November 30
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In the AFC North on Sunday, the Ravens host San Francisco, the Steelers host the Browns and the Bengals host the New York Jets. One of those games will feature more than a 16-point margin of victory for the winning home team. You heard it here first. Which one? Check back tomorrow morning. You know I can't tell you before then.

I almost forgot the NBA season was underway, then I saw this morning that the Lakers beat the Wizards last night and are off to a 17-2 start. Can't imagine it's going to happen, but the Lakers, at least for now, are nearly on the same pace as the 2015-2016 Warriors team that set the NBA mark for fewest losses in a season when they went 73-9. Golden State's winning percentage that season ended at .8902 and the Lakers are currently winning at an .8889 clip. Impressive stuff.

Admittedly I haven't seen the rest of the Top 25 college basketball teams, but I've now watched Maryland on back-to-back days (Thursday and Friday) and I can't imagine they're the 5th best team in the country. I mean, they're essentially the same team as the one from a year ago except their best player (Bruno) is gone. I'm not suggesting that Maryland isn't good. I think they are. They'll get one of the double byes in the Big Ten come conference tourney time. But are they the #5 team in the country? Based on what I saw the last two games, that would be a resounding "no".

One game for your life. Which one do you throw out? Paper, rock or scissors?

A story leaked out of Mississippi yesterday that the whiz kid who did the dog-peeing stunt in the end zone on Thursday night was so concerned about his status with the team that he called for a meeting with the coach. When he asked the coach about his status with the program, the coach apparently replied, "Don't worry young man, urine good shape here."

The Orioles released Jonathan Villar earlier this week because they couldn't find a trade partner for the reliable second baseman. That and they didn't want to pay him $10 million this coming season. But they'll pay the .180 hitting first baseman $21 million or so. "New math" I think they call it. Or "Rebuilding 101". Pick one.

Editor's note: "Leaked", "whiz", "urine good health" instead of "you're in good health". LOL. Too soon?

The Presidents Cup is two weeks away. The International team lost some of its home flavor on Thursday when Australian Jason Day pulled out due to a back injuy and was replaced by Ben An, a South Korean player who is one of the PGA Tour's rising young stars. That's a nice swap for Ernie Els' team. Day is a terrific player when healthy, but An is healthy and had an excellent 2019 campaign in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Given both team's respective December schedules, the loser of tomorrow's Colts-Titans game in Indianapolis is probably out of the post-season race. The winner moves to 7-5 and the loser falls to 6-6. After tomorrow's game, Indy's remaining schedule is - @Bucs, @Saints, vs. Panthers, @Jaguars. Tennesse's schedule will be - @Raiders, vs. Texans, vs. Saints, @Texans. Neither of those schedules are a walk in the park. Tomorrow's loser is likely finished unless they can run the table.

There are dead horses -- and then there are dead horses. Isn't it about time that Baltimore football fans stopped bellyaching about the "Lamar is a wide receiver" commentary? We're well into the second full month of it now. C'mon people, give it a rest. Everyone in the media who wrote or said that knows they screwed the pooch there. You've reminded them 104 times already about their columns, podcasts and tweets. Let's move on.

I ran a couple of interesting polls on Twitter over the last couple of days. None were sports related. Well, "Paper, Rock, Scissors" might be sort of a sport, I don't know. I mean, people flying drones around an empty arena is now on "sports television" so if that's a sport, anything is. Anyway, I asked folks on Twitter this: If your life depended on one game of Paper, Rock, Scissors, which one of those would you use? The landslide winner was rock. It received roughly 60% of the vote. So, if by chance you ever get in a sticky situation where your life depends on a game of Paper, Rock, Scissors, please, please, go with "Paper".

Be honest with me on this one. Have you done any research or pre-planning for the Super Bowl with the expectation that the Ravens are going to be in it? Checked on flights, hotels, emailed the Ravens about tickets, talked with friends about a caravan to Miami, etc? Don't fib! I have, by the way. I started looking right after they beat the Seahawks in Seattle. I'm about 80% set.

One of the other poll questions I asked centered on a cross-country car ride, where someone asks you to ride with them and will pay you $1,000 for completing the trip if you'll just do one of the following three things: Ride in the backseat the whole way, blindfolded. Sit in the passenger seat but there's no music, ever, and you're not allowed to speak, ever. Eat 200 hot dogs (buns and all) on the ride. The overwhelming winner was "no music, no talking", with almost 60% of the vote. I don't know about this one. I do know there's ZERO chance I could ride in the back seat with a blindfold on. That's out. I don't think I could ride 80 hours or so without music or talking. I'd lose my mind. And I don't really like hot dogs all that much, so the thought of eating 20, let alone 200, doesn't appeal to me. But I think I'd go with the hot dogs.

The Capitals are off to one of their best starts ever at 18-4-5 after Friday's 4-3 OT win over Tampa Bay. Here's the deal: I do think the Caps are good and with 30% of the season in the books, I'd say there's a "decent chance" they're going to make the Eastern Conference Finals. But one of the biggest reasons why I fancy their chances is because I haven't really seen any other teams that are any good. Or, at least, not as consistent as the Caps. Boston has more regulation wins than do the Caps (18 to 15) and I think the Islanders are pretty good, but those two are about it in the East.

You're wondering who will play in the AFC and NFC title games? Oh, well then, I guess I should tell you. Kansas City at Baltimore and Minnesota at New Orleans. And the winners are.......(come on back in January for that one).

Someone asked a couple of Turkey Bowl related questions in the comments section and I have the answers. Tom Matte is doing fine as far as I know. I see him occasionally at Eagle's Nest having lunch or dinner. I just don't think he's capable of sitting up in the booth and calling the games any longer. But he appears to be doing OK. And Loyola was the home team this year for one reason: It changes every year. Calvert Hall was the home team in '18, Loyola's the home team in '19, and so on. The home team gets their choice of uniforms and their fans sit on the press box side of the stadium. Easy answer there.

From the "You Heard It Here First" department comes this nugget. One of the top 5 college teams is losing today. #1 Ohio State plays Michigan, #2 LSU plays Texas A&M, #3 Clemson plays South Carolina, #4 Georgia plays Georgia Tech and #5 Alabama plays Auburn. One of those top 5 teams is going down today. Which one? I have no idea, but if you gave me $100 to fiddle with, I'd put it on Auburn.

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caps-flyers road trip now on sale

Like everyone else, we got caught up in Black Friday fever here at #DMD.

Our Capitals-Flyers road trip on January 8 is now on sale (see the link above the header) and we're offering $25 off starting today and running through Black Friday weekend.

Check out Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals on January 8 in Philadelphia! It makes a great holiday gift for the hockey fan in your family!

We'll leave the Towson area at 5 pm on Wednesday the 8th and head up I-95 for the final regular season meeting (in Philly) between the Caps and Flyers in 2019-2020. The puck drops at 7:30 pm.

We're offering lower concourse and upper concourse seating at the Wells Fargo Center.

I know someone's bound to ask, so I'll tell you now: Yes, Flyers fans are allowed to purchase seats and join us on the trip. There's no guarantee you'll get a ride home, but we'll at least ride you up there.

I'm kidding...

We'll give you plenty of food and drinks on the bus ride to Philly and we'll have a Caps trivia contest with a cash prize for the winner.

If you haven't been to a game in Philadelphia, it's well worth going. Yes, even though it's Philly...

Take advantage of the $25 Black Friday savings by purchasing your seats by Sunday, December 1st.

Please join us for a great one-night trip to Philadelphia to see the Caps beat up on the Flyers.

November 29
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calvert hall rolls past loyola

Calvert Hall raced out to a 14-0 lead on Thanksgiving Day and were never threatened from there, as the Cardinals rolled to a 33-10 win over Loyola in front of a packed stadium at Towson University.

Our friends at Varsity Sports Network have the play-by-play in their outstanding game article below.

We'll just give you a few other nuggets of information that you can digest along with all that turkey and mashed potatoes from your Thursday feast.

The Cardinals won the game on the field and in the stands on Thursday at Towson University.

I was surprised that Loyola wasn't in the game more, but the weather severely impacted the Dons' ability to utilize their effective pass-heavy offense. The wind was a massive "player" in the game, gusting hard from north to south.

Calvert Hall's ability to run the football was the primary difference. On two occasions when going into the win, the winners used huge runs of 40-plus yards to get themselves out of a vulnerable spot deep in their own territory.

The crowd was impressive. There were NO tickets left to sell by just after 10:00 am (11,200 is capacity) and it looked like a 60-40 attendance edge to the Cardinals, who were technically the "visiting" team for the contest. Towson University did an outstanding job with parking and traffic control. They aren't used to crowd like that at their stadium. Hats off to Towson for a job well done.

The football was good. The teams were clearly excited for the game, the 100th of the storied rivalry between the two schools.

The referees got involved a little too much, as they have a habit of doing. A couple of the "unsportsmanlike conduct" calls (for taunting) were ticky tack. A Loyola player made a nice hit and clapped in an overly enthusiastic manner and was nailed with a flag. Those kids waited a year to play in the game and make an impact and you're going to hit them with a penalty for something like that? Not cool.

As a Calvert Hall coach, I was obviously happy with the final result. I know how much the game meant to Coach Davis and his staff and players and I'm thrilled they got the reward they were chasing. The Turkey Bowl is an important part of the school's athletic calendar. I mean, it's really important.

But I also know the Loyola program prepared hard and wanted to win as well. And I hope their Thanksgiving was just as joyous despite the loss. They have an improved program at Loyola and one game shouldn't take away from what they accomplished in 2019.

In the end, what we saw on Thursday was an exceptional example of what happens when two schools come together and play a game that unites both communities for a few days and on Thanksgiving Day.

Yes, it's a rivalry. Yes, it gets "turned up" a bit in late November every year.

But the reality is that Calvert Hall and Loyola are both part of the fabric of the Baltimore community. Many employers in town have Cardinals and Dons working for them. Calvert Hall grads hire Loyola grads and vice versa. We all have pride in our respective schools and programs, obviously. But ultimately the main goal is to educate young men and prepare them for college, both in the classroom and in their athletic endeavors.

The football game actually brings the schools closer together. It might not seem like it before the game, but it's quite evident after the game.

Calvert Hall was the "winner" of the big football game on Thursday, but Loyola certainly wasn't a "loser".

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more food for thought

If you had your fill of Thanksgiving food on Thursday, aren't you hungry again? If so, belly up to the table for some more day-after goodies, #DMD style.

Turkey -- Did you see the end of the Mississippi State-Ole Miss game last night? They call it "The Egg Bowl" and it's a big deal, of course, because the two teams are in-state rivals.

Ole Miss went into the game at 4-7 with nothing to play for, while Mississippi State was 5-6 and needing a win to be bowl eligible. Say what you will about 6-6 teams going to a bowl game and all, but college programs don't make the rules, they just accept the invitations when they come their way.

Mississippi State led by 7 when Ole Miss connected for a TD pass with just four seconds left in the game. But on the touchdown catch, Ole Miss receiver Elijah Moore crawled around in the end zone and pretended to urinate like a dog, lifing his right leg and all. It was great theater. It was also a 15-yard penalty.

And, yes, of course, the kicker then missed the 35-yard extra point and Ole Miss lost.

Here's all I could think about afterwards. How on earth are these coaches supposed to be held accountable for idiotic behavior like that? If that kid just hands the ball to the referee like a sane person would, the game is most likely tied and who knows what happens from there. Instead, his team loses, the coach gets ragged on for losing The Egg Bowl and all for what? Because you wanted to pee like a dog in the end zone. C'mon son. Be smarter than that.

If you want to see one of the dumbest ways to lose a football game, it's right here for you.

Mashed Potatoes -- Matt Ryan was just trying to make a play. One, frankly, that he didn't really need to make. With the Falcons (3-9 after last night's 26-18 loss) playing out the string on Thanksgiving Night, they hosted the division leading Saints. Ryan threw an interception near midifield and instinctively chased after the guy who picked off the ball. Bad move.

Ryan was stiff-armed straight to the ground in a play that immediately made the rounds on social media with enough "LOL's" and retweets to fill up Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Atlanta QB could have done what most quarterbacks do in that case. He could have run a few steps, realized he's the guy the team invests $20 million in annually, and pulled up to fight another day.

Instead, he got smashed to the ground in one of the most humiliating moments of the season. No good deed goes unpunished, right?

Stuffing -- Buffalo hasn't played a particularly difficult schedule this year. Among their now nine wins are two against Miami, one against the Jets, one against the Bengals and one against the Giants. Those four teams have a combined record of something like 5-80 this year. Or at least it feels like that.

But going into Dallas and winning is a different story, even if the Cowboys are just OK and Jason Garrett is the NFL's coaching version of Charlie Brown. And that's what the Bills did on Thursday. And they didn't just squeeze out a 21-20 win. They won easily 26-15. The Cowboys held the statistical edge in a lot of categories, mind you, but the only one that matters is the scoreboard at game's end.

The Bills are an interesting team. I've said this for a long time. The team that thinks they're really good is often times more dangerous than a team that actually is really good. My guess is Buffalo (9-3) is now at the point where they actually are starting to think they are a really good team.

We'll see how good they are next Sunday when the Ravens go to Buffalo.

