more than doubled up the Terps, 33-15. You’d think at some point Maryland would realize that giving open threes was not a good idea.

The first half mercifully ended for Maryland with the Badgers having smoked them by 21 points, 47-26. It was the three ball that jackhammered the Terps during the first 20 minutes. Wisconsin had hit 10 of 13 three pointers.

Maryland’s front court looked slow, lethargic, and disinterested. Reese was too tired to defend anyone, anywhere, and Scott just didn’t care. He had zero points, 1 rebound, and 2 turnovers in 14 first half minutes.

After giving up 47 points in the first half, Maryland had 20 minutes of garbage time left before their season ended. Wisconsin ensured the second half was meaningless when they scored 18 points before the Terps scored at all. It was all laughs for Wisconsin. I kept waiting for a Terrapin trainer to throw in a towel.

When the game clock finally ran to zero and the white flag was waved, Maryland had suffered the 3rd worst tournament beat-down in the long history of this event. What a way to end the season.

I’m not so sure the NIT will take Maryland, but if they did offer, I would hope UMD would decline.

The NIT used to be a place where a young team could develop some tournament continuity. With Maryland’s roster expecting massive changes, there’s no benefit to playing extra games.

Maryland would be doing a disservice to the integrity of the event if they participated just to let the younger players get some court time, and I’m certain that a few more games are not in the best interest of the departing seniors.

Now it’s wait and see time for names to hit the transfer portal. Some will come shortly, with many more entering after the completion of March Madness.

In this current era of NCAA hoops, it’s time for schools to pull out their NIL wallets and buy themself a contender.

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faith in sports


I Am Second is an incredibly well produced video series highlighting the spiritual journey and work of celebrities, athletes, actors and so on.

It's probably my favorite faith-based "series" that I watch on a weekly basis.

Bailey Maupin's story is awesome. She's a basketball player at Texas Tech. The video below captures her life perfectly and outlines the journey she took to grow more steadfast in her Christianity.

It's a wonderful 7 minute video. If you have a teen age son or daughter, sit down with them and share this video. Maupin talks openly about the perils of being pursued by colleges in high school and how she started wandering down the wrong path.

She also details how her life changed once she got to Texas Tech. Maupin's "journey" is far from complete, of course, but when you watch the video below you know she's on the right path.

Thanks, as always, to our friends at Freestate Electrical for their continued support of #DMD and our "Faith in Sports" segment here every Friday.



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#dmd comments








Mike from Reisterstown     April 16
@DF, MFC, and others re the Masters greens throughout the week.



As Drew previously covered, this years Masters was like a US open in disguise. What really struck is the lack of come back spin on short wedge shots into the greens. It seems to me that the only shots that came back to the hole were the ones that used what Jonny Miller would call "side boards".



Did they change those greens?



I also heard that the sand is actually finely grained quartz to make it look so white? Any truth to that?




hal     April 16
Gotta give @MFC props I guess, he's willing to die on his little hills, no matter how wrong he is lol.

CIK     April 16
@MFC



How come men’s college basketball is ruined by NIL & the transfer portal…but the “women’s game is growing”? It can’t be fun for the men’s coaches…but the coaches of girls basketball are having a blast? What happens when the “Lia Thomas” of basketball comes along…just a dude dunking that little ball and nothing to see here? Nobody really cares about swimming…let’s see how that plays out on a basketball court. Should be interesting.

MFC     April 16
RC, have you been in a cave? Have you seen the tv ratings? They just sold out draft night in NY. (it was always free, no more) Maybe you don't care but the rest of America is waking up. More viewers than the men's final, some people actually care.

JWW     April 16
@CHRIS IN BELAIR



Agree mostly on the alibi for the AL division series vs. Texas. But that was played in two cities with a travel day in between. The same team? Sure. A traditional “sweep?” Not quite, IMHO. I’m okay with the asterisk.


Steve of Pimlico     April 16
@Richard ,I remember 50 some years ago when we couldn't stand the Bears

Randy     April 16
@Chris

Yes, Westburg has been hitting the ball really well. He was always a good hitter in the minors so its good to see it translating. He's actually 3rd in MLB in hard-hit percentage, behind only Witt Jr. and Gunnar.

Ron M     April 16
This so called documentary will play out like Spinal tap. The subject will be playing it straight, but the irony and unintended comedy will be what everyone remembers.

Larry     April 16
There is some irony in JeffWell using the words 'over the top hater', eh?

r.c.     April 16
As Richard points out, many of the youngsters manning up down the stretch have won titles in Hershey. They know the drill and it shows.

If Patrick Reed was the one who handed a note to Shipley, would we call that a "nothing burger"??

As DF pointed out, the kid made it a story, not the "lazy media". Media usually deserves the scorn it gets, not this time though.

And good god, will @MFC ever stop blabbering about women's bball? No. One. Cares

Richard     April 16
Being a huge fan of last year’s Calder Cup winning Hershey Bears, who are 52-13-0-5 this year, I guess I’m selfishly rooting for the Caps to lose, so that our 5 players, Iorio, Lapierre, Johansen, McIlrath, and Moroshenko,will be back to the Bears for the playoffs. Is that wrong?

Jeffwell     April 16
Will be watching to see if Karma rears its head in Philadelphia tonight. Not saying that the team deserves bad juju, but the over the top hater, probably.

Chris in Bel Air     April 16
Another excellent O's summary from Randy and completely agree on the pitching. Another player who has absolutely impressed so far is Westburg. Is it just clicking more for him how or is it Holliday knocking on the door and Mayo right behind him? All of the above? In any case, he's playing very well in all parts of his game. One little alibi, "The Orioles remain unswept *in the regular season* since the arrival of Rutschman. There was that one little series against Tex, last October :-(

Let's go Caps!

K.C.     April 16
I agree with @DF about the Tiger story. Just a lazy media looking for a story that isn't really there.

Ramey     April 16
For those who aren't aware, the title of the WNST documentary is "No one listens but everybody hears". And the little guy is claiming he's been in the media for 40 years and has been a sports radio owner for 25 years. Meanwhile it would seem the only two people he's going to mention in the doc are himself and Luke Jackson. How's that for self aggrandizing? As if Haney, Long, Conn, Forrester didn't exist. What a clown that guy is.

Such     April 16
Cedric Mullins is a ballplayer. Flat out. His catch last night was absolutely astonishing. I was fortunate enough to see it in person. And he follows it up with a homer later, because of course he did.

I agree with Randy; this team is going to need starting pitching in order to reach its full potential. It would be great if Means can come back and be his old self, but who knows? And counting on Bradish just seems so risky. I expect there will be some deals as we get into June and July.

MFC     April 16
Clark and Reese taking huge pay cuts to play in the WNBA. However I'm pretty certain the sponsorships will follow them. The #1 pick gets a 4 yr. deal worth a whopping $387,000, that's for 4 years NOT yearly.

I will give Reese credit she stole the night with her outfit. Far and away the best dressed. She looked like Whitney Houston in the Bodyguard when she was Queen of the Nile.

The evening however was the Caitlin Clark show. She was everywhere and seemingly on all evening.

The game is growing!



Upset by the reports about Rory but read today he's not going. Good for him but $850 million is a lot of money, not that he needs it. Maybe this is the impetus that gets things settled. Imagine $850mm spread over the golf season. Figure it out and stop all of the madness.



Anyone else notice how thin L. Jackson looked walking into the Castle. Wonder what's behind that, more speed?




Henry Wiler     April 16
God is a Flyers fan.

Tom J     April 16
@MFC.....coverage for the Masters starts at 2pm on the weekend days. They do it because they can.

Tom Mullens     April 15
The guy broke up with his fiance by text message. He told his agent that he wasn’t capable of representing somebody as good as he was. He ghosted his mentor and best friend when he won his second major. His word about LIV evil was good until his price was met. Don’t rely on him if your life ever depends on it.

MicMac     April 15
What's this I'm hearing about Rory McElroy being close to a deal with LIV? Last night (Monday) I was listening to the radio and they were saying that he's been offered $850 million to join and it looks like he's gonna do it. Then they started playing a bunch of sound bites where McElroy was saying he'd never play pro golf again if LIV was the only league, etc... Talk about a 180° and being hypocritical. Could there be a worse person to make the switch? Maybe Tiger, but McElroy was so outspoken against LIV that I don't know how he could ever live that down. Although he would have almost a billion reasons.

sammy     April 15
No matter what happens tomorrow, this Caps team has shown incredible grit. Between that and Carbery, I'm feeling pretty good about the Caps future. Being competitive without prime Ovie is a really good sign.

hal     April 15
Jealous? Ok "Bo", I'm sure in the future commenters will adhere to your sage advice lol.

Bo     April 15
It's amazing how many people here are jealous of DF's sage golf wisdom. No one can just say "Well done!"

MFC     April 15
Masters thoughts.

Changes to the course won't allow for the roars on the back nine. And when the new ball is in play you can really forget it. That's a shame.



Still ticks me off that they don't have tv coverage until 3 PM. I get it you're special and all of that but c'mon it's 2024. Yes you can stream but only featured groups and selected holes.



Tiger had one really bad round. Until that point he was what t-24 in making the cut. It was his iron and short game, which is confusing as it would seem to be less stress on the body. Congrats to him for showing up Sunday, shows the respect he has for the Masters. He was outdriving his partners.



Why did Ian Baker Finch have the most airtime on Sunday. It was like Nance and Immelmann weren't in the booth. No roars, no real excitement from the announcers. The shots and putts coming down the stretch were rather pedestrian, except for Scheffler and Adberg.



Adberg may be my new favorite player with how quick he plays.



Scheffler really seems like a great young man. Hope it continues.



LIV golfers and Greg Norman, take a hike.



In other golf news The Road is still alive in the MSGA A Team tournament. They have reached the quarterfinals. Huge weekend ahead. Sorry to report that Eagles Nest home of DMD's own DF did not make it past the first round, losing to the Naval Academy who then lost to Piney Branch in round 2.



Other topics, Caitlin Clark did a nice job on SNL Saturday. If you haven't seen, it's worth the search.


butch     April 15
Know what is worse than "I won this many dollars" stories?? The "I could have won this many dollars IF this happened or that happened".

Greg     April 15
Took DF's advice and played all 10 of his guys for $20 to finish Top 10 and $20 to finish Top 30.



Bet $400 and won $1660. Thanks DF!

Kyle P     April 15
If Aberg wins yesterday I win $1800 instead of $545. How is that dbag Larry?

larry     April 15
Agree with OG and RR. Betting $200 every week for the occasional "win" is a recipe for disaster. Sure, you'll be "happy" occasionally but in the end, not so much. No matter whose free advice you follow lol.

Ray Ray     April 15
old George ------- the irony is, the bets the chumps make pay for the commercials as well as make the stockholders of the companies wealthy.

Old George     April 15
If you're using your phone, tablet, or computer as the vehicle for placing bets, you have ZERO chance of a positive outcome in the long run. Unless you win one of the absolutely crazy bets that pays six figures, you are horsemeat. Some say that wagering is a form of entertainment. These folks are goofy -- who deems giving away money as a form of recreation? Better to make an imaginary bet in your mind and put the money in your Keough Plan or the fund for your kid's college education. These thousands of commercials on TV for various betting platforms are there for a reason. Don't be a chump.

Kyle P.     April 14
Bet $200, won a total of $545. You can say I'm pretty happy.

butch     April 14
The only thing more boring than golf stories is gambling stories. No one cares about someone else's bets, no offense.

JK     April 14
That CIK really knows his golf, can't you tell?

Mitch     April 14
LMAO, @DF had 4 of the top 10 players on his betting slip and these haters here will say "Anybody could do that."

CIK     April 14
Apparently Scheffler didn’t have the round 1 lead. I must of misunderstood what I was being told.

CIK     April 14
@Matt



Aren’t the payouts subject to be lower because of top 10 ties? A friend of mine had Scheffler 1st round leader for $25. He shared the lead with 2 others. The bet paid out $19 for a net loss of $6.

Matt C.     April 14
Here's what I am facing today.



If Scheff, Collin and Aberg all finish top 10 today but one of them doesn't win, I will clear $340.



If Scheff wins and the other 2 finish top 10 I clear $670.



If Morikawa wins and the other 2 finish top 10 I clear $2100.



If Aberg wins and the other 2 finish top 10 I clear $2860.




kj     April 14
People worrying about a baseball team in mid-April need to get a grip. They don't give out awards in April, nor will any team bury itself after 15 games. And love when fans "demand" Elias fix something. If any O's fan is not comfortable with Elias running this team, might be time to adopt a new team to root for

Unitastoberry     April 14
You have to wait until Mothers Day at least to get a feel for how this season will play out. For example Mike Cuellar could not pitch for you know what until the cold was totally gone. Just like some QBs can't play in the cold. Main thing is to stay healthy.

TimD in Timonium     April 14
Worried about the O's? in mid-April. Nah. They can win high-scoring games too. And Burnes WILL get them back on track today.



Given the constant Tiger coverage this week by ESPN, his Saturday morning practice session had an "Oh, man. I can't believe I have to do this again" vibe.



See ya on the Senior Tour, Tiger.


Delray RICK     April 14
Back in the day CADILLAC was sponsor for MASTERS and they had one commercial, that's it.

Ray Ray     April 14
Fritz Peterson, who was a stalwart pitcher for the ineffectual Yankees of the late 1960s and early ’70s, but whose lingering renown derived more from one of baseball’s most notorious “trades” — his exchange of wives with a teammate — has died. He was 82.



None of Peterson’s on-field achievements or off-field eccentricities proved to be as memorable as the disclosure, in March 1973, that he and another Yankee pitcher, Mike Kekich, were living in each other’s house with each other’s wife and children. As a headline in The Daily News declared, “2 Yank Pitchers Trade Wives: Peterson, Kekich Hurl Change-Ups.”



Peterson’s memoir, “Mickey Mantle Is Going to Heaven” (2009), is one of the odder artifacts of baseball literature. A combination of storytelling — from the ballpark and from the meandering path of Peterson’s journey to Christian evangelism — it ends several chapters by saying which of Peterson’s former teammates would go to heaven (Mantle and Bobby Murcer) and which would not (Bouton).




Billy     April 13
Picking Schefler and Morikawa is "amazing". JK sure knows golf lol.

larry     April 13
LOL @ JK.

Jk     April 13
3 guys in the current top 5 (4 pm) were DF picks. Scheffler, Morikawa, Aberg.



Amazing.

MUSHNICK     April 13
@delray dick



please stop slurping me - its unbecoming

Delray RICK     April 13
Another good article bout PHIL MUSHNICK on MESSIAH and he overtakes TV coverage from other golfers who aren't on nearly enough.

MFC     April 13
Tiger sets another record. Amazing, it’s not his driver that’s holding him back it’s his irons.

The collapse of JT and Harmon was incredible and if Hovland keeps composure he might be playing this weekend.



Just can’t understand The Masters not allowing total coverage until 3 PM.

I can stream but it’s limited.



The transfer portal and NIL continues to destroy college basketball. Forget hiring coaches they need fundraisers extraordinaire to be any good in this day and age.

James     April 13
Not a big Tiger fan but even I have to admit that was really special yesterday. Everyone is talking about Scheffler and Homa and no one is mentioning Bryson. I think he winds up winning.

Thursday
March 14, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3492


say it ain't so, joe


Look, I have no idea what the 2024 season will bring for the Ravens.

Conventional wisdom says things can't be quite as good as they were a year ago because it all just went too well in 2023.

But they still have one of the best quarterbacks in the league and the nucleus of a good defense.

They should be a strong contender for the AFC North once again.

When I start thinking of things, though, that could spoil 2024, a signing from Wednesday in the NFL immediately rises to the top.

It was bad enough seeing Joe Flacco in a Browns uniform. But now...in a Colts uniform?

Anthony Richardson gets hurt in Indianapolis in week 12 when the Colts are 7-5. Joe Flacco, who inked a one-year deal with the Colts yesterday, then comes in and eases them into the post-season with several late season victories.

And as fate would have it...

Indy's opening round post-season opponent just happens to be the Baltimore Ravens. And the game is in Charm City.

Of all the things I couldn't handle, that one tops the list.

Flacco returns to Baltimore.

With the Colts, of all teams.

And beats the Ravens.

I can't even fully explain to you how much that makes me shudder.

If Flacco came back with the Browns. Or Steelers, even. I wouldn't care all that much.

But the Colts?

Come on Joe.

I get it, though. Like I wrote here yesterday about Patrick Queen signing in Pittsburgh, players go where the money is and they don't care at all about franchise rivalries or that kind of stuff. Fans worry about that. Players, they do not.

But "getting mad about where a guy signs" and "hoping he doesn't beat us" are two different things.

I don't really care that Flacco signed in Indianapolis.

But it would rattle me to my core if he came waltzing back into Baltimore wearing our helmets and uniforms and ended our season next January.

I'm still one of those guys, yes.

That horseshoe on the helmet and those blue and white colors will always be, to me, symbolic of the Baltimore Colts.

The Baltimore Colts have played in Indianapolis for the last 40 years because the league didn't have the balls back then to say to them, "Yeah, you can move to Indy, that's fine, but you can't call yourselves the Colts and you can't use that horseshoe and those colors."

If Anthony Richardson comes to town and beats the Ravens next January it will sting, for sure.

But if Joe Flacco does it, that's the ultimate stick in the eye.

I'm asking the football gods, right here and now. Please don't do that to us.

The Chargers with Greg Roman? I could handle that one. Wouldn't like it. But I could handle it.

The Steelers with Patrick Queen? Wouldn't love that one, obviously, but I could handle it.

Even the Browns or Bengals beating the Ravens I could handle.

But Flacco -- with the Colts -- coming to Baltimore and ending our season? Please, please no.


It will be interesting to someday find out what the Orioles were willing to give up to the White Sox in a trade involving starting pitcher Dylan Cease.

We may never find out.

But it doesn't matter now, because Cease went to the Padres yesterday in exchange for several of San Diego's minor league prospects.

How deep in discussion did Mike Elias get with the White Sox before Chicago finally traded pitcher Dylan Cease to the Padres on Wednesday?

Someday, though, it would be nice to discover what Mike Elias was facing during his talks with the White Sox. And that's assuming, of course, that Elias and the White Sox actually had legitimate discussions about the right handed pitcher.

The good news? At least Cease didn't wind up with the Yankees, which was his rumored destination earlier this week after New York learned that their star pitcher, Gerrit Cole, is likely facing significant time on the injured list with an elbow issue.

The bad news? The Padres didn't give away the farm to get Cease.

So what did the White Sox tell the O's it would take?

Was it a package that included Jordan Westburg, Colton Cowser and another one of the club's top young players from Bowie or Norfolk?

I have no idea who was involved.

And in the end, I trust that Elias gave a proposed trade his full consideration before backing away from the table and saying, "That's too rich for our blood."

But Cease would have been a nice long term fixture in Baltimore in a way that Corbin Burnes most certainly won't be.

Burnes is gone after the 2024 season. I think we all know that.

Cease, though, is still under club control for two more seasons. He'll "only" make $8 million in '24. When he eventually hits free agency, he'll probably be a $40 million pitcher.

For two years, though, the Padres have themselves quite the bargain making 33 starts per-season.

Can you imagine a rotation in Baltimore that featured Burnes and Cease, plus Grayson Rodriguez?

I'm sure Elias imagined it.

But for whatever reason, it didn't materialize.

Did the White Sox say, "If Jackson Holliday isn't involved, it's a "no"?

If so, Elias was right. No deal.

Or did the White Sox say, "We want four prospects and two of them have to be Westburg and Cowser"?

If so, I think I might have pulled that trigger on that one.

And I'm just using those two names, of course. It might have been Westburg and the much-heralded catcher, Samuel Basilio, for all I know. That package I also might have approved.

The Padres made the deal yesterday without giving up any of their top ranked prospects. They gave up several in their top 10, though.

Was that just too rich for Mike Elias to digest?

I think, someday, we'd all like to know, just for the sake of knowing.

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DALE WILLIAMS returns for his 9th season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2023-2024 season.


terps blow out rutgers


In a game that was never really in doubt, Maryland raced out to an 11-0 lead, making a trio of triples, and cruised to a 65-51 win. Only a 15-3 run by Rutgers over the game’s last 6 minutes hid the blowout.

Maryland was better than Rutgers in every phase of the game, but it was the Scarlet Knights’ inability to make shots that bounced them from the first round of this year’s Big Ten Tournament.

Shooting 31% from the floor, inclusive of 23.8% for the three-point stripe, Rutgers was never going to score enough points to contend.

Maryland had 4 players in double figures. Donta Scott had 16 and Juju Reese put up 12. Both Jahmir Young and Jamie Kaiser tallied 11 points.

Maryland’s crisp and unselfish passing, especially on the interior, led to a hefty 17 assists. Young had 7 of those, leading the Terps.

Maryland picked up a win on Wednesday over Rutgers, with Donta Scott's 16 point evening leading the way.

Rutgers, who were without the services of Mawot Mag, were paced by Gavin Griffiths’ 16 points.

The normally cold-starting Terps raced out to early leads of 11-0 and 17-7 thanks to their three-point shooting. Kaiser hit a pair and Harris-Smith and Scott each made one in the first 8 minutes of play. Willard’s decision to start Kaiser had paid off immediate dividends.

Rutgers was helping Maryland all they could by committing 5 turnovers in the game’s first 10 minutes.

After the 10-minute mark, both teams cooled of dramatically, combining for just 2 made field goals in their last combined 16 shots.

The under 8-minute TV timeout came at 7:54 with the Terps leading 20-9. Rutgers was shooting 22% from the floor (4-18) while Maryland had hit 7 of 17. The separator was the 4 to 1 advantage that Maryland had in three-point shots made.

The foul line accounted for the next 6 Terrapin points, allowing them to ride out their field goal drought. The gap between made Maryland shots ended with a Jordan Geronimo dunk followed by a Scott put-back. The Terp lead had stretched to 16 points, 30-14. Maryland was enjoying an 8-0 advantage from the foul line.

After running their lead up to 18, the Terps decided to match Rutgers' give-away game, committing a series of turnovers, and the Scarlet Knights closed the gap a bit by scoring 8 points in a row. A short Reese jumper ended that brief Scarlet Knight run.

The half ended with Young making a short jumper, leaving the Terps up 36-22.

After connecting on 4 threes in the first 3:30 of the game, Maryland failed to hit another in the first half. Rutgers had drained 2 triples in 11 tries, giving Maryland a 6-point advantage in points from behind the arc.

The balance of the difference between the two teams in the opening 20 minutes came at the foul line where Maryland held on to that 8-0 edge.

Rutgers, holding true to form, was miserable from the field in the first half.

Their 31% shooting from the floor, 18% from the three-point line, and 0 for 3 performance from the foul line were the main factors behind their 14-point deficit.

Maryland countered with 44%, 44%, and 50%. Foul trouble was no issue for either team.

Another quick Terp start defined the opening minutes of the second half. A 9-2 burst extended Maryland’s lead to 19, 43-24.

A timeout was Coach Pikiell’s only solution to stopping the Terrapin second half surge.

The bulge was now 23 points until Anthony Hyatt hit a triple after play resumed. The big question at this point became: were the Scarlet Knights capable of scoring the 21 points needed, assuming the Terps went scoreless for the remainder of the game, to gain a lead?

After Maryland’s Jahari Long and The Scarlet Knight’s Gavi Griffiths exchanged threes, the Terps lead by 21 again, 51-30. Rutgers called another timeout.

With nearly 11 minutes left in the game, the handwriting was on the wall…in bold letters. Rutgers just does not possess the fire power to significantly shrink a 21-point deficit in 11 minutes.

Another small Terp run grew their lead to 26 points, 62-36.

If there was even a glimmer of Rutgers hope, it had faded to black. There was 7:54 of meaningless basketball remaining. Maryland’s focus now was to rest key guys for Thursday’s tilt with Wisconsin.

Unfortunately for Maryland, Jahari Long was still in the game with the Terps up big and the game almost over. He twisted a knee and was helped off of the court. His status is listed as “Questionable”.

It’s back to BTN for the next two days. CBS will handle all of the weekend action. Maryland will face Wisconsin today in a game that will start about 25 minutes after the 12 noon Michigan State/Minnesota game is completed.

Wisconsin beat the Terps, 74-70, on February 20, in Madison. Even though the final differential was 4 points, this was a 6 or 7-point game for much of the second half.

I still worry about the Tyler Wahl matchup with Donta Scott. If Maryland can keep him from greatly impacting the game offensively, and protect the three-point line against a Badger team that is only average from long distance, then Maryland can hang in this game.

Wisconsin hasn’t won a game away from the cozy confines of the Kohn Center since January 23. With some projections placing the Badgers as high as a 6 seed in the NCAA tournament, this isn’t a life and death situation for them.

This game could be Maryland’s Super Bowl. Back-to-back games become even harder when your second opponent is well rested like Wisconsin will be. The line is fairly set at Wisconsin -3.5.

I expect this game to be a classic conference tournament battle, complete with end-of-game drama. This one goes down to a final play. Deshawn Harris-Smith locks down Max Klesmit and the Terps pull off the upset, 70-68.

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king arrives, queen leaves


Oh, those Ravens-Steelers games might wind up being fun again after all.

I guess that depends on how much smack talk we get from Patrick Queen next season. If he yaps, it could get interesting. If he stays quiet, we probably won't notice him all that much.

Queen did what people in Baltimore consider unthinkable on Tuesday and signed with Pittsburgh. He gets a big bag of money and gets to face the Ravens twice a year to try to prove they made the wrong decision by letting him wander off into free agency.

Meanwhile, a couple of others hit the road late Monday/early Tuesday (after we published), with Gus Edwards (Chargers) and Devin Duvernay (Jacksonville) both remaining in the AFC.

The Ravens bolstered their offense on Tuesday with the addition of free agent running back Derrick Henry.

Duvernay's a nothing burger.

Edwards, though, might be missed. Sure, running backs are like bad Beatles songs, they're everywhere. But Edwards had carved out a nice niche for himself in Charm City and, to borrow a familiar phrase, "played like a Raven".

But if Edwards isn't missed in 2024, it will likely be because the Ravens have "The King" in their offensive backfield. Eric DeCosta turned out to be the answer to one of the NFL's most oft-asked questions this off-season: "Who is going to pony up some cash for Derrick Henry?"

It turns out DeCosta and the Ravens are that team, signing "King Henry" to a 2-year deal on Tuesday.

Career calendar wise? He's probably in the early November, I'd say. There's still tread on the tires, but they're clearly showing their miles.

I saw someone on Tuesday compare his arrival to that of Steve McNair back in 2006. I think that's a reasonably fair assessment.

McNair was no longer in his prime, but he could still get the job done when everything was in place for him. Henry is probably cut from the same cloth. He's not going be a beast and gain 1,500 yards or anything like that, but he can still get somewhere near the 1,167 yards he gained for the Titans in 2023.