Oh, and if you want to fiddle around with the projected playoff schedule a bit, there's a very real possibility the Ravens and Bills could see each other again in January. Barring a late collapse by New England and a run of the table by the Bills, Buffalo looks like they'll be the 2nd place finisher in the AFC East and the top wild card team, which will earn them the #5 seed in the playoffs. That means they'll get the AFC South winner, which at this point figures to be either Indy, Houston or Tennessee.

It's certainly not out of the question that Buffalo could beat one of those three, albeit on the road. And if Kansas City, the likely 3 seed, disposes of the 6 seed as expected (Oakland? Cleveland? Pittsburgh? the 2nd place AFC South team? - all of whom aren't very good), and the Ravens were to finish as the 1 seed -- well, voila!, you have Buffalo at Baltimore on the second playoff weekend.

Warm rolls and butter -- Michael Bamberger is one of the most distinguished golf writers of my lifetime. He's been doing it at various publications for going on three decades now and remains one of the industry's top scribes. He's also been, at least over the last decade, one of the more open, honest and outspoken critics of Tiger Woods that you'll find anywhere.

So I was stunned to read Bamberger's piece at yesterday, where he makes reference to an apology given to Tiger (by "us", which I an only assume was generalized as the golfing world) in the wake of his Masters win last April.

The crux of Bamberger's piece centered on Tiger's "reinvention" over the last 10 years, with particular emphasis placed on our country's perverted interest in the golfer's sex life. Bamberger, long a critic of Woods, has seemingly come full circle now, having spent -- I assume -- countless hours trying to determine if this latest personal revival is fact or fiction.

Understand this: Michael Bamberger writing something complimentary about Tiger and even offering some sort of "apology" to him -- on behalf of us, granted -- is akin to me writing something complimentary about the Flyers and apologizing to them. Yes, really.

If you're looking for an interesting 5-minute read today, just click here.

Pecan Pie -- It's my favorite, by the way. Always has been. I didn't have any pecan pie this year, but I know a lot of you probably did.

I'm not a fan of the band 'Korn', so this isn't some sort of personal recommendation. I mean, if you like them, that's cool. They've just never done it for me.

But the story of singer Brian Welch is one worth knowing. If you have 7 minutes today to watch this awesome video, please do. It's very, very good.


cardinals just too much for dons in 33-10 win

For the second year in a row, Cole Herbert and Sean Tucker provided a one-two punch for Calvert Hall (9-3) against Loyola Blakefield to send the Dons (8-2) reeling to their 10th loss in the last 11 Turkey Bowl encounters against the their cross-Towson archrivals.

After last Thanksgiving’s showcase when the duo accounted for three TD receptions (Herbert) and 177 rushing yards (Tucker) at Johnny Unitas Stadium in a 40-7 triumph, the Cardinal stars were just as lethal on Thursday morning when Herbert scored three more times and Tucker bludgeoned Loyola on 24 carries for 184 yards and a touchdown in a 33-10 victory at the same site.

With a sold-out crowd of 11,200 wind-whipped fans on hand for the 100th edition of the longest continuous annual football game between Catholic Schools in the U.S., Herbert and Tucker were at their best leading an unrelenting rushing attack that totaled 336 yards.

With Tucker doing the heavy lifting by gouging Loyola’s defense on the ground, Herbert provided the finishing touch on a pair of scoring drives to open the contest.

Calvert Hall enjoys their Turkey Bowl win over Loyola, their 6th straight in the annual Thanksgiving Day affair.

Seniors Cobie Floyd and Ray Glass were the other Cardinal backs who made life miserable for the Dons, who amassed just as many first downs as Calvert Hall (12) but were out-gained 463-279.

Herbert made the first major dent in the Dons’ defense when he scored first on a 32-yard rainbow from senior quarterback Amir Jenkins, going over two Loyola defenders to snare the ball deep in the end zone to give the Cardinals a 7-0 advantage with just over four minutes remaining in the first quarter after Peter Moore’s conversion kick.

Herbert inflicted even more damage on a 4th-and-2 from the Loyola 39-yard line a couple of minutes later when he took a direct snap from center, broke through a group of would-be tacklers at the 30 and then streaked his way past another another defender at the 5 to double the lead with 53 second left in the period.

Herbert said it was his first carry of the season, although by the way the play unfolded it looked like the Cardinals had been implementing the Wildcat routinely.

“We’ve been needing to do more (on offense),” the 6-foot-3, 205 pound wideout headed to North Carolina to play lacrosse said. “We decided to break it out today.”

Loyola (8-2) crept to within 14-3 early in the third quarter on a 29-yard field goal by senior kicker Connor Gill after an 11-play drive fueled by an 18-yard pass from junior quarterback Jordan Moore to Peter Lukish and a Moore 10-yard scramble.

After Tucker ripped off runs of 37 and 21 yards on the ensuing drive, Herbert scored on a 3-yard burst from the Wildcat in in the third to up the margin to 20-3.

The lead ballooned to 27-3 after Herbert, who also played some safety, pounced on a fumble at the Loyola 34, giving Calvert Hall a turnover that they capitalized on just four plays later when Tucker bullied 3 yards into the zone with just over three minutes remaining in the third quarter.

A 46-yard pass from Jenkins to senior tight end Kaelin Wade was the linchpin of that drive.

Loyola retaliated shortly thereafter when Jordan Moore used his elusiveness to scramble out of the pocket and buy enough time to find sophomore wideout Ben Scheiff on a 35-yard pass for Loyola’s lone TD with just over a minute left in the period.

However, Calvert Hall put the game out of reach in the fourth quarter on Floyd’s 10-yard off-tackle rumble midway through the period.

Calvert Hall coach Donald Davis, who now has guided the Cardinals to their best 11-year stretch in the century-old series, said that employing Herbert in the Wildcat would give his offense a new look.

“It was something we knew that they wouldn’t be prepared for because they hadn’t seen it,” he said. “Cole is just such a great leader and an unselfish a player who plays for his teammates. It’s great to have a kid on the team who doesn’t care what he does — he cares more about what his teammates do.”

Disappointed Loyola coach Anthony Zehyoue said that Herbert’s first TD grab hurt the Dons from getting a big stop early in the game.

“We had a couple of guys back there, but he made a nice play,” he said. “At the end of the day, they just made more plays than we did. (Herbert) made a great cutback on that run, too. We just need to get better.”

Loyola, which dropped its sixth straight game to the Cardinals, still leads the all-time series, 49-43-8. But Calvert Hall has now prevailed in the first, 50th and 100th games since the series began in November of 1920.

This game story and contribution to Drew's Morning Dish was written by Nelson Coffin, and originally published by Varsity Sports Network, the area's leader in high school athletics coverage. You can read more on the Turkey Bowl and follow along with rest of Maryland's winter sports schedule by going to

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November 28
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"just say it"

Like a lot of things that happen to me, today's brief topic about Thanksgiving was gifted to me. I'm no Rhodes Scholar, for sure, so I need all the help I can get when it comes to being topical and relevant.

I hope I hit the mark this morning.

Last night at the Calvert Hall pre-Turkey Bowl pep rally, I saw a lot of familiar faces. Countless old friends, people I know from the golf community and even a handful of old listeners of mine who are connected to The Hall and took time out of their night to offer a greeting.

One of them said something to me that was particularly heartwarming.

"I listened to you every morning, faithfully, because I thought you were a "call like it is guy," he said. "You weren't ever afraid to just say what was on your mind."

That trait of mine was both good and bad, I'd say now. I suppose some people liked that side of me. The Orioles certainly didn't like that side of me. Others probably didn't as well. I don't know how to describe my 12 years on the air other than to simply say I opened up the mic every day and just tried to be authentic. I watched the games and followed the teams and players and just said what was on my mind.

Sports radio isn't rocket science. There are a lot of complicated executives who blather on about "resetting" and "teasing" and those words and applications do matter, of course. But what sports radio -- or any media, for that matter -- should be is nothing more or less than "being authentic".

I don't know that I was all that good at "radio", honestly. But I know, if nothing else, I was at the very least, "authentic".

So when that gentlemen said that to me last night at Calvert Hall, the light went off. I knew what I was going to contribute here today.

Francis Chan is a Southern California-based pastor that I've followed for a while via that great thing called the internet. His messages are extraordinarily powerful.

In the video below, Chan talks about "just saying it". If you have 30 minutes today, watch this, please. The video below is his final sermon at the church after 20 years. It's incredibly captivating and...authentic.

I hope one of the messages you get from the video is the one I got, too. Today, when you're around family members...just say it. Tell them how important they've been to you. Tell them what they've done for you. Tell them you love them. The same goes for friends you might not see, but by the marvel of the modern day phone and online possibilities, you can talk to and even "see" them. Tell those friends the same things. Pour your heart out to them.

That's what Jesus would do today if he could sit at the table with you. He would "just say it". He would tell you he loved you and that you are the son or daughter of the creator who has loved you from the day you were born.

Just say it. Be authentic.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.

I appreciate all of you and your continued support. Have a great day celebrating this wonderful holiday in whatever manner you choose.


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a perfect season...spoiled (?)

The ball hung in the air for what seemed like an eternity. At first I thought it was intended for me. I had run a skinny post to the center of the end zone. I was flanked out wide right and Patrick was in the slot to my left, running an out and up.

As I got towards the goal line it seemed the arc of Eddie’s pass was heading my way, but then the ball kept going out to the corner, over my right shoulder. I swiveled my head around and watched Patrick leap towards the ball. It settled gently into his arms and he landed easily inside the boundary for our first touchdown of the game.

Calvert Hall 8, Loyola 6. 3rd Quarter. We were back in it.

The most memorable thing about that moment, 36 years later, is the noise. Because for that brief moment or two that the ball hung up there, it was as if the entire world had gone silent. All I could hear was my own breathing. There was nothing else. But when Patrick landed, it was as if a huge pane of glass shattered and behind it was a roar louder than anything I had ever heard before.

The noise cascaded down from the lower section of seating in old Memorial Stadium, washing over us, lifting us, imploring us to keep this feeling going.

We mobbed him in the end zone, hugging and banging our hands on each other’s helmets and shoulder pads, pure joy and love and brotherhood in that moment. So this is what we had worked for all year. The moment had arrived.

August 1983 was incredibly hot. I don’t need to research any weather almanac to assure you that it was incredibly hot. From the very first practice of two-a-days it was as if we were working in a sauna with football helmets on.

The morning practices were the toughest. Arrive at 8 a.m., get taped, get dressed, on the field for team stretching at 8:30, then the dreaded suicides, just to make sure we were fully awake.

There were position group sessions, special teams work, then the full contact drills between offense and defense, always working on down and distance situations, coaches always right over our shoulders making sure there was no letting up, no taking plays off, no mistakes in techniques and assignments.

There were only 33 of us on Varsity. We weren’t big in either roster size or physical size, certainly not by today’s standards, but we had talent in the right places, we had smarts, and we had a determination that was being revealed under that hot August sun. It was a determination to be better than our 5-5 record the previous fall, when most of us were juniors. If this was our last season together, it was going to be special.

It was going to be remembered for a long time at Loyola, not just because we were going to be great, but because we were going to be the team that ended the slide against Calvert Hall. Loyola had not won on Thanksgiving Day since 1978.

My favorite part of summer practice was the lunch break. Johnny Robs and I would walk from the locker room halfway across campus to Xavier Hall where we would get a huge metal container of fresh iced tea from the kitchen. We would each grab a handle and lug that tea to the shade of the trees in the little island lawn area near the statue of Saint Ignatius Loyola. The whole team would gather there and eat lunch and drink tea and rag on each other about everything teenage boys rag on each other for: girls, physical shortcomings, stupid things we did over the summer, grades, music, anything and everything.

No topic was too sacred. And we would relax in the shade and unwind and try not to think too much about having to put those helmets back on again for the afternoon session.

There was weight training after lunch, and then film session before afternoon practice. The film sessions were always funny to me. Grainy 8mm film shot from some slightly elevated perch around midfield, always from last season’s games, always to review formations and opponent’s offensive and defensive tendencies.

We typically played the same schools each season. This was the heyday of the old Maryland Scholastic Association, or MSA, and Loyola was a member of the A Conference. There were always a few schools scheduled for early September before we got into the heart of the conference schedule, but Coach Brune usually tried to schedule a home-and-away with those schools so we would have some familiarity with them.

So a lot of those summer practice film sessions were dedicated to preparing for Meade High School and South River High School, since they were September opponents. But every day we would spend 10 minutes or so on film from last year’s Calvert Hall game.

My story is a lot like thousands of other men in Baltimore. I grew up in the 1970’s in Towson and was fortunate enough to see the Baltimore Orioles, the Baltimore Colts and the Maryland Terrapins play.

They filled my seasons year-round, it seemed. My father had played football, basketball and lacrosse at Loyola High School and then at the University of Maryland. When he realized that his middle son was a sports-obsessed athlete he did everything he could to encourage that obsession. We went to countless Orioles, Colts and Terps games together. I was blessed to see Hall of Famers play in Baltimore.

I have so many warm memories of days and nights spent with my father going to College Park to watch Lefty’s great basketball teams or driving down Greenmount Avenue to 33rd Street and sitting anywhere in Memorial Stadium to watch baseball and football. It was, simply put, a great time to be a kid in Baltimore.