And if ever there was a running back built for the rigors of the AFC North, it's Henry, even as his career calendar heads in the direction of Thanksgiving.

But make no mistake about it, the Ravens are an organization in transition as they prepare for the 2024 campaign.

Free agency "hits" happen all the time, but this off-season has been quite a wild ride thus far for John Harbaugh's team. And there's still the potential down the road for a veteran or two to be released, don't forget.

The good news? They kept the likes of Michael Pierce and Justin Madubuike around, both of whom could have signed elsewhere.

They avoided any moral dilemma and legal issue(s) with wide receiver Zay Flowers when police dropped their domestic violence investigation last month.

But the departures are significant, that's for sure.

It remains to be seen what Queen's move to Pittsburgh will do to Baltimore's defense. His game certainly perked up after Roquan Smith arrived in mid-season 2022. And while replacing him won't be easy, that's what the draft is for, right?

As for the whole "signing in Pittsburgh thing", that's just water cooler bellyaching.

If you're a regional manager for McDonald's making $200,000 and Burger King rolls in with an offer for $300,000, I assume you're taking the $300,000 and, you know, "having things your way". You probably wouldn't think twice about going to a chief competitor. It's "bidness", as they say in the movies.

I have no idea what other offers Queen had, if any, but I assume he didn't give a second thought to the fact that the Steelers and Ravens are longtime arch-rivals.

If the Jets offered $31 million and the Steelers offered $41 million, Queen is signing with the Steelers. Done deal.

Maybe I'm in the minority. And if so, that's fine. But I couldn't care less where people sign when they're NFL free agents.

I mean, it's not like Queen is signing on to receive a paycheck from a government that beheaded a Washington Post journalist, right? It's just football.

So what's next for the Ravens? Offensive line appears to be the team's #1 off-season target now, whether that's through free agency or next month's draft.


The Players Championship starts tomorrow at TPC Sawgrass as the official countdown to the Masters begins in what many folks believe is golf's 5th major.

The course plays very difficult even when the conditions are benign, which they're expected to be throughout this week and over the weekend. It's a place where ball striking matters a great deal, plus a few other nuances we'll highlight below as we try to provide you with another week of cash-makers at the wagering window.

Let me say this from the start: If his form continues to hold up -- and he's been playing "like this" for almost 2 years now -- there's no reason not to think Scottie Scheffler will have a chance to win on Sunday. He's not quite Secretariat at this point, but unless he gets food poisoining or gets bit by a spider, there's simply no indication that he's due for a stinker this week.

That's my way of saying: "He's probably going to win, but I'm not going to bet him."

I'm looking at six others who fit a certain model, one that includes past history, course data and that general gut feeling that sometimes it's just "someone's turn to finally win a significant event."

Cameron Young is a player that fits the profile in a small way. His track record at Sawgrass is next-to-nothing. He missed the cut in 2022 and finished T51 in 2023. There's not much on his performance sheet that tells you he's closing in on a win at The Playhers. But I feel like he's a guy who is close to winning something big. And he's +4500 this week, which is a really nice price for a player of his ability. A win might be ambitious, but a top 10 or top 20 is well within his grasp. And if his putter gets hot, he could be right there coming down the stretch on Sunday.

This could be the week we finally see Tom Hoge break through with a big, big win. He actually leads the entire PGA Tour in shots gained so far in 2024, which is really impressive when you realize that means he's been better, tee-to-green, than Scheffler. If Hoge keeps hitting the ball the way he has thus far in '24, he's going to win a big golf tournament this year.

Min Woo Lee's efficiency on par 5 holes could be a huge factor in his effort to win at TPC Sawgrass.

Hoge's record at TPC Sawgrass is decent. He's made 5 of 5 cuts and finished T3 a year ago. The course clearly suits him to some degree. If he hits it in the right spots on the greens and makes some putts, he could be your winner. Oh, and his +6600 price tag is almost comically out of whack. Grab him at +6600 right now.

It's almost impossible to leave Min Woo Lee off of the betting card so, guess what, I won't. One of the scoring features that sticks out at TPC Sawgrass is that the winners almost always rank among the TOUR leaders in par-5 birdies. Lee currently ranks 5th in that category in 2024, with 47 birdies in 72 par 5 holes. He had a chance to win last year before faltering down the stretch and finishing T6. The golf course suits him perfectly.

The oddsmakers don't fancy his chances this week, but I do, especially at +6000.

Brian Harman won his first "big" tournament last summer at Royal Liverpool, but a win at TPC Sawgrass would be his biggest professional victory in the U.S. And everything points to Harman being a great fit this week.

He's playing solid golf in 2024, for starters, and his history at both The Players and at Pete Dye designed golf courses is very hard to ignore.

Harman is a lefty who shapes the ball both ways, so there won't be many tee shots or approach shots that don't fit his eye in some way.

He's another one of those guys in the +6600 range who will pay off handsomely if you get him on your Top 20, Top 10 and Win sheets.

Sam Burns is ready to win. And win big. Whether it's this week, who knows, but if there's a current "horses for courses" guy that's just too inviting to pass up, it's Burns. He's on the board this morning at +4000, which is certainly a great number for a player of his ability.

He hasn't missed a cut since last July, so you know, unless something goes haywire, he's going to play all four days this week. Two of his five career wins are in Florida and, for good measure, he's made his last two cuts at Sawgrass.

There's no way Burns doesn't win something big in 2024. He's just too good and too much on the upswing to not capture the Players or a major or a FedEx Cup event.

We love his chances this week.

And last but not least is the guy that we think is the most inviting player in the entire field from a wagering standpoint. Erik van Rooyen will start tomorrow's first round somewhere in the neighborhood of +13000, which is hilarious for a player of his stature.

There's nothing specific about TPC Sawgrass that fits his narrative, which is precisely why we fancy his chances this week.

He's on the cusp of a huge breakthrough, we think. Unless his form really drops off in the next couple of weeks, you're going to see him among our favorites at the Masters, too.

If you pressed us to give you a winner of anyone outside the top 10 "favorites" for the week, van Rooyen is our guy.

Because it's a massive field and you can create a variety of different wagering angles, here are four other players we're going to play this week because they fit our profile above; Shane Lowry is playing great golf the last two weeks but he's yet to wind up in the winner's circle. The golf course is a nice fit for him.

It feels like Sahith Theegala is "this close" to something big happening in his career. I'm not sure he drives it straight enough to figure out the nuances of TPC Sawgrass, but if he has a good week off the tee, he could be there.

Ludvig Aberg is going to see a lot of new golf courses in 2024 and Sawgrass is one of them. His ability to birdie par 5 holes should make him a favorite in any tournament where the course has four of them. I could see Aberg leading going into the fourth round before faltering under the pressure of a final round test. But don't be surprised if he's hanging around.

And we're going to go with our old standby, again, because he almost always delivers somehow. And that's Sungjae Im. He's made three straight cuts at Sawgrass and had a huge T6 finish a year ago. He is definitely in the argument for "best player without a major".

It might not be recognized as the actual 5th major, but this is a great, great golf tournament, especially when the weather cooperates and they can get the course playing firm and fast.

A few flukes have won along the way, sure, but for the most part, only the best of the best figure out a way to win at Sawgrass. With no disrespect to guys like Austin Eckroat, Jake Knapp and Nick Dunlap, those kind of players generally don't win The Players. There's just too much on the line. The players with the best pedigree usually work their way to the top of the leaderboard by late Sunday afternoon.


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enter our players championship contest today!


Our friends at Baltimore County Golf and 105.7 The Fan are teaming up for a really cool Players Championship contest this week and the winner gets to hang out with me for four hours at Greystone Golf Course.

I guess you could call that a "prize", huh?

This week's so-called "5th Major" of professional golf takes the TOUR to TPC Sawgrass for The Players. If you want to jump into the contest, it's very easy.

Head to Twitter ("X") and follow me: @itsahooded4iron

You'll see messages there explaining the contest. Reply to the message with the words "I Want A Golfer!" and you'll receive a player, randomly chosen, from this week's field at The Players.

If "your" player wins the tournament, you and a friend will join me and a friend of mine for a fun day of golf at Greystone sometime this spring/summer.

I know what you're thinking: So what's the prize?

You're funny.

One entry per person.

And it all must be done on Twitter, so if you don't have a Twitter account, you need to create one.

Golfers will be selected, at random, and distributed over the next two days. The tournament begins on Thursday.

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dale williams aims the
terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his 9th season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2023-2024 season.


terps face rutgers in tourney opener


If it’s strictly collective talent levels that determine the outcome of Maryland’s Big Ten Tournament opener against Rutgers, then the Terps should move on to play Wisconsin on Thursday.

Rutgers and Maryland share 7-13 conference records, but the Terps have 2 decent road wins (Iowa and Illinois) while the Scarlet Knights only defeated the two bottom feeders in the league (Michigan and Maryland) outside of their own gym.

I won’t rehash the same “keys” that I outlined in the two pieces that preceded this season’s Terp loss at the XFINITY Center, or their win in East Rutherford. But I will address some consistencies that jump out at me.

The first thing I notice is the job that Steve Pikiell’s defense did on Jahmir Young. Many might be surprised to hear that the Terps big time scorer made just 1 shot inside of three-point line against Rutgers over the 2 games. Seems impossible, right? But it’s true.

Young shot a combined 5 for 26 against a Rutgers defense that sold out to stop his dribble penetrations. Of those 5 made buckets, 4 of them were threes (4-9). The wholesale effort to jam the lane and stop Young’s entrance into the paint left the Scarlet Knights thin in other areas.

Jahmir Young and the Terps have a favorable first round match up in tonight's Big Ten tournament opener.

On several occasions, Juian Reese was able to receive passes very deep into the paint. This allowed him to quickly get off a good look without the difficulties of a double team. Reese was a combined 16 of 21 in the two games.

Maryland also got good looks from the perimeter. That’s not a bad strategy against the usually inept Terp shooters, but after making just 2 of 18 in the first game, Maryland improved to 6 of 19 in their win in game 2.

I think Young got frustrated by the pressure in that first game. The numbers suggest the same thing. He shot 3 of 17, and committed 5 turnovers against 3 assists in that loss at home.

We don’t know if he learned from the first game or was coached up, but in the second matchup, he shot less (2 or 9) but picked up 9 assists with only 3 turnovers.

Without looking up stats for each Maryland game, I would place a wager that the 17-point win against Rutgers was the only game this season that Young was fourth on the team in shots attempted and the only one where he was last in shots made of all the starters.

It might take a similar effort tonight, as I expect Rutgers to employ the same strategy to stop Young.

I will remind DMD readers that this Rutgers team is last in the Big Ten in points scored per game, and last in field goal percentage.

Only Maryland’s 28.4% three-point shooting kept Rutgers from sweeping the board for offensive futility. The Scarlet Knights avoided the basement in that category by making 28.9% of their threes.

Maryland’s recent poor second half defensive performances have moved them down to 12th in Kenpom’s adjusted defense. Rutgers is 4th. The real separation between these two teams is offensively. Maryland ranks 150th in points scored per 100 possessions, while Rutgers ranks 295th.

Up and down the lineup, the Terps have the better talent, but this game will be decided by effort and motivation.

Both teams have a puncher's chance against their second-round foe, Wisconsin. Rutgers beat the Badgers by 22 just a month ago, and the Terps lost a tight, 74-70 game in Madison.

That winner gets a Northwestern team that scratched out two close wins against Maryland and lost their only battle with the Scarlet Knights. Three wins in three days is asking a bunch from teams that can’t score and have little depth, but there is very little separation between the 4 teams that I mentioned.

The Big Ten awards were announced yesterday, with only a few surprises. Zach Edey was the coaches and media Player of the Year. There’s no arguing that selection.

The defensive POY went to Penn State’s Ace Baldwin. Again, hard to deny that one.

The First Team All-Big Ten went to Boo Buie, Braden Smith, Terrance Shannon Jr, and Zach Edey.

Jahmir Young was first team for the media, and Marcus Domask was the coach’s selection. In no world was Purdue’s Smith a more valuable piece than Young.

Young, on Purdue’s roster, makes them a much better team. He could easily duplicate the Boilermaker’s success if he were their point guard. Smith would do well in College Park, but doesn’t add anywhere near what Young adds.

There were 19 players selected to the Honorable Mention ranks. Scott and Reese were among those.

Now comes my griping session about an award given in all sports, Coach of the Year. I find this award somewhat meaningless. It always goes to one of two people. The coach of the winningest team, or the coach of the team that furthest exceeds the media’s expectations.

In all honesty, until these teams play games that I can view, I have no idea how impactful all the transfers and freshmen can be.

I don’t have the available minutes to look at film of every new player in the league, and I can tell you right now, that the large bulk of the media doesn’t see those game tapes either. They go from reputation and other people’s writings. Most of the pre-season “guesses” are based on returning players, and that’s a fair criterion to use, but it’s only one element.

My point is, these pre-season assessments are highly inaccurate.

CBS had Michigan State 2nd and Maryland 4th. Perhaps their biggest miss came with predicting Nebraska to finish 12th. They tied for third.

So, who wins the Coach of the Year? The co-winners were Purdue’s Matt Painter (regular season champs) and Fred Hoiberg from Nebraska.

I’m not saying that neither coach did a fine job this season. I am saying that it’s so hard to tell what coach did the best job with the talent they had, and giving the award to the coach of the best team or the one that most surprised the media makes the award meaningless. Perhaps the job that Pikiell did massaging 7 conference wins out of his Rutgers team was the best coaching job all season.

OK, rant over.

Tonight’s game should be won my Maryland. Reese should be back, but both he and Mawat Mag for Rutgers are listed as “Questionable”. I expect both to go.

It all comes down to “want to”. The team that plays the hardest will win. If both teams play equally aggressive, the Terps win 64-57. The line had UMD favored by 3.5.

Both Wednesday games (UMD/Rutgers and Michigan/Penn State) can be seen on Peacock. This year’s event is in Minneapolis and the Terps are the tournament’s opener with a 6:30 start.

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March 12, 2024
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now that was a manic monday


OK, so the Ravens have lost John Simpson, Geno Stone and Ronald Darby to free agency thus far.

That's not a big deal at all, if you ask me.

Simpson was a nice stop gap on the offensive line last season but nothing to write home about. Stone is a good player who might be more style than substance and Darby might have done the Ravens a favor by moving on. It saved Harbaugh, DeCosta and others that summertime "tough talk", if you know what I mean.

The Bengals landed Stone yesterday, Simpson heads to the Jets and Darby will be playing in Jacksonville in 2024.

But while those three deals were of the ho-hum variety, there were several eye opening announcements on Monday as the free agency wars officially got underway in the National Football League.

Will Patrick Queen be the next big name Raven to leave via free agency this week?

Atlanta took a step in the direction of solving their quarterback woes by luring Kirk Cousins to the NFC South on a 4-year deal. Cousins spent six mostly successful years in Minnesota but failed to get the Vikings to the Super Bowl in that span. The Falcons haven't had a real quarterback since the days of Matt Ryan. Cousins could be a super-nice fit in Atlanta or all he might do is help them continue to hover around the .500 mark.

The New York Giants made a huge move in acquiring defensive end Brian Burns from the Panthers. New York gave up a 2nd round pick in this year's draft and a 2025 5th rounder, plus they had to fork over $150M to sign the pass rusher to a new deal. Burns would have helped virtually any team in the league but he'll certainly make a huge impact with the Giants.

The Jets picked up former Ravens QB Tyrod Taylor to back-up Aaron Rodgers. Taylor has bounced around a lot in his lengthy NFL career but is more than a capable fill-in when a starter gets injured. And, with the Jets and Rodgers, you just never know, of course.

The Eagles landed the running back they feel their offense needs to put them over the top when they agreed to a deal with former Giants ball carrier Saquon Barkley. There was some speculation on free agent Monday that the Ravens might be Barkley's ultimate destination but his move down I-95 stopped about 75 miles north in Philly.

The Ravens could quench their thirst for a new running back by adding Joe Mixon, who was released yesterday by the Bengals. In a related move, Cincinnati then signed former Colts running back Zack Moss, who rose to prominence this past season when he filled in nicely on several occasions for Jonathan Taylor.

There's nothing quite like NFL free agency.

Unlike baseball, where big moves sometimes take weeks to materialize once the free agent period begins, the NFL is a full out sprint to the money bag.

The Ravens, of course, got a head start on their off-season roster build by signing Justin Madubuike to a new long term deal late last week.

But they probably won't be able to do the same thing with linebacker Patrick Queen.

With their salary cap tight and in need of some tweaking, it's highly unlikely they're going to be able to keep the former 1st round draft pick.

Rumors were swirling as early as January that Queen's ultimate destination will be Pittsburgh. New England and Seattle are also potential attractive landing spots for the former LSU star.

With the departure of Mike Macdonald to Seattle, the Seahawks rumors make obvious sense.

One Ravens team associate told #DMD on Monday, "Anywhere but Pittsburgh. We know we're going to lose him (Queen). I guess we're just hoping it's not in Pittsburgh or not in the AFC North."

The Ravens head into this off-season with more questions than they've had in several years.

Mike Macdonald is gone as defensive coordinator and in his place it's Zach Orr.

There will be spots to fill on the defensive side of the ball in almost every area, including pass rush, linebacker and the secondary.

Running back appears to be a huge area of need offensively, and while the offensive line might not be in "overhaul" territory just yet, they do need a lot of help up front.

It's fun to be a pursuer in free agency.

It's not always enjoyable to be the team that gets their roster taken apart, though.

The Ravens will lose a couple of others, at least, throughout the week. Their challenge will be obvious: fill their needs through free agency if possible, but focus on the draft and rebuilding with talent that doesn't cost you a bundle of cash.

This is where Eric DeCosta shines.

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enter our players championship contest today!


Our friends at Baltimore County Golf and 105.7 The Fan are teaming up for a really cool Players Championship contest this week and the winner gets to hang out with me for four hours at Greystone Golf Course.

I guess you could call that a "prize", huh?

This week's so-called "5th Major" of professional golf takes the TOUR to TPC Sawgrass for The Players. If you want to jump into the contest, it's very easy.

Head to Twitter ("X") and follow me: @itsahooded4iron

You'll see messages there explaining the contest. Reply to the message with the words "I Want A Golfer!" and you'll receive a player, randomly chosen, from this week's field at The Players.

If "your" player wins the tournament, you and a friend will join me and a friend of mine for a fun day of golf at Greystone sometime this spring/summer.

I know what you're thinking: So what's the prize?

You're funny.

One entry per person.

And it all must be done on Twitter, so if you don't have a Twitter account, you need to create one.

Golfers will be selected, at random, and distributed over the next two days. The tournament begins on Thursday.

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nice guys can finish first


Is there a chance, even a sliver of such, that we might be seeing something close to a Tiger Woods period of dominance on the horizon within the PGA Tour?

There's a long way to go in the 2024 PGA Tour season, but if Scottie Scheffler has, in fact, "fixed" his putting, the rest of the guys in professional golf are playing for second place.

Yes, that's a big statement.

But it's true.

And here's another statement. And even bigger one, perhaps.

Scheffler's golf over the last 25 months, from a tee-to-green standpoint, is as close to Tiger Woods as anyone has been over the last two decades.

That's not me saying that. The data and the statistics say it.

Scottie Scheffler will likely be the favorite at next month's Masters tournament after yesterday's big win in Orlando.

I just happen to be the one pointing it out.

Scheffler is a ball-striking virtuoso unlike the sport has seen since the days when Tiger beat everyone like a drum for the better part of a dozen years from 2000-2012.

The difference?

Woods never went through a dry spell with the putter like Scheffler has over the last year.

Yesterday, though, the 2022 Masters champion capped off a remarkable week at Bay Hill with a resounding putting display in posting a 5-shot win in the Arnold Palmer Invitational. And it all started with a putter change, to a new "mallet" style from Taylor Made that Scheffler says "felt 100 times better at impact" than his old flat stick.

If Scheffler's new putter and his 2nd career API victory wasn't a case of beginner's luck, we might be looking at a 5 or 6 win season on the horizon.

Yeah, the way Tiger used to do it in his heyday.

Here's the other thing about Scheffler that's compelling.

He might be the nicest player in golf.

Like, anywhere in golf.

It's not often that a player with that demeanor and that incredible level of kindness is also a giant killer in his her or her sport. But Scheffler is a guy totally unafraid to beat your brains in who will also give you a ride to the TOUR's weekly Bible study.

"I play for God's glory first," Scheffler said after yesterday's win, the 7th of his career. "If I win, Jesus Christ gets the praise."

His 2-win season in 2023 was marred by remarkably poor putting in the final rounds of various tournaments. His ball striking data was beyond belief. He led the TOUR in four different categories. But was nearly last in strokes gained putting.

"His putting was good enough to put him into position eight or nine times to win and then lousy enough to cost him eight or nine wins," Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee said this past Saturday night. "If he can figure out what's going on with his putting on Sundays, you're looking at a monumental season."

If it wasn't a one day thing yesterday, everyone else is in big trouble.

Scheffler's work with his driver, irons and wedges was once again at the top of the statistical leaderboard, but the putter finally cooperated for four straight rounds.

"It felt great to stand over putts and think, 'This one's going in' instead of 'I hope I can make this one'," Scheffler told reporters. "I've been waiting to have that feeling again, like I did in '22."

Since Tiger's career stalled after injuries, surgeries and a horrific car accident, the TOUR has been searching long and hard for the next dominant player.

Several names have surfaced over the last decade; McIlroy, Spieth, Koepka, Thomas. At times, each of those guys looked like they might be "the next Tiger". But they all developed flaws that Woods never encountered.

McIlroy suddenly couldn't close on Sunday in majors.

Spieth's golf swing left him and so, too, did his ability to beat the best players.

Koepka could win majors, but "regular" events didn't interest him.

Thomas ran too hot and cold, playing great for a few weeks and then shifting into neutral.

Tiger never failed to close.

He changed swings, but more out of boredom than necessity.

Woods won every type of tournament he entered; "regular" events, tournaments with elite fields and, of course, major championships.

And Tiger never ran hot and cold. He always ran one temperature -- boiling.

Scheffler isn't exactly in Tiger territory just yet. But he's closer than anyone has been over the last decade when you take into account the data that supports his world #1 ranking.

Distinctly odd footwork aside, Scheffler's golf swing is a mix of power and athleticism. He lashes at the ball in an "Arnie-like" way while still generating remarkable clubhead speed and a square clubface at impact.

He's a great driver of the golf ball.

His irons are of the "towering" variety, ripped straight into the air with authority and precision.

And like Woods did at his zenith, Scheffler carves up the par-5 holes with short game wizardry.

The putting, though.

That's the one thing that's held him back over the last 25 months. 7 wins in that span are more than anyone else on the PGA Tour, of course, but 7 could have easily been more 17 with even a halfway-cooperative flat stick.

If Sunday's putting display was any indication, more wins are on the way.

A "Tiger season" might even be within reach in 2024.

Nice guys do finish first after all.


While Maryland was busy laying a massive egg in State College, PA yesterday, Pat Skerry and Towson University are now just two wins away from advancing to the NCAA tournament after their 66-56 win over UNC Wilmington on Sunday.

The Tigers haven't been a March Madness participant since 1991.

But to make it, #1 College of Charleston stands in their way tonight at 6 pm.

The other semifinal pits #3 Hofstra vs. upstart #7 Stony Brook, who shocked #2 seed Drexel yesterday, 91-88.

Every Baltimore area school but one has made the NCAA tournament this century; UMBC, Loyola, Coppin State and Morgan State have all "gone dancing". Towson, though, has not.

They'll need to get past College of Charleston tonight in order to have a chance at making March Madness for the first time in 33 years.

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DALE WILLIAMS returns for his 9th season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2023-2024 season.


nittany lions roar past terps


As has been the case in recent Terrapin losses, their second half defense again failed them in last night’s regular season finale in State College, PA.

A four-point game at halftime became a comfortable 85-69 blowout win for the Penn State Nittany Lions.

The turning point on the court may have been the 2 missed Jordan Geronimo foul shots with the Terps trailing by 5 with 17:10 left in the game. You could sense the fight draining from Maryland when Geronimo bricked those freebies.

The turning point, off the court, came pre-game when Julian Reese was declared out of action because of a tweaked ankle.

Kevin Willard's Terps produced a listless second half in Sunday's regular season finale, falling by 17 points to Penn State.

Without Reese, the Terps got horsed in the paint and on the glass. Qudus Wahab looked like a cross between Shaq, Moses Malone, and Darryl Dawkins. Wahab had 19 points and 15 rebounds in 30 minutes of play. The total rebound differential favored Penn State, 46-27.

In the second half, Maryland allowed PSU to shoot 60% from the floor. Penn State scored 49 times in the game’s final 20 minutes. The Terps, again, struggled with their shooting. They shot 38 from the floor and 26% from the three-point line. Without Reese, Maryland had no chance of competing with Penn State.

Jahmir Young had a tough night, shooting 4 of 14 and missing all 5 of his three point tries.

Here’s a stat for you; the Terp bench outscored the starters in the second half, 23-14.

Donta Scott was so bad that Willard pulled him early in the second half (I heard no mention of an injury). He saw just 4 minutes of time in half 2, failing to score. After opening the game by scoring 6 points in the opening 1:50, he scored just 2 the rest of the game.

Penn State got off to a good start, leading 11-6 at the first break. Solving the Terp defense wasn’t an issue for the Nittany Lions, as they counted 3 layups in their first 4 made shots.

Maryland’s defensive focus was non-existent at this point in the game. Maryland was a step behind on drives and couldn’t catch up when chasing cutters.

Without Reese on the court, the Terps were being outrebounded 8-3 and had a hard time getting into their offensive sets.

The score was 18-15 when the next media timeout occurred with 11:31 left in the half. The Terps seemed to have a bit more energy with Caleb Swanton-Rodger at 5-spot instead of the starter, Madie Traore. Maryland had already committed 5 turnovers and made just 4 of their first 14 shots.

The Penn State lead was still 3 points when play was stopped again for the under 8-minute TV timeout. PSU continued to baffle Maryland with their off side cutting without the ball. Donta Scott had missed 4 shots in a row after starting the game scoring the Terps first 6 points.

The Terps found themselves ahead by three after Young’s “and one” was followed up with a Scott driving bank shot and a three by Jaimie Kaiser. The score was 27-24. The Terps defensive intensity had picked up too.

Penn State finished the half on a 10-3 run and took a 36-32 lead into the locker room. Young was forcing some shots and that caused the Terps to come up dry on three consecutive possessions.

A senseless foul by Geronimo, who was attempting to rebound a missed Swanton-Roger foul shot, added two more points to Penn State’s total when Wahab converted the one and one.

Young led the Terps with 11 first half points, but his +/- was minus ten. Meaning that while he was on the court, the Terps were outscored by ten points. Swanton-Roger gave Maryland some solid minutes while filling in for Reese.

PSU led by 3 with 15:52 left in the game, but the play for each team was getting sloppy. Swanton-Rodger and Harris-Smith had both been charged with 3 fouls. For Penn State, Zack Hicks and Nick Kern had 3 fouls a piece. Wahab, taking full advantage of the absence of Reese, had already posted 13 points and 13 rebounds.

The Terps needed a timeout with 14:33 left in the half, trying to stem a PSU run. The lead was now 7 -points, 49-42.

When Maryland forgot to guard Ace Baldwin, his successful 3 pointer pushed the Penn State advantage to 13. The game was getting out of hand and the Terp effort began to wane. At one point Penn State ran off 10 consecutive points during a 15-2 run. The last 13:36 was just play time. Maryland failed to get stops or rebounds and never threatened. Ballgame.

If you want positives from this game, I’ll give you four.

First, Swanton-Rodger gave Willard some decent minutes, especially in the first half. He’s never going to be a vital piece, but the sophomore has made improvement on both ends.

Second, perhaps Jamie Kaiser has found out that he can do more than shoot threes. He was 3 for 5 when putting the ball on the floor and got to the foul line on several occasions, making 4 of 5 from the line.

The third positive were the three triples that Noah Batchelor hit in the second half. It’s a shame that he lacks the physicality and athleticism to play defense in the league, because I believe he has the best stroke on this team.

And finally, that last positive is that I never again have to watch Scott miss shots and play half-hearted defense in a regular season Big Ten game. I’m guessing Willard had also seen enough.

Maryland will play the first game of this year’s Big Ten tournament. Their Wednesday tilt against Rutgers in Minneapolis starts at 6:30 and can be seen on Peacock.

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March 10, 2024
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"it's only interesting if..."


Late Friday afternoon a college basketball story started circulating regarding suspicious gambling activities involving two schools; Temple University and Baltimore's very own Loyola University.

The story picked up steam locally over the weekend when Loyola head coach Tavaras Hardy stepped down after six seasons following the Greyhounds' ouster from the Patriot League conference tournament.

A separate report on Saturday showed troubling details out of Philadelphia, where sources are now saying Temple had as many as four games this season that have been investigated by a sports gambling watchdog group.

A source connected with Loyola's program tells me Hardy's departure had nothing at all to do with the gambling story regarding the Greyhounds.

"Tavaras is pursuing another coaching opportunity, nothing more, nothing less," the source told me.

The Greyhounds say they discovered a member of the program was connected with gambling this season and immediately dismissed from the program.

Meanwhile, the Temple story apparently has some real legs. On Monday this past week, the University of Alabama-Birmingham was a 2-point favorite for Thursday's game in Philadelphia. After a surge of wagers came in on UAB to push the line to minus 8.5 points for the visitors, Temple then fell at home, 100-72.

Basketball is probably the easiest team sport to fix.

Everyone has a bad shooting night.

There are rebounds that "just fell out of reach".

Screens aren't fought through with the same intensity.

Three pointers aren't defended as they should be.

It "looks" like you're giving it your all, but you're not.

And the other team has no idea, either.

The refs aren't paying attention and they couldn't care less, either.

If you're an 8.5 point underdog and you want to lose by 9 points or more, that's the easiest thing in the world to do.

I don't know if Temple's players were fixing games or not, but the point spread movement in this week's loss at home to UAB was evidently the final straw for the watchdog outfit.

Now...it's interesting.

And we all know old adage about sports: "It's only interesting if you can bet on it."


I once saw a college basketball game at a local school, a long time ago, that I remain convinced to this day was gambling-impacted by the home team.

I can't imagine the people involved could be affected by the story now -- if I released the names involved, that is -- but I'm not bringing it up to incriminate anyone individually. Rather, I'm mentioning it here again (I've told the story before) just to remind everyone it's not all that hard to change the final score if that's really all you're trying to do.

On that particular night, the home team was facing a conference leader/power and the outcome of the game was pretty much never in doubt. As it happened, the hosts were 9.5 point underdogs and the second half saw the score fluctuate between 12 and 8 point deficits throughout most of the final 20 minutes.

The visitors won by 11 on an uncontested layup with a few seconds remaining. I can still remember the final play to this day. I looked at the person attending the game with me and said, "What the heck was that? I've never seen a basketball game end like that, where the other team is up by 9 points with the ball and scores with two or three seconds left instead of just standing there and holding the ball to end the game."

The telltale sign came during the post-game handshake when nothing odd took place.

No finger pointing.

No jawing between players about the unnecessary basket with a couple of seconds remaining.

No agitation at all.

Both coaches greeted one another with a smile and the players buzzed through the line like it was a summer scrimmage.

If you're going to fix the eventual point spread at the end of the game, at least look like you're mad about that final basket with a few seconds left.

That's what I thought to myself as I watched the handshake line.

It was pretty obvious, to me, that something weird was going on that night.

The game itself wasn't all that important or interesting. One team at the top of the conference standings and another down near the bottom.

But, as they say, it's always interesting if you can bet on it.


I've told this story several times about Mike Mussina and a certain umpire who told me, as a guest of a local restaurant owner, about his disdain for the O's pitcher.

"He thinks he's smarter than everyone in both dugouts," the umpire said. "I can't stand that kid."

The ump and the restaurant owner cackled and giggled about secret stories only they shared.

"Tonight," the umpire predicted, "that strike zone is going to look like the size of a thimble to him."

Mussina walked a slew of batters that night -- uncharacteristically, of course -- and the O's lost.

That was my first brush with "professional" gambling, I think. It was the eye opener for me, that maybe, just maybe, the games aren't always exactly on the level.

I have no idea if the umpire had money on the game or not. Maybe he just truly didn't like Mussina and wanted him to suffer a home loss and nothing more was involved.

But I saw how it worked, first hand. A couple of extra walks here and there, a single up the middle, and suddenly you're on the good end of a defeat that helped create.

It probably just looked like Mussina was "off" that night as he walked a bunch of batters.

I doubt anyone in the stands thought his outing was, you know, "interesting".

But it's always interesting if you can bet on it, as they say.


There are wagers to be made today as the PGA Tour event at Bay Hill wraps up with an intriguing leaderboard to consider.

Scottie Scheffler and Shane Lowry are tied for the top spot at 54 holes.

Lowry is on a heater, as they say, enjoying his second consecutive week in the final group to go out on Sunday. Last week he had a chance to win the Cognizant (nee "Honda") Classic before faltering on Sunday.

Armed with a new putter, Scottie Scheffler sits in a tie for the 54-hole lead heading into today's final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Scheffler has changed putters this week and the immediate return on investment is somewhat positive. While his putting numbers still aren't great, they're improving. And they've improved enough to give him a chance to win today.

Wyndham Clark (8 under) is one shot back after a wild ride on Saturday that saw him make two doubles and an eagle. I love this guy's golf game. I think he's in store for another big year.

Will Zalatoris (-7) was cruising with a 4-shot lead at one point on Saturday, but fell from 11 under to 7 under late in the day. His trademark "iffy" putting wasn't really the problem, other than a missed 5-footer at the last hole. He just hit some wildly offline shots on the back nine that put him in some crazy places on the golf course.

Anyone at 6 under or even 5 under still has a chance, particularly if Scheffler and Lowry both produce rounds of even par or thereabouts on a tough golf course this afternoon.

That means guys like Harris English (-6), Rory McIlroy (-5), Sam Burns (-5) and Max Homa (-5) are still sniffing around with an outside chance to win.

Three #DMD picks at the start of the week have a chance to cash Top 20 or Top 10 wagers. Corey Conners and Sungjae Im are both at 4-under par and Cameron Young sits at 2-under with one round to go.

Patrick Cantlay (even) has an outside chance of slipping into the top 20 but needs a round in the mid 60's today to do that.

My pick for today's final round?

It won't yield much of a return, but I think Scheffler is the guy who eventually winds up in the winner's circle at 11-under par.


Programming note: Due to a death in family, my weekly golf radio show on 105.7 The Fan will not be heard today. We'll return next Sunday to talk golf with you.

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DALE WILLIAMS returns for his 9th season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2023-2024 season.


terps close out regular season tonight


According to bball.notnothing.net, there is no scenario that keeps the Maryland Terrapins out of the “play-in” round of the Big Ten tournament held on Wednesday.

Their game tonight, at Penn State, can only determine the time of their first-round game and the Terps opening round opponent. That’s not quite what anyone affiliated with this team expected for Maryland’s final regular season game.

The Nittany Lions could have a bit more at stake. A win tonight keeps them out of the first round on Wednesday.

They will also advance to Thursday with an Ohio State loss (OSU takes on Rutgers at the RAC). The Ohio State game will be played at 2 pm on Sunday, 5-plus hours before PSU takes on Maryland. Penn State will know what they need to do before they take the floor for pre-game warm-ups.

#DMD's Dale Williams expects a big game tonight from Donta Scott as the Terps look for a season sweep of Penn State.

With this being senior night for PSU, emotions will be higher for the home Nittany Lions. Over 60% of Penn State’s playing minutes come from their 6 seniors. Tonight’s pre-game ceremony honoring Penn State’s seniors will take a long time.

These two teams played in early December, with the Terps grinding out an 81-75 win at the XFINITY Center in overtime. Penn State’s biggest offensive weapon that night was Kanye Clary. The small guard went 8 for 17 from the field and made all 7 of his foul shots while collecting a team high 25 points.

The Nittany Lions will miss that scoring tonight, as Clary has been dismissed from the team. No information was available as to exactly what happened to cause Clary’s forced exodus.

Some people suspected a series of negative social media posts. The Nittany Lions haven’t folded without him, going 2 and 3 with a good home win against Illinois.

In the first game, Julian Reese was 7 for 11 from the field against PSU’s Qudus Wahab. Reese was just too physical for the slightly built Nittany Lion big man. Reese also had 15 total rebounds with 6 of those coming on the offensive end of the court. The only downside for Reese, offensively, was his 10-15 foul shooting.

Jahmir Young also had a big night against Penn State, leading all scorers with 28 points. But, much like some of his more recent performances, he struggled from the three-point line (2 for 7) and made just 7 of 19 shots from the floor. Of his 28 points, 12 came from the foul line on 12 attempts. He also had too many turnovers, with 6.

Without Clary, Penn State’s lineup gets much bigger. Ace Baldwin will still run the show at 6’1”, but after him the Nittany Lions will trot out Nick Kern Jr (6’6”), Puff Johnson (6’8”), Zach Nicks (6’8”), and 6’11” Wahab. That group has some size and when on the court together, will force Kevin Willard to match it.

Kern won’t shoot threes, so he can be defended with someone who plays more physically inside. Deshawn Harris-Smith is the obvious choice size wise, but I’d rather see him checking Zach Hicks.

Hicks is a more versatile scorer, leading his team in threes attempted and made. Harris-Smith will fare better chasing him around the court than would Maryland’s Jordan Geronimo. Geronimo should get Puff Johnson.

The no-brainer match-ups are Young/Baldwin and Reese/Wahab. Maryland has an advantage with either of these, but the difference isn’t overwhelming unless Young just goes nuts shooting the ball. The ball game will fall to the team that wins the other three battles.

Maryland can’t shoot the ball worth a lick, that’s been proven time after time. Their performance against Penn State last time was epically bad.

They were just 34% from the floor and 20% from the three-point line. I believe (and maybe I’m a fool) that won’t be repeated tonight.

For sure, Donta Scott isn’t going out with a 4 point, 2 for 11 shooting night. That’s what he posted in the first Penn State game. I look for something special from him this evening.

I can see him using his body to work inside for a handful of buckets in the paint. If he gets to 20, I won’t be surprised. He’s not getting blanked from 3-point land again either.

As you can probably tell, I have a slight lean towards Maryland tonight. I’ll admit to being a bit concerned about Kern and Johnson, but I’m optimistic about Young, Reese, and Scott.

I also like the 23 offensive rebounds that Maryland grabbed in game #1, but I don’t like the fact that the Terps scored 30 of their 81 points from the foul line. That won’t happen in State College PA.

In the end, I’m not so sure playing your way out of a Wednesday game in the Big Ten Tournament is enough incentive for a team to lay it all on the line. They do have the emotion of senior night, but that usually lasts just long enough to get a team to that first TV break.

The important three matchups I mentioned earlier will lean ever so slightly to the Terps because of the big effort by Scott. The center and point guard battles swing in the Terps favor too.

If the Terps pound the offensive glass, focus on Reese and Scott inside, and guard the three-point line, they’ll win their final regular season Big Ten game.

The line was a predictable 1.5 with Penn State favored (the Terps were 4.5 favs at home). Only a big night from long range prevents a senior night loss for Penn State. The Terps won’t allow that to happen, and enjoy a hard fought, physical, 70 – 65 win.

Gametime is 7:30 and will be carried by BTN.

I’d like to add this little tidbit. If you want to stop court storming, it’s so easy. Just do what North Carolina did on the road last night in Cameron Indoor Stadium against Duke. Win.

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lesson learned?


There's a saying: Never a failure if a lesson was learned.

Let's hope that's the case with the National Football League after Friday's sobering news that several Kansas City Chiefs fans have suffered amputations to extremities in the wake of January's playoff game that was played in sub-zero temperatures.

As a lot of you enjoy pointing out, we don't always get it right here.

We did get that one right.

It was idiotic to play that football game in Kansas City that night. We said it before, the day after, and, again, today.

The NFL has done a lot of dumb things over the years. They suspended Calvin Ridley for an entire season over a gambling issue when, oddly enough, at least 50% of the league's TV revenue is derived from ----- you guessed it, gambling.

Roger Goodell and the NFL are in hot water now that news has come out of Kansas City about the January playoff game played in frigid temperatures.

But Ridley only lost a season of paychecks.

The people in Kansas City lost legs, feet, toes, fingers, etc.

Now, you can point out that no one forced anyone in Kansas City to attend that game in January. And you would be right.

But some people, like game day employees, were either attending/working or they weren't getting paid that night. At least one of the hospitalized people who later suffered an amputation were reportedly stadium workers.

There will likely be no legal recourse in this instance, although I assume there's a lawyer in Kansas City sitting over his or her coffee this morning trying to figure out if it's at least worth running up the flag pole.

But how does the NFL get held accountable for its decision to play the game and jeopardize everyone in the stadium, including the players.

Someone actually was forced to work at the stadium that night: the players, coaches, game officials, etc.

The NFL should have never started that game between the Chiefs and Dolphins. Why was it started in the first place? Scheduling? Convenience? The league's TV deal with NBC and Peacock?

The league did postpone a game in Buffalo scheduled for the very next day, remember, but that was only after the Governor of New York issued a travel shutdown due to snowfall.

You can bet everything you have that the game would have gone on between the Bills and Steelers if, in fact, people would have been allowed out on the roads.

Yes, it's an outdoor sport. Yes, it should be played in cold weather.

20 degrees is "cold".

10 degrees is "frigid"

What, then, is minus-4 degrees?

And when people suffer amputation in the aftermath of the game you refused to postpone, where does your responsibility for those injuries begin and end?

There's an attorney asking that very question today in Kansas City, I'm sure.

The NFL will, I'm quite certain, just roll on as if nothing happened. Somewhere at places he doesn't talk about at parties, Roger Goodell is shrugging his shoulders today and saying, "What was I supposed to do? We had a TV show to broadcast on Peacock that night and the show must go on."

It will be interesting to see whether the NFL learns a lesson from its failure.


"Regular season" PGA Tour events are generally not all that interesting, unless Tiger Woods is involved and somehow cobbles together four consecutive rounds, which seems more and more unlikely these days.

But this weekend's golf at Bay Hill in Orlando might be different. The leaderboard is stacked and there are several players and storylines worth following.

For starters, the weather is expected to kick up in the Orlando area today and tomorrow, which will make an already difficult Bay Hill golf course play even harder. Already one of the tougher "regular season" TOUR layouts, it's going to play several shots harder over the final two rounds due to high winds and dry conditions.

A leading score of 7-under par at the halfway point of a PGA Tour event is almost unheard of these days, but that's what they have at Bay Hill, where six guys share the lead.

Whether one of these six winds up winning is a different story (see wagering advice below), but they're each an interesting story.

Scottie Scheffler has been battling putting issues for well over a year now. He would have, the stat nerds say, won 8 golf tournaments a year ago (instead of two) had he putted at 35% of the TOUR average. His ball striking numbers have been through the roof for 12 months...but he can't make a putt. Scheffler has switched to a mallet-head putter and is experiencing some immediate benefits. It will be interesting to see if he continues to putt well over the weekend.

Can Wyndham Clark win for the 4th time in less than a year this weekend in Orlando?

Wyndham Clark is slowly starting to evolve into a top American player, what with three wins in the last year, including a major, and another trip to the top of the leaderboard at the halfway point of this Signature event on TOUR. A lot of people learned more about Clark during this week's unveiling of the Netflix series, Full Swing. Clark has always had golfing talents, but as we saw in the second episide of the series, his mental game wasn't great until he sought the help of a professional in that field. Can he hold on and win at Bay Hill.

Hideki Matsuyama has already won once this year and appears to have his occasionally balker putter behaving very well thus far in 2024. When he's "on", he's one of the best in the business. But a bad back over the last two years has created some question marks in his durability, particularly on more difficult courses like Bay Hill where the rough is high. Matsuyama's game is rounding into form just in time for the Masters, where he's a former champion.

Brian Harman is probably the outlier of the group tied for the lead in that he's one of the shorter hitters on TOUR. That distance issue didn't hurt him at the British Open last summer, but Bay Hill requires length off the tee and precision with iron shots. A win this weekend would be a great feather in his career cap. But can he keep up with the big boys off the tee like Scheffle, Clark and Matsuyama?

Shane Lowry and Russell Henley are both extraordinarily high-level players, one (Lowry) with a major championship victory but no PGA Tour titles and the other (Henley) with one of the best putters in the game who needs another win to elevate his game to "elite" status.

The guy to watch, I think, is Will Zalatoris at 6-under par. He's in great form following a missed season (2023) due to back surgery and his golf swing should hold up much better now that he's healthy. His always suspect putting hasn't been on display yet this season, which could be very important to him as the TOUR plods along in the direction of Augusta National.

For those interested in a Masters future bet, get on him right now. He'll be on my short list, for certain.

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#3486


friday q & a


Before we get to the mailbag and a bunch of your questions, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that the Caps are likely going to continue chipping off bits and pieces of their team today in advance of this afternoon's trade deadline. And that's after whitewashing the Penguins in Pittsburgh last night, 6-0.

So far, Washington's moved two relatively important pieces; goal scorer Anthony Mantha and defenseman Joel Edmundson. I suspect there's another move or two coming today.

I always find it interesting when teams who are close to a playoff spot -- like the Capitals are right now -- instead go the other direction and become sellers at the deadline instead of buyers.

I don't know how you expect the players who remain to be energized for the rest of the season when you've basically said to them, "We're giving up on the rest of the reason as an organization."

That said, professional athletes are just that -- professional. And they get it. Sometimes the team has to make moves now that won't pay off until a year or two down the road. That's what the Capitals are doing this week, it appears.

So how does a lifelong Capitals fan like me deal with yet another spring where the Stanley Cup will (apparently) be hoisted by another team?

Very simple.

I check the NHL history page and I look back to the 1974-75 season.

It reads: Champions, Philadelphia Flyers.

And then I scan every year since then and guess what I don't see? The Philadelphia Flyers.

So, yeah, I'm OK with the Caps not winning this year. As long as the Flyers don't win, it's all good.


Tony asks -- "I'm always amazed at how many people don't seem to realize that John Harbaugh is the common denominator when it comes to the Ravens failing in the playoffs since the 2014 season. I know you're a Harbaugh guy. What do you see in him? And what would it take for you to admit it's time for the Ravens to go in another direction?"

DF says -- "These are the kind of questions I don't know how to answer because I'm never quite sure if you're actually paying full attention to what goes on or if you just surf Twitter a lot after games.

The only people who can make an accurate assessment of the head coach are the ones who are in the locker room and/or connected deep enough in the organization to have access to him and his/her relationship with the players.

I realize fans think they know about the head coach. But they don't know anything, really.

They know the team's record. That much is obvious.

They know when a challenge fails and they think that's always the fault of the head coach. (Hint: It's not.)

They know when the team doesn't run the ball enough and they assume the head coach should get the blame for that.

What should the coach be judged on? That's the question.

He or she should be judged on two things; 1. What kind of relationship do they have with the players? 2. What's the team's win/loss record?

And I'm here to say, again, that fans have no clue at all about #1 above.

#2 is easy to see.

#1 isn't easy to see unless you're involved.

That's a long winded way of saying, "The Ravens are a winning organization. That much can not be argued. And the head coach of the team should get credit for (some of) that in the same way he would rightfully get the blame for (some of) that if the team suddenly became a losing organization."

Harbaugh is the lowest of low-hanging-fruit for a lot of people in town. It's a top 5 all-time lazy take, if I'm being blunt. "The Ravens can't make it to the Super Bowl...fire the coach."

If the players stop playing for the coach, he has to go.

The Ravens don't seem to be anywhere close to the level of "the players have stopped playing for the coach."

Sorry, Tony. Move on to the next tree of low hanging fruit."


Jerry asks -- "I have a golf question for your website. What has happened to Rory McIlroy in your opinion? Why can't he win majors any longer? Thanks, Drew."

DF says - "It's definitely one of the questions in golf over the last 10 years. The interesting thing is McIlroy hasn't disappeared. He's been right there. He's had a bunch of opportunities to win his 5th, 6th, 7th, etc. It just hasn't happened for him.

Rickie Fowler had that great run in majors back in 2014 and then he pretty much disappeared from the top ranks of golf. That one was easy to explain: He lost his golf swing.

Rory's never lost his golf swing, I don't think. He's one of the great drivers of the golf ball in modern history.

I'd say the one thing that stands out -- and we saw this in the British Open a couple of years ago when Cam Smith won and again last year in the U.S. Open when Wyndham Clark won -- is he doesn't seem to make many birdies on Sunday when the chips are down.

Is that nerves? Maybe, a little. I mean, it's hard to win. Everything has to go more right for you than it goes more right for the other guys in the hunt. But putting at the PGA Tour level is equal parts talent and nerves. He seems to make a lot of putts on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and then not as many on Sunday. Nerves have to play some role in that, I'd say.

I'm sure the longer Rory goes without winning a major, the harder it becomes. And the longer he goes without winning, the more he questions himself: "Am I ever going to win one of these things ever again?"

He's going to win another major. Of that I'm sure. And I think there's a far better chance he wins more than one than just one. He's just too talented to not win several more majors."


J.C. asks -- "Hi Drew, just for fun in your Q&A feature, pick an Oriole that is going to have a shockingly bad season in 2024."

DF says -- "I don't know what "shockingly bad" represents, but I'll give you a guy that had a really nice season a year ago who will experience market correction in 2024 -- Anthony Santander.

I like him as a player, so I hope it doesn't happen. But I could see him dipping from 28 HR's to 20 or something like that this season. I don't think he caught lightning in a bottle a year ago, but I suspect he'll be pitched to a bit differently this season and it wouldn't shock me at all to see his numbers dip quite a bit in 2024.

This is where I preface that reply by saying: I sure hope I'm wrong."


Bart asks -- "Have you had a chance to watch the new Netflix season of "Full Swing"? Are you surprised Joel Dahmen let them expose him as a guy with an alcohol problem?"

DF says -- "I'm actually only on the 3rd episode and the one featuring Joel Dahmen and Wyndham Clark was the one I just watched.

You have to remember it's a TV show, more than anything else. They need stories to focus on. Dahmen might not be a great player, but he's a great story.

Dahmen definitely has (had, last year) a drinking problem. That he allowed the show to expose that was definitely a bit odd.

I don't know what he gained out of allowing everyone to see him in that light. It definitely "felt" weird as a viewer. Uncomfortable, almost.

The thing is, Dahmen isn't even a player you'd normally be interested in. I mean, he's a PGA Tour player, so he can definitely play golf at a high level. But all things being equal, he's just another guy with four logos on his shirt.

But the Netflix series has given him a little bit of national notoriety which, it appears to me, he wasn't quite ready to handle.

I'd love to see him win a tournament this year and truly come full circle in the same way Fowler did when he won in Detroit last summer. I never like to see someone self-destruct."


Mark asks -- "Care to share how you're coming up with all of the golf winners you've had over the last month? I understand if it's a secret sauce, but if you have stumbled onto something please do tell."

DF says -- "I'm never shy about telling you why or how I've come to picking a player on any given week. It's not hard. I pay a lot of attention to past performance at the course they're playing in that week or their play on courses that are similar in nature. I also look at the ball striking data of the guys who have won on the course over the last 5 years or so to see what current players are similar.

Certain courses favor a player who is strong from 175-200 yards.

Certain courses favor a player who is strong from 150-175 yards.

Certain courses favor a player who plays par 5's well. Or under 425 yard holes well.

A lot of golf wagering depends on course length and layout.

I also pay attention to the player's performance over the last week or two. I've said this before. For most players on the TOUR, they play well for 3 or 4 weeks, play in "neutral" for 2 weeks and then have an "off" 2 weeks. And thereafter that same 8-week cycle begins again. That's my own non-scientific research right there.

I try to catch them during their "hot" 3-4 week period.

If you just pay attention to a player's past performance on the course they're playing that week, you have about 40% of the thing figured out.

There's also something to be said for just hanging on to a guy that you feel is going to win soon: Sahith Theegala, Cameron Young and Eric Cole are the three I'm latched onto right now. I just know those three are winning sometime very soon. I'm in the for long haul with those three."


Big T asks -- "I'll be stepping into the coaching ranks next Fall to help coach varsity football in Cecil County. I was hoping you could give me one coaching nugget for my first season with the team. Is there one thing you constantly go back to in your own coaching that might be able to help me?"

DF says -- "Welcome to the greatest experience you'll have in sports, Coach! Congratulations. I think most coaches are going to agree with me on this one. I hope it serves you well, too.

Above all, you have to build a relationship with the players where you're not only honest with them, but you teach them how important it is to be honest with themselves.

Kids are used to coaches yelling at them when something doesn't go right.

Sometimes they think they're getting yelled at "because the coach likes to scream at me".

Yelling and screaming at your athletes just isn't necessary.

You can teach them about their performance and be honest with them in a sane, reasonable way, providing that you make sure they know from the start it's all rooted in honesty and your goal to make them better.

They also have to be willing to be honest with themselves. Most kids are prone to thinking they're better than they actually are because that's what they've been told by their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends.

"I don't know why you're not playing...you're so much better than that other kid who is playing."