For all of those trips, though, my favorite was going with him to Loyola to watch a football game on a Saturday afternoon. We sat together on the old wooden bleachers of Hargaden Field and watched the Dons play, and there was something so real about being so close to the field. I could hear the coaches talking, sometimes yelling; I could see and hear the players on the field and the sidelines; I could just sense and feel the experience in a way that was never possible at any other venue.

I don’t know when it occurred to me, but at some point in the 1970’s I realized that this was something I could do when I grew up. I could go to Loyola, I could play football on the same field I watched those young men play on, on the same field my father had played on in the early 1950’s. I could do that, and I wanted to do that.

Every Thanksgiving morning, my father and I would pack up and take the familiar trip to Memorial Stadium. If Thanksgiving dinner was at my grandparents house then Mom would join us. Depending on the weather, we would take a thermos of hot chocolate for me and one with coffee for Dad.

I distinctly remember one cold Thanksgiving when I wore ski pants and we brought blankets. But no matter the weather we were there. And on the same field where I watched my heroes for the Orioles and Colts play, I watched my heroes from Loyola High School play their rivals from Calvert Hall. It all seemed so grand, so large, so wonderful.

It’s funny how much I took those days of my childhood for granted. They seem so much more special viewed through the lens of advanced middle age. But it was just what we did; it was Thanksgiving morning, it was Loyola and Calvert Hall, it was tradition. And there were some wins for Loyola, and some losses, and some sunny and warm days, and some windy and cold days, but it was Dad and me together. It was Thanksgiving.

One hundred years is a long time. A century. To our human concepts of history, a lot happens in the course of one hundred years. If we look at the arc of the last century, going back to 1919, so much has changed in our world that the pace of industrial and technological growth seems hard to comprehend. It’s not only drastically changed the way we live and communicate, it’s changed the way our sports are played. Think about the equipment that was used to play games just one hundred years ago.

If you walk into the fieldhouse at Loyola you will see old wool jerseys, leather helmets and game used footballs from the past century that chronicle teams and triumphs from glorious days and seasons long gone. I say long gone, but one hundred years is only a wisp of smoke in the annals of time. It just seems long gone to our human measurement of time.

A lot of tradition can be built over the course of a century. For Loyola and Calvert Hall, thousands of young men and their families have created stories and pastimes centered around Thanksgiving morning and the playing of a football game. It’s quite remarkable if you think about it: Somehow this game mattered enough to people on both sides of the rivalry that it continued to build momentum and importance that no matter the site, no matter the won-loss records, this game would be played on Thanksgiving each year.

Out of that commitment an entire city and families from neighborhoods all over it would be able to stake their own claim, their pride in their school, their chance to make a memory that would be theirs alone for the rest of their lives. It’s quite humbling for me to realize that I played in the 63rd and 64th editions of this game and that I’m still alive to see its 100th renewal this Thanksgiving. I know I’m not alone in that sense of pride, and that many others will always feel that as long as we live.

When a team gets hot, no matter the sport, it’s a magical and special feeling. It’s what every athlete who ever played competitive team sports is ultimately chasing. That feeling of confidence that no matter the opponent or the circumstances, no matter the game situation or the score, your team is better and you’re going to prove it right then and there.

Even if it takes until the last seconds of the game, you have the players and the schemes and the philosophy to win. We’re seeing it here with the Ravens in this wondrous moment in the fall of 2019. Watching the wizardry and excellence of Lamar Jackson, the enthusiasm that seems to permeate the entire team, the genuine joy and shared confidence of the players and coaches, is a marvelous and precious thing to behold.

It’s very rare. It’s so rare that most athletes never get to experience it, but it’s what every athlete ultimately works for...that time, that one season...when it all comes together and you know it and you feel it and you ride it as far as humanly possible. There’s nothing else to compare it to in our day to day lives.

The fall of 1983 was a special ride for all of us on that Loyola football team. It all came together. We might have been small in numbers and stature, but we were good and we believed we were good. A few early season smackdowns, including 2 shutouts, had us riding positive momentum into our game at Poly on a Friday afternoon.

We always felt that no matter who we had played before, the season always got real when we played Poly. They were fast and physical and talented, and every year they were the measuring stick for us.

Were we good enough? Were we strong enough? Could we endure the physical punishment they were glad to hand us? We survived, 13-6, on a late interception in our end zone that halted their last chance. We knew we were hot.

From that point forward, there were some blowouts and some thrillers. A narrow 3 point win at Gilman to avenge a loss from junior year was particularly memorable. An incredibly hard fought win over Northwestern at home on a chilly Friday afternoon in early November, escaping somehow with a 1 point win.

Before we blinked, we were 8-0 and only had to beat Archbishop Curley at home to secure Loyola’s first MSA A Conference championship in football since 1969. That was not an obstacle; we won 52-3 and I can remember our linemen hoisting Coach Brune on their shoulders and carrying him off Hargaden Field. So now we were 9-0. Undefeated. MSA A Conference Football Champions. A chance to become the first undefeated Loyola team since 1960.

And best of all...a chance to become the first Loyola team since 1978 to beat Calvert Hall.

After my father died in February of 2010, in the first blizzard of those back-to-back blizzards, we did what every family does after the passing of a loved one: We went through his things, all the big items like furniture and clothing and tools, but also all the smaller collections, his stamps and coins and World War II books.

This all took quite some time, and we were fortunate that he and my mother had lived in the same house for 40 years or so by that time. But it’s still pretty amazing what people can accumulate over a lifetime.

And my father was an accumulator (I guess that’s a word?). Among his many things were stacks of VHS tapes. There were lots of old movies (he loved the classics), documentaries and musicals. There were also lots of blank cassettes that he had bought to tape favorite programs and events with, and he had scribbled in his unique handwriting on the tape on the sides of each one.

There were lots of my little brother’s travel baseball games, some of my older brother’s musical exploits, and lots of family events, holiday gatherings from the 1980’s and 1990’s, times in Ocean City, all those typical American family memories.

But there, on top of one of the boxes when I opened it, was what I had always hoped to find but really never wanted to watch: Loyola-Calvert Hall 1983. He had recorded the game broadcast from Channel 2.

He was in Memorial Stadium that morning, of course, but he had set the VCR to tape the game. So I took that tape to a store in Towson and had them convert it to a CD so I could watch it on our more modern devices. After an extended period of time, I popped it in my DVD player and watched it.

I saw my 17 year old self catch a pass on our first play from scrimmage, a little down and out for 12 yards and a first down. I saw Calvert Hall score on a punt return for a touchdown in the 2nd Quarter and then convert for 2 points to take an 8-0 lead into halftime.

It was rainy and muddy that day, and players on both teams were having a difficult time getting good footing on the Memorial Stadium grass. I saw Patrick’s touchdown catch, and then Drew barreling in for the 2 point conversion to tie the game.

I saw our fumble on a snap that killed a promising drive in the middle of the 4th Quarter.

I saw Kevin’s touchdown with 2 minutes left on a little flare pass into the left flat. I had run a deep clearing pattern on that side of the field, and when I turned around and saw him running towards me I just found the nearest defensive back and started shoving him towards the sideline to keep Kevin’s path clear. He scored and we were up 14-8 with a little under 2 minutes left. I saw us miss on our 2 point conversion attempt, and then the broadcast went to commercial.

Then the tape ran out. Hand to God, the tape ran out.

Last Thanksgiving Day I watched the game on Channel 2, still broadcasting it all these years later, God bless them. I was going to join my mother for dinner a little later in the day, so I just did some small things around the house and enjoyed the feeling of peace that seems to find me every Thanksgiving morning.

It’s such a unique and special day. No real pressure (unless you’re cooking), no gifts to shop for, no reason to hurry or stress. Just a day for reflection and gratitude as the year winds down and the holidays approach. Good food, family and football. How incredibly American.

Late in last year’s game, Calvert Hall had a significant lead when they threw a seam pass to their tight end, a senior named Pete Marchineck. I had the privilege of coaching Pete when he was in 7th and 8th grade and he played on my middle son’s Hereford travel basketball team. He went to Calvert Hall for academics and baseball, but he is such an outstanding athlete that he played 3 years of Varsity football there as well.

Pete is one of those young men every coach hopes to have on his team: Hard working, talented, respectful and teachable. He always listened, he always said “Yes Sir” and “No Sir”, he always competed, and he always treated everyone with dignity and respect. So when he caught that seam pass and ran in from 20 yards or so for a touchdown, I jumped up and shouted with a heartfelt joy.

No matter that I’m a Don and always will be; I’m old enough now and have seen enough now that I know Pete had a moment that he will carry with him for the rest of his life. He may accomplish great things on the baseball diamond, he may become a captain of industry, he may become a world-changing leader, but he will always be a Calvert Hall Cardinal who scored a touchdown in a win against Loyola on Thanksgiving Day.

I had the opportunity to see him before a Hereford High School basketball game last December and I gave him a big hug and told him how truly happy and proud I was of him.

Hey, same church, different pew. 100 years of tradition forges some special bonds if you live around Baltimore long enough.

On Thanksgiving Day 1985, Loyola finally beat Calvert Hall for the first time since 1978. I was there and made my way down to the railing near the dugout where the players exited the field.

One by one, as the seniors began to head to the locker room, they came over and hugged me. These guys were sophomores on my 1983 team. They never forgot the heartache of that gray and rainy Thanksgiving Day in 1983. There were long hugs with each of them. There were tears of joy and of a remembered and shared sorrow of something we could never change.

And each of them said that they did this especially for the Class of 1984, that this win belonged to us as much as it did to them. No matter how much I wanted to believe it then and still want to believe it today, it’s just not true. I had my moment and it slipped away for my teammates and me, forever etched in the history of Thanksgiving Day and Loyola-Calvert Hall.

On the 200th Anniversary of this game the program will still read:

1983 – Calvert Hall 15, Loyola 14

About the author: Today's Turkey Bowl contribution was provided by Mark Suchy, Loyola '84, who has spent a lifetime in and around sports, including a stint alongside Drew and others at local radio station, where he was known for his proud support of all Maryland teams. #DMD thanks him for this outstanding, poignant piece on Thanksgiving Day...and is especially grateful that he still remembers the final score of that 1983 game at Memorial Stadium. ;)


caps-flyers road trip now on sale

Like everyone else, we got caught up in Black Friday fever here at #DMD.

Our Capitals-Flyers road trip on January 8 is now on sale (see the link above the header) and we're offering $25 off starting today and running through Black Friday weekend.

Check out Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals on January 8 in Philadelphia! It makes a great holiday gift for the hockey fan in your family!

We'll leave the Towson area at 5 pm on Wednesday the 8th and head up I-95 for the final regular season meeting (in Philly) between the Caps and Flyers in 2019-2020. The puck drops at 7:30 pm.

We're offering lower concourse and upper concourse seating at the Wells Fargo Center.

I know someone's bound to ask, so I'll tell you now: Yes, Flyers fans are allowed to purchase seats and join us on the trip. There's no guarantee you'll get a ride home, but we'll at least ride you up there.

I'm kidding...

We'll give you plenty of food and drinks on the bus ride to Philly and we'll have a Caps trivia contest with a cash prize for the winner.

If you haven't been to a game in Philadelphia, it's well worth going. Yes, even though it's Philly...

Take advantage of the $25 Black Friday savings by purchasing your seats by Sunday, December 1st.

Please join us for a great one-night trip to Philadelphia to see the Caps beat up on the Flyers.

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November 27
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news, notes and random things

It's Thanksgiving Eve, which in Baltimore means a lot of Calvert Hall-Loyola revelry if you're part of the heritage of those schools.

Tomorrow is the 100th edition of the 'Turkey Bowl' between the two schools. You might have heard about it. It's a pretty big deal.

Donald Davis and Calvert Hall High School take on Loyola tomorrow at Towson University.

There's a train of thought that the game itself -- the actual 'who wins and who loses' -- has become too important. It is, after all, just a high school football game. No one's winning the state championship from tomorrow's game (10 am, WMAR Channel 2) and no one is going undefeated, either.

But, that could also be the beauty of the game, too. With nothing on the line at all except 'who wins and who loses', the two programs, coaches and players put in an extraordinary amount of time to produce their very best performance. It's very similar to the Ravens-Steelers rivalry. If the Ravens were to go, say, 4-12, but two of those wins came against the Steelers, the impact of a horrible season -- from a fan's standpoint at the very least -- is somewhat diminished.

Both Calvert Hall and Loyola had very good seasons in 2019. The winner of tomorrow's game will have had a wee bit better season than the loser, obviously.

I'm clearly pro-Calvert Hall in this one, but have great respect for Loyola. I didn't attend Calvert Hall, but my role there as the head golf coach has put me on friendly terms with Coach Donald Davis and several members of his staff. I also know a few of the players through our weekly FCA Huddle at the school. So, yes, I'm biased tomorrow and definitely have a rooting interest.

Whenever the Turkey Bowl rolls around, I can't help but think of my friend Van Brooks, who suffered a severe spinal cord injury in 2004 while playing for Loyola.

Van Brooks, Loyola Blakefield 2004

Van has done extraordinary work in our community over the last decade, with his S.A.F.E. Foundation helping middle-school children all over Baltimore City. Van is what we all call a "doer". In other words, he gets things done.

I interviewed him several times on my radio show and, along with my listeners, raised some funds to help get his building on West Lexington Street up and running. But none of us have ever done the work of Van Brooks, who simply refuses to let his physical limits restrict his ability to make a difference in our community.

You won't find a better man in our community than Van Brooks. If you'd like to know more about his foundation, you can find it right here.

Calvert Hall welcomed a special guest to school yesterday. A lot of people who saw the initial post on Facebook thought it was either photoshopped or taped at a previous time. They were wrong.

Marlon Humphrey of the Ravens spoke at Calvert Hall on Tuesday morning after playing in Los Angeles on Monday night.

Our weekly Fellowship of Christian Athletes "Huddle" at Calvert Hall is held on Thursday mornings at 7:30 am. There, we gather, athletes, students, teachers, and spend 30 minutes or so focused on discussion, prayer and fellowship, all designed to bring everyone closer to God and his son, Jesus.

On Tuesday morning at 7:30 am, Marlon Humphrey of the Ravens was on hand, as we moved the Huddle from Thursday to Tuesday to accommodate the Thanksgiving holiday.

I know what you're could Marlon Humphrey be at Calvert Hall on Tuesday morning when he was in Los Angeles playing football at 11 pm on Monday night?

He was there.

As soon as the Ravens' plane touched down at BWI at 6:00 am on Tuesday morning, Humphrey and team chaplain Johnnie Shelton hopped in a car and hustled to Calvert Hall. There, Humphrey gave the 150 students his testimony. Needless to say, the students were impressed.

An interesting side note on Humphrey's appearance. He agreed to do the Huddle in early October. Three weeks ago or so, a Ravens staffer mentioned to him that the team played in Los Angeles on Monday night and that he had obligated himself to a Tuesday morning appearance in Baltimore. Did he want to call the school and cancel or change the date, he was asked. Humphrey said he knew all along the Tuesday appearance was after the Monday night game but that he had checked with the Ravens travel planner and was assured that unless a mechanical issue or bad weather delayed the home-bound flight that they would arrive at BWI between 5:30 and 6:00 am. That was good enough for Humphrey.

I was already a Marlon Humphrey fan before yesterday. But I'm a bigger one now. Not because he came to Calvert Hall. But because he made a committment and kept it and showed up on time and inspired the students who were on hand to see him.

Tomorrow's Thanksgiving edition of #DMD will feature a lengthy piece about the Turkey Bowl from my friend Mark Suchy, who played at Loyola in the early 1980's. I hope you enjoy Mark's piece, which takes you through his own appearance(s) in the game and in future years as well, including memories of his family's affection for the Thanksgiving Day game. It's a 10-minute read that I think you'll find very enjoyable.

And on that note, I'll take a moment here to wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving. Whether you're young or old, tomorrow is a great oppotunity to give thanks to whatever blessings you have in your life that create happiness and joy.

My 2019 Thanksgiving has a special twist. You can now add GBMC hospital to the list of locations where I've published #DMD from, as I was in a room overnight this past Monday after experiencing some weird, mild chest pains earlier in the day on Monday.

Yes, I wrote from a hospital room yesterday morning. I didn't want to be accused of mailing it in, you know...

I joked with George on Tuesday afternoon when I was released that I've now published #DMD from a hospital room, a hotel lobby in London, a golf course breakfast spot in Phoenix AZ, the lobby of Spanish Bay resort in Pebble Beach CA, plus other locations in Ocean City, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Boston, New York, Nashville, Pinehurst NC and New Jersey. George built the mobile website that I use for publishing when I travel. As you can see in the header above, we've published 1919 consecutive days, in part thanks to George.

But when the doctor walked in on Monday afternoon around 2 pm and said, "We're going to keep you overnight and have you do a nuclear stress test on Monday morning," I wasn't thinking much about publishing #DMD the next day.

"What happens if the stress test doesn't go well?" I asked.

"Well, that could mean several things, but the likely result would be some sort of heart procedure at St. Joe's Hospital on Wednesday or Thursday."

"Heart procedure..."

There are a lot of words we don't like to hear. "Heart" followed by "procedure" are two of the more scary ones.

So...up to a room I went. My wife brought the mobile server to me, and she and my two childen gathered in the room at GBMC and chatted for a while.

"Dad, are you gonna die?" my son asked. Kids don't have much of a filter. They just ask the question.

I laughed at that one, obviously, but I'd also be fibbing if I said that at some point in those first few hours the thought of something going wildly wrong over the next 24 hours didn't play on my mind.

I watched the Ravens game from my hospital room. By the end of the third quarter, I was pretty much asleep, which means I made it two quarters longer than the Rams offense and defense did on Monday night.

I got up at 5:45 am on Tuesday and published #DMD, just like I would any other day.

At 8:00 am, I went in for the stress test.

Just after 12 noon, the cardiologist walked in and said, "Your heart is perfect."

I passed the test with flying colors, he explained, and noted that my chest discomfort could have come from daily stress, indigestion or some kind of muscular reaction to lifting or moving in an odd way.

So, tomorrow, my Thanksgiving means a little more. The people at these hospitals are remarkable. The people who designed the machines to test your heart, for example, are remarkable. The doctors and nurses and technicians are remarkable. I realize they get paid for being remarkable, but that's all well and good. We owe them a world of thanks.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. Have a great day.

And Go Hall!

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caps-flyers road trip now on sale

Like everyone else, we got caught up in Black Friday fever here at #DMD.

Our Capitals-Flyers road trip on January 8 is now on sale (see the link above the header) and we're offering $25 off starting today and running through Black Friday weekend.

Check out Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals on January 8 in Philadelphia! It makes a great holiday gift for the hockey fan in your family!

We'll leave the Towson area at 5 pm on Wednesday the 8th and head up I-95 for the final regular season meeting (in Philly) between the Caps and Flyers in 2019-2020. The puck drops at 7:30 pm.

We're offering lower concourse and upper concourse seating at the Wells Fargo Center.

I know someone's bound to ask, so I'll tell you now: Yes, Flyers fans are allowed to purchase seats and join us on the trip. There's no guarantee you'll get a ride home, but we'll at least ride you up there.

I'm kidding...

We'll give you plenty of food and drinks on the bus ride to Philly and we'll have a Caps trivia contest with a cash prize for the winner.

If you haven't been to a game in Philadelphia, it's well worth going. Yes, even though it's Philly...

Take advantage of the $25 Black Friday savings by purchasing your seats by Sunday, December 1st.

Please join us for a great one-night trip to Philadelphia to see the Caps beat up on the Flyers.


"The Keen Eye" of
David Rosenfeld

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

a conversation with sam koch

(Editor’s Note: Sam Koch, 37, is listed as the Ravens’ punter)

Hey…it’s Sam, right?

You got it, man. Good to see you. I don’t get a lot of interview requests.

My editor sent me. I’m new in town. You are on the team?

Uh, yeah. This is my 14th year in the league. I have a five-page bio in the media guide. It’s online.

Oh, wait. It’s just coming over now in my email. Sorry I didn’t get a chance to look at it before I came over. Glancing at it now. Wow, you went to Nebraska. How are they doing these days?

I don’t want to talk about that.

I saw that they just beat Maryland 54-7. That sounds impressive.

Look, can we not talk about that…

Ok, sorry. Didn’t realize that would be such a sore spot. Anyway, you are the punter, I see.

Right. I see you’ve had a few more seconds to look over my bio.

The punter?

Sam Koch of the Ravens, a man who doesn't see the field much these days.

Yes, the punter. Sometimes a team intentionally kicks the ball to the other team, usually on fourth down. It happens when you don’t like your chances of getting a first down, and want the other team to start their possession a lot closer to their own goal line.

Thanks for the explanation, Sam, but I know what the punter does. I mean, I knew that Maryland lost to Nebraska 54-7 for god sakes.

Look, stop talking about Nebraska. And you asked me if I was the punter like you’d never heard the word before.

Yeah, sorry about that. I did watch the Ravens play on Monday night. They didn’t seem to have a punter on the team. The Rams had this guy named Hekker, I think.

Yeah, that guy is really good. Nice kid. Once told me that he revered guys like me, and wanted my poster on his wall.

That’s sort of strange, isn’t it?

Hey, man. 14 years. I like guys that respect their elders.

But you’re the punter, right?

We’re gonna do that, again?

No, that’s not what I mean. He wanted a poster of a punter on his wall?

Not to toot my own horn, but I’m pretty good at this. I can do some crazy stuff. They did an NFL Films thing on me a few years ago. You should watch it.

I’ll YouTube it when we’re done. Can you tell me more?

I’ll show the defense I’m kicking it to the left, then turn my hips to the right at the last second. I’ll hit a low knuckler one time and a high spiral the next. I have a cool one where I try to hit a strange spinner that lands right in front of the returner and stops. Always working on that one.

They did an NFL Films piece on that?

Hey, those networks need content. They can’t talk about the Patriots and Cowboys for 24 hours a day, can they?

I’m not sure about that. But tell me again…you actually try to confuse people with punts?

Yeah. A lot of it came from Antonio Brown. We didn’t want to let him beat us, at least in that way.

You sounded kind of sarcastic about that.

Well, he sorta found other ways to beat us. Thank God that dude went crazy, you know?

You know, now that we’ve been talking for a few minutes, I think I did see you the other night. You were out on the field for extra points, right?

We also had a field goal. Don’t forget that.

Right. Got it. I think I was asleep by then. You were the holder. You did a nice job, from what I remember.

Thanks. Being the holder is probably 50 percent of my job. It’s really important. I’m sure you’ve seen “Ace Ventura, Pet Detective.” You know. Laces out, the whole thing.

Can’t say I’ve heard of that one. Who was in it?

Jim Carrey. Courteney Cox. Dan Marino had a big cameo role. I think it came out in 1994.

Oh, that explains it. I wasn’t born until 1995. And you say Dan Marino? I don’t think I’ve ever heard of him. What other movies has he starred in?

Never mind. Anyway, me and the kicker Justin and the snapper Morgan are like a team within the team. We do everything together, even vacations. We call ourselves the “Wolf Pack.”

That’s interesting. Is that one word like North Carolina State or two words like Nevada?

I think it’s two words, but does that really matter?

My editor’s a stickler for details, Sam. I get something like that wrong, I’m demoted to covering the local school board.

Gotcha. I’m a real stickler for detail too. It’s the key to success. Me and Justin and Morgan are the most successful field goal team of all time. More than 90 percent through the uprights.

Wait, I thought you said before that Justin was the kicker.

Well, yeah, he actually kicks the ball. But we’re all an important part of the success.

Would he say that if I asked him?

Probably, but he’s usually busy filming commercials for a local convenience store.

Oh yeah? What’s it called? Like I said I’m new in town. Always looking for good places to eat.

Royal Farms. They have great chicken there.

Cool, I’ll check it out. So is there anything else interesting about you? Besides the Wolf Pack thing.

I have four kids. One of them is already 21 years old. I got started early. I also have a five-year old. It’s a cool dynamic with such a big age difference.

Is it hard to spend a lot of time with the kids during the season?

Well it’s worked out well this year. Four kids, and four quarters of a football game.

I don’t get it.

Like, the other night was a late game on the East Coast. So I FaceTimed my youngest during the first quarter before she went to bed. Then I texted the 13-year-old during the second quarter and Facebook messaged the 15-year-old during the third quarter. The oldest called me from the bar in the fourth quarter.

The team lets you do all of this while you’re on the sideline?

Like I said, 14 years. Veterans get some perks. Some guys get practice days off. This is my thing. And I always know when I need to put a call on hold to run out on the field with Justin and Morgan.

Aren’t there NFL rules against having devices like that on the sidelines?

I’ve heard that, but I’m the punter. I don’t think the league cares what punters do.

Oh, right. You’re the punter. Why do you guys need a punter again?

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November 26
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holy cow!

When I wrote yesterday's headline at #DMD -- "You'll Be In Bed Early" -- I didn't realize "early" would be around 9:00 pm EST. The game started at 8:15, after all.

But it was over by 9 pm.

In fact, the game was in the books after each team's first offensive series. The Rams got bullied and went 3-and-out when they had the ball. The Ravens went right down the field in a 55-yard romp that ended in a Lamar-to-Hollywood TD pass.

And that was the game.

There will be varying opinions on what transpired Monday night at the L.A. Coliseum.

One opinion will be this: The Rams crawled into the fetal position halfway through the first quarter and never got out of it.

There's definitely truth to that one. I've seen a lot of football in my day. I've seen a lot of road teams get punched in the mouth and throw in the towel early. I'd be hard pressed to remember seeing a home team -- with something to play for, no less -- turtle up like the Rams did on Monday night.

Jared Goff and the Rams were very confused on Monday night.

The Rams are a roster of grown men...but very few of them showed up last night.

It's been said that the Rams and coach Sean McVay haven't yet recovered from their listless Super Bowl performance last February. We saw the same thing in Atlanta last year after the Falcons blew a 28-3 lead to New England in the previous Super Bowl. Losses sometimes linger. In the case of the Rams, it's apparently still in their head.

And the Ravens were a terrible tonic for whatever it is that's ailing them.