I tell my team this all the time. "If you can't have an honest discussion with yourself about your own golf game, you're never going to improve. You know what you do well and don't do well. In your heart, you know. Sometimes you don't like to talk about that with yourself. Or your parents. Or your friends. But you know what you do well and don't do well. Let's figure that out together and get you to improve."

I'm sure that theory equates to football somehow, too. Just getting your players to be honest with themselves is critically important. It means you wind up making them their own "co-coach" if you will, which makes them even more accountable. Good luck, Coach!"

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faith in sports


I shared this video of golfer Webb Simpson with a group of young junior golfers recently and one of them said to me afterwards, "Do you think God made him into a better golfer?"

What a great question!

The real answer is, "You'd have to ask that question to Webb Simpson."

But my answer to the junior golfer was, "Yes, but not in the way you think. God helped make Webb into a great golfer but not because He said one day, "I think I'll make Webb Simpson a great golfer and then, BAM!, Webb was a great golfer. Webb might have become a better golfer along the way because he found an inner peace he was searching for through God and his faith."

I think you'll enjoy this 9-minute video below. It's more about family than faith, but Webb and his wife speak openly about their faith and Webb's professional golf journey and how they both connect to one another.

Thanks, as always, to our friends at Freestate Electrical for their continued support of #DMD and our "Faith in Sports" segment every Friday.



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Thursday
March 7, 2024
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#3485


when it's dumb...you have to say that


Last night's fiasco in San Diego, where the U.S. and Canada attempted to play a meaningful women's soccer game on a grass field with 3 inches of rain soaking the playing surface, was a complete embarrassment to the people organizing the Gold Cup tournament.

I thought for about 5 minutes how to say that more nicely.

Eventually I gave up and said to myself, "Just call it what it was: an embarrassment."

Alas, that's completely what it was.

The game itself turned into something you would have played for fun when you were 16 years old and it had rained for five straight days and you were bored out of your mind.

The Americans prevailed in penalty kicks after a wild final 30 minutes saw three goals and a penalty kick shootout where the U.S. goalkeeper both saved three Canadian attempts and scored a goal herself.

The U.S. will now face Brazil in this Sunday's championship game.

Women's soccer has enough trouble being taken seriously in this country. I'm a soccer enthusiast, so I'll watch anything related to the U.S. men's or women's team(s).

But for a sport looking to captivate new people and squeeze some attention out of them, last night's decision to play the Gold Cup game was beyond outrageous.

And here I thought the NFL playing January's playoff game in Kansas City in 7 degrees temperatures was about the dumbest thing I've ever seen in sports.

Last night was way more dumb than that football game.

The on-air host on Paramount+ called the first half "chaotic", mostly because he couldn't use the word "idiotic" or else he might not have collected his paycheck.

The play was chaotic. That much was true. The goal scored by the U.S. was 100% attributed to the 3 inches of water on the field.

But the decision to even start the game was idiotic.

Both words fit, I guess.

When it's dumb, you have to say that.

And last night's game being played as scheduled was just that -- dumb.


Jon Rahm continued his off-course whining yesterday, this time campaigning for his LIV-roster-mate, Talor Gooch to receive an invitation to play in this year's various major golf championships, despite not having enough world ranking points to justify that invitation from the folks at the Masters, PGA Championship and British Open.

Jon Rahm continues to campaign for embattled LIV golfers who aren't eligible for major championships in 2024 because of their world ranking.

Gooch, in case you don't know (and based on the TV ratings, you don't), was last year's top LIV player and has taken full advantage of his "decent" talents to rake in massive paydays on the 2-year old golf circuit.

But because LIV isn't recognized as a real golf tour by the world golfing powers, their players don't receive world ranking points as a result of their performance(s) in LIV events.

Gooch, of course, knew all of this when he signed on two years ago.

Jon Rahm knew it, too, when he jumped ship in December.

Gooch has been crying the blues for months now about not getting into the majors.

Nothing has changed.

LIV plays 54 hole golf tournaments. They're not getting world ranking points with 54 hole events.

LIV doesn't have a mechanism in place to allow for roster turnover year after year. The set their own teams and their own fields and don't let anyone compete for a spot in their tournaments. They're not getting world ranking points while they run that kind of closed shop.

I'm not sure why Gooch continues to complain.

You knew the rules. They haven't changed.

I know why Rahm complains. He has a role in the world of golf, albeit a diminishing one, and feels like his voice might carry more weight than the normal LIV competitor.

He's wrong. But it's a noble thought nonetheless.

When those guys left the PGA Tour for the renegade Saudi-based tour, they lost all of their cachet.

Continuing to whine about not getting into majors is just dumb.

It's amateur hour stuff.

You exchanged your ability to play in majors for $25 million, $50 million, $100 million or whatever it was you signed for when LIV coaxed you into joining their fledgling outfit.

Stop crying and start making some birdies.

Collect your check(s) from LIV and just keep on keeping on.

Nobody likes a crybaby.


The Orioles are in a great position heading into 2024, obviously. They have the majority of the 2023 team that won the A.L. East returning and they added a quality starter in Corbin Burnes last month.

Unless you subscribe to the "sophomore jinx" theory and you consider last year's O's team a "rookie" outfit, there's no reason to think they aren't going to be in the mix in the A.L. East again this season.

Is Mike Elias still interested in adding a quality arm to the O's in 2024? If so, two are available.

But there are question marks about the team's pitching staff at this point.

Fortunately, there's a fairly easy solution.

An expensive one, perhaps, but an easy one nonetheless.

The O's should sign one of the two remaining veteran starters still looking for a team; Blake Snell or Jordan Montgomery.

Now, understand this: When I write "the O's should sign", I totally understand the player in question has to also want to sign a deal in Baltimore. I get that.

But those guys are free agents. They want a contract. I don't know their respective preferences, but I have to assume if the Birds were willing to pay the freight, Snell and/or Montgomery would be on the next plane to Baltimore.

The Orioles 2024 payroll is set to be somewhere in the $100 million range.

The franchise made well over $125 million in profit over the last two years. Where that money went, I have no clue. But this team could likely be put over the top with the addition of one of those two veteran arms.

Why not sign one of them?

Burnes, we all know, is a one-year wonder. He's going to the highest bidder next winter, which likely means he'll be an L.A. Dodgers pitcher this time next year.

Why wouldn't the O's snag Snell or Montgomery now? It would help in a big way in 2024 and would help soften the blow of Burnes' departure next December.

I'm not going to call them cheap.

And I believe Mike Elias knows full well what he's doing.

But has Elias gone to the honchos and asked for money for Snell or Montgomery and been denied? I don't know the answer to that.

So I won't call the O's cheap.

But if they don't add one of those two, I'll call the O's "dumb".

You're close. Very close, in fact. One more quality starting arm could be the tonic for another 100-win season and a more fruitful run through the A.L. playoffs next October.

So close. One player away, maybe.

And you're not going to pull the trigger on a deal for Snell or Montgomery?

I call that dumb.

You have two proven starters lurking and looking for a contract. You have gobs and gobs of money you've stored away for Lord knows how long.

Sign a pitcher.

Don't be dumb just because it's going to cost you money that you clearly have. Be smart.

Make the team better.

You're really close.

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Wednesday
March 6, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3484


holistic coaching


My longtime friend Vince Fiduccia sent me a text earlier this week and asked an interesting question.

He wanted to know if I thought what he termed a "holistic approach" to coaching would work at the college level given the recent changes in the way rosters are compiled and programs are built.

"Is it possible," Vince asked, as a major Division I coach in either football or basketball, to build relationships and have a holistic approach to coaching kids with the transfer portal and NIL benefits in place? These are 18-22 year old boys (referencing football and basketball) and the goal should be to make them better men, husbands, fathers, employees and employers. Is it possible to do that in today's college sports environment?"

For Flyers fans who aren't used to big words, here's the definition of holistic: Characterized by the belief that the parts of something are interconnected and can be explained only by reference to the whole.

I thought about Vince's text for two days. I saw him yesterday at a men's Bible study group we attend and mentioned to him I'd be writing about it here today at #DMD.

It's a great question, especially for coaches at any level, college or otherwise.

Seen here when he played for Michigan, Hunter Dickinson left the Wolverines last year and joined the Kansas basketball program.

There's no question I endeavor to build the Calvert Hall golf program in a holistic way, but it's a little easier to do that when you don't have the pressures of scholarships, money and a kid transferring to another school if he doesn't like the way the golf program is run.

If a basketball player at Kentucky doesn't like the way John Calipari does things, he can just pack up and see if he likes the way Bill Self does things at Kansas.

If a high schoool athlete doesn't like the way the coach does things, he or she is most likely still there for the long haul. Yes, there are exceptions to that rule on occasion. There was a Loyola soccer player who played against Calvert Hall this past season who had previously played for Calvert Hall in years prior. It's rare but it happens.

I'll also note that I have no idea why the young man transferred, so please don't think I'm saying he transferred because he didn't like the way the coach at Calvert Hall did things. I'm just pointing out high school athletes do occasionally transfer, but it's nowhere near as often as college players transfer.

Anyway, our holistic approach with Calvert Hall golf, for example, is talking to the young men about their golf, mostly, but then also about their faith, their school work, their diet and nutrition, their willingness to be a great teammate, the joy of competing with other young men who will become their lifelong friends, and so on.

I suspect many of those same things are prevalent in college sports. How much "faith" is discussed within a college basketball or football program is unknown. I assume, just using a local example, that there are a number of Towson University football players who have a faith-based lifestyle and they connect within the team to grow as both football players and young men.

I think Vince's question leans more in the direction of, "Is it possible to have the entire team buy into a holistic approach where they realize they are there for the greater good rather than being in it just for themselves and their potential to maximize whatever benefits they can receive as a student-athlete?"

Possible?

Very much so.

Would that team win?

I have no way of knowing that. It depends, of course, on the quality of the players.

The University of Oklahoma softball team enjoyed a much-publicized national championship last spring and their team was built largely on the girls' devotion to their faith.

Faith isn't the only component to a "holistic approach", of course. There's a lot more to it. In fact, faith isn't even a necessary addition if, for some reason, the coach or players aren't interested in exploring and growing their faith.

I personally think faith is critically important in the development of young men and women. And I believe it can be woven nicely into the program to create meaningful relationships and a better understanding of how sports can help us all grow.

But more than that, the question is: Can a holistic approach by a coach help his football or basketball players understand how the sum of the parts are always better than the individual pieces?

I think that's possible, yes.

I've never been in an Ivy League locker room or affiliated with an Ivy League program, but this very thought raced through my mind this past Saturday night when my Calvert Hall team visited The Palestra for our annual Father/Son event. We saw Penn take on Columbia in basketball.

It kept resonating me with as I watched the game that the young men on the court are almost all likely going to play four years of high level college basketball and then, mostly, move on to start their "real life" in whatever area of business they pursue.

They're playing college basketball for the real, true-to-the-core reason to play college basketball. Because they want to be part of a team and they want to create memories with other young men who might someday open a business with them, hire them, spend weeks at the beach with their respective families, join the same country club, share Eagles, Giants, Jets season tickets with and so on.

Sure, one or two of those kids on the court last Saturday night might someday collect a paycheck from a team in Turkey or Itay or China and that's great. But my bet is 90% of them are working for a living after graduation because that's why they went to UPenn or Columbia in the first place.

Kids go to UPenn to attend school and there happens to be a basketball program there.

In most cases it's the other way around. "I'm going to St. John's to play basketball for Coach Pitino."

When young junior golfers show interest in Calvert Hall through the admissions department and I meet them for the first time, I tell every parent, and prospective student, the same thing: "Make sure Calvert Hall is the right academic fit for you/your son way before you decide whether the golf program is the right fit for your/his golf."

I don't think there was one basketball player on the floor last Saturday night who didn't want to be attending either UPenn or Columbia. They were at that school, first, because of the academic rigors and, second, for the basketball opportunity.

Maybe I'm wrong on that one, but I don't think I am.

Those programs are probably the ones where it's easiest to build the holistic approach Vince referenced in his question to me.

They are at UPenn for school. And to learn. And, yes, to enjoy their four or five years there. But it's easier to build a team and a program when that "buy in" from the players is sincere and not based on going to a better basketball program or finding a school booster with an investment firm who is willing to give you $50,000 to make 3-pointers and play defense.

Can Bill Self or Dabo Swinney build their respective programs using a holistic approach that preaches team, team, team and the togetherness of family?

Maybe.

But I think, to answer Vince's question, it's probably asking too much at this point in the life cycle of the NCAA.

The toothpaste can't be put back in the tube, as the saying goes.

By some of their own flaws and faults, the NCAA has created this "monster", if you will. Most of the monster was created by schools and coaches who wanted to win first and educate second.

Those schools were pressured by their boosters, the ones helping pay the coach his $4 million salary to coach football.

"If we have to pay $4 million to get him, he damn well better get us to a big bowl game..."

And the cycle starts there. The coach is under the gun to win, because he likes his salary and his wife loves their new house, the big pool and the nanny that lives with them.

When the best high school quarterback has his choices narrowed down to three schools, those three coaches don't give a rat's rear end about holistic, family, bonding, togetherness or anything else. They need that kid to throw touchdowns for them.

I could go on and on about "the cycle" but you've all been around long enough to know how it works.

Kids see what other kids are getting and they want the same or more than that.

They get pressure from outside sources to make them aware of their surroundings and how the time has come for the student-athlete to "get what you deserve."

There's not much "holistic" about the idea that you should just focus on you and what you need and what you deserve, at least not in team sports.

I carry my five favorite coaching axioms in my wallet at all times.

One of them is perhaps the best thing you can ever tell a team, in any sport, at any age, made up of any gender.

I tell this to my Calvert Hall team all the time.

"We can achieve anything as long as we don't care who gets the credit."

That statement is very difficult for young men and women to follow because they've been conditioned to think about only themselves when it comes to their development, their role and the way they're showcased on the field, court, course, ice, etc.

You have to drill it into them. They have to see it work, at some point. They have to buy into that statement because it is true, for sure.

If you can play freely and without concern about who ultimately gets the credit, whether that's God, your Little League coach who taught you the curve ball, the quarterbacks coach who showed you what good footwork really is, or the teammate who set the pick for you to make the winning shot, then you have something indeed.

Can that happen at the college level?

I think it most certainly can.

Will that team win games and be successful?

Win games? Maybe.

Be successful? Most definitely.

Winning and being successful are, actually, two totally different things when it comes to sports.


This week's PGA Tour stop is at Bay Hill in Orlando, Florida for the annual Arnold Palmer Invitational. The field is an elite one, part of the TOUR's "Signature Series", as only 69 players are teeing it up.

The limited field should put an end to the run of "longshots" who have won on the TOUR this year, including guys like last week's winner Austin Eckroat.

The API and Bay Hill generally produce a big name winner, although last year's champion, Kurt Kitayama, didn't fit that profile.

We're coming off one of our best weeks in a long time, with three of our projected favorites finishing in the Top 10.

Here's who we like this week. As a reminder, we're generally suggesting a win wager, top 10 wager and top 20 wager with these picks.

Patrick Cantlay is going to win big this year, we think. Whether that's a major or something like the Players or the Scottish Open, we don't know. But the data all shows his golf game continuining to grow. And Bay Hill is "big enough" for Cantlay to feel supremely challenged.

He's +1800. We're playing Cantlay heavily this week.

Could this be the week Cameron Young finally breaks through on the PGA Tour?

Cameron Young fits the same profile as Cantlay, actually. He's still looking for his first win. But when it comes, we think Young has the potential to be another Wyndham Clark. He is coming off of a nice finish at PGA National last week and his game is certainly capable of producing a huge win this week. He's +3000 this week, which, honestly, is a steal for a guy with the stats of Young.

Matt Fitzpatrick has his big win, the 2022 U.S. Open, but some recent swing changes have made him an even more inviting pick to win something big again in 2024. He had a nice week at PGA National (T21) and is starting to show signs that a trip to the winner's circle is rapidly approaching. He's at +2800 this week. Snag him at that number.

Corey Conners is always one of our favorite plays as he delivers an abundance of high finishes, but this week could be particularly interesting for the Canadian given his ball striking prowess and the data over the years that shows ball striking as one of the top categories for the winning player. Conners is somehow +6600, which seems almost laughable. His putting is sometimes laughable, though, which is why his number is that high.

Occasionally in these sorts of wagering endeavors, you take a flyer on someone that everything tells you is a silly flyer to take. I'm doing that this week with Sungjae Im who has not played up to his usual standards at all in 2024. But his plus +6600 number is just too inviting to pass up. And Im's history at Bay Hill, while not great, is always just good enough to think this could be the year is steps and conquers the place.

And because it's trendy and guys out of nowhere are winning this year, let me give you one player from that profile who could be a surprise this week. C.T. Pan is coming off of a nice week at The Cognizant and he tends to play his really good golf in quick stretches. We're going to assume he's found something with his golf swing and maybe, just maybe, he hits full stride this week at the API. He's at a whopping +60000 for the week.

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Tuesday
March 5, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3483


tuesday answers


A lot of you have been interested in three things these last few days.

My take on Anthony Kim's return to golf, the grades the Ravens received on their recent report card with the NFLPA and the ticket price increase announced by the Ravens last Friday (which is pretty much when all ticket price increases get announced).

I've received numerous e-mails on all three topics.

I'm not sure why people are that enamored with Anthony Kim, quite honestly. He hasn't played golf in 12 years. It's one thing if Jordan Spieth steps away from the game for three years and comes back. Now that would be worth getting excited about.

Anthony Kim was just a hotshot kid who wore his hat backwards and swashbuckled his way around the golf course. It wasn't like he won 2 Masters and a U.S. Open in a 3-year span and was on the verge of being the "next Tiger".

Ken e-mailed me yesterday with this question: "How do you judge Kim's return? Was it a success?"

I don't know what to say about that, in total.

#DMD reader Ken asks if Anthony Kim's return to professional golf should be deemed a "success"?

It's hard to chronicle anything about Anthony Kim's return a "success" when you take into account he's helping to sportswash a government that continues to violate human rights.

How do you applaud Anthony Kim or any American for taking money from a government that conspired to coordinate and carry out the 9-11 attacks on the United States?

If this was entirely about "golf", Kim would have resurfaced on the PGA Tour. There, in that environment, I probably would have been keen on seeing him succeed.

He would have been forced to play his way back on the TOUR, of course, but that's the way it should be anyway. That's why golf is great. You're the only one playing for the name on the back of your jersey, so to speak.

LIV handed him millions of dollars, without regard for his 12-year absence or others who might be more deserving of that dirty money, and just let him wander back in without a care in the world.

So on that level, in the "fine print", if you will, I can't possibly call what Anthony Kim did a "success". He's a check casher, like the rest of them. And he has the right to cash those checks, of course. He's making his bed, as the saying goes.

But any American french-kissing the Saudi government is on the wrong side of the argument, end of story.

Now, as for his golf? Was that a success?

There are thousands of professional players on a variety of tours around the world who could have shot 76-76-74 at that golf course over three days.

So, to that end, 16 over par for 3 days was not a success.

But it was definitely a success when you take into account A.K. hadn't played tournament golf in 12 years.

I mean, I'd go as far as to say someone taking a full year off from tournament golf and returning with rounds of 76-76-74 would be a moderate success.

That guy took off 12 years. Now, yes, he's been practicing a lot over the last 12 months or so. We're finding that out now. But I don't care if you practice 7 days a week, 12 hours a day, practicing and playing money games with your buddies and teeing it up in a golf tournament are two totally different things.

So from that standpoint, what Kim did was definitely a success.

But his return to the game was, in my opinion, spoiled by the fact that he insisted on taking the sullied money of the Saudi government.

So, that's a wrap, here, on Anthony Kim. As someone who hasn't watched and won't watch one second of live LIV Golf, I can't imagine there's another time in 2024 when I'll be pressed into writing about him on my own accord.


Tim wanted to know if I thought the Ravens should be concerned about the plethora (for Flyers fans, that means "a lot") of average grades they received on the recent NFLPA report card.

For starters, I think we all know when something is turned in without attribution -- public or private -- it tends to tilt more towards the negative.

I'm not saying the opinions of the players who responded weren't legitimate or founded in truth. I just know when someone has the chance to go over the top, they generally do just that.

But Tim's question is: Should the Ravens be concerned?

Well, sure, they should be concerned. But only about the things they can change in a tangible way.

If they need more fruit in the cafeteria...that can be changed.

If they need better fitness equipment in the locker room...that can be changed.

If they need more adequate day care at the team facility, that can be changed.

But the coach. He can't be changed. Not by "player suggestion", is what I mean.

His assistant coaches. They can't be changed by player suggestion.

The owner. He can't be changed by player suggestion.

I see the reasoning behind surveys and such. Trying to get employees to zero in on workplace details and provide honest, thoughtful opinions is not the easiest thing to do.

Most people's opinions are created with their agenda at the forefront.

The report might be useful. I'm not saying it isn't.

But the players having carte blanche to go through the entire organization and throw out ideas on what's right and what's wrong is a recipe for chaos.

They're football players.

And that's not meant to demean them.

But they don't know what it costs to run the day to day operations of the organization. Everyone can offer advice on how to make things better right up until it's your money being used for the improvements.

Should the Ravens be concerned about some of their low grades?

Of course.

But they should be more concerned with beating the Chiefs.


Rich asks if the Ravens are doing the right thing by raising ticket prices by almost 13% for the 2024 season in the wake of their disappointing championship loss to Kansas City.

There's never a good time to raise prices.

That's the boiler plate line every franchise uses when they have to raise the price of tickets.

Steve Bisciotti's Ravens announced a ticket price increase for the 2024 season late last week.

I mean, if you go 6-11, how do you raise prices?

If you go 13-4 and make the AFC Championship Game and lose at home, is that the optimum time to raise prices?

The cost of the NFL goes up every year. In fact, the cost of just about everything goes up every year. Been to a restaurant lately? Or the grocery store?

Football players, coaches, front office people...they're all getting more money and more benefits thrown their way with each passing season. It's just the way it is. The league TV deal delivers more revenue to the teams and the players, smartly, want more of that cash.

The fans have to pay their part, too.

Should NFL owners be thrilled with making $200 million in profit and not need to make $240 million next year? Sure, you'd think that. But we all know it doesn't work that way.

If they need to raise another $5 million or $10 million, the owners are going to look to the fans and say, "It's your turn to kick in and help out."

I don't like it. And I'm not even a ticket holder with the Ravens.

I just don't like the fact that tickets have to go up because it's part of the semi-annual routine.

I've said this here before, on a number of occasions. The on-field NFL product, when seen live, just isn't all that exhilirating.

The Ravens do a great job of keeping you entertained and enthused with their game operations and entertainment, but the actual playing of the football game just isn't all that great in person.

Part of me thinks that, at some point down the road, the owners will simply make the price of the tickets too high for the average fan to purchase.

But then I remember the tickets used to be $60, then $75, then $90, then $110, then $125 and, next, $135.

They keep going up and people keep buying them. Maybe not the same people year after year. Some folks might give them up and others then step in and buy them up, but along the way, they're getting purchased.

Are the Ravens a reckless organization just raising prices willy-nilly because they can?

I don't believe they are.

The fans -- generally -- wanted the club to fork over $50 million a year for Lamar Jackson.

And when the Ravens did that, they then said to those same fans, "It's your turn to help us pay the freight."

It would have been awesome if the ticket price increase would have accompanied a Super Bowl win, alas, the Chiefs didn't allow that to happen.

But on the heels of one of the best seasons in franchise history, no one can be surprised that it's going to cost a little more money to watch the team play their home games in 2024.

You know the saying, don't you?

The rich...get richer.

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March 4, 2024
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when is a record not a record?


When you've lost as much as Maryland has lost this season, one more defeat along the way shouldn't really shake up anyone who has been paying attention.

What's one more loss?

But that one yesterday, in College Park, was shockingly bad.

Dale Williams will explain the how and why below. If you're interested in finding out just how it came to pass that Maryland blew a 16-point second half to a pretty (very?) lousy Indiana team, Dale takes you through it below.

I saw someone on Twitter throw out these two words in the aftermath of the loss: They had a gif of a turtle and then this - NO HEART.

Is the Kevin Willard honeymoon period over in College Park?

It's a slippery slope when you start chasing college athletes after a loss and question their heart. But these days, with boys and girls now actually getting paid real money to play, it's going to be seen and heard a lot more in the future.

And it's hard not to question the team's collective heart after watching yesterday's implosion.

Lots of folks have chutzpah when they're winning. It's what you see when a player is losing that matters most.

At least that's the way I see it.

There's probably nothing worse in sports than being tagged with that criticism: "He (she) has no heart."

In the old, old days of the MISL, the Cleveland Force had a goal scorer named Craig Allen who would routinely be amongst the league leaders in scoring year after year.

But everyone knew, in the playoffs, when push came to shove, Allen's play would also be far less productive than it was during the regular season.

And virtually everyone said the same thing about him: "He doesn't have any heart."

Every spring, the same routine would play out. Allen would have a remarkable regular season and was one of the more dangerous players in the entire MISL. The playoffs would roll around and he'd vanish.

The league figured him out. When the games mattered the most, Allen just didn't have it inside of himself to buckle down, take the kicks to the shins, the fewer number of referee whistles and the "every shift matters" pressure that went with the post-season.

In the regular season, Cleveland won a lot because of Craig Allen.

In the post-season, they lost a lot because of him.

Everyone has off days, whether it's on the mound, the court, the course, the ice or the field. Those can be accepted. The other guy tries, too, let's always remember.

But when the moment arrives that asks for an athlete to "dig in" and turn the tide and they appear not only incapable, but really not interested in doing so, that's when you have a real problem.

Down the stretch yesterday, Maryland looked like a team that just didn't have it in them to fight.

There's a thing called the Alford plea that's used in the legal system. "I'm not willing to admit I'm guilty, but I will admit the evidence would likely result in a guilty verdict."

I have no idea if Maryland's guilty of having no heart, as a Twitter enthusiast suggested on Sunday afternoon.

But I'd probably suggest the Terps take the Alford plea.

And I'd further suggest Kevin Willard take some time in the next few months to get it all straigthened best he can. The honeymoon period is pretty much over at this point.

Maryland basketball should be better than this.


Iowa's Caitlin Clark broke Pete Maravich's all-time NCAA scoring record yesterday, in case you haven't been on the internet over the last 16 hours.

It's a huge deal.

Well, sort of a huge deal.

Iowa's Caitlin Clark set the all time NCAA scoring record yesterday, passing LSU's Pete Maravich.

It's a huge deal if you believe a player who played for four years should be compared with a player who played three years.

It's also a huge deal if you believe a player who had the benefit of scoring from the 3-point line should be compared with a player who didn't have the benefit of 3-point plays.

And it's a huge deal if you believe a player who played against women should be compared with a player who played against men.

If you believe those three things to be true, compare away. And the raw data will show Caitlin Clark scored more points than Pete Maravich, that much is true.