The other opinion is this: The Ravens, right now, are on a run of excellence that hasn't been seen in the NFL in a long, long time. New England has had some very good teams over the years -- 6 Super Bowl wins aren't an accident -- but I don't know that even they have produced the kind of football the Ravens have authored over the last five weeks.

They beat up on the Seahawks in Seattle, a team that's currently 9-2 on the season.

They blistered the Patriots in Baltimore, handing New England (10-1) their only loss thus far.

They clobbered Cincinnati in their building, which is what they were supposed to do.

The absolutely manhandled the Texans in Baltimore nine days ago in what was billed as some sort of "showdown" between two up-and-coming quarterbacks.

And then last night, they beat the Rams 45-6 in Los Angeles.

The funniest part about Monday evening's affair? 45-6 was the "kindest" margin of victory the Ravens could have earned. If they wanted to win 59-6, they could have won 59-6.

Here's where we should also take a minute to give some credit to others besides Lamar Jackson. He's not blocking for himself. He's not throwing it and catching it. And he's not shutting down the opposing offense time and time again, either.

Mark Ingram is having a whale of a season.

So is Brandon Williams. Apparently all he needed was Earl Thomas to come along with a red hot poker early in the season. Since Thomas blasted him for not playing in the 40-25 home loss to Cleveland back on September 29, Williams has been exceptional.

And the Baltimore secondary is on fire. Humphrey, Peters, Smith et al. They are having all-world campaigns. The mid-season addition of Peters coupled with Jimmy Smith returning from an opening game knee injury has made a world of difference.

It's all adding up to an amazing run of high quality football like we've never seen before. Think about that for a second. The Ravens have been in the league since 1996 and we've NEVER seen anything like this. And I'd say there's an argument we haven't seen this kind of in-season domination in the NFL in those 23 years as well.

I felt that the Ravens were going to blow them out last night. My "in bed early" prediction was spot on. But I didn't think it would be 45-6.

If there was anyone left in the country who doubted Lamar Jackson, they no longer do. Last night's 5 touchdown game was about as "perfect" as a quarterback can get. I still don't understand the whole "perfect passer rating" thing. How can a guy have a perfect game if he throws an incomplete pass or two? But no matter if last night was perfect or not, I can say, without question, his performance deserved the "perfect" stamp.

The only blemish on an otherwise flawless night was the first quarter injury to center Matt Skura, who was carted off the field with a lower body injury. John Harbaugh wouldn't say much after the game. It looked like a knee injury, but we'll wait to hear more from the Ravens this week on that one.

Other than that...nothing went wrong on Monday night.

The Ravens are now 9-2 and still breathing down New England's neck for the top spot in the AFC. The Patriots have television sets at home, though. And they know what they saw last night, even if they only had to stay up until 9 pm to see it.

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the things lamar has done...

The much-discussed MVP race still has five weeks remaining and Russell Wilson of the Seahawks figures to have a say in it all before the race is settled.

But Lamar Jackson is going to be tough to beat if he continues doing what he's been doing in 2019.

Last night's performance in Los Angeles, moved Jackson into the NFL record books in several category.

On Monday, he became the...

It seems like Lamar is setting some sort of new NFL mark every week.

First player with five touchdown passes in a Monday Night Football debut, according to the Elias Sports Bureau research.

Youngest player (22 years old) with multiple games of five touchdown passes in NFL history.

First player in NFL history with four touchdown passes and at least 50 yards rushing in consecutive games.

First player with at least 3,000 passing yards and 1,500 rushing yards over his first two seasons in NFL history.

Jackson again dismissed the MVP talk in the post-game press conference, saying he's only interested in the Super Bowl. But he's also smart enough to know that an MVP award at age 22 is going to come in pretty handy after next season when he's eligible to throw away his rookie deal and sign one of those big, fat $150 million (or more) quarterback contracts.

We'll comb through that situation down the line, of course, but one of the things lurking in the (far) distance for the Ravens is the scenario where they're forced to give Jackson a new deal after his 3rd season in the league. That one could be very expensive. There's no telling what the salary cap will be in 2021 and beyond, but Lamar might eat up 20% of it by himself.

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Week 12

Monday — November 25, 2019
Issue #1918

Baltimore Ravens at Los Angeles Rams

8:00 PM EST

Los Angeles Coliseum
Los Angeles, CA

Spread: Ravens (-3.5)

you'll be in bed early

At the beginning of the season, this game looked bothersome for the purple faithful.

The Rams were the defending NFC champs and, despite laying an offensive egg in the Super Bowl, were expected by many to again be a contender for the title.

The Ravens snuck into the 2018 post-season on the heels of a rookie quarterback who caught the league by surprise, but they laid their own offensive egg at home against the Chargers. We assumed the Ravens would be better, we just weren't sure how much improvement we'd see.

The tide has turned.

Will Mark Andrews and the Baltimore offense have enough in the tank tonight in Los Angeles?

Unless something crazy happens in the NFC, the Rams won't make the post-season. They need a win tonight just to keep their flickering playoff hopes alive.

Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore offense have been virtually unstoppable all season. A narrow defeat at Kansas City and a fluke loss at home to Cleveland are the only blemishes on their schedule to date.

And the last four weeks have seen the Ravens cruise through the league like Big 10 opponents blast Maryland football every Saturday. Baltimore won at Seattle, completely dismantled New England, hammered a hapless Bengals squad, and punished Houston last Sunday in Baltimore. The Seattle and New England games were close for a half until the Ravens put their foot on the pedal. For most of the last month, John Harbaugh's team has been on cruise control.

The Rams have some weapons on offense, but there's no telling how they'll function tonight. That Ravens defense is pretty good, in case you haven't noticed. And that's likely where the game will be won this evening. Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore offense will put up their share of points, but the burden of the game falls on the Los Angeles offense. If they compete, we could have a game. If they don't, the fourth quarter will feature most of the players just trying not to get hurt.

The bet here is that you'll be able to turn in early.

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hot takes from nfl week #11

Remember, these are "hot" takes. They're supposed to be over the top. Or, in some cases, irritating. That's how the media works these days. You make a "hot" take and either stick around to defend it or run and hide when the heat comes around. I'm here most of the day to defend mine, but Baltimore's mid 50's weather makes me want to do other things today.

Green Bay is no threat -- The Packers can't recover from that 37-8 thrashing they took last night in San Francisco. Some games show you more about the winning team and some show you more about the losing team. Last night showed us more about the Packers. They can't make it to the Super Bowl.

Jason Garrett is done -- I know, I know. We say this every year. This, though, is the year. And yesterday's 13-9 loss at New England will be the plug-puller for Jerry Jones. Garrett will make it through the regular season. The Cowboys will win the NFC East by default, then lose to Seattle or Minnesota or Green Bay in the first round of the post-season and Garrett will be looking for work in mid-January.

Baker Mayfield and the Browns aren't done just yet.

The Browns could still make the playoffs -- They don't have an easy schedule, granted, but Cleveland could still finish 10-6 or 9-7 and either of those records could get them into the post-season. They're at Pittsburgh this Sunday. They host Cincinnati in week #13, go to Arizona the following week, play the Ravens in Cleveland on Dec. 22 and finish up with the Bengals in Cleveland. Here's the thing. The Browns could easily lose 3 of those 5 games because....they're the Browns. But they could also win all five. My guess is they go 8-8.

Ryan Tannehill will make a lot of $$ this off-season -- Sometimes all you need is to get out of Miami. Since taking over as starter in Nashville in Week 7, he ranks fourth in the NFL in completion percentage (70%), fourth in yards per attempt (8.48), third in touchdown percentage (6.7%) and fifth in QB rating (107.5). And the Titans are suddenly 6-5 and in the playoff hunt. A handful of teams will be quarterback shopping in the off-season, including Tennessee. Tannehill has earned himself a nice payday in 2020. He might look good in that powder blue and yellow out in Los Angeles next season.

If Tampa Bay gets a real QB... -- I have no idea if the Buccaneers are even in the market for a real quarterback. Maybe they're happy with Jameis Winston. But if Tampa Bay is able to procure a high-quality quarterback and if they can keep Mike Evans and Chris Godwin in the fold, the Bucs are a threat to be a formidable foe in the NFC. They're "only" 4-7, but they coulda, shoulda, woulda be 6-5 if they wouldn't have thrown away a home game against the Giants and a road contest in Seattle. Those two wide receivers are the real deal. Wow.

New England can't make the Super Bowl with that offense -- Yeah, I know. Why poke the bear? Because I've seen enough now to know that New England can't beat two quality teams in the playoffs with that offense they have up there. That's why. I can't even believe I'm saying this, but...poor Tom Brady. They're asking him to win with Julian Edelman and an occasional contribution from Sony Michel. And the funniest part is, Brady is winning with those guys. But they still have Houston (away) and Kansas City (home) on their schedule and the bet here is that they lose both of those games.

One of these four teams will win their division next season -- Arizona, Tampa Bay, Oakland or Buffalo. It's just the way the NFL works.


how drew sees tonight's game

I'm telling you, the 4th quarter in this one will be snoozeville.

The Ravens jump out to a quick 7-0 lead on a 31-yard TD pass to Hollywood Brown just three minutes into the game.

Another cakewalk for the Ravens? That's what the #DMD crystal ball shows.

Los Angeles manages a decent drive of their own but they can't get into the end zone, instead settling for a field goal to make it 7-3.

Jackson and the Baltimore offense hit high gear again on the next series, with Lamar running for 28 yards and throwing for another 28, including a short TD strike to Mark Andrews. It's 14-3 at the end of the first quarter.

Both defenses stiffen up throughout most of the second quarter. The teams trade field goals and the Ravens lead at the half 17-6.

The Rams get back in it with a touchdown throw from Goff to Cupp. They go for two and make it and the score is now 17-14.

But Jackson and the Ravens find their offensive groove on the next series with Lamar going 6-for-6 and Mark Ingram running it in from 7 yards out to put Baltimore up 24-14.

On the next series, Marcus Peters (who else?) intercepts Jared Goff and takes it back 30 yards deep inside Rams' territory. Jackson find Patrick Ricard in the flat and the fullback catches it and rumbles in for a score to make it 31-14 Ravens heading into the 4th quarter.

A Justin Tucker field goal midway through the final period makes it 34-14.

The Rams get a late touchdown in front of a half-empty stadium as the Ravens improve to 9-2 with a convincing 34-21 victory in Los Angeles.

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"The Keen Eye" of
David Rosenfeld

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

consider this...

The 1986 film “Back to School,” starring Rodney Dangerfield, is a classic. There are enough great lines to fill up half an hour, if you’re the kind of person who likes to sit around quoting movies. I thought about one line in particular the other day, when I was reading the breaking climate change protest news from Connecticut. It came from a young Robert Downey, Jr., playing a wacko college student named Derek Lutz.

“Violent ground-acquisition games such as football are, in fact, a crypto-fascist metaphor for nuclear war.”

Ok, this one at the Yale Bowl was about divesting from fossil fuels or something, not nuclear war. That was very Cold War-ish, I guess this is more Hot War-ish? Ha, I crack myself up…

Anyway, football somehow lends itself to this kind of stuff. Nothing to do with violent ground acquisition, or fascism, though there’s some of both in college football I suppose. Mostly it has to do with the fact that football is really popular, and some people wish climate change and Puerto Rican debt was more important than football.

Ironically, Ivy League football is not popular at all, except for this game, “The Game,” which alternates between New Haven, Conn., and Cambridge, Mass. The listed attendance Saturday at the Yale Bowl was nearly 45,000, about 15,000 more than the combined attendance for Yale’s previous five home games this season.

So, it was the right place to make a scene, even if it was only a few hundred people. And I guess it was a good place to make a statement, considering all the captains of industry and every other profession watching the game at parties all across the country.

Once again, though, I wish the kids would have chosen not to actually take the field, a place that isn’t theirs during The Game. The Yale Bowl might have been a good place to get noticed, but the football teams really didn’t have much to do with their concerns.

Here’s where I remind you that the college students who took the field at Yale on Saturday were likely all from what’s called “Generation Z.” These definitions are fluid, but basically that means they were born in 1997 or after.

I prefer the moniker “Internet Generation,” referencing the fact that they were the first to have been born after the popularization of the internet. Some like to refer to them as “Generation Snowflake,” less resilient and more prone to taking offense than any group before them.

If I can get away from sports for a second…I think the entire process of defining groups in this way is unfair.

Some of that comes from my experience smack in the middle of “Generation X.” They said we were slackers, basically disaffected and incredibly cynical. The 1994 film “Reality Bites” was supposed to capture that feeling, and I guess it did in a certain way.

But it didn’t really capture my life at all, I don’t think. And even more importantly, it didn’t prove to be much of a predictor of what my generation would be like in midlife. Do the words “slacker” and “cynic” describe all the entrepreneurs in Generation X?

The other reason I think it’s unfair? Just because something goes viral, or takes place at halftime of a football game, doesn’t mean it’s the reality for an entirety of a generation.

In early middle age, I’ve had the opportunity to work with plenty of generations. I’ve seen lazy Boomers and conscientious millennials. I’ve found summer interns, members of “Generation Z,” to have the resilience and sense of humor they are not supposed to possess.

I was born in 1973. Most of my contemporaries began having children somewhere around 2000. The world around those two years was shockingly different, perhaps even greater after Sept. 11, 2001. But the people who were born in those two years? They’re not really that different. They come in all kinds…

Back on the field, Maryland lost to Nebraska 54-7 on Saturday in College Park. It was 34-0 at halftime; the Terps could have used a nice halftime protest to regroup, I guess.

Maryland fumbled four times, losing the ball each time. Nebraska had 31 first downs and controlled the ball for nearly 40 minutes. This is a Nebraska team that’s on the way to its third-straight losing season unless it can beat Iowa on Friday in Lincoln.

It’s certainly worth noting that Mike Locksley’s career record as a head coach is now 6-39. He was hired at Maryland despite the fact that, in his only other full-time head coaching gig, he finished with a 2-26 record at New Mexico. And there was some off-the-field stuff in Albuquerque too.

I don’t care how much people like him, or about his reputation as a recruiter, or his local background, or even about his years as an assistant coach for the nation’s best program. He was a terrible failure as a head coach, and he was a bad choice for Maryland.

We can get into a discussion about Ralph Friedgen, who certainly didn’t deserve to be fired, or his former coach-in-waiting James Franklin, now beating the Terps by 50 points every year. But that’s ancient history. The biggest problem has been the coaching decisions made after he was let go.

Randy Edsall is a joke, a guy who spends hours preaching about responsibility and all the ills of today’s young men, yet bolted from UConn without even telling his players. D.J. Durkin proved to be far from ready to lead a team. Locksley is clearly a man who excels as a coordinator more than a head coach.

And Durkin’s former offensive coordinator at Maryland, Matt Canada, nearly leads the Terps to a stunning win against Ohio State in 2018 and doesn’t get the full-time job. If Maryland is actually trying to win, it’s hard to figure out how.

Here’s a shout out to winners, the women’s volleyball team from Johns Hopkins. The Blue Jays won the NCAA Division III championship this past weekend, completing a 35-0 season in the process. They did so despite not having enough players on the roster to practice 6-on-6.

The Division I lacrosse teams at JHU get most of the sports publicity there, and understandably so. They play against Maryland, Virginia and Syracuse, not Muhlenberg, Dickinson and McDaniel. But it doesn’t make the success of the Blue Jays’ Division III programs any less worthy of recognition.

In addition to the volleyball championship, the Hopkins women’s cross country team also won the NCAA title this past weekend. The field hockey team was in the national semifinals. The soccer teams are perennial Top 10 squads nationally.

For the first time, I was able to see the JHU football team in action this past weekend. They are an impressive group, polished and skilled in a way that few Division III teams can be. They play no-huddle, hurry-up offense as cleanly as any team I’ve ever seen.

For its Division III programs, Hopkins has a real recruiting advantage. Though it’s a small school in Baltimore, it’s a national school, with a national name and a national reputation. Four of the players on the volleyball team are from California; others are from Hawaii, Minnesota and Florida. The football team’s top receiver is from College Station, Texas.

In some ways, as the years go by and the landscape changes, the Blue Jays’ Division I men’s lacrosse program is now at a recruiting disadvantage. They can’t really compete with big football-playing state universities, and they haven’t had the year-to-year on-the-field success of an earlier time. They can only go so far on reputation alone.

Frankly, the real athletic success at Hopkins comes at the Division III level, where real student-athletes from all over the country prove year after year to be among the best.

November 24
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Well, today's a first here at #DMD.

We've never covered a Yale vs. Harvard football game. Until now, that is.

Sadly, the game takes a back seat. In case you care, Yale won the game, 50-43, in double overtime. More on the game in a minute.

The Ivy League contest made national afternoon news at halftime when a group of students took to the field to stage a protest. They were protesting climate injustice, with signs, chants and a "sit-in" at midfield all designed to promote their plight.

The only problem? The stadium at Yale doesn't have lights. And the 68 minute delay put the game in jeopardy of not finishing, especially when -- as Murphy's Law would have it -- the contest went to overtime. And then another...

There was an important football game at Yale yesterday. Apparently a group of student protesters thought the day was about them, instead.

This same sort of thing happened earlier this month at a Franklin and Marshall basketball game in Lancaster, PA, where a group of students took it upon themselves to ruin the opening men's basketball game by staging an on-court protest after a racial incident on the school earlier in the week.

And it's going to keep happening, sadly, unless colleges really put their foot down and make these dopey kids realize other people besides them have rights as well. I don't use the word "dopey" to mean "stupified" or "befuddled". If they're at Franklin and Marshall or Yale, they're clearly intelligent young men and women. I use "dopey" the way we might also use the word "idiotic".

Yale police were able to restore order and then arrested two dozen of the protesters. It's a merit badge of sorts for the students, of course. They don't really care that they were arrested. In fact, the ones that left the field when asked will probably be scorned by those who stayed behind and fought the good fight until the end.

But the larger message here is the one that needs to be examined.

When did people just decide it's OK to do these kinds of things, all in the name of "freedom to protest"?

Those young men who play football for Yale and Harvard had a right to be on the field yesterday. The protesters did not have that same right. Did those kids sleep through Law 101?

"Protest" is one thing. Feel free to stand outside the stadium with your banners and your megaphones and your "OK Boomer" chants. Do it up. Protest away. Really...

You can even unfurl a banner in the stadium and walk around the stands and chant your chants. You're probably getting in the way of things, but at least the game continues and you haven't embarrassed yourselves on national television.

But taking your act onto the field or the court is shameful. You're no longer a protester. You're a menace.

And the schools should be much more vigilant in the way they handle this behavior. Franklin and Marshall caved in and cancelled their first basketball game. Perhaps their campus police force and the town's small force weren't quite sure how to handle that situation. Fair enough. But the authorities in Yale had a better grip on it yesterday, although one hour and eight minutes is still too long, if you ask me.

I don't know how this happened. I have no idea where these young adults got their power. Perhaps they've gained most of it because we don't treat them the way the deserve to be treated when they sit on the court or the field at halftime and violate other people's basic, standard rights.

There was an interview with someone yesterday evening who presented himself as a Yale professor. "I'm proud of them," he said. "These are the future leaders of our country and they want to have a say in how their country is run."

They have a long way to go before they can run anything. Like, perhaps, first knowing the difference between being a protester and a menace.

For now, to borrow one of their favorite phrases, here's what those students from yesterday's event should focus on: Do Better.

If you thought Maryland football derailed a few backs when they got clobbered at home by Ohio State, 73-14, think again.

That one was at least "understandable" given that the Buckeyes are a Top 5 program in the country.

Lots of bottom feeder teams would lose by 40 or 50 points to Ohio State if we're being fair.

But losing by 47 to Nebraska is a different story.

Mike Locksley didn't have many answers after yesterday's 54-7 home loss to Nebraska.

Maryland officially derailed yesterday with a 54-7 home loss to the Cornhuskers. And, in case you haven't followed the college game for a while, this is not your father's Nebraska football team in 2019. No, no, no. Nebraska is now just a regular, run of the mill program, bringing a 4-6 record to College Park yesterday.

They left at 5-6. Maryland fell to 3-8.

The Terps haven't just lost this year. They've been run out of the gym. On six occasions.

Penn State beat them in College Park, 59-0.

It was Purdue 40, Maryland 14 two weeks later.

Two weeks after that, Minnesota beat Maryland, 52-10.

And in the next three games, there was a 38-7 loss to Michigan, the aforementioned 73-14 defeat to Ohio State and then yesterday's shellacking at the hands of Nebraska.

The crowds at College Park are........gone.

It looked like upwards of 3,000 Nebraska fans were crammed into a large section in the lower bowl yesterday. That's a pretty nice travel squad, mostly made up of parents of the players, I'm guessing. But, still, 3,000 people at an away game is impressive.

The Maryland student section featured roughly 300 kids.

Brave souls, they were.

I know Mike Locksley didn't think things would go this way when he took the gig a year ago. I'm sure he didn't have visions of winning the Big Ten or anything like that, but I can't imagine he saw a 54-7 loss to Nebraska, either.

And while I realize that you have to have players and talent in order to compete in any kind of athletic endeavor, the entire Maryland football program needs a reboot once the season ends next Saturday with a 20-point loss at Michigan State.

I know what you're thinking.

"I'll take a 20-point loss right now and not even fly to East Lansing."

Lots of people are still piling on the University about the move from the ACC to the Big Ten but that ship has sailed and the checks have cashed. Maryland will be a major threat in men's basketball, as we've already seen, and will continue to be very competitive in the Big Ten in various other sports.

It would appear, though, that football is a lost cause. They just can't compete.

But they also can't go around getting hammered by 40 points at home three or four times a season, either. That's no way to run a football program. The crowds are dwindling, sponsorship dollars are probably at an all-time low, and it's getting harder and harder to attract decent players, let alone a few who could change the program.

The Terps need a new marketing slogan to kick things off for 2020 and I think I have it: Do Better.

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show me the money

We'll throw five games at you today and save our Ravens pick for tomorrow's edition of #DMD.

After last week's horrific choke job by the Arizona Cardinals, our season record now stands at 28-38*.

Why the asterisk? To denote the fact that Arizona gave up a meaningless touchdown with two seconds left in the game to go from covering the 9.5 point spread against the 49'ers to losing by ten points.

Rat finks...

With only six weeks left in the regulars season, we need one of those 5-1 or 6-0 weeks to get us back on track. Let's see if we can't pull one of those off today.

BUCCANEERS AT FALCONS (-3.5) -- So has Atlanta found something? I mean, they've posted back-to-back road wins at New Orleans and Carolina. Seems like something good is going on down there. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay is chugging along at 3-7 but they are much closer to a .500 kind of team as that record otherwise indicates. Everything tells me Tampa Bay is the right play today. Everything. Atlanta's due for a letdown and the Bucs are just the team to help them with that. But we're going with the Falcons and a 3.5 point cover in a nailbiter, 30-26.

STEELERS AT BENGALS (+6.5) -- Here's the guess on this one: Andy Dalton winds up playing because of an injury to Ryan Finley in the second quarter. Predictably, of course, Dalton finds his mojo and now there's suddenly a quarterback controversy in Cincinnati. But not a "now" controversy. Instead, Dalton's performance will lead people to wonder if perhaps Chase Young is a better pick than LSU signal caller Joe Burrows. Anyway, the Steelers stink, they're injury/suspension riddled and there's no reason at all to have confidence in them to cover 6.5 points on the road, no matter how good their defense is in Pittsburgh. We're going with the Bengals plus the 6.5 points and calling an outright Cincy win here, 19-17.

DOLPHINS AT BROWNS (-10.5) -- There's nothing at all that tells me the Browns are capable of beating anyone by 11 points. Not even the Bengals. And if Ryan Fitzpatrick's chakras are lined up right today, Miami could definitely win this game outright. You know where I'm going with this one. I can't see Cleveland losing, but they're not covering, either. We'll take the Dolphins and the 10.5 points as the Browns win at home 26-21.

RAIDERS AT JETS (+3.5) -- I think the bloom is off the Raiders' rose today. Coming east, crappy weather (potentially) and a Jets team that is probably a smidgen better than their 3-7 record indicates. Oakland's playing for their playoff lives, though. It took us all of five seconds to change our minds on this one. The bloom stays but the Jets gobble up that 3.5 points as they lose by a field goal at the buzzer, 16-13.

COWBOYS AT PATRIOTS (-5.5) -- Lots of folks are red-hot on the Cowboys today but I don't see the logic in that one at all. Dallas is good at home, not so good on the road. New England has only lost once all year. I'm not betting against the Patriots in their own building. I'm just not. New England wins, but it's close -- 23-17, Patriots.





* - should be 29-37 if not for Arizona on November 17.

** - should have been 3-3 if not for Arizona on November 17.

November 23
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what will you remember about this decade?

It's time to unscramble that sports brain of yours and come up with answers.

Not today. Although you're welcome to throw in a comment or two below if you like.

Just start thinking, please. Because starting in December, we're going to dedicate a few days here to putting a bow on the decade, 2010-2019.

What will you remember about it, sports wise?

Where will this memory rank on your list for the decade we're about to close?

You'll have local memories and national memories, of course. Heck, you might even have some personal memories, if you still compete on the field, court, course, rink, etc.

But what has happened in the last decade that will stick out in your mind?

I try to do this exercise by applying a sort of "no filter allowed" kind of deal. I think, for example, of baseball first. I then say, "Orioles". And whatever flushes to the top of my head first, I make note of.

I do the same with the Ravens, obviously.

It's been a fun exercise, frankly. I've spent a little bit of time writing down my thoughts on the last decade, going from baseball to football, from hockey to golf, and so on. I'll be honest. I don't have much to say about the NBA simply because I don't follow it enough. Same goes with things like MMA/UFC and boxing.

But I think it will be fun in a few weeks for us to produce our own lists of "The Best of the Decade" and see what we all come up with.

We were actually blessed with a few years of the Orioles being good, which, of course, didn't happen at all in the previous decade. The Ravens, you might remember, delivered something pretty special this decade.

For lacrosse junkies, both Loyola (2012) and Maryland (2017) won national championships.

There was a certain local college basketball team who made a name for themselves in a historic way back in March of 2018. That, I'd say, was pretty memorable.