That said, comparing the two is silly.

Don't get me wrong. 3,668 points is an extraordinary total. Clark might very well be the best women's college basketball player of all time.

But saying she's now the leading scorer in the history of college basketball is only sorta-kinda accurate.

If, let's say, in 2050, the NCAA puts into the rules a 5-point shot for any basket scored in the 4th quarter and also institutes a rule that says players can play six full college seasons, and Anna Schmedley collects 500 of those made shots in her 6-year career to help bypass Clark's mark, does that make Schmedley the "all time leading scorer"?

I assume, like any smart person, you'd think, "No, it does not."

And you'd be correct.

The reason you'd be correct is because Clark would have amassed her points without the benefit of the 5-pointer in the same way Maravich amassed his points without the benefit of the 3-pointer.

And Clark's scoring mark would have come in four years, not six.

As they say on the insurance commercial: "It's so easy a Beatles fan could figure it out."

The NBA is going this very thing right now with LeBron and Kareem Abdul Jabbar. It's always going to be the argument. How long did it take you to break someone's record? If it took you longer to do it, that's fine, but let's not compare things at that point.

In some ways, integrating Clark into this discussion takes away from what she's done this season.

Why immerse that young lady in the Clark vs. Maravich controversy? Can't we just let people achieve greatness without having to compare them to someone else? And, particularly, when that comparison isn't anywhere near "even" in the first place?

I saw a story yesterday that said a basketball enthusiast somewhere went back (I have no idea how, but I assume it's true) and calculated where all of Maravich's points were scored, on the floor, in one of his seasons at LSU. The result? In that season, he would have averaged 57 points per-game.

I had to read the story twice to make sure I wasn't missing something.

57 points per-game over a 10-game stretch?

57 points per-game in a month?

57 points per-game in the conference tournament?

No, no and no.

57 points per-game for the entire season.

Did anyone play defense back then or was Maravich just that good? That's what I thought yesterday when I saw the story.

Alas, Maravich was "just that good". And while Clark is a wonderfully accomplished basketball player and the sure fire #1 pick in the WNBA draft this year (the WNBA stands for Women's National Basketball Association), she's no Pete Maravich.


Something interesting happened on Saturday in the world of golf that went largely unnoticed except to the folks paying attention.

The USGA told us, once and for all, that the ball rollback they announced late last year is going to be put into play.

It was a little thing, granted. But it was big in the grand scheme of things.

The governing body of golf in the U.S. announced that the 2036 U.S. Open would be played at Shinnecock Hills on Long Island.

Prior to Saturday, that was still an "open date" on the calendar and many people thought the tournament might be given to either Bethpage, Chambers Bay or Erin Hills, three courses that have held U.S. Open tournaments in the last 15 years but are known more for being "big, open parks" where players can just bomb the ball all over the place.

By going back to Shinnecock, one of the best and most traditional layouts in the nation, the USGA is sending a clear message.

"We're going to keep our national championship at places like Oakmont (2025), Pinehurst (2024 and 2029), Pebble Beach (2028) plus stops at venerable courses like Winged Foot, Oakland Hills and Merion. We're finished with the 'sampling' of courses."

All of those courses offer great history in golf, but over the years their length has rendered them less difficult, something the powers-that-be know tends to yield larger winning scores. The Chambers Bay and Erin Hills experiments were pretty much disasters as the best players in the world bombed it all over the place and made birdie after birdie.

The USGA likes their U.S. Open to be a test, not a joyride.

And the way they've decided to make it a test in the future is to change the golf ball so it doesn't go as far.

I personally don't agree with it.

As I've written here numerous times, if you want someone to hit the ball 250 off the tee instead of 300, all you have to do is shorten the height of the tee and that will do the trick. It's undeniable. The higher the ball off the ground, the farther it travels.

Why the USGA insists on reconfiguring the golf ball is beyond me.

Just limit the tee height and the ball won't go as far and you can still play the old great places like Merion, Pinehurst, Pebble Beach and so on.

But Saturday's announcement that Shinnecock Hills is getting the 2036 U.S. Open cements what the USGA announced last year. There is going to be a ball rollback. It's happening, friends.

Chambers Bay was nice for a year. So was Erin Hills.

But they had a very quick life with the USGA.

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terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his 9th season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2023-2024 season.


collapse in college park


Maryland’s defense failed them yesterday. Their transition defense was totally absent in the second half of their contest with Indiana and the resulting Hoosier run outs changed what was once a lopsided game, in Maryland’s favor.

The Terps, literally, got run out of their own gym.

A 10-point Terrapin halftime lead, and 16-point second half lead, was erased by 50 second half Hoosier points as Indiana sent the Terrapin seniors home with a senior day loss, 83-78.

Indiana outscored the Terps, 48-27 in the last 18 minutes of the game. The same beat down that Indiana administered to the Terps in the earlier part of their first meeting this past December, was handed to Maryland in the second half of yesterday’s game.

Maryland gave up a ton of easy second half baskets to an Indiana team that consistently beat them down court in the final 20 minutes.

When not getting layups with their increased tempo, the Hoosiers passed over, and around, the Maryland defense to cutters and post men for close range dinks and dunks. Eight first half points in the paint for Indiana became 22 in the second.

Maryland's Donta Scott was one of several Terps to suffer through a miserable second half yesterday as Maryland dropped a shocking home loss to Indiana.

Mackenzie Mgbako had a big day for the Hoosiers, pouring in 24 points, with 18 of those coming in the second half. He knocked down 4 triples in 8 attempts.

Malik Reneau added 14 points. Kel’el Ware had a game high 15 rebounds. As a team, Indiana shot 44% from the three-point line, and connected on 19 of 26 second half shots from the floor.

That’s not hard to do considering the close range looks that they were able to get from the Maryland defense.

No surprise that Maryland was led by Jahmir Young’s 22 points. But, again, he struggled from the three-point line, going 1 for 6. Donta Scott had 15 points, making just 5 of 15 shots and disappearing in the second half, going 1 for 7.

The Terps trailed by 3, 9-6, after 4 minutes and 11 seconds of play. Each team had made 3 field goals, but Indiana had a three-pointer and 2 made foul shots to account for the 3-point difference. Maryland was 0-3 shooting threes with Young missing a pair and Scott missing one.

When the Terp defense forced a couple of turnovers, which led to a pair of Young layups sandwiched between a Jordan Geronimo dunk, Maryland found themselves up by 3, 12-9. After a Terp stop on defense, Jahari Long nailed a three and Maryland was up 6, 15-9. They were still up by 6 when play resumed after the 2nd media timeout.

At 10:47, play stopped when Malik Reneau went down holding his hip. He exited the court under his own power, but was clearly in pain. Prior to him getting injured, his team had twice connected on threes, tying the game at 17. A conventional three-point play by Indiana’s Anthony Walker put the Hoosiers up by three.

The next stoppage came at 6:42 with Maryland ahead 24-20 and Reese going to the line after getting fouled while making a short jumper from the left side. Of Maryland’s 24 points, 14 had come in the paint. That was the place that Indiana owned in game 1, but at this point in the game the paint was dominated by Maryland. 14-2. Kel’el Ware was 0-4 and Trey Gallaway was 0-2.

Indiana called timeout at 5:19. They hadn’t scored in 5 minutes, allowing UMD to run off 12 straight points. Maryland led 29-20, benefiting from the Hoosiers 7 turnovers. The absence of Reneau was being felt.

After the timeout, Reneau was reinserted into the lineup and quickly delivered a three-point play for the Hoosiers. After that play, it was the three-point shot that ruled the court. Mgbako hit 2 of them for Indiana and Scott nailed one for Maryland.

The Terps were being very active on defense, getting into passing lanes and causing problems for the Indiana ball handlers. With 1:48 left in the half, the Hoosiers had already accumulated 8 turnovers compared to just 3 for Maryland.

That Indiana turnover number became 9, and the Terrapin lead became 10 after a Reese follow-up dunk. The half ended with Maryland holding that 10-point advantage, 43-33.

Maryland did a great job on Ware in half number one. He missed some good looks, but Maryland kept him away from the basket for the most part. The 9 turnovers were huge, as was Scott making 3 triples on just 5 tries.

Maryland already had their big three, Young, Reese, and Scott, in double figures. Young had 12, while Reese and Scott each contributed 11.

The second half start wasn’t quite what the Hoosiers wanted, but it went very well for Maryland. Long hit a runner and backed that up with a three. A minute later, the Terps stretched their lead to a game high 16 points. But Indiana would make a run.

Some Terrapin defense that lacked enthusiasm was met by a few tough Hoosier made shots. Those factors combined for a 10-2 run by the Hoosiers on 5 for 5 shooting. At the 14:22 timeout, the Terps lead was 7, 53-46.

After the teams traded baskets, the game got even tighter as Mgbako made a traditional three-point play. The score was now 55-51.

Turnovers continued to hurt Indiana. They committed 5 more in the first 9 minutes of half 2, but Mgbako was hurting the Terps.

With 11:09 left in the half, the Hoosier forward already had 14 second half points and had reached 20 for the game. A four-point play by him made the score 60-58. Indiana had hit their last 10 field goal tries after missing their first 2 of the half.

That successful shooting streak reached 11 when Ware caught another pass at point blank range. The lead was down to a single point.

The game became tied at 64 when Gallaway made a pair of foul shots and his tip in a few seconds later gave Indiana a lead, 66-64.

Indiana was having great success by pushing the ball and beating Maryland downcourt. With 8:15 left to play, Indiana had 9 fast break points in the half and had made 13 of 16 shots from the floor. They had missed only 3 shots in the half leaving Maryland with little chance to gather in more than the 2 rebounds they had.

Play stopped with 5:48 left in the game and Indy holding a 68-64 advantage. Maryland had turned the ball over 4 straight times, assisting Indiana in outscoring the Terps 35-21 thus far in the second half.

The Hoosiers continued to exploit Maryland’s tired looking defense with two more easy buckets. The Terps hadn’t scored in over 5 minutes and now fell perilously behind, 72-64.

Another Terp turnover (this time a mishandled ball by Reese) ended in a three-point play dunk by Ware. The Hoosier run was now 15-0 and the Terps trailed by 11, 75-64, with 3:53 left.

The Terps refused to quit, surrounding a Hoosier turnover with threes by Scott and Young. There was 1:36 left, Indiana had the ball leading by 5, 77-72.

Another defensive stop by Maryland gave the Terps hope and the ball, but a Young turnover was followed by a Reese goal tending call. Long then joined the turnover party and the game was over.

The final was 83-78. The Terps had been outscored 50-35 in the second half.

That Maryland gave up 50 points in a half to Indiana is almost incomprehensible. There was a total breakdown in accountability for the Indiana release man after a Terrapin missed shot.

Several times it was the 7-foot Ware leading the break, but let’s not fault Reese for that. He was fighting for an offensive board after a Young penetration or miss. Without seeing the replay, I’m looking at the 2 guard as the responsible party on those occasions.

I’ve talked about poise with the Maryland team all season long.

When Indiana made their big 15-0 run, the Terps were falling apart mentally. You could see it in their bad passes, questionable shot selection, and lack of focus on the defensive end.

I see this happen to many college teams, but the Terps lack that 3-point “funk breaker” that can get then out of it.

In that decisive Hoosier run, Maryland missed 7 shots in a row.

Scott missed 4 of those, Young 2, and Harris-Scott missed 1. Three of those shots were three-pointers.

Reese failed to take a shot during that time, but it wasn’t because the Terrapin offensive game plan abandoned him. His inability to get off a shot had more to do with the fact that all of his touches in that period resulted in turnovers.

The Terps turned it over 5 times in that stretch with Reese accounting for 3 of the mistakes. Knowing the game was slipping away from them after seemingly being in their control, the Terps played with panic. It’s been a common theme this season.

Maryland has one more regular season game at Penn State next Sunday before traveling to Minneapolis for the Big Ten Tournament. Check out the Penn State contest on BTN beginning at 7:30 p.m.

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Sunday
March 3, 2024
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#3481


sunday stuff


A bunch of quick-hit things to get to today, including a local golfing legend who passed away earlier this week.

I'm not a huge enough NBA fan to get worked up about what LeBron did last night, but in an interesting twist of irony, I spent Saturday evening at The Palestra watching Penn and Columbia play a highly energized Ivy League contest.

As I watched the action, several players from both teams stood out. If you just flew in from Pluto and had never seen basketball played in front of you before, you would think the players you were watching were "the best of the best". Both teams had incredibly athletic rosters, awesome shooters and the style of play was very well coached by both teams.

And those two teams would both lose to UConn or Kansas by 40 points. Heck, as lame as Maryland is, the Terps would (probably) beat them both by 15 or 20.

The college basketball "mecca" is in Philadelphia. The Palestra is the home to UPenn basketball.

Now, it's fair to point out both Penn and Columbia are "down" this year in terms of Ivy League rankings. But the point I made to several of my Calvert Hall players was, "This just shows you how great the best college basketball players are..."

And, so, we then come to LeBron. He skipped the college level entirely.

I wasn't thinking about James last night as I walked through the arena prior to the game and took in the wonderfully maintained memorabilia situated throughout the facility.

Every great college player in the 60's, '70's, 80's, 90', etc. saw action on the Palestra floor. Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Patrick Ewing, Pervis Ellison. I could go on and on. As "Philadelphia boys", guys like Wilt, Kobe and Rasheed Wallace all played several high school games in The Palestra.

LeBron even played The Palestra as a high schooler.

My Calvert Hall Golf team does a father/son trip prior to our season every year. We've gone to The Palestra for cheesesteaks and Ivy League basketball for six straight years now. I take them to that venue for several reasons, but one of the biggest ones is to show them the importance of their legacy within an athletic program and how they're remembered long after they're gone.

The men and women who have graced the court representing UPenn are chronicled in The Palestra in a spectacular way. It's energizing just as an outsider to see all of the old pictures and stories of days gone by.

And, so, when I saw that LeBron became the first player in NBA history to reach 40,000 points last night, I remembered that he never even played college basketball. He was that good in high school that he didn't need to go to Penn, Columbia, UConn, Kansas or anywhere else.

Kobe Bryant was a star at Lower Merion High School in Philadelphia and he, too, never played a second of college hoops. Bryant was also that good.

If you're a basketball fan and you've never been to The Palestra, it's a must-do trip. Pick a Saturday for traffic reasons and it's 90 minutes from White Marsh to the arena door. There are several eateries in/around the campus. Parking is easy.

Tickets are inexpensive.

And the game and the history are worth every penny of it all.


The Anthony Kim experiment is over for the time being, with the former PGA Tour winner posting a 3rd (and final) round score of 74 earlier today to finish his return to golf at 16 over par and in last place, 11 shots behind Hudson Swafford.

Truth of the matter? Swafford should be far more concerned about shooting +5 at that course than Kim should be shooting +16.

#DMD reader Neil e-mailed me yesterday and asked me what I thought Anthony Kim would shoot over three days at my home course.

I'm not even sure that question and the accompanying answer matters. Kim is still a highly competent golfer. I've labeled his return to golf a "publicity stunt" because, as we know, there are thousands of players around the world who could have played three rounds at the course in Saudi Arabia and shot +16 or better.

But Kim is still a very capable golfer, as his +16 score showed.

Now, let's also understand he didn't just pop out of the living room last week and decide to get back out there and give pro golf a try.

There were rumors and the occasional social media picture of Kim practicing and playing golf back in 2023. He has clearly been working on the game that he left for a decade or so.

But, to me, +16 is a reasonable 3-day accomplishment for him given where he's been and the fact he hasn't played any kind of competitive golf recently.

What would he shoot at Eagle's Nest? I have no idea, but he would most certainly be under par for 3 straight days, without question.

I think a far more fair question for Anthony Kim would be this one: Can he get through the various qualifying stages this May and play in this summer's U.S. Open at Pinehurst?

That would tell you a lot about him if he can successfully navigate through the qualifiers. He would have to be significantly under par over 54 holes to make the U.S. Open. And he's probably going to play courses that are more difficult than the one he just encountered in his LIV debut.

I still suspect there will come a time this year when he "hangs around" the LIV leaderboard at some point on the weekend. Kim certainly has some things in his game to clean up, but the scores alone (76-76-74) show that he can still play golf at a high level.


Local golf lost a legend this week when Charlie Harris passed away at age 87. Harris was a fixture at the Country Club of Maryland for the last four decades and his name is seen on every club championship fixture in the men's locker room.

If there was a title at CC of Maryland, Charlie won at some point along the way.

He also won the Maryland Amateur in his 50's when it was played at the Stevenson Lane course.

Longtime area golf legend Charlie Harris passed away this week after a long illness.

"I tried to convince them they should have the tournament here (CC of Maryland) every year to give us old guys a shot," Harris said to me a few weeks back when I sat down with him on the porch at the club and talked about the old days.

When I was there, I knew of his condition and, like most people, wanted to get in one more conversation with him before his time here on Earth was up.

Harris and his wife, Barbara, used to run the Mount Pleasant Golf Course restaurant. They both cooked many a breakfast for me back in the days when I called the Mount my home.

"You guys just hit the damn ball so far now," Harris said to me during that final conversation. "I don't know how you ever shoot over par."

I reminded Charlie I'm in my 60's now and I don't hit it far at all.

"You know what I mean," he said. "You're hitting it 250, 260, 270. That's still a long way. I can't hit it 200."

There was a pause.

"But if you let me play the up tees as far as I can and you give me 3 a side, I'll still play ya," Harris said with a smile.

Lots of amateur golfers were provided advice with Charlie along the way. He was never shy about telling you something he saw in your swing while he was out there riding around during the Maryland Amateur Stroke Play at the Mount every July.

I only received one piece of real, true, golfing advice from Charlie Harris. It came sometime around the year 2000. I was having a particularly frustrating day on the greens at Mount Pleasant, a fairly common thing for me back then.

Harris and longtime friend of his Jackie Rites were out in a cart watching the action. They caught up to my group and watched us play holes 7, 8 and 9, which happened to be our final three holes of the day.

After I signed my card and headed into the restaurant for lunch, Harris stopped me. "Do you try to make every putt?" he asked.

"Yeah, of course," I replied as I moved to the macaroni and cheese that his wife Barb had made and was a favorite of mine.

"Well, stop trying to make them all. You can't. You're wasting too much energy trying to make every single putt. You ain't gonna make them all. If it's outside of 20 feet, don't even think about making it. Just get it up there. Putt it to a foot, tap it in and move on to the next hole."

"OK, thanks," I said.

"Oh, and when you do make one from 20 or 25 feet, you'll look at it like a bonus," he added.

I've thought about that advice a lot over the last 25 years.

During my last sit down with Charlie, I reminded him of that impromptu putting lesson he had given me and then I told him the story about the putt I made at Argyle CC in the playoff to qualify for the U.S. Senior Open.

"That one was about 16 feet or so," I said to him. "It was within your 20 foot range, so I tried to make it," I said with a laugh.

"Well, you should have been trying to make every putt at that point," Charlie replied with his trademark smile. "I never knew back then you'd be trying to get into the Senior Open. That's a different story."

As we parted company that day, I thanked him for his support of us over the years.

"I loved every minute of it," he said. "I was a good player but nothing like most of you guys who could bomb it."

That, of course, was entirely untrue.

Charlie was as good as anyone in the state at one point and you'd never want to play him for a dollar at his home club.

"Keep those Calvert Hall boys straight," he said to me, hand extended. "Tell them it's about finding the fairway with your first shot. It gets easier if you're in the fairway."

One final lesson from a man who gave many.

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terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his 9th season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2023-2024 season.


terps host indiana today


Maryland’s opponent in their last home game for this season will be the Indiana Hoosiers.

It’s been almost 3 months since these two teams kicked off the 2023-2024 Big Ten campaign. That game ended with the Hoosiers blowing out the Terps.

The final score, 65-53, was no indication of the butt kicking that the Terps received that night. They trailed by 21 points with 15 minutes left in the game. Indiana drifted home from there, scoring just 7 points in the game’s final 11:24.

In that game, Jahmir Young had 20 points but made just 1 of 7 threes. Donta Scott was 1-8 from the floor, and the team made just 2 of 16 three-point attempts. Maryland was also outrebounded 46-30. They were outhustled and outplayed.

The shooting numbers from that game foreshadowed the upcoming offensively frustrating season. After that game I wrote, “This team has issues…. It could be a really long season. Or should I say, a short one.” I think I was right.

Maryland's Jahmir Young has a chance to help the Terps split the season series with Indiana today in the Terps' final regular season home game of '23-24.

Indiana got their Big Ten season off to a really nice start, going 4-2. Since then, they’ve gone 3-8 and have posted just one victory in their last 5 games. The Hoosiers will face a Maryland team that has 2 wins in their last 8 games.

I’m pretty certain that neither school expected this game to have zero meaning in their attempts to get an at large bid to the NCAA tournament. The contest’s only relevancy is in the seeding for the Big Ten tournament.

One big exception to that may be for Indiana’s head coach, Mike Woodson. He’s clearly on the ‘hot seat” and a poor ending to the regular Big Ten season may cost him his job.

In game 1, the Terp front court was manhandled. The 7-foot Kel’El Ware was 8 for 12 in that game, adding in 14 rebounds.

Julian Reese countered with 14 and 8, but was pretty much neutralized. The other 2 Indiana starting front court players, Malik Reneau and Mackenzie Mgbako, combined with several Hoosier reserves to produce 33 points and 20 rebounds.

For Maryland, Scott had 2 points and no other Terrapin forward scored. It’s safe to say that Maryland got dominated in the paint that night.

It's my estimation that the Hoosiers could have racked up 75 points, or more, had they not called off the dogs early in the second half. They put up 40 in the first half, and as I said earlier, they coasted for the last 15 minutes of the game.

Points in the paint accounted for 40 of the 55 points that Indiana scored (not counting foul shots). Maryland will not allow that to happen again.

With the Hoosiers reluctance to shoot threes (they’ve attempted the least and made the least in the Big Ten), the Terps can afford to pack the defense inside.

Ware won’t be given the room to work that he had in the first game. If he gets 12 shot attempts again, it won’t be on post feeds. He’ll have to work the boards, or shoot threes to reach that number.

The other guy that won’t reach the offensive numbers that he reached in game 1 is Trey Galloway. The 6’5” guard was 6 for 10 last time out against the Terps, seemingly getting layup after layup as he outworked the entire Terp team. Look for Maryland’s DeShawn Harris-Smith to lock him up today.

Much like in the first game, Maryland still needs to be concerned with Reneau. He only had 11 points last game, but he’s a matchup nightmare for Maryland (too big for Scott), and if the Terps focus on Ware, Reneau could benefit.

Position by position, I have to give a small nod to Indiana. Ware is half a notch above Reese and I prefer Reneau to Scott. Mgbako is better on offense than Maryland’s Geronimo, but I prefer Geronimo’s defense.

Where the Terps have their biggest advantages are at both guard spots. Young and Harris-Smith are miles apart from the Hoosiers Galloway and Gabe Cupps.

I think this game gets personal for Harris-Smith because of Gallaway’s success against the Terp freshman earlier this season. His defense has come leaps and bounds since his initial Big Ten game. Harris-Smith comes to play today.

This could be Julian Reese’s last home game as a starting center. The addition of incoming 6’10” Derik Queen will move Reese to the 4 spot. This change will pit him against slightly smaller defenders, and he’ll no longer have to guard 7 footers with his 6’9” body.

By the way, from what I’ve seen, Queen is not a one and done guy. He’ll need a few years to develop an NBA body and NBA athleticism and lift. Juju will go really hard today too.

Senior day is not always an easy home team win for betters. In Maryland’s case though, they have won the last 3 out of the last 4 senior day contests. The books came out with a surprising line of Maryland -9. There’s a ton of turmoil surrounding the Hoosier program right now and I guess the books feel it takes 9 points to get a potential wager on them.

With the emotions of senior day, and a “Gold Out” at the XFINITY Center, the Terps might very well run over Indiana and cover that number. But I can tell you right now, there isn’t 9 points of difference between these two teams.

The Terps have had a disappointing season. One that no player, or coach, expected.

A win today salvages a tiny part of the season. Maryland will get that win in an exciting game, 70-68. Young and Scott go out with big games, offensively.

It’s a 2 pm start and can be seen on CBS.

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Saturday
March 2, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3480


march roars in


I don't know about you, but my first day of March, 2024 couldn't have started much better.

Around 10:00 pm last night, I was able to ship this text out to a few of my friends.

"Sorry, I got knee deep into watching The Green Mile and wasn't able to see how the professional hockey game in Washington D.C. ended tonight. Do you guys happen to know?"

I set the phone down with a snicker, starting surfing the web a bit to catch up on the day's news, and then waited for the replies to start flowing in.

Alex Ovechkin scored his 17th goal of the season last night as the Caps defeated the worst-franchise-in-the-history-of-sports, 5-2.

I'd post the commentary here but we do have children and impressionable young adults who occasionally find their way here.

Final score from Washington D.C. -- Washington Capitals 5 - Philadelphia Flyers 2

And that's after the Flyers were up 2-0 when the first period came to a merciful end.

I thought we were looking at one of those 4-1 or 6-2 Philadelphia wins where I have to put my phone on silent for most of the last few hours of the night.

Alas, our Capitals battled back to win, 5-2, and keep their still-flickering playoff dreams alive for another few games at the very least.

A loss last night might have led Caps management to be sellers this week in advance of the March 8 trade deadline. As it is now, they're probably still strongly considering a handful of moves designed to throw in the towel on '23-24 and begin preparing for '24-25 and beyond.

A win over the Flyers is good on any occasion. A win when you're trailing 2-0 early on? A win on a Friday night when a bunch of Flyers fans who have probably recently been fired from work were able to snag tickets and pour into the building? A win when you have a couple of friends who are ardent Flyers fans?

A win is a win. But last night's win was particularly tasty, particularly because the Flyers themselves need all the wins they can muster to make the Eastern Conference playoffs.

March and the Capitals roared in like lions last night.

And the thought of a thousand or so folks making their way up I-95 last night immersed in the doom and gloom of a blown 2-0 lead was the best way to say goodbye to February.


And speaking of last night, I was able to make my way over to Goucher College for the first round of the Baltimore Catholic League basketball tournament.

Calvert Hall played in the third game (a loss to Mount Saint Joseph) and that was the first game I saw because our CHC golf practice didn't end until 6:15 pm.

But it's worth reporting here that I've seen a lot of high school basketball tournaments in my day and the BCL event continues, year after year, to be one of the best run high school tournaments anywhere.

Goucher is an awesome venue, first of all. The stands were packed throughout last night's first round, which saw Mount Carmel run Loyola out of the gym, St. Frances get past John Carroll and Archbishop Spalding nip Goretti, 82-79, in a BCL "instant classic".

Spalding and St. Joe play tonight's semifinal opener at 6 pm, followed by the highly anticipated nightcap between Mount Carmel and St. Frances.

Parking is free. They have reasonable food and drink prices.

You can buy tickets on line at www.bclbasketball.com

Trust me, you're going to see first class high school basketball and see how a top shelf high school basketball tournament is run at the same time.


James asks -- "Hi Drew, any thoughts on two things concerning Anthony Kim. The attire he wore in the first round of the tournament and the fact the LIV Tour gave him a free spot in their tournaments for the rest of the year without making him qualify. What are your opinions?"

Anthony Kim's practice round at this week's LIV event included blue gym shorts with a drawstring and a white tee shirt.

DF says -- "Well, it's their tour, so they can invite anyone they want to play and as long as the players themselves don't have a reason to object, I don't see an issue with it. It's not like he's taking someone else's spot.

The fact that he doesn't really have a team to compete on just further proves the "publicity stunt" point, but I can't imagine there's anyone out there willing to argue whether Anthony Kim is or isn't a publicity stunt. Of course he is.

His golf was lousy by professional standards: 76-76, 25 shots out of the lead through 2 rounds. That's about what Tony Romo (an outstanding amateur player) would probably shoot, honestly.

But Kim hasn't played tournament golf in 12 years. 76-76 (+12) is about what I figured he'd shoot. Maybe even higher, frankly. I'd consider this a "reasonable" start for him, despite finishing in last place once the scores are finalized tomorrow.

The first point, about the attire, is also not something anyone would argue over. It's an embarrassment.

When I saw the clips on social media this week of Kim practicing for the LIV event and playing in the pro am wearing a white tee shirt and blue gym shorts, I thought that was embarrassing...but I also assumed it was just a practice round thing. Maybe his golf clothes were in luggage that got lost was, honestly, the first thing I thought of.

I figured he was wearing a tee shirt and gym shorts just to show how the "AK brand" hasn't changed at all. 12 years later, and I'm still doing my thing even if it doesn't fit the golf narrative. That kind of deal.

When I saw he actually played the first round of the golf tournament in an untucked golf shirt and gym shorts, I couldn't believe it.

Now, the good news is this: There were almost no fans on the property to see the golf being played live and LIV didn't air the golf live on Friday because they have no one willing to show the golf live. You had to go to their LIV app to tune in and see Kim parade around the course like he's going for a jog in the neighborhood.

I'm all for the more "relaxed" nature of golf attire these days. I get it, it's 2024. While we have a rule at Calvert Hall about *still* wearing your hat forward at all times and keeping your shirt tucked in at all times, I understand things are changing. Our players can wear hoodies, joggers, etc.

I actually own and wear several golf hoodies. They're great for fall, winter and spring golf.

But wearing a tee shirt and gym shorts on a golf course? At a professional event? You might as well just stick a clown's nose and clown shoes on the guy."


Dennis (and a lot of others) asks -- "What did you make of the Ravens report card that was issued by the NFLPA this week? It wasn't terrible by any means but there were a lot of B grades and C grades in there. Thoughts?"

DF says -- "Here's what the NFLPA report says as their opening statement: 'The Baltimore Ravens come in ranked 17th overall in our team guide. The main areas of concern, stemming from player respondents' opinions, are a desire to improve the quality of the food, weight room equipment, recovery resources and strength staff.'

I guess that's right. I'm not in their locker room. I trust the guys who gave out those grades.

I understand why the NFLPA does the survey. They're not only trying to hold teams accountable, but they're also showing potential free agents where a reasonable destination might be for them in the future.

Someone, for example, with no children wouldn't care that the Chargers organization is seemingly "awful" when it comes to providing daycare for player's children. But if you're a 30-year old veteran with two kids, daycare might really matter.

I guess I wonder why the report is made public?

Sure, it could always be leaked anyway, but you can find the report and the grades on-line in a public forum. Why is it done that way? I don't know that I get that one. Shouldn't that stuff be kept in house and shared only between the NFLPA and NFL teams? Or is this the ultimate "gotcha!" moment?

Either way, though, I don't care.

Just win playoff games.

I don't care if the pasta sauce is too thin or the breakfast cereal choices don't include Apple Jacks or Cap'n Crunch. I don't care if the babysitting needs are "meh" or there isn't adequate parking at the stadium for family members.

Just beat the Chiefs, Bengals or Bills next January in the AFC Championship Game. That's all that matters, really."


J.C. asks -- "Quick golf question for your mailbag forum that you do on the website. I'm a 10 handicap golfer hoping to get down to a 5 this summer. What stock do you put in the golf ball as a means of lowering your handicap? I use the Pro V1x right now. Is that the right ball for me? Thanks Drew!"

DF says -- "I have no way of knowing what ball is right for you, but I can assure you that going from a 10 to a 5 will have virtually no connection at all to what ball you use.

More practice and a few lessons with a good PGA golf professional will get you from a 10 to a 5. A golf ball change will not.

You're already using one of the best golf ball brands there is. But I don't know if that ball is a good match for your clubhead speed because I've never seen you strike the ball.

But even if your swing speed isn't high enough to take full advantage of what the Pro V1x offers you, it's not going to make any kind of massive difference in your scores at the level of golf (10 handicap) you play.

Now, if you're a 10 handicap player and you're playing with a Top Flite, MaxFli or hard cover ball from Titleist, Callaway, etc., then, yes, a switch to a premium ball like a Pro V1x or one of the great Bridgestone balls might help knock a shot or three off your round because of the benefits they give you around the greens.

But if you're already using a Pro V1x, there's nowhere else for you to go, I don't think.

Want to go from a 10 to a 5? Dig it out of the dirt.

By the way, Ben Hogan said that. I love that line but it's not an original."

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Friday
March 1, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3479


tv and crowds tell us what, exactly?


A lot is being made this week of TV ratings and attendance figures.

What do they mean, really?

The world of golf had something called "The Match" on Monday night, where four professionals played for free money under the lights at a pretty cool golf course in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Two of those players you've heard of before: Rory McIlroy and Max Homa.

The other two, you probably wouldn't know if you walked in the same aisle with them at the local grocery store; Rose Zhang and Lexi Thompson.

Rory McIlroy couldn't even save "The Match" from disastrous TV numbers this past Monday night.

Nothing against those two ladies. As female golfers go, they're outstanding.

It's just that no one really knows who they are, at least not in comparison to Rory, Homa, and guys like Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and, well, about 15 other guys I don't need to list here.

A total of 511,000 people supposedly watched The Match on Monday night. That it aired on the Warner Brothers Discovery family of networks (TNT, TruTV, HLN) is potentially one reason why their viewership numbers were so lousy. But the reality is you could have aired the event on CBS on Monday night at 7 pm and not many more people are watching.

I'm a golf enthusiast, to the max, and I had zero interest in watching the event on Monday night. I was home. I could have watched it. I never even considered turning it on.

Rory, Jordan, Justin and Homa? Yeah, maybe. I can say I probably would have tuned in, if for no other reason than to see the novelty of "night golf".

But Rory, Homa and the aforementiond Zhang and Thompson? To borrow a line from the great Austin Powers: "That's not my bag, baby."

If I wanted to watch women's golf I'd watch -- women's golf.

Alas, the shockingly low number of 511,000 viewers has people up in arms.

Truthfully? I can't believe 511,000 watched it.

It just wasn't that interesting to golfers.

Oh, and here's a tip from the top for the folks at the PGA Tour who want more people to watch golf.

Get the networks on board with this concept: Stop showing so many friggin' commercials.

Yes, I understand how television works. Ads pay the bills.

Raise the rates, then. Figure out a better way of doing it. Showing 6 or 8 minutes of golf and then breaking away for 2 or 3 minutes of commercials is a lousy model.


LIV Golf continues to have TV ratings that are beyond humbling given the amount of money they've forked over on the talent alone.

Two weeks ago, 432,000 people apparently watched their final round on something called the CW Network.

Yes, you read that right. More people watched The Match this past Monday than the final round of the LIV event on February 24.

Neither number was good, of course. 511,000 or 432,000 --- what's the difference, really?

Bryson DeChambeau's two year run with LIV Golf hasn't resulted in blossoming TV numbers for the fledgling golf circuit.

But what's it say about their product when they can't get 500,000 to tune in?

I don't know that answer, by the way.

I mean, LIV has a bunch of great players on their roster. How many more great and/or popular players do they need in order to be considered "big time" by the golfing public? Would adding Rory, Spieth, Fowler and Morikawa to their stable of players add more viewers?

Jon Rahm didn't really add more.

Why aren't more people tuning in?

Part of the answer to that question is the same answer as the one provided for The Match question.

No one knows that LIV Golf is even on TV because no one knows anything about the CW Network.

Would a lot more people tune in if, say, LIV Golf's final round was on The Golf Channel? I think so. I don't know if that means 700,000 would watch or 1.5 million would watch. But they'd generate more than a paltry 432,000 viewers if LIV's final round was on The Golf Channel.

TV is the bell ringer for all sports. We know that. If it's not on TV, you're not making any money on it. But even when you're on TV, you have to be "on" TV. TNT and The CW Network aren't "real" TV, at least not when it comes to airing golf tournaments.

I don't think The Match has much of a lifespan remaining. At least not with their split gender format. If you want to put together a one night event that includes four of the top men's players, that could lead to something.

But Rose Zhang and Lexi Thompson aren't the answer. No offense. They're just not the answer.

LIV Golf has the players. They just don't have the network. Why, though, don't they have the network? Players with big name reputations (Rahm, Koepka, Reed, Garcia, DeChambeau, etc.) are there. Why aren't TV networks beating down LIV's door to air their events?


Maryland has $52 million rolling in every year via the Big Ten Network so drawing 7,500 people to conference games might not be at the top of their worry list.

But it should be.

Home attendance at sporting events is an indicator of how many people in your community care about your team/franchise.

You can wiggle out of that if you're looking to be a contrarian, which I don't think the Maryland athletic department is looking to be.

You can try to posture it differently.

But smart people know the truth.

If the Ravens suddenly started drawing 35,000 per home game, that would be a strong indicator that something is wrong. Heck, when the Ravens draw 60,000 in a 70,000 stadium that's an indication that something's wrong.

When the Orioles were knee deep in their Decade of Despair between 2000-2010 and they were drawing crowds of 4,000 or so to weeknight home games throughout the summer, we all knew something was wrong.

And that something is that fewer people, in those days, cared about the Orioles.

Sure, sometimes it has to do with winning. Team wins...people go. Team loses...people don't go.

College sports tend to tilt more in the direction of "I'm going no matter what" because of community/alumni pride.

Professional teams mostly get their most rabid level of support when the team is winning.

Maryland basketball, right now, has an attendance problem.

People aren't interested in going to the games.

This isn't a shocking revelation to anyone who has followed along for the last few years. It's been a slow developing story, but it's been developing nonetheless.

And this is not about Kevin Willard.

Yes, crowds in the Mark Turgeon era were better, that much is true. But even in the Turgeon tenure we saw some shockingly low crowds from time to time.

It's probably fair to point out that the proliferation of things like The Big Ten Network and other conference-related TV networks have nibbled at attendance figures all over the country.

But when it comes to Maryland specifically, which is all I really care about when I write things like this, the basketball program has a problem on its hands.

They announced 12,340 on Wednesday night for the loss to Northwestern.

Yeah, sure. We believe you.

And that's not a jab at Maryland's attempt to create an attendance number out of thin air. Sports teams have been lying about their attendance figures forever.

I'm just pointing out what we all know: There weren't 12,340 people in the building on Wednesday night. Not unless you were counting coffee cups, hot dog wrappers and popcorn boxes and adding them into the attendance figure.

So, yes, there's an attendance problem in College Park. We all know that.

But why?

Is it as simple as the team needs to be a Top 20 team and fighting for the Big Ten conference title before people will sink their teeth into Maryland basketball again?

Is it that simple?

If so, that's a good thing. At least you know the solution if you're the Terps.

But what if that's not the solution?

Why has the community lost so much interest in Maryland basketball?


As you'll see below, I'm back for my monthly visit with Eric Rittmeyer of LifeMed Institute, as we talk about all things men's and women's health.

For those of you with significant women in your life (mother, wife, sister, daughter, etc.), it might be a good idea to watch the 20-minute video below with them. Or at the very least, encourage them to watch it.

Eric is not only incredibly smart about men's health, he's an industry leader in women's health issues. He has a new book out dealing with precisely that -- women's health issues -- and he talks about it in the video below.

For the men out there, though, please listen to some of the things Eric and I cover in our discussion.

I started working with LifeMed last August.

I'm feeling great.

I've not only lost weight, I've done some more important things, like experiencing new levels of energy, sleeping better and, in general, just "feeling better" throughout the day.

It's not a sprint. It's a journey. That's the one thing you'll learn quickly at LifeMed. You make certain changes and then, over time, you're able to see them develop into something positive.

Oh, and it's not hard to do.

You need LifeMed's guidance and a little bit of dedication and you're on your way.

Enjoy the video below.




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faith in sports


Ernie Johnson is one of the best people in the world of sports today.

That's not a new revelation. At least not to me.

I've been a fan of his for a long, long time.

You should be a fan of his, too. He's a great man.

I don't use that term "great man" often. Ernie Johnson is a great man.

I don't want to spoil the video below so I won't say much about it. If you have a son or daughter, you're going to love it.

It's part family, part faith and part humanity...all rolled into 8 minutes.

Grab a couple of tissues, too.

I warned you.

Thanks, as always, to our friends at Freestate Electrical for their continued support of #DMD's "Faith in Sports" here every Friday.



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Thursday
February 29, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3478


we can leap to conclusions


As always, I'll let Dale Williams handle the unpacking of last night's wretched home loss to Northwestern. He was there, saw it all unfold, and will take you through how it happened in his piece below.

I saw about 15 minutes of the game, total. I think Maryland made two shots while I was tuned in. It almost reminded me of the old days of the Harlem Globetrotters and the Washington Generals. At one point, it looked like the Terps were missing shots on purpose. I know they weren't...but it definitely looked that way.

Throughout the game and then in the aftermath, the fan base -- as they do in every sport -- took to social media to voice their displeasure with anything and everything connected to Maryland basketball.

Last night was the first occasion all season that I thought things "got ugly". It was a little dicey after the home loss to Rutgers seven weeks ago and a little ugly after the loss at Ohio State earlier this month, but last night, the pitchforks came out.

People are not happy.

Kevin Willard and the Terps dropped a home decision to Northwestern last night that left the fan base overly agitated.

Dale can tell you how last night happened. As anyone knows who has been a regular here at #DMD for the last seven years, no one in town can break down a basketball game like he can.

But I can tell you how this season has happened. And, sadly, how next season will also happen if things don't change within the Maryland athletic department.

It's not brain surgery: Maryland needs better basketball players. Period.

Kevin Willard is a good coach. Is he John Wooden, Bobby Knight, Coach K, etc.? Probably not, no. But no one is expecting him to be.

The Terps need better basketball players. And therein lies the rub. Because the way, moving forward, that major schools are going to get them is to pay for them.

Right now, it's the "NIL" money players (and parents) are seeking from outside sources, connected to the schools, to help fund their college athletic experience.

But as we've seen recently with several court rulings, in a year or two "NIL" won't even be a factor. Schools will just be paying "student-athletes" a salary for their athletic prowess.

It's a brave new world.

If you don't have money for basketball players, you're not getting -- wait for it -- basketball players.

It's just like when D'Annunzio wanted a Coke in the caddy shack and Danny Noonan told him the price went up to 50 cents.

D'Annunzio -- "I ain't paying 50 cents for no Coke."

Noonan, as he slides his money back to him -- "Well, then you ain't gettin' no Coke."

If you want basketball players in 2024 and 2025 and 2026, you will have to pay for them.

If you don't pay for them, they'll play somewhere that will.

Gone are the days of "recruiting", where the coach sat down with the parents and carefully laid out of plan of success for their son or daughter and explained how (the University of Maryland) would take great care of them for the next four years, get them a top-flight education, and prepare them for the real world.

Those days are gone.

Now, you either pay up or you don't get the player.

I'm not here to pontificate on whether that's good or bad, right or wrong, because I've made my case for years about how this money-grab-thing is wrecking college sports.

College sports at the highest level is wrecked.

You can either choose to play along and join the wreckage or back out of it and be on the outside looking in.

"We had a player tell us a school in the A-10 offered him $65,000 a year to play for them," a local coach told me on Tuesday.

"I have two (assistant) coaches in my program who barely make $65,000."

Maryland has two choices. Pay players a lot of money and (maybe) get better or don't pay them and watch those players go to Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan State, Purdue, Michigan and so on.

Based on what we're seeing from the basketball program, I'd say this is now entering the critical stage.

Yes, they're getting Derik Queen next season. Supposedly.

"These days, anything can happen," the local coach told me this week. "These players are always on the hunt. If their old high school teammate is getting $10,000 more than they are, the player is knocking on your door telling you the price just went up."

But, yes, Maryland has apparently landed highly-prized prospect Derik Queen, who will no doubt help the Terps on the court. He came at a steep price, I'm sure, but college basketball is now just like the lottery -- you can't be in the competition unless you fork over money.

The quest to keep Queen around for more than a year and to be able to afford him will be interesting, indeed.

But what will be more interesting is to simply see if the Terps can keep up with the times, in all sports. Football and basketball are the school's bread and butter, of course, but there's also soccer, lacrosse, women's basketball and baseball that are revenue generating sports -- in varying degrees -- in College Park.

For now, though, basketball is in the spotlight as March Madness approaches.

And we now know that the Terps will miss the big dance unless they improbably run the table in the Big Ten tournament.

So while the rest of the country watches basketball for three weeks next month, Maryland hoops fans will be thinking about Derik Queen and the '24-25 campaign.

But what the University needs to ponder even more seriously is the question hundreds of schools are also pondering: How are we going to pay for all of this fun we're having?


One of the most interesting elements of the arrival of LIV Golf back in 2022 was the wild amounts of money players would now receive "just for showing up".

They fit, mostly, into one of three categories, as a player.

A. Aging veterans, in their 40's, who had made wonderful careers for themselves, but were now in a position where -- pun intended -- their games were "on the back nine" of their career calendar. They were still competitive, but only on certain courses that favored them. Getting $50 million of "free money" seemed awfully appealing to people like Ian Poulter and Graeme McDowell, in other words.

B. Solid professional golfers who were making a very nice living on the PGA Tour but, given their skill set, were pretty much just going to be "check makers" in their pro golf career. They might win a tournament on the TOUR once every three years or so, but for the most part, they knew they were likely to make $100,000 checks for T16 finishes far more often than $1.4 million for winning. Talor Gooch, Charles Howell III, Carlos Ortiz and Pat Perez, in other words. Those four went from worrying about finishing T16 to cashing checks of $5 million by jumping to LIV.

C. Elite players who commanded huge up front payments to sell their soul and jump to LIV. Those guys, of course, made business decisions. No matter how well Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau or Dustin Johnson played on the PGA Tour in 2023, 2024 and 2025, they were never going to make $100 million or $150 million playing golf in that three year period. On LIV, they got that kind of money in their hand just for jumping ship and now, by virtue of winning events, they've made an additional $25 million, $35 million, etc.

Jon Rahm is the latest big name defector to jump to LIV, of course. While he was far from the #1 needle mover on the PGA Tour, he was, the rankings say, the #1 player in the world throughout periods of 2022 and 2023 before making the move to LIV last December.

Jon Rahm's recent interview with ESPN shed some new light on his departure to the LIV tour.

Earlier this week, albeit uncomfortably, Rahm sat down with ESPN for his first "state side" long form interview about making the move to LIV.

Rahm basically confirmed what we all knew from jump street: He left for the money.

Back in December, the Spaniard tried to paint the same picture many others painted, knowing that their move was going to create scrutiny based on the heinous human rights violations of the Saudi government in recent years. Rahm tried to sell us all that he was leaving the TOUR and joining LIV to "grow the game".

Harold Varner III (see "B" above) tried to sell us on that concept for a minute when he jumped ship, then later told the truth: "I'm not going to continue to talk about growing the game because that's really not why I left. I left because the deal was too good to pass up."

Fair enough.

More than fair, actually.

It doesn't make it "right", particularly for an American, but honesty is the best policy.

Rahm's recent declaration that he made the move for money is, if nothing else, honest.

I look at foreign players differently than I look at U.S. born players when I make up my "Lost My Respect" list.

Sure, Rahm went to school in the U.S. and has basically made the U.S. his home for the last six years or so, but he's Spanish born and will always be considered a Spaniard.

Patrick Reed, Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka should forever be offended by the role the Saudi government played in the attacks on our country in 2001.

Jon Rahm? I can see where it might not matter to him all that much, human rights violations aside.

So Rahm took the $500 million, or whatever the number really turned out to be once the ink dried on the deal.

We can all believe what we want about money and how much is enough, too much, etc. I'm not sure we'd ever settle on something that's agreeable to all of us.

To me, $5 million is a lot of money.

To Rahm, it's the equivalent of a week at Disney World in Orlando.

I watched the interview several times to get the full "take" on what motivated Rahm to move and why, at the beginning, he felt compelled to fib about his reasons for the move.

And here's the conclusion I was able to leap to: He fibbed because, like the others who fibbed, they know in their heart of hearts that taking money from those people is wrong. From a humanity standpoint, they know it's wrong.

So they created other exterior reasons for jumping ship. And "growing the game" was the easiest one, best one and, frankly, probably the one that would draw the least resistance.

Who, after all, can argue about "growing the game" so more 8 year old Spanish boys can start dreaming of being the next Jon Rahm?

But Rahm was already "growing the game" on the PGA Tour. That's actually how those 8 year old Spanish boys learned about him in the first place.

So as I watched him uncomfortably shift throughout the interview, it resonated even more and more with me that guys like Rahm couldn't tell the truth because they were embarrassed by the truth.

They left because of the money. The atrocities of the Saudi government didn't measure up to the money.

Greg Norman was once asked about the juxtaposition he was in and he said: "You know, people make mistakes."

That was Norman's way of justifying his salary with the government that had executed a Washington Post journalist.

"People make mistakes."

At least, finally, Jon Rahm admitted what we all knew from jump street.

He left for the money and nothing else. And the history of the Saudi government didn't impact him enough to say "no thanks".

I like that Jon Rahm finally told the truth. I'm not sure I'll be rooting for him in 2024, but I think his golf might improve now that he's finally confessed to all of us what we already knew.

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DALE WILLIAMS returns for his 9th season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2023-2024 season.


terps get dumped by northwestern


The box score from last night’s 68-61 Terp loss to Northwestern tells a story of poor shooting by Maryland (2-22) from three-point line, and a parade of free throws by Northwestern (28 for the game vs 17 for Maryland).

Nick Martinelli’s 27-point night also jumps off the sheet. But what the stat sheet can’t show is something I brought up at the very onset of this season. It’s poise.

Maryland is so thin on talent that they can’t afford to lose a piece like Julian Reese. Reese lost his cool last night and, as a result, he picked up his fourth foul and went to the bench.

He only played 10 minutes in the first half because of his two early fouls. One of which was a stupid offensive foul when Reese banged his defender with his shoulder. It was an obvious call. He lacked poise and it hurt him and the team.

The Wildcats held the lead for most of the game, forcing the Terps to play catch-up most of the night. Maryland was able to trim their deficit to just 2 points with 9:44 left in the game, but a quick 7-0 Wildcat run gave them some breathing room.

Jahmir Young had 24 points last night to lead the Terps, but his poor 3-point shooting was a contributing factor in the 68-61 loss.

Reese means so much to this team, but it’s hard to tell if he realizes that. To pick up stupid fouls, thus limiting your court time, is a killer for Terrapin win chances. It shows a great lack of poise. This young man has a lot of growing up to do.

There was plenty of blame to go around last night, but Reese’s errors were mental and unacceptable. Many of the other Terps just aren’t capable right now.

Nick Martinelli sliced and diced his way to a 27-point game. He frequently burned Donta Scott, as Scott looked lost on many defensive possessions and seemed to take others off. He was as awful on defense as he was on offense. The Terrapin senior was 2 for 9 from the field and went 0 for 4 from the three-point line.

Jahmir Young had 24 for Maryland. The foul line provided 11 of those points, but the Terp point guard made just 1 of his 6 threes.

The game started slowly for both teams.

In the first 5 minutes of play, only 9 combined points had been scored and the Terps led 5-4. The teams were like boxers feeling each other out.

Northwestern was making a concerted effort to keep Reese from working inside. Maryland countered by launching threes, making only 1 of their first 6 attempts.

Of their first 9 shots from the floor, 6 were from three-point land. That usually doesn’t go well for the Terps.

The second TV timeout came at 11:42 and the Terps had gone almost 6 minutes without a field goal. The game was tied at 8 and Maryland was 2 for 10 shooting threes.

Back-to-back offensive fouls by Maryland ensured that their field goal-less streak reached over 8 minutes. Only a 5-0 advantage in foul shots made kept the game tied at 10.

The Terp field goal skid ended when Deshawn Harris-Smith worked his way free for a lay-up on the left side. Before that bucket happened, Reese picked up his second foul and retired to the bench.

At 7:51, the stat sheet would show the Terps were still far too reliant on the three-point shot. They had tried 14 field goal attempts, and 9 were threes. They made just 1 of those triples and found themselves trailing by 1, 13-12.

Early on, Maryland had 6 offensive rebounds, but converted them into just 4 second chance points.

With 5:22 left in the half, and the lifeless Terps needing a spark, Willard picked up a “T” after a charging foul was called on Scott. I thought the call was valid.

Northwestern was on a 7-0 scoring run, without making a shot from the floor. The Wildcats now had 10 foul shots made while the Terps were stuck at 5.

A Boo Buie three was the first field goal for his team in over 6 minutes. It gave Northwestern a 23-16 lead at the final media timeout of the first half.

Maryland was 4-19 shooting the ball at this point in the game.

Harris-Smith had 3 made shots and Young had the other. Scott was 0-6 at this point and Young was 1-4. Reese had played only 10 minutes and was 0-2. Things were so bad for Maryland that Nick Martinelli, alone, would have kept Northwestern in the game with his 12 points.

After the timeout, the Terrapins ran off 6 points in a row. Four of the points were from Young foul shots and the remaining 2 were from a Caleb Swanton-Rodgers put back dunk.

The half ended with Northwestern running off 4 unanswered points, each following a Terrapin missed three. The score heading into the locker room was 29-24, Northwestern.

The Wildcat defensive strategy was simple and effective. Keep Young from penetrating, double Reese, and take your chances with the Terp three-point shooters.

Good looks were abundant, but so were the misses. Out of 14 three-balls, Maryland made just 1. Scott, Kaiser, and Young were all 0 for 3.

Shooting woes were front and center, but of equal concern were the 2 fouls collected by Reese, Scott, and Geronimo.