I'm going to put my list of memories together as follows: I'll publish a Top 5 "Local Athletes of the Decade", a Top 5 "Local Moments of the Decade" and a Top 5 "Sports Moments of the Decade", which will include national stories, games, players, etc.

I might even bore you with my personal moments of the decade. That's undetermined at this point.

But please start thinking about your decade-ending lists. Be as organic and "natural" as possible. If something comes to mind, write it down. Eventually you'll put them in some order.

My plan is to start publishing my memories on Monday, December 2nd.

I hope you'll join in throughout the month of December as we bring 2019 to a close.

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in a nailbiter, your hall of fame vote goes to...

Well, well, well. I have to say this was a curveball I didn't see coming.

Too bad someone in the dugout wasn't banging a trash can, I could have picked it up earlier.

In yesterday's #DMD, I asked you to pick one player out of a list of five who are eligible for induction into this year's baseball Hall of Fame.

17-year veteran Scott Rolen is on this year's Hall of Fame ballot. Would he get your vote?

The five choices were: Andy Pettitte, Omar Vizquel, Curt Schilling, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.

This one went down to the wire. Only a dozen votes or so separated first from second.

It was that close.

Curt Schilling received the most votes, with 31.4%. Color me stunned. I didn't even think Schilling would have finished in the top 3. Nice pitcher and all, but I don't consider him a Hall of Famer. Hall of Very Good? Sure. Cooperstown? Not to me. But you all thought otherwise.

Barry Bonds was next with 27.8% of the votes. That's more like it. I honestly thought Bonds would win the poll. I also think he has a pretty fair chance of getting selected by the voters this month. His time has come.

Omar Vizquel was third with 25.7% of the votes. I wrote a piece yesterday championing the cause of Vizquel. I think he's a Hall of Famer.

Andy Pettitte was fourth, garnering just 10.5% of the votes.

Rogers Clemens was fifth with just 4.6% of the votes.

Yesterday on my weekly appearance on Glenn Clark Radio, the show host brought up an interesting name that I, frankly, have overlooked. But upon further review, I agree with Glenn. Scott Rolen is a Hall of Famer.

Not only was he one of the best defensive third basemen in his era, but his offensive numbers were more than substantial (.281/.364/.490). He might not be a first-ballot guy, but he played two less seasons than Chipper Jones and had numbers of a similar nature. Jones' numbers and metrics were better than Rolen's, no doubt, which is why he's in the Hall and Rolen's not. But Rolen's numbers aren't drastically different -- on average -- than those that Jones compiled in his outstanding 19-year career.

If defense matters at all, Rolen collected 8 Gold Gloves in his career. In case you care, Jones had zero. But the issue here is more about what Rolen did than what Jones didn't do. Chipper Jones was a better hitter than Scott Rolen, no question about it. But Rolen's game featured both hitting and fielding.

Jones, I'd say, was a great player. Rolen, to split hairs, was an excellent player. Both belong in Cooperstown.


we need your help again this december

For the 11th straight year, my old radio buddy Glenn Clark and I are teaming up for our "Winter Apparel Drive" to benefit the men at Helping Up Mission in downtown Baltimore.

We need your help.

Can you kindly go through your closets, attics and other storage areas in the next week or two and pull out a dozen or so no-longer-used coats, jackets, sweatshirts and any other forms of winter apparel (gloves, hats, socks) that you might be able to donate to our cause? We'll deliver them to Helping Up Mission on Tuesday, December 17, and you'll be making the Christmas season a lot more enjoyable for over 400 men who are at the Mission in their various treatment programs.

We'll have four "drop off" locations/events where you can bring your donated items to us. Please don't bring any loose items. All clothing should be in some sort of bag or box.

The kick-off event is on Thursday, December 5 at Glory Days on East Joppa Road in Towson from 6 pm to 8 pm. Towson University men's basketball coach Pat Skerry will be there to meet and greet those of you who bring out winter apparel, and Glenn and I will have some light fare and snacks there to keep you from starving. Please come out on December 5 to meet Coach Skerry and get our event off to a great start.

On Tuesday, December 10, Glenn and I will be at the SECU arena starting at 6 pm to collect apparel prior to the Towson-UMBC men's basketball game. We'll be stationed right near gate 1 next to the big Tiger statue to meet you. You can also attend the game that night for just $10.00! That Towson-UMBC game sets up to be perhaps the best local college hoops game of the season, so bring out your apparel and stick around for the Towson-UMBC game with Glenn and I.

The following Monday, December 16, Glenn and I will be joined by Ravens offensive lineman Bradley Bozeman at Chick fil-A Nottingham Square in White Marsh from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm.

This is always one of our most popular drop off events of the drive every year. We're excited to have Bradley there with us to meet Ravens fans and help accumulate a record setting number of pieces of apparel for the men at Helping Up Mission.

Additionally, between now and December 16, you can drop off your apparel at Jerry's Chevrolet (Joppa Road) or Jerry's Toyota (Belair Road). They'll have boxes set up there for you to drop off your clothing and apparel.

Please join us at one of the three events or visit Jerry's Chevrolet or Jerry's Toyota and help us make the holiday season a great one for Helping Up Mission!

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November 22
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friday ponderings

Lots of questions. What are the answers?

I'm wondering how we would feel in Baltimore if we were to find out that Mike Elias and some of the folks he brought with him to the Orioles organization were directly involved in the Astros sign-stealing scandal?

It's important to point out that Elias has already poo-poo'd that story by saying he was involved in minor league scouting back in 2017, which is his way of saying he wasn't involved, I suppose.

But what if he knew?

Does that change your opinion of him?

What if, heaven forbid, we find out that Elias and some of his other analytics buddies down there were the ones who actually came up with the plan after realizing how important it was -- data wise -- to know the signals?

I find Elias to be easy-to-like and trustworthy. That said, it's impossible to ignore the fact that he was a key executive in the organization at a time when this sign-stealing scandal was apparently running hot and heavy. If he says he didn't do it, I believe him.

But I also believed Lance Armstrong, too.

Oh, and I wonder what the people in Houston now think about that Astros team that won the World Series in 2017*?

For those of you who think stealing signs doesn't help or hurt in terms of winning, I would submit this nugget.

The Nationals beat the Astros at their own game in this year's World Series, mixing up their signals in Houston, where they won all four games in the World Series.

The Nationals were tipped off prior to the start of the World Series that the Astros had a system in place to alert their batters of incoming pitches.

So the D.C. pitchers and catchers created an elaborate set of signals that fluctuated based on number of outs, number of runners on base. For example, if no one was out, they would do "1" for fastball, "2" for curve, "3" for slider and "4" for change-up. If there was one out in the inning, all the numbers moved up one. Fastball became "2", Curve became "3", etc. If there were two outs, the numbers moved up two.

You get the idea. The Nationals created their own unique set of signals that could actually change within the inning, even. The catcher would yell out, "reverse", and the pitcher knew to go backwards instead of forward when determining the signal and the expected pitch.

And.......the Astros didn't win a home game in the series.

Now, of course, the Astros also didn't lose a road game in D.C. in the World Series, but they weren't able to win one game at home out of four, which ultimately was the difference between Houston winning and losing the title.

Did last Sunday tell us more about the Texans or the Ravens?. Baltimore pounded Houston 41-7 in what was supposed to be a showdown of two teams with good records. The only team that looked good on Sunday was John Harbaugh's club. Houston looked awful.

The Texans edged the Colts last night, 20-17, in Houston, to take a one-game lead in the AFC South. The Texans are now 7-4 while the Colts are 6-5.

What we saw last night were two decent, closely-matched teams going at it. I can't imagine either of those clubs can win a road playoff game, which they'll have to do if they hope to make it to the Super Bowl. The best the AFC South winner can finish is 3rd, and it's more likely they'll finish 4th, which means even if they win the Divisional Round game at home, they'll have to travel to either the #2 or #1 seed in the next round.

I'll say this for the Texans. I wasn't sure they could recover in time to win on Thursday night. I assume that beating they took in Baltimore left a mark, but last night's win was huge for them given that Indianapolis won the first meeting between the two teams earlier in the season.

There's a decent chance the Ravens will see Houston again in the post-season. If so, I wouldn't be worried in the least.

Last Sunday told us a lot...about both teams. But I think it told us more about Houston. The Texans aren't beating anyone of substance when it really matters in January.

I can't say I was surprised at the addition of Rickie Fowler to the Presidents Cup roster on Wednesday. Fowler was selected by Tiger Woods after Brooks Koepka withdrew from the event due to a knee injury.

When Brooks Koepka withdrew from the Presidents Cup this week, Tiger Woods went with a familiar face in Rickie Fowler.

Fowler did finish 11th in the standings, after all, and Woods now has players 2 through 13 on the team (with Koepka having been ranked #1). Nicklaus used to do the same thing when he captained a team of any kind. He just went down the points list and added the next number of available players depending on how many additional captain's selections were afforded him.

But I'll still contest that while Fowler, points wise, was a reasonable pick, that Woods did American golf a disservice by not picking someone else.

I understand the Presidents Cup is its own unique event and Woods and the 11 players have no interest in flying 20 hours to Australia and getting their rear ends kicked. In other words, I understand that everyone's taking it seriously.

But there's an unwritten part of the Presidents Cup that has always suggested, to me at least, that its best attribute is that it prepares American players for the Ryder Cup. It gives guys a chance to experience the atmosphere of a Ryder Cup but at 75 miles per-hour instead of 150 miles per-hour like they'll see and feel at the Ryder Cup.

It also allows for a sampling of different pairings as well, since most of the players on the Presidents Cup team also make the Ryder Cup squad that plays the following year.

In the case of this year's team, Woods would have done American golf a solid by adding one of the game's young stars like Collin Morikawa or Matthew Wolff, both of whom won as many tournaments (1) as Fowler did in 2019.

My guess is one or both of those kids will make (or be picked for) either the 2020 or 2022 Ryder Cup team(s). They would have greatly benefitted from playing on this year's Presidents Cup team. And, by the way, I'm fairly confident their golf would have stood up with anyone else playing in Australia next month.

I understand why Woods went with Fowler. He played 18 months of golf to accumulate enough points to earn the designation after Koepka pulled out. The team itself might very well be better with Fowler in the mix.

But I wonder if American golf would have been better off with someone else?

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jeter...and only jeter?

There's a brewing story circulating around Major League Baseball that the 2020 Hall of Fame class might wind up with just one inductee.

Derek Jeter.

My guess is more than one guy winds up getting in, but that's the story that's percolating around MLB these days.

Derek Jeter...and only Derek Jeter?

And this year's ballot, if we're being fair, isn't exactly the heaviest we've ever seen in terms of potential inductees.

There's Clemens and Bonds and Sosa, of course, but we know what the argument there is.

Manny Ramirez had Hall of Fame numbers, but he was a PED user.

Curt Schilling is a maybe, but he's nuts, too. Not that it matters.

Billy Wagner and Larry Walker will get some heat, I'd assume.

Jeter, I'm guessing, is a lock. I doubt he gets anywhere near the unanimous vote his ex-teammate Mariano Rivera received, but Jeter's getting in on the first ballot.

Here's my other selection...if I had a vote.

I'm voting for Omar Vizquel.

He played more games at shortstop than any other man in the history of baseball. His career spanned four decades and 24 seasons, over which he won 11 Gold Gloves. He finished his career with 2,877 hits. Only four shortstops in the history of baseball had more than Vizquel: Jeter, Honus Wagner, Cal Ripken Jr. and Robin Yount.

I think we'd all agree that Vizquel would be a lock had he reached 3,000 hits. So he's 123 hits shy of that number. A baseball season is roughly 24 weeks long. Vizquel played 24 seasons. That's 576 weeks of baseball. One more hit every 4.68 weeks and he has 3,000. That's essentially one extra hit per-month -- per-month -- and he's at 3,000.

And the guy could field his position like few others ever could.

Baseball nerds will do deep, deep dives into Vizquel's defensive metrics and they won't be as shiny as you might otherwise think. His "range" will be dissected and labeled as "average at best" and the nerdy analytics will support that.

Here's what I know. When the ball was hit in Vizquel's vicinity, he fielded it and threw the guy out.

There's my analytics.

I wouldn't vote for Bonds, Clemens, Pettitte, etc. If they get in, fine. But I wouldn't vote for them, in the same way I would never vote for an NFL owner who moved a team from one city to another. I just wouldn't do it.

But I would most certainly vote for Omar Vizquel in 2019.

So....let's pretend you had a vote this year but could ONLY vote for one of the guys below? Which one of them would you vote in?

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November 21
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this says a lot about weddle and ravens both

So the Ravens play the Rams next Monday night. You probably know that.

You probably also know that Eric Weddle, who spent three seasons in Baltimore, is now with the Rams.

And it's likely that you assume Weddle will spend hours this week vomiting up secret after secret about his former team. Sure, things change every year, some of it dictated by personnel and some of it based simply on new schemes and such. But Weddle knows the basic tactics of Baltimore's defense and most of their alignments given down and distance.

Most teams look forward to facing an opponent when they have someone on their roster who formerly played there. It gives them that little extra edge. And sometimes, a little extra edge is all you need.

But a funny thing happened this week.