Reese played just 10 minutes in the first half while Geronimo logged only 8. Scott had slightly more court time with 13 minutes, but that meant a whole lot a PT for the Terps bench.

Swanton-Rogers gave Maryland some energetic and effective first half minutes, but he also was whistled for 3 fouls. UMD was shooting 19% from the field, which looked good when compared to their 7% three-point shooting.

This team is a poor shooting group, but these first half numbers for Maryland were depressing even for them.

The second half started with Scott on Buie…something I wrote that should never happen.

Buie blew by him for an uncontested layup. The Terps, again, trailed by 7. Offensively, Maryland seemed to now be committed to attacking the basket.

Of their 5 field goal attempts prior to the first TV timeout in half 2, only 1 was a three-pointer. They had made 3 of those shots, but some shoddy defensive work only allowed them to trim their deficit to 4, 35-31.

The Terrapin defensive lapses continued, forcing Willard to call a timeout when the Wildcat lead grew to 8, 41-33. Martinelli now had 18 points and was wearing out Scott at every opportunity.

Coming out of the TO, Young busted a three to breathe some life into a team that seemed a bit listless. Maryland then forced Northwestern into a shot clock violation, but the Terp momentum was short lived courtesy of one of the dumbest plays I’ve seen on the Xfinity Center court in quite a while.

While trying to fight his way through a double team – and holding the ball – a frustrated Reese pushed his defender near his head. It was a very immature act by the junior, and it gave him both his fourth foul along with a seat on the bench.

At that point, if I’m Willard, I’d have had to consider letting Reese watch the rest of this game. That childish play really hurt his team.

Even with Reese on the bench, the Terps chipped away at the lead with 6 consecutive points, capped off by 2 Young foul shots as the Terps were already in the bonus. Two missed threes by The Terps allowed Northwestern to run off 7 straight points and gain their largest lead at 9, 51-42.

It was 51-44 when the under 8-minute timeout rolled around. Maryland’s ice-cold shooting from the outside was continuing. They were 1-6 in the second half, making them 2-20 for the game. 7:31 remained in the contest.

Reese was on the line for Maryland, but he could only convert the first half of his one and one. Then in rapid fire succession, Young threw the ball way, Scott got abused by Martinelli, and Nicholson dunked on half the team. Maryland was down by 10, 55-45.

With 4:44 left, Scott failed to close out on Buie after a switch, and Buie knocked down the dagger three. After another Terp miss, 2 foul shots by Smith iced the game. The score was 60-49 with 4:21 left to end this nightmare.

Maryland did put forth some late effort. Two Terp runouts, one resulting in a Young dish to Harris-Smith and the other getting Young his own layup, reduced the gap to 5, 60-55. After a Buie turnover, Maryland had the ball and was thinking “epic comeback”.

Reese’s layup on a nice spin move made the game a single possession contest.

The lead was back to 5 after Harris-Smith fouled Brooks Barnhizer and he made a pair. The comeback was not to be. Bad defense and bad foul shooting down the stretch assured Maryland of the loss. The final was 68-61.

Northwestern was missing two starters last tonight. Both Ty Berry and Ryan Langborg were nursing injuries and unable to go. With Northwestern missing their 2 long range sharp shooters, their 3-point percentage suffered. They made just 2 of 13, But were 17 of 28 (60%) from inside the arc. Martinelli was 9 of 12 around the basket. It wasn’t the Terps best defensive effort.

The loss dropped the Terps to 7-11 in the Big Ten, eliminating all fantasies of a run towards a tournament bid. Northwestern ran their record to 11-7, securing third place in the conference.

Maryland’s next game will be their final home contest of the season, this Sunday, vs. Indiana. It’s a 2 p.m. start to be viewed on BTN.

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February 28, 2024
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questions, answers and clarity


Before we turn things over to Dale Williams for his pre-game analysis of what to expect tonight in College Park between Maryland and Northwestern, let's revisit something about "court storming" from Tuesday's edition of #DMD.

The word "banning" seems to scare a lot of people these days.

We know why, of course. We've been knee deep in "cancel culture" for three or four years now. You know what that means. As soon as something draws the ire of a certain/specific group of society, their solution to finding a quick remedy (also known as "getting their way") is to simply "cancel" whatever it is that's bugging them.

Folks get nervous at the word "banning" because it's essentially saying the same thing as "cancel".

In Lubbock, Texas last night, angry fans threw bottles and objects on the floor during the Texas win over Texas Tech.

Throwing things on the court and in the direction of players and, potentially other spectators, isn't allowed. It's been "banned", in other words. Should we accept it, though, if the home crowd is throwing things on the court in an effort to celebrate a win instead of angrily reacting to a loss?

Or should throwing things at the players and coaches simply not be permitted, whether your team is winning or losing?

As it relates to court storming, "banning" is the right word. But it's also an impossible ask, too, because kids are kids and they don't always pay attention to the rules. In fact, adults are adults and they don't always pay attention to the rules, too.

Court storming (or field storming) shouldn't be allowed. Is that a change in protocol? Sure, maybe, in the same way that we once allowed slavery in this great country of ours and then figured out maybe slavery wasn't such a cool idea after all. So we changed the protocol. We -- wait for it -- "canceled" slavery.

You can call it banning it or canceling it or "ending it" or whatever you want. Or you can run away from those terms for whatever reason and come up with your own. Whatever the description, we should be above storming the court now, as a society.

Why? Because we can't do it in a civil, organized manner. We can't have good things, as the saying goes.

But we all know just because you "ban" court storming, that doesn't mean you're going to end it. PED's are "banned" in Major League Baseball and the National Football League, yet guys use them all the time. And when they get caught, they get penalized.

The answer regarding court storming is simple. Come up with an over-the-top, outrageous penalty for the home crowd when they insist on acting like morons and running onto the court like they're going out for 4th grade recess.

"Ban" it? Sure. But "ban" is just the word for "This is against the rules and, when you do it anyway, your school or team is going to be punished."

There will still be students who storm the court or field. We all know it's going to happen. And when it does, hand out the proper punishment so people learn their lesson.

Or, you can just wait until someone's star player gets seriously injured by a doofus running around the court or field like Forrest Gump and then you can "ban" it.

Pick your poison and carry on.


This week's PGA Tour stop heads to Florida and PGA National for what we all will always call "The Honda Classic", even though there's a new sponsor (Cognizant) headlining the event now.

We're coming off of a decent week at the Mexico Open where we had several guys finish in the top 20.

Who do we like this week? We're glad you asked.

I'm staying on the Keith Mitchell train for at least another week. Mitchell had a nice showing at the Mexico Open and is one of those players who tends to get hot and stay that way for a while. Mitchell is at +4000 to win.

#DMD sees Australian Min Woo Lee as a "must play" option for this week's Cognizant Classic in Palm Beach, Florida.

Min Woo Lee comes in at +3000, which immediately puts him on our "must wager" list. I'm anxious to see how he plays over the next month, as he could be one of my Masters favorites in early April.

Shane Lowry had a chance to win at PGA National a few years ago and generally seems to play well during the Florida swing. He's at an inviting +3300 for this event.

We've been waiting for a while to get an event that fits with Sepp Straka and this week is the one. A former winner at PGA National, we're thinking he finds his form this week. And at +4500, he's a great investment.

Denny McCarthy is going to get in the winner's circle in 2024. We made that wager back in late December at +3800. This could be the week, as the Silver Spring MD native is basically playing a "home game", as he lives just minutes from PGA National. And at +5500, he features a great return on all of our betting options (win, top 10, top 20).

And last but not least is a guy we're going to be playing fairly regularly this spring, Thomas Detry. He didn't play well at the Mexico Open, but we're keen on his play coming East and anxious to see how he fares over the next month or so. At +7500, he's our longest shot of the week.


R.C. asks -- "Are you of the mindset that the Ravens should sign a veteran running back (or two) or forget about the obvious candidates (Jacobs, Barkley, Henry) and draft a running back very early (within first 3 rounds)?"

DF says -- "I'm saying this without salary cap concerns. The Ravens might very well wind up not having enough money to splurge on a free agent like Jacobs or Barkley. But I'd probably take one of those two if the numbers work. Henry will be available for a minimal contract. If he comes along at the right price, he's not a bad option. But all things being equal, I'd much prefer to have Jacobs or Barkley in 2024.

Failing that, let's go get a good one in the draft. The Ravens will probably need two running backs, in fact. Both can be had in the draft.

I realize we're a run oriented offense (keep your Todd Monken jabs to yourself), so it's important to have some quality ball carriers in the fold, particularly given the unknown involving Keaton Mitchell and his return from injury.

My final answer: If you can't sign Barkley or Jacobs, go draft a running back in the first three rounds. Just make sure he's a good one."


Eddie asks -- "You'll love this question for your mailbag segment. You get the chance to spend a weekend playing Augusta National but in exchange, the Capitals, Orioles and Ravens all miss the playoffs this season. Are you doing the deal?"

DF says -- "Holy cow. I mean, they might all three miss the playoffs anyway. I doubt it happens, but it could. So I'm exchanging a sure thing at Augusta National for something might happen anyway? Very enticing.

But the answer is "no". I'd love to play Augusta, sure, but I've been there 11 times and I've seen every inch of the golf course several times over. Playing it would be awesome. But I don't have to play it to feel complete about my golf journey.

Now...if you said, "Spend a weekend at St. Andrews", I might have to really think about that one. I've never been to Scotland and I've never seen the golf course, obviously. I'd have to do some deep thinking about that deal if came across my desk.

But I think the answer would be "no", even if it was St. Andrews. I like all three of those teams too much to do that to them."


Mackie asks -- "Help settle a friendly golf bet among my regular foursome. Who are the best five pro golfers since 2000?"

One of the five best golfers of the last 24 years? #DMD says "yes" to Dustin Johnson.

DF says -- Well, the first two are very obvious. Over the last 24 years, Tiger is #1 and Phil is #2. That's undeniable.

The next three are tricky. I'm just rattling off names to get them out in front of me and then I'll pick 3. Vijay, Rory, Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Spieth, Furyk.

Singh probably gets the least consideration because of recency bias, but from 2000-2010, he was a total rock star.

It's hard to take Singh over Rory. McIlroy, despite his 10-year stretch without a major, still has one more major title (4 to 3) than Vijay.

I think Dustin Johnson has always been supremely underrated.

The same goes for Brooks Koepka.

With all due respect to Spieth and Furyk -- and with a nod to Vijay for how great he was at the zenith of his career -- I think my five best from 2000-2024 would be Tiger, Phil, Rory, Brooks and D.J."


Davey asks -- "What are your thoughts on what Talor Gooch said today (Tuesday) about putting an asterisk on the Grand Slam if Rory wins the Masters because all the best players aren't invited to play?"

DF says -- "My first thought is Talor Gooch has made $77 million playing LIV Golf in the last two years. That's about $67 million more than he would have made playing on the big league PGA Tour.

So, Gooch shouldn't be complaining about anything.

Why he chose Rory's cage to rattle, I have no idea. McIlroy is a Hall of Fame golfer. Gooch is a joureyman. Nice player and all, but he's basically Rich Beem born 20 years later.

And that might be a slap at Rich Beem, actually.

Gooch's complaints about the LIV players not receiving world ranking points and, thus, potentially not being eligible for certain major championships is the lamest argument in the history of lame arguments.

He knew the rules when he jumped ship to LIV. He was trading in those luxuries -- ranking points, major championships -- for the thing he wanted the most: money.

Seventy seven million dollars later, Gooch should be laughing, not whining.

He knew, as did the rest of the guys who jumped, there were certain benefits attached to playing on the PGA Tour that he would no longer receive. Now that he has $77 million, he wants those benefits returned to him.

And along the way, he's going to drag Rory's name and career into the discussion, which seems odd at the least, and, downright dumb at worst.

Then again, Gooch signed on to play for an entity that helped coordinate and perpetrate the 9-11 attacks on our country back in 2001.

In other words: "Smart" isn't his middle name."

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DALE WILLIAMS returns for his 9th season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2023-2024 season.


terps need to win last three, starting tonight


The Maryland Terrapins have just three regular season games left in their 2023-2024 season.

The first of those three will occur tonight against Northwestern in the XFINITY Center. This is a rematch of a January 17th game where the Wildcats beat Maryland 72-69.

Can the Terps extract revenge tonight starting at 7 pm? That’s the question.

Maryland still must contend with Boo Buie, Brooks Barnhizer, and Ty Berry.

Berry and Buie, along with Ryan Langborg, shoot over 40% from the three-point line. Barnhizer, at 35.6%, is no slouch from long range himself. Therein lies one of the keys to this game: protect the three-point line.

Maryland's Julian Reese has a chance to redeem himself tonight against Northwestern in College Park.

I strongly feel that Northwestern can’t win this game without a stellar performance from behind the three-point line.

Boo Buie put up 20 points against the Terps in their previous meeting, and his 7 made field goals were matched by his 7 assists. He got into the lane far too often in game #1. That will be key #2: keep Buie out of the paint.

When Buie got into the paint, he usually drew Julian Reese to him. With Reese away from the rim, easy passes were made to the Wildcat bigs. That’s how a guy like Matt Nicholson made 5 field goals against the Terps.

Keeping Buie out of the paint is easier said than done, especially when a double team leaves 40% three-point shooters alone on the perimeter.

Here’s what I like about the Terps tonight. First, this is a vastly improved team, from a defensive side from the one that the Wildcats faced 5 weeks ago.

They’ve inched their way into the #5 spot, nationally, in the Kenpom defensive ratings. Their switches are cleaner and their rotations are quicker. This is not the same team that allowed Northwestern to post 73 points in game 1.

The Terps got caught looking at a dribbler too many times in that first meeting, only to find their own man free for a bucket. I trust they’ll get that resolved tonight.

The Wildcats double teamed Reese almost every time he touched the ball. On 6 occasions, Reese turned the ball over. He’s had a month to work on those double downs, and while he doesn’t excel in those situations, he’s much better than he was back then.

If the over/under on his turnovers is set at the 6 he committed in January, I’d bet my lungs on the under. Juju also will get more shots off tonight than the 10 he had in the first meeting.

The Wildcats, sitting at 10-6 in the conference, are in a strong position to get an at-large bid to the Big Dance. They probably need just 1 more Big Ten win to get in. They still have to play Iowa, Michigan State, and Minnesota. Each of those teams is playing for their post-season lives. Knowing that, Northwestern will play all-out tonight.

The Terps only hope of being one of the teams announced in two weeks is to run the table in the regular season and then win 2 or 3 in the Big Ten Tournament. I expect an all-out effort from Maryland tonight as well.

Northwestern won that first game, but it was 64-64 with 1:19 left to play. It was anybody’s game at that point, and it was in Northwestern’s gym. This game is in College Park.

Unlike the game played in the Welsh-Ryan Arena, don’t expect the Terps to get zero attempts from the foul line in the first half. That’s not happening in College Park.

I look for the Terps to be much better playing the pick and rolls, keeping more contact with Buie. Maryland will also assert themselves on the offensive glass against a Wildcat team that’s near the bottom of the conference in rebounding.

Here are two things I don’t want to see tonight. Both happened frequently in the earlier Terrapin loss.

Coach Willard, please scrap the zone defense against Northwestern. They torched it the last time out. Play that aggressive man defense that has been the hallmark of this team.

Next, I NEVER want to see Donta Scott guarding Buie. Buie was Scott’s assignment on the Wildcat’s winning bucket. It was not a switch, Scott started on him and Buie blew by him. That was an unforgivable mistake, and it wasn’t an isolated event either. Don’t do it again.

Unless Northwestern lights it up from outside, Maryland can win this game. The strengths and weaknesses of each team somewhat balance each other out. Northwestern shoots it better, but Maryland is tougher inside. That inside advantage includes the Terps offensive glass.

The Wildcats were 3.5-point favorites in game 1, and Maryland is a 2.5 favorite tonight. I would have expected the spread to be a bit wider. I don’t like the fact that the Terps were on the road just 3 days ago while Northwestern last played on Thursday, at home. That’s a bit unfair. (Willard will mention that should the Terps fall flat tonight)

The adrenaline will be high, both on the court and in the stands. Look for an effort similar to the Rutgers game last Sunday.

Only a barrage and Wildcat threes, or some unfortunate whistles, can prevent the Terps from claiming a victory. The home court is the difference. Let’s go 69-64 for Maryland.

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February 27, 2024
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even the coaches agree


It's not often you come across a topic where coaches -- in any sport -- agree with one another.

There's always a rule or a game condition that benefits someone but hurts others. The Orioles, as a loose example, moved their left field wall back a couple of years ago in an effort to attract better pitching to their organization.

The prevailing thought was that pitchers would give up fewer runs in Baltimore which, of course, could increase their value on the open market down the road.

But what they did, at the same time, was potentially make right handed power hitters say, "I'm not so sure I want to play in Baltimore."

There are almost always two sides to every story, as the saying goes.

But in the case of court storming, apparently almost every top NCAA basketball coach agrees: "It has to stop. Like, now."

Coaches across the country reacted favorably on Monday to banning court storming in the wake of two high profile incidents in the last three weeks; one involving Iowa women's star Caitlin Clark and the other involving Duke men's player, Kyle Filipowski, a projected NBA lottery pick in this summer's draft.

Bill Self of Kansas was one of several major college basketball coaches to call for penalties for court storming on Monday.

"Let's get rid of it, totally," Kansas head coach Bill Self told ESPN on Monday. "I don't see the positive impact from a visual standpoint. Our game has excitement and people are excited about college basketball so much. Storming the court isn't as big of a positive as a potential negative that exists with somebody getting hurt or lawsuits. Can you imagine a kid storms the court, runs into somebody, he gets sued and his life is changed forever? It works both ways. Or, somebody runs into one of our players, our player lifts their arms to protect themselves and catches somebody right in the Adam's apple or hits them in the temple and they get a concussion or something? That's a lawsuit against them."

Whether Self's examples were overblown or legitimate is neither here nor there, really.

Here's why court storming should be banned: Because nothing good comes from it. The only thing that evolves from court storming is something like we've seen with Clark and Filipowski recently. Someone gets hurt.

If there's a reason why court storming is good, let's hear it. If there's a positive from it, let's hear it. If there's something about court storming that enhances the entertainment value of the game, let's hear it.

The silence, of course, is deafening.

There's nothing good that comes from it, unless you think running around on the court for 45 seconds and "whoopin' it up" is one of those can't miss moments in your life.

I've never stormed the court at a game in my entire life.

I'm no Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos but things have turned out just fine for me without a court storming merit badge.

It's silly.

Sure, it used to be a thing. People stormed the court once upon a time and enjoyed themselves.

People also used to think All In The Family was a great show. Now? Not so much.

Things change. Times change.

It's no longer the right thing to do to storm the court and act like a complete lunatic while the two teams are still trying to navigate their way off the court.

Why is it no longer "the right thing to do"? Easy answer: Because people don't know when enough is enough.

People can't just make their way onto the court to celebrate with the victorious home team, being careful not to smash into anyone or otherwise injure someone with their negligence.

Instead, it's the exact opposite. People race onto the court without one ounce of concern for what they're doing or who they might be interfering with. I wouldn't call it an outrage. I'd just call it "stupid".

This isn't all that different than the popular term these days: peaceful protest.

It's within our rights to gather and protest in a civil manner. Some would go as far as saying it's one of the more important benefits our forefathers handed down to us.

But all that goes out the window when people gather and aren't "peaceful" with their protest. And, these days, you're finding far more people who don't actually know how to protest, just like you're seeing over and over and over that people don't know how to celebrate on the court or field with their team after a big win.

We just can't have good things, basically.

The coaches have it right.

You have to get rid of court storming, particulary now that these -- ahem -- "student-athletes" are going to start getting paid real money for playing amateur (insert giggle here) sports.

There's a reason why fans of football and baseball teams aren't allowed to "storm the field" after championship victories. The hired help is just valuable. Can you imagine, had the Ravens won on January 28, 20,000 storming the field and Lamar Jackson tearing his shoulder up when he was knocked to the ground and being unavailable for the Super Bowl?

So if field storming isn't allowed in professional sports, why is permissible in college sports?

It shouldn't be. Put an end to it, now, per the wishes of the coaches on Monday's national conference call.

Invoke some kind of serious penalty for court storming and see how quickly it gets resolved.

I've seen three options bandied about:

1. Play the next home game in front of no fans.

OK, that works, sorta-kinda, but the tickets are already paid for in most cases. So no one's in the stadium...big deal. The athletic department has the money for the game in their account already. They don't really care if no one's in the building to watch the game.

Sure, having no fans in the stands could impact the environment for the home team and that could send the appopriate message, but it's not the basketball players who are fault for court storming. It's the failure of the athletic department to control their patrons.

2. Fine the school the equivalent of an average home game gate receipt.

This one makes a lot of sense. If you sell 17,000 tickets an at average price of $40, you're forking over $680,000 in fine money. That's real money, even for some of the Power 5 schools who are making gazillions of dollars from their various sports programs.

3. Suspend the head coach for the next 3 games.

I probably like this one the least of the three, particularly because the coaches are generally the ones who want to stop court storming from happening. But that one will certainly get the coach's attention and, you assume, the attention of everyone within the athletic department as well.

In the end, the bottom line is court storming is dumb, there's nothing of real, tangible benefit being gained from it and, everything's funny-ha-ha until it's your star player's MCL that gets sprained because of some nitwit college kid who can't handle his Mad Dog 20/20.

Just end it now.


As the banterings continue about the PGA Tour and LIV Golf, it's becoming more and more apparent, just as I predicted here last June, that no sort of "formal" working agreement can be developed and carried out by the two parties.

It was silly to ever buy what was being sold by both entities.

LIV Golf never really wanted to "run" golf. They just wanted to own people. In this case, it's golfers. They wanted to own whatever golfers they decided were the best investment for them. And so that's what they did.

The PGA Tour never really wanted to be friends with them, either. But at some point, Jay Monahan figured "better the devil you know than the devil you don't", although in this case, specifically, the "devil" is far, far more evil than your run of the mill, every day devil.

LIV Golf went to the bargaining table when they spent a billion dollars on golfers and then discovered no one in the world was paying attention to LIV or their golfers.

Brooks Koepka and the rest of LIV still don't have a "working agreement" with the PGA Tour that was promised last June.

Why spend billions to "re-shape" the world of golf when you then discover no one cares if you're re-shaping it?

The PGA Tour went to the bargaining table once that first invoice showed up for legal fees and it was in the millions.

That was their "cleat of reality", if you will. The PGA Tour never once lost a court fight with LIV, that much was true. But in compiling that 4-0 record, they spent millions and millions of dollars that they really didn't want to part with.

So they made that "agreement" last June, you know, the one that said LIV would fall under the PGA Tour's umbrella and that Jay Monahan would now run both entities.

That was never going to happen.

LIV continues to roll on, playing their music and celebrating 54 hole golf tournaments like they're something that matters. They continue to steal players from the PGA Tour and, almost without question, they'll snag another big fish at some point fairly soon.

If the PGA Tour/LIV saga was a wrestling skit, Rory McIlroy would definitely be the next one to go. My best guess? Viktor Hovland signs on after the Masters.

Anyway, the PGA Tour recently got funded to the tune of billions -- with a "b" -- by a group of wealthy sports owners including Arthur Blank of the Atlanta Falcons.

The TOUR, quite clearly, is pretty much doing exactly what LIV did without the up front gazillion payments. They're paying exorbitant amounts of money for winning and huge sums for finishing T45. In other words, everyone winds up getting rich in the end if you just play decently good golf for about 12 weeks a year.

What the PGA Tour has going for it, though, is the obvious: They aren't funded by a group that has practiced significant acts of terrorism and murder.

LIV has that on their plate.

They have a lot of money, yes. But they also have a lot of blood on their fork, too.

The PGA Tour still has the most complete "golf tour" in the world. They have the best TV deal, the most sponsors and, overall, the best players.

But how long can the two entities stand apart from one another and still prosper?

I've suggested here and elsewhere that the obvious, easy solution is for the PGA Tour to play their schedule from the week after the Super Bowl until the week before the start of the NFL season. Call it February through August.

LIV can then play September through January in the various parts of the world they like to occupy.

The PGA Tour can play primarily in North America and LIV can play primarily in Europe, the Middle East and Australia.

It's just not that hard to figure out.

But it's far from happening.

These are two boys vying for the same high school prom date and neither of them wants to give in and lose all of that sweat equity they've invested.

Buckle up for more fighting between the two parties.

Greg Norman is no longer hiding it. He came out this week and publicly said, "Hideki Matsyuama is the guy we've targeted recently. We'd love to get him."

Matsuyama is interesting to Norman and his Saudi buddies because he helps them tap into the lucrative Asian market. If people in the U.S. aren't interested in Matsuyama -- which, for sure, they aren't -- there's no doub the folks in Japan certainly would be.

The PGA Tour also knows the dirty little secret that no one wants to talk about at parties: At some point in the future, LIV might have most of the world's top players, but if no one's paying attention to them or watching the golf on TV, who cares?

It would be akin to the L.A. Dodgers taking their entire team and moving into the Japanese baseball league. We wouldn't watch any additional Japanese baseball just because the Dodgers packed up and moved to Japan.

If Hideki Matsuyama, Viktor Hovland and Patrick Cantlay jump ship and start playing LIV Golf in places like Morrocco, Cape Town, Queensland and Tokyo, I just don't see "golf people" (and I'm one of them) getting up at all hours of the morning (or night) to watch them play on Oprah's TV network or wherever the LIV TV deal takes me.

I haven't watched one second of LIV Golf but that's more a personal choice and not at all about "golf". I have great respect for the former Anerican TOUR players (except Patrick Reed) who play on LIV -- as golfers -- but zero respect for them as citizens of the country that was harmed by events funded in part by the very government that now pages their wages.

Koepka, D.J., Bryson, Niemann, Hatton, Rahm -- all incredibly talented players. It's a shame they're playing their golf in silence.

The ring of the cash register, though, is loud. And that, ultimately, is the only reason any of those guys are playing for Greg Norman.

How long will that last?

That's the fun part.


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funny? not funny? but necessary?


It's clearly not a sports topic and we'll get to some sports in a jiffy, I promise. But Dane sent me an interesting e-mail on Sunday and asked what I thought of the Saturday Night Live monologue featuring once jettisoned Shane Gillis.

"I know you're a SNL guy," Dane wrote. "And like you, I thought the Bargatze feature a couple of months ago was comedy gold. But I'm wondering what you thought of what Shane Gillis did (Saturday) last night? Funny? Or way over the top?"

Full disclosure, unlike the show Nate Bargatze hosted, I did not see Shane Gillis live this past Saturday evening. In some ways, I do think that takes away a little bit from the impression a comedy skit leaves. Seeing it without any bias or information is important, I believe.

By the time Dane sent me that e-mail on Sunday, I already seen people opining about the episode on Twitter. I hadn't seen any of it, but I saw enough of the commentary to know it was, shall we say, "on the line".

But I did watch it late Sunday afternoon. Several times, in fact.

And, so, here's what I'll say in response to Dane's inquiry.

I've never found Shane Gillis particularly funny. That said, I find Bill Burr extremely funny. And Burr and Gillis, while perhaps not cut from exactly the same cloth, are certainly kindred spirits.

Comedy is similar to music. You like what you like. I always thought Steven Wright was really funny. My wife watches 10 minutes of old Steven Wright clips and looks at me like I'm from Saturn. "You think this guy's funny?" she says.

I thought the movie, "The Gods Must Be Crazy" was hilarious. My friends watched it with me once and wanted to have me tested for a mental imbalance.

I laughed non-stop. They didn't crack a smile.

So, I don't find Shane Gillis particularly funny. But a lot of people do.

Gillis, in case you don't know, was famously kicked off of SNL back in 2019 for some incredibly sensitive comedy skits he authored, mostly regarding Asians and homosexuals.

That he was brought back by SNL on Saturday night was big news in the comedy world.

I watched the entire 8 minute monologue from this Saturday's show. Predictably, three words he used in the opening segment -- "gay", "retarded" and "cracker" -- have created a firestorm. I didn't find much of what he said on Saturday night offensive or funny, honestly. Like I mentioned above, I just don't think he's all that funny.

He used the word "retarded" when describing a playground scene involving his niece, who has Down Syndrome. And he used the word "cracker" in reference to that playground scene and her three African American step brothers coming to her rescue.

He didn't use either word in a derogatory manner, yet there were folks on Twitter who were outraged nonetheless.

Glenn Clark and I have been doing a regular segment in his Wednesday show called "This is what's wrong with our country" and one of the things that's definitely wrong is we've lost our way when it comes to humor.

No one is allowed to be funny any longer. Or even attempt to be funny.

I make occasional funny remarks here about a certain old, washed up pop music group from England and people react as if I called their Aunt Betty "fat" at the family picnic in August.

That's a sliver of an example, obviously. But it's true. Somewhere along the way in this country, people stopped embracing humor and took everything personally.

I suppose what Dane was getting to in his e-mail was more about the content and less about the humor portion of it.

Nate Bargatze can do 90 minutes of stand-up and never utter one bad word. I saw him at the Lyric back in September and the worst thing he said all night was "sucks". And I think he said that once. Twice at the most.

Gillis pushes the envelope. "Gay", "retarded" and "cracker" are words we've pretty much removed from our daily vocabularly here in 2024. People still say them, I know. But we've tried hard over the last half decade or so to go easy on the use of those words.

That said, and this is the summary I wanted to provide, I'd like to see us get less worked up about things like that.

It was a comedy skit. In this case, all three of those words were reasonable fits for the points he was trying to make. I don't know that they were funny. But that's just me.

Interestingly enough, musical guest 21 Savage was performing on Saturday night with lyrics that detailed things like murder and cocaine use. I understand that music is considered "different" than comedy, but aren't interpretation and nuance part of the song writer's quest?

Shane Gillis can talk about being "gay" for his mother as a young boy (a joke I didn't get at all, honestly) and that's not cool but 21 Savage can sing about murder and that's....acceptable?

We spend a lot of time these days just dying to get offended about something someone says. It never ends. Every single word gets dissected. Everything is evaluated, over-evaluated and then super-evaluated.

Sometimes, it's just an attempt at humor. Or music.

Steven Wright once said: "Why is it called a penny for your thoughts...but you have to put your two cents in?"

And, "What cruel person put an "s" in the word, "lisp"?

I thought those things were funny.

Shane Gillis wasn't funny on Saturday night, but not because he was offensive. He just wasn't funny.

But I don't think those three words he said were awful. He was trying to be funny. It might not have worked for me, but it might have worked for you.

My answer to Dane: Let's stop getting offended so easily about stuff that doesn't really matter. A comedian using those three words didn't change anything in the world on Sunday morning. He tried to be funny. Some people in the audience laughed. Others were stoic.

And while I didn't find it funny, I certainly wasn't offended by the monologue.

Now...murder and cocaine. Maybe we should be worried about those things.


That was a remarkable scene at the Mexico Open yesterday, where PGA Tour rookie Jake Knapp, who started the day with a 4-shot lead, held on to win the golf tournament and changed his career at the same time.

Knapp couldn't find a fairway, a green, or a par early on. It looked like he was going to throw away the event in the first nine holes.

But then, something awesome happened.

TOUR rookie Jake Knapp relaxed after a shaky start to win the Mexico Open yesterday at 19-under par.

Knapp settled down.

And he started to hit the kind of shots he had hit in the first 54 holes. The putter wasn't great throughout the round, but his short game and wedge work around the greens was spectacular over the final six holes.

He finished the day with a routine par at the 18th hole to finish at 19-under and earn a trip to the Masters in April, plus invites to The Players and the remaining signature events in 2024, and a TOUR card through 2026.

It's a great story for anyone who thinks "I can't do it."

In my role as Calvert Hall's golf coach, I'm constantly searching for examples to share with my players. I'm looking for things they can watch or experience that will guide them long after they've finished playing for me.

Jake Knapp is one of those stories.

He was a very good college player who toiled on the mini-tours but couldn't sustain a living just from playing golf. He was a bartender and a bouncer while he was trying to play his way onto the various professional circuits.

"There's a difference between a dream and a wish," I tell my players. "A wish is usually just a hope. A dream actually takes shape. It's there, in front of you. It lives."

Jake Knapp getting into the winner's circle yesterday is a story that will be hard to top in 2024.

It reinforces what I always say: "You never know."

Of all the sports axioms I subscribe to, that's the best one of them all. If I would have said to you on January 1st, "Jake Knapp is going to win a PGA Tour event before March 1st," you would have said, "Who? How? Never heard of the dude."

You never know.


The talk is going to start to heat up this week about the Orioles and phenom Jackson Holliday. Start the season in the minors? Or come north right away with the big league club?

A few weeks ago on Glenn Clark Radio, I asked a national baseball analyst for his closest big league comparison to Holliday and he came up with Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor.

That, of course, was a career comparison and not a comparison of his current skill set, but it certainly moved me in a different direction with Holliday.

Wouldn't you like to have a young Francisco Lindor on the field this April?

At the center of the debate, of course, is "service time" and whether seven weeks of Holliday now is worth a full year of additional contractual obligation down the road.

The Orioles are in a great spot.

They are already jam packed with talent, for starters. If they leave Holliday in the minors to start the '24 campaign, it's not a huge issue.

That they won 101 games a season ago is also good in that the fan base isn't screaming from the rooftops about trying to get better after another one of those 65 win seasons.

It might be different if the O's were lousy for the last five years and weren't stocked with Major League talent. The pressure might be too much to take in terms of Holliday coming north with the team later this spring.

But now? The O's can take their time and make the right decision.

That said, the A.L. East is once again going to be a dogfight.

The Rays are always hanging around, no matter how many of their good players they cast away.

The Blue Jays have the offense. If they ever get quality pitching and bullpen work, they're a threat to win the division.

And the Yankees figure to rebound after a really disappointing 2023 campaign.

Five or six wins might be the difference in winning the division and/or making the playoffs. Who knows?

If Holliday helps the Birds win two or three extra games in April and May, those wins could be the difference in the division title or a wild card spot.

If Holliday isn't around for April and May (and a little bit of March) and those "extra wins" aren't there, the playoffs might also not be there in October.

There's one thing still up in the air, too. Where will Holliday play when he gets here? Mike Elias has dropped some hints about second base. OK then, what happens to Jordan Westburg?

And then, we have the issue that always plagues the Orioles: being cheap.

Keeping Holliday around now will simply quicken the pace when it comes to having to pay him real money.

If he's ready -- in baseball terms -- and you bring him to Baltimore to start the season, you're starting his "clock" in 2024.

It's different if he's not ready, baseball wise. Leave him down in the minors for a couple of months to fine tune everything and then bring him up sometime after Memorial Day. That's an easy one.

But if Holliday is truly ready to be a big league baseball player, what should the Orioles do?

Those of you who have been ardent #DMD readers over the years know what my position is on this topic. I say "bring him up right now and start winning baseball games."

Start his service clock and let's win some games.

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terps roll past rutgers, 63-46


The Terps were locked in a tight a highly contest battle with Rutgers yesterday. But over a span of 7:21 ending the first half, and 3:54 starting the second, they broke off a 22-4 run, eliminating any hopes Rutgers had for a home win.

After playing the last 6 minutes of the game only with the intention to run out the clock, Maryland cruised to a 63-46 win over Rutgers in the RAC.

The Terps held a 6-2 advantage in three pointers made, a 15 to 10 superiority in foul shots made, and dominated the offensive glass 15-7. Of those three areas, it was the three ball that did in the Scarlet Knights. I’d place that above even the Terrapins stingy defense.

At 5:11 of half one and the Terps ahead by 2, Jordan Geronimo hit a three from the right corner as the shot clock expired. Jahmir Young followed that with a trey off the dribble while heading to his left. Next, Donta Scott drained one from the right side.

The 2-point lead was now 11, quickly. Rutgers would never again bring that bulge down into single digits.

The Terp lead would grow to as many as 20, but never fall below 10.

Julian Reese flexed his muscle while on the way to a 20-point afternoon.

Geronimo had 11 points and 11 rebounds.

Young was again tested by the Rutgers defense, going 2 for 9 from the floor. But the sell out to stop the Terp point guard left other options open. Young made the Scarlet Knight pay by handing out a career best 9 assists.

No Rutgers player made more than 3 field goals against the swarming Terrapins, but buoyed by his 6 foul shots, Aundre Hyatt led his team in scoring with 13 points.

It took four tries from long range, but the Terps finally got on the board with a Scott three. Reese followed that with a dunk assisted by Young, and Maryland had a 5-2 lead very early into the game. That became a 7-3 lead after Young bested Omoruyi at the foul line. The Terp point made a pair while Omoruyi hit 1 of 2.

The Terp advantage grew to 6 when Harris-Smith got to the rim twice. Rutgers countered with dunks by Hyatt and Omoruyi. The second one was a follow up dunk off a missed shot.

At the second TV timeout, the Terps were clinging to a 1-point lead, 13-12. They were 4-13 shooting and 1-6 from the three-point line. Rutgers was doing a great job of contesting every close-range shot, and had already blocked a pair of Maryland attempts.

By the next media break, The Scarlet Knights has amassed 5 turnovers, allowing the Terps to overcome a 4-minute span in between field goals. Maryland held a slight 17-14 lead and Reese was heading to the line to shoot a pair. He connected on 1 of those tries.

There was little happening on the perimeter, as each team was effectively guarding outside. All scoring was either at the rim or on the foul line. Both teams pressed when they could, but the only effect was to run time off of the shot clock.

Back-to-back threes, one by Jordan Geronimo and another by Young, propelled the Terps to their biggest lead, 26-18.

That was the score at the sub-4-minute TV timeout. The Geronimo triple was a buzzer beater from the right corner. Young’s was a tough one moving to his left. This all happened with Reese on the bench after being saddled with his second foul of the game.

Another pair of missed Rutgers free throws (they were now 5 for 11 from the line) was met by a swished three from Scott. The Terps were up by 11, 29-18.

Maryland couldn’t capitalize on consecutive offensive rebounds by Jamie Kaiser, misfiring three times in a row. But Rutgers was more than willing to lend a hand to a Terp run that reached 11 points and spanned almost 6 minutes. The Scarlet Knights missed the front end of a one-and-one.

The half ended with Maryland up by 12, 30-18. Key first half stats were the 3 extra turnovers that Rutgers committed, the 5-12 foul shooting by the Scarlet Knights and the 9-point advantage that Maryland held in points from behind the 3-point line.

Scott opened the second half scoring with his 3rd three pointer, inflating the terp lead to 15, 33-18. That ballooned to 17 when Harris-Smith made a layup. However, his taunting technical foul gave those points right back to Rutgers who finally hit a few foul shots. Geronimo got one of those back with a free throw of his own.

Play stopped with 16:37 left to allow the refs to check for a flagrant Rutgers foul. They awarded a free throw to the Terps. The Young connection gave Maryland a 38-20 lead. A tough Resse put back had the Terps doubling up Rutgers, 40-20.

Omoruyi ended an almost 12-minute drought in Scarlet Knight field goals when he made a 2-foot jumper in the paint.

With 13:12 left to play, the Terps were up by 18, and only their 4 turnovers had kept the game from being a blowout.

After Reese left the game courtesy of his 3rd personal foul, Rutgers went on a bit of a run. They outscored UMD 13-5 in a matter of 3 minutes. The lead shrunk to 12, 47-35.

The Scarlet Knights had hit 6 of 7 field goals. Let’s make that 7 of 8 after a quick Rutgers steal and layup.

Rutgers had a ton of momentum and the crowd was engaged. Most of that juice was washed away by that technical foul mentioned above. It started a 7-0 run for the Terps.

The Scarlet Knights had busted their collective tails, only to see Maryland’s 12-point halftime lead extended by 5 points with just under 8 minute to play. The score was 54-37.

From there, ball control offense ran down the shot clock and sealed the game.

I was impressed with the Rutgers game plan designed to stop Young. His shooting numbers against Rutgers this year read 5 for 26. His poor 2 for 9 performances from the floor yesterday carried itself to the free throw line. Young missed 4 times in 10 tries. Very unYoung-like for the normally reliable guard.

Rutgers tried to come back, making 4 layups in a row at one point. However, a technical foul by Autin Williams broke their momentum. Despite Young missing the foul shot, the Terps would go on to score those 7 points in a row that I mentioned, effectively putting the game out of reach with 7:14 left to play.

Maryland will next play Northwestern at home on Wednesday. It’s a 7 pm game televised by BTN.

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easy pickins


Not because we want to, but just because it's so daggone easy.

We'll go after the low hanging fruit here today at #DMD.

Court storming - idiotic

Leaving announcers in Baltimore - embarrassing

Anthony Kim - publicity stunt

If you have any other low hanging fruit, you think we should address, throw it in the comments and we'll tear into it this week here at #DMD.

I suppose there are still a handful of goofs who think storming the court (or the field, for that matter, since it's also done in football) is a solid idea, even in the wake of yesterday's incident in Winston Salem, NC where the stands emptied onto the court after Wake Forest's surprising win over Duke.

In the midst of that surge, a Duke player was injured.

I know, particularly in these parts, we tend to overlook any story involving Duke. So it's probably wise to not even consider the teams that were involved yesterday and just consider the act and the injury without any bias at all.

These idiotic court storming episodes have to stop. Like, now.

And they will, of course. Yesterday was the final straw. That's why this entry is essentially going after the low hanging fruit, as it were.

The episode on Saturday will be the final piece of evidence needed for the NCAA to put an end to it all.

This wild scene yesterday at Wake Forest led to an injured Duke player and talk of ending "court storming" once and for all.

Mind you, there are already rules about court storming. It's not supposed to happen in the first place. Schools and athletic departments are supposed to "ensure the safety of all student-athletes at all times, upon their entry into the building and until they exit after the athletic contest."

And 90% of the time, everything's fine.

It's that other pesky 10% that creates problems. Like we saw yesterday in Winston Salem. The security around the perimeter failed and thousands of people made their way onto the court.

It has to come an end, pronto.

Whether the NCAA has time to end it now is unknown. What's the penalty for court storming? That's probably the first question they'll have to answer once they've decided to punish schools who allow it to take place.

And will the people even listen?

I mean, if 10,000 people want to run onto the football field at Alabama next fall, they're running onto the field.

We saw first-hand in our country upon a time on a wintry January afternoon that when people decide en masse they're doing something, they pretty much just go ahead and do it.

So how will the NCAA and the schools and the facilities make it so that no one jumps onto the court or the field after a game?

Should court storming be allowed only after the visiting team has left the playing surface and is safely in their locker room?

That was one idea bandied about yesterday in the aftermath of the Duke playing getting injured.

Is that the solution?

I don't know about you, but I just don't see that being an effective method of curbing court storming.

"OK, now, we know you're dying to run out onto the court and celebrate with the team. Just hang tight for a minute while they do the post-game handshake and then when we flash the overhead lights three times, you can storm the court. But not until then."

That's how it's going to work?

Yeah, good luck with that.

The way to make it work is to put an end to it. How? That's above my pay grade. But it needs to stop. Today.


They're playing "real" spring training games now down in Florida and the O's got off to a wonderful start yesterday with a stirring 4-3 walk-off win over Boston.

OK, so maybe it wasn't "wonderful" or "stirring".

But it was cool to see Colton Cowser hit a 2-run homer in the bottom of the 9th to give the Birds the win, no matter if it was February or July.

I stopped counting how many times Jim Palmer made either direct or indirect reference to the broadcast team being in Baltimore instead of Sarasota. I heard it at least five times. It was funny on each occasion, because you just know Palmer was looking to throw in a barb whenever possible about the club's decision to "go cheap" in spring training with the broadcasting team.

Jim Palmer and the rest of the O's broadcast professionals are calling spring training games in Baltimore instead of Florida.

They interviewed Brian Roberts early in the game, who is serving as a "special advisor" with the club during spring training.

"How's the weather down there?" Palmer quipped.

Roberts might not have been in on the joke, so he answered honestly and directly.

"Oh, it's perfect," he said. "Just beautiful."

"That's great," Palmer deadpanned.

Later on Palmer said, "It's hard to tell from where we are, a thousand miles away."

Given last summer's turn of events when TV man Kevin Brown was suspended for two weeks for a completely benign moment of commentary about the Tampa Bay Rays, it will be interesting to see if Palmer is silenced by the powers-that-be the next time he does a spring training broadcast from Baltimore.

The guess here is Palmer just says whatever he wants. It's always been that way. And rightfully so, of course. If the owner or GM or Director of P.R. is going to tell the color analyst what to say or not to say, they might as well just do the broadcast themselves.

But let's get to the root of the issue. It's not Palmer making snide remarks about the broadcast team being in Baltimore.

The issue is the Orioles being cheap.

Like, really, really, really cheap.

They already short-change the fan base by not broadcasting all of the spring training games. Or, at the very least, all of the home spring training games from Ed Smith Stadium.

This year, a grand total of seven games will be aired on MASN.

It's beyond bizarre that here you have an entity whose sole purpose is to broadcast baseball games and when the games start, you don't broadcast them.

And then, it's even wildly more bizarre that when you do manage to regrettably have to air 7 of them, you leave the broadcast team in Baltimore to do their job.

It's embarrassing that you're that cheap.

This is really quick math, so please know that it's far from 100% accurate. But it's a good overview.

And let's just pretend it's the same two people doing all the games, even though the O's -- for some weird reason -- have about 10 people in and out of the broadcast booth doing radio, TV, pre-game and so on.

Kevin Brown and Jim Palmer -- $1,000 each per-game (even though both of these guys are on a salary that's "more" than $1,000 per-game, we'll just reduce it to $1,000 for this example)

Hotel room for each of them (this is listed as "cash" even though the club probably trades for the rooms) -- $300 each per-night

Daily per-diem -- $100 each (the in-season player figure is $108, I think.)

Rental car -- $100 each per day (I have no idea if they get a car or not)

If you do seven games, assuming the announcers are there the day before and leave the day after, you're talking $2,000 for their on-air work, $1,200 for the two rooms, $600 for per-diem and $600 for the rental car.

It's $4,400 to do one game, basically. And I think that might be high, but we'll go with $4,400.

Seven games of that is basically $30,000.

You can't sell four $7,500 spring training only advertising packages to cover that $30,000?

I mean, here's what I'd do: I'd sell the packages for MASN and offer to split everything 50/50 above $30,000 and I'd make a killing, especially after the team just went 101-61.

I understand selling spring training TV wasn't a walk in the park circa 2010 when the team was the laughingstock of baseball.

Now? You're selling one of the hottest properties in all of sports.

You're telling me they can't sell $30,000 of advertising to have the announcers on site?

And what if they did 14 games instead of 7, which seems like a more appropriate number for you, know, the MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL TEAM IN TOWN.

Now, it's $60,000 for spring training coverage.

In an organization that made a profit of $64 million just two years ago, you're telling me $60,000 is an expense not worth incurring?

And let's not forget, you still have to pay Jim Palmer to do the game in Baltimore. He doesn't live here so you still have to put him up in a hotel room for a few nights. He still has to eat while he's in town.

Why wouldn't you send the broadcast team to Sarasota?

The answer: You're too cheap.

And that, given where the franchise is on the field, is completely laughable.


You probably don't even know who Anthony Kim is, unless you're a complete golf enthusiast, but he's back.

Well, sort of.

It's been 12 years since Kim stopped playing on the PGA Tour. For reasons only he knows (mental health, gambling problems, bad achilles are the most discussed reasons), Kim stepped away from the game and cashed a huge insurance settlement check a dozen years ago.

He was a 3-time PGA Tour winner before he quit the game.

Anthony Kim hasn't played competitive golf in 12 years but he'll tee it up next week on the LIV golf circuit.

Now, he's returning to the world of professional golf, apparently agreeing to play in next week's LIV event in Saudi Araba as a "wildcard", which means he'll have no official designation as a team member or any "formal" alliance with the renegade circuit.

It's kind of like Michael Jordan playing in a PGA Tour event, if you will.

Yes, otherwise known as a publicity stunt.

There's no telling what Anthony Kim's golf game will look like next week. The prevailing thought in the golf world is there'd be no reason at all for him to step into the spotlight unless he was primed and ready to compete.

Why come back now, a dozen years later, unless you were capable of competing?

Sure, there's money involved, somewhere along the way. As we've seen over the last 24 months, the PIF and Saudi government will pay just about anyone who, A) wants to play professional golf under their umbrella and, B) will help LIV stick it to the PGA Tour in the process.

Kim was once a star in the making on the PGA Tour. He played good golf, wore his hat backwards, played with his shirt untucked and listened to loud music while he was playing. I know what you're thinking: It looks a lot like LIV...12 years early.

But Anthony Kim was a good player. He wasn't a young Tiger or young Phil. Heck, he wasn't even a young Rory or a young Brooks.

He was a guy with a nice golf swing who was particularly captivating to the youngsters.

And now he's back.

But it's all pretty much just a publicity stunt.

No one is paying attention to LIV on a tournament-by-tournament basis.

Quick: Who won the event in Las Vegas a few weeks ago? Right, no one knows.

Editor's note: I actually follow golf and I had to Google it.

Adding Anthony Kim to the field next week is an effort to get people to pay attention. Nothing more. Nothing less.

If he plays well, they have themselves a 7'9" softball player who comes to town every July as part of the community carnival.

If he doesn't play well, he gets tucked away like the rest of the guys who have played and then disappeared.

And, no, I don't mean "disappeared" like that Washington Post journalist. I just mean, "played and then no longer played."

Either way, LIV gets what they need. People to pay attention to them.

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terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his 9th season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2023-2024 season.


terps visit rutgers today


Forget their records.

Rutgers, Maryland’s opponent today at noon, is always tough at Jersey Mike’s arena.

Better known as the “RAC”, this place offers as big a home court advantage as there is in the Big Ten. It’s a tiny venue, with seating for about 8,000 people, and it gets loud. Personally, I’m excited to make my first trip to the RAC, and as a representative of DMD.

This game is the second matchup of the season between these two teams. When analyzing this game, I see hope for the Terps tonight, despite the fact that they fell at home to Rutgers, 56-53.

That initial game was a mess. I recognize that Rutgers is the number 3 defensive team in the NCAA, according to kenpom.com (Maryland follows closely behind at number 6) but these two teams were woeful while trying to score the basketball.

Rutgers was 3-13 shooting threes, while the Terps said, “Hold my beer”, and put up an even more futile 2-18.

For the game, Maryland shot 32.5% (17-54). Rutgers was 8-27 in the first half before the Terps got lazy on “D” in the game’s final 20 minutes, allowing Rutgers to shoot 50%. With each side committing 15 turnovers, it wasn’t good basketball.

#DMD's Dale Williams says Jahmir Young is the man to watch in the waning moments of today's Maryland visit at Rutgers.

The Scarlet Knights had an effective strategy to neutralize Maryland’s primary offensive weapon. They tried to hem in Jahmir Young, to keep him from penetrating. When he did get inside, Young was swarmed. He made just a single shot inside the three-point line while mIssing 12 times.

When the Terps fed the post, Reese was having his way against one of the nation’s premier shot blockers, the Scarlet Knight’s Cliff Omoruyi. Reese was 8 for 10 from the field. He also gathered in 12 rebounds, but Reese’s 5 turnovers and 3 for 9 foul shooting really hurt the Terps.

Young matched Reese’s 12 rebounds, but his 3-17 shooting combined with 5 turnovers of his own were too much for his team to overcome in that January loss.

The numbers posted above are what makes me lean towards the Terps today.

Yes, the Rutgers defense is really good. Kenpom uses points per 100 possessions and not point per game.

Therefore, both UMD and Rutgers have defensive efficiencies that aren’t swayed by the slower pace both teams employ. That being said, I don’t think Rutgers can duplicate that kind of success in stopping the Terp point guard.

We all know that Maryland can’t make threes, but 11% simply won’t happen again. Young was 2 for 4, the rest of the team got blanked, 0-14. Donta Scott was nil for 5, Jamie Kaiser Jr missed 4, Jahari Long 3, and Jordan Geronimo whiffed on a pair. Surely one of those guys has to be successful on a three today.

Reese has had a tough time at the free throw line this year, but 3 for 9? He’ll be better. In a bit of an oddity, both teams only had 1 player miss foul shots. Reese missed 6, the rest of his team was a perfect 14 for 14. For Rutgers, Aundre Hyatt had 2 not go in, the rest of his team was 9 for 9.

With the Terps at home in game 1, they enjoyed a 23 to 11 advantage in foul shots attempted. That’s a big number and I expect that to be somewhat reversed today. It’s rare for a home team to shoot fewer foul shots when the sides are evenly matched.

Rutgers has lost their last two games after reeling off 4 consecutive victories. One of those wins was a beat down of Wisconsin, 78-56. The Badgers were awful in that game and The Scarlet Knights had two guys come off the bench and nail 8 threes in 10 tries. That scoring burst seems to be an outlier.

These are two teams that are far on the outside of the tournament bubble and barely peeking in at an at large bid. It’s just not going to happen for either one. Rutgers will play hard at home and they always bring the defense. Likewise with the Terp “D”.

I just think too many things went Rutgers way in the first game and I don’t think those things are repeatable. This is a close game all the way to the end.

Willard has had plenty of time to rewatch the previous matchup, with a keen eye on how to get Young free for some good looks.

Omoruyi is a block party, but Reese can score on him like he did in game 1. The Terps need a decent game from Scott and perhaps