Former Ravens safety Eric Weddle meets up with his old team on Monday night in Los Angeles, but he's not saying anything this week.

Weddle's not saying a word.

In fact, he made it a point to tell Rams coach Sean McVay he wouldn't divulge any proprietary information he might have.

"I could tell them a lot of stuff, but that's just not who I am," said Weddle this week. "So, we're going to play it on the field, and the best team is going to win."

Making things even a tad more complicated -- and risky -- is the fact that Weddle's head coach is also the guy calling offensive plays for the Rams. So not only is Weddle not willing to help, he's doing so at the expense of McVay.

But, McVay's not upset. Or if he is, he's hiding it very well.

"I think he has a lot of loyalty to those guys over there," McVay said on Wednesday.

When pushed by media members who asked if it's wrong for a player to not share secrets about a former team, McVay still didn't budge. "It's totally at each person's individual approach."

Want more complication?

You might have heard about Lamar Jackson. He's the Baltimore quarterback that no one can seem to stop this season. Weddle, you would think, has to have a smidgen of inside knowledge on what might or might not work in trying to limit him.


"I have a lot of respect for that place, not only how it helped my career and rejuvenated my career, how they treated myself and my family," Weddle said. "But it's a very tight-knit group and what would I be...what kind of man would I be if I just turned my back on all of them?"

Oh, and let's remember this: Monday's game is pivotal for the Rams. A loss could push them to the brink of not returning to the post-season, just one year after losing in the Super Bowl. The game means something to the Ravens, sure, but it's not nearly as important to Baltimore as it is to the guys out in Los Angeles. This is a huge game for the Rams.

That Weddle refuses to yield to the pressure of the "win at all costs" mentality that dominates professional (and sometimes, college) sports says a lot about him, obviously. But it also says a lot about the Ravens, too.

It says a lot about the way the Ravens treat their players when they're in Baltimore. And it says a lot about the way the Ravens handle player contract terminations, releases, and so on.

If Eric Weddle spilled his guts this week and told the Rams everything he could, I don't think any of us would blink an eye. It's expected, really. "It's just business," would be Weddle's statement and, you know what? We'd probably all be OK with it.

That he won't share secrets is remarkably genuine. It's unheard of, I'd say.

Credit goes to Weddle, for sure, for being a stand up guy.

But the Ravens really deserve credit here, too. They go out of their way to treat their employees differently -- some might even say, "better" -- than anyone else around the league. And if you were ever looking for proof that they do treat people differently -- or better -- and proof that the players appreciate it, Eric Weddle is your shining example.

All of this also leads me to wonder...what information Marcus Peters is divulging about the Rams this week at Owings Mills?

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astros poll results are in

Unlike last week's "peaking too early" poll which yielded surprising results, yesterday's reader's poll about the Astros situation went just about like I expected.

68% of those who responded believe taking draft picks over the next two or three years is the fair punishment for the Astros in "SignGate".

How would you feel as an Orioles fan if it's discovered that O's GM Mike Elias was involved in the sign-stealing scandal in Houston?

That's likely what Rob Manfred is going to do -- plus a hefty fine -- once he makes his decision sometime next month. There are rumors that he might also take away some of the team's international signing money, which was another voting option in our poll.

12% of you believe an asterisk or notation of some kind should permanently be affixed to any mention of the Astros 2017* World Series win at the baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

10% of you think "nothing" should be done to the Astros. I assume you're one of those "everyone does it" group, or you believe "if you're not cheatin', you're not tryin'", a familiar refrain from the old days of NASCAR that apparently has spilled over to the way some folks look at baseball chicanery.

6% of you believe removing the World Series flag/pennant at the Astros stadium is a fair punishment.

And 4% of you believe removing international spending money for some period of time is the way to to.

One of the poll options was not "find out who was involved and have them terminated", but I assume it goes without saying that if Major League Baseball can uncover evidence (email, text, etc.) of someone -- an individual within the organization -- plotting out the entire thing, he or she would have to be removed from baseball. It's one thing if the players sit around and come up with ways to send signals from second base. It's another thing, entirely, to have a member of the organization orchestrate the cameras, the wiring, the transmission of information, the banging of the trash can and so forth. can just subscribe to the old theory of "who cares if they break the rules?"


"The Keen Eye" of
David Rosenfeld

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

fun, fun, fun...

Here’s what’s fun about all this…

The Ravens will soon clinch their twelfth playoff berth in the 24-year history of the franchise, the twelfth in 20 seasons since the turn of the century. Pretty good, even with the expanded playoffs of the post-1990 era. We’re lucky.

Oh yeah…the Ravens have twice held the Lombardi Trophy at season’s end. They’ve been the last team standing after the playoff tournament. Memories to cherish, forever.

Still, something happened at about 3 p.m. or so this past Sunday — at least it happened to me. I actually verbalized it, to nobody in particular.

For the first time ever, the Ravens are the best team in the NFL.

Yes, winning the championship is more important than being the “best” team. Does anyone really remember the 116-win Seattle Mariners from 2001? Just like nobody really cares about the five straight games without a touchdown in 2000, or awful losses to the Broncos and Redskins in December 2012.

And yes, if the Ravens tie or surpass the best regular season in team history, that of the 2006 team that finished 13-3, and then lay a home playoff egg like that team did, then the feeling we have right now won’t be much worth remembering either.

Everyone's having fun in Baltimore. The Ravens are 8-2 and could potentially finish as the AFC's #1 playoff seed in January.

Right now, though? It’s pretty special, a different feeling than ever before in November, even for a team that’s often played well late in the year, especially under John Harbaugh.

The 2000 team gave up 152 points in 16 games and set a defensive standard that might never be approached. The 2010-2012 teams won 34 games, and fought tooth and nail with the Steelers and Patriots for AFC supremacy. The aforementioned 2006 squad, which finished five games out in front of second place in the AFC North, might be the closest to this year’s squad in terms of divisional domination. Even the 2014 team, no powerhouse, managed to score more points than any other in franchise history.

No offense to Ray Lewis or Anquan Boldin, Joe Flacco or the late Steve McNair. None of those vibes were even close to what’s going on now.

The Ravens have scored 341 points in 10 games. In doing so, no matter in what way they’ve done it, they’ve been just as explosive as any of the great offenses in recent years. If the Ravens do maintain this pace for the next six games, they’d finish third all-time behind the undefeated 2007 Patriots and the 1998 Minnesota Vikings. Will it be a tall task? Surely. Has watching the team play this year made you believe it’s possible? Just as surely.

The beginning of the current six-game winning streak came when Marlon Humphrey knocked the ball loose from JuJu Smith-Schuster in Pittsburgh, leading to a game-winning overtime field goal. That’s been followed by the newly-acquired Marcus Peters and his “pick-six” in Seattle, the first interception of the year for the great Russell Wilson. Then there was Humphrey again (assisted by Patrick Onwuasor) with a long fumble return against the Patriots, followed by two more defensive touchdowns in Cincinnati, and finally sacking the elusive Deshaun Watson seven times.

Very few defenses have fashioned that kind of stretch, even the greatest defense of all time that once played at M&T Bank Stadium.

So there you have it. An explosive offense, among the best of all-time, so far. An opportunistic defense, bolstered by unusual midseason acquisitions. The most accurate kicker of all-time, whose surprising miss on Sunday led to an audible gasp of true surprise you could hear on television.

This is the best team in the NFL, right now. Maybe that won’t be the case four weeks from now, or maybe it will be even more obvious. Maybe the Ravens will have the best record in the NFL in four weeks, or maybe they won’t. They can’t control the teams they don’t play. Even if they don’t, we still might feel the same way.

Here’s the other thing, though. The Ravens aren’t just the best team in the NFL. They’re also really fun. If they lose a game or two soon, they’ll still be fun. Lamar Jackson might be the MVP. I hope he is the MVP. But he sure is fun, even if he finishes 12-for-25 for 131 yards and two interceptions, which could happen to him as easily as it could happen to any other quarterback.

He’s not just fun because of his talents, though. He’s fun because of how much he’s improved, and how much better he is than most of thought he’d ever be, and how he’s reacted to everything that’s happened to him in the last three months.

Who knew Mark Ingram was so fun, a hype man in the vein of Flavor Flav or Michael Buffer? Who knew the Ravens would actually put out into the world a formation, even for one meaningless play against a winless team, featuring Jackson, Ingram and Robert Griffin? Who knew that a team could play three tight ends, which isn’t a new thing, yet use them in a way that makes an offense exciting instead of boring, which is definitely a new thing?

Who knew that Matt Judon had a body built by Taco Bell? Who knew an NFL team could have so many really good defensive backs? Who knew that Josh Bynes and L.J. Fort could be productive NFL players in 2019? Who knew that Sam Koch would go from one of the NFL’s best punters to a player that might not even need to warm up before games?

And who knew the Ravens would be leading off every talking-head show on Monday morning, almost every Monday morning? Even when the Ravens have been good before, that hasn’t happened much. Seriously, these ridiculous yakkers and hot-take artists aren’t even talking much about the Cowboys and the Patriots and whatever other teams they’re contractually obligated to obsess about for ratings purposes.

And yet, they do keep bringing up one thing, even after another blowout victory and another win against a team that shouldn’t be so easy to beat. And I assume, and even hope, that they’ll keep bringing it up. Because that will most certainly mean the current roll has continued, even if the wins aren’t quite as dominant.

What is it? Unlike almost every other team, the fun for the Ravens could be gone in one split second. To which I say two things…

One, the Ravens are hardly the only team that would be seriously diminished by the loss of their starting quarterback. And two, I’m not worried about that while I’m having so much fun watching the best team in the league.

November 20
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so...what should we do with the astros?

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred didn't sound like a guy going through the motions yesterday when he was asked about the sign-stealing scandal of the 2017* World Series champion Houston Astros.

I'll paraphrase his reply: "They're in big trouble...if it's all true."

Of course it's true. The evidence in front of them is too damning. Heck, one of their own ex-players is one of the main bean spillers. It's so bad that the Astros can't even cop the Alford plea in this one. You know, "I'm not admitting guilt but I will admit the evidence would likely be enough to find me guilty."

On second thought, that's potentially what the Astros will wind up doing. They'll likely say "we're not guilty, but the evidence piled up against us sure looks like we are."

So now that we know they've done it, and we've seen the pictures of the tunnel behind their dugout, heard the bangs from the trash cans on the TV broadcasts, and have their ex-players confirming the sign-stealing, the big question becomes: What should be done about it?

Is Houston's 2017* World Series title officially tainted? And, if so, what should MLB do about it?

There have been some who have suggested that the Astros 2017* World Series title should be stripped from them. Yikes. That would leave a Black Sox like scar on the record books and, if we're being honest, there's really no way to know exactly how much the sign stealing helped Houston win games. Did it help? For sure. But was it the difference between them winning and losing? Someone much smarter than me would have to dig in and answer that one.

What seems more than fair to me would be to have some kind of notation on anything related to the Astros title at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. There has to be some sort of showcase piece at the Hall of Fame that highlights the Astros World Series win in 2017*. You merely need to write up a one-paragaph summary of the sign-stealing scandal, note that it violated MLB rules, and have it in place so interested observers can see it and form their own opinion on its importance.

I've long suggested that anyone who was named in the Mitchell Report who eventually made (or makes) the Hall of Fame should have a notation on their plaque with a standard summary that doesn't implicate them, specifically, but rather merely notes that they were named in the report.

Something like this, for instance, could be added to Roger Clemens' plaque:

In 2007, Major League Baseball released a 409 page report that covered the history of the use of illegal performance-enhancing substances by players and the effectiveness of the MLB Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. In addition, the report named 89 MLB players who were alleged to have used steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs. Roger Clemens was one of those 89 players named, although he never once failed a test administered by Major League Baseball as part of the league's testing program for illegal performance-enhancing substances.

That sums it up nicely. It doesn't say, specifically that Clemens used steroids. It merely notes he was part of the Mitchell Report, along with 88 others, some of whom would also get the notation on their plaque at Cooperstown.

If the player objected to that language and/or notation on his plaque, his likeness simply wouldn't appear in the Hall of Fame building. He'd still be "in the Hall of Fame", but you wouldn't find anything about him when you visited the shrine in Cooperstown.

You could make a similarily worded notation on Bonds' plaque (detailing his obstruction of justice in federal court) and A-Rod's as well (admitted, post-career, to using PED's while playing) as a means of allowing them into the Hall but not letting them skate buy without mentioning their various scandals.

That, I think, would be fair to the do with the Astros and their 2017* World Series title.

Taking it away from them seems harsh given that we don't know exactly what overall influence sign stealing had on their success.

But it's clearly against the rules, and to the extent that the organization went to cover it up, it was very obvious they knew it was wrong, too.

Somehow, baseball has to punish them. The archaic, mindless response of "everyone's trying to steal signs" isn't a catch-all in this case. Everyone might be trying to steal signs. The Astros did steal them and had a well-thought-out, orchestrated plan for relaying information to their hitters that clearly gave them an advantage.

Chicanery has long been part of baseball's history. The hidden-ball-trick, sign-stealing, doctoring the ball, corking the bat, amphetamines, anabolic steroids, etc. It's all been part of the fun and games along the way, although some of that stuff goes beyond chicanery and spills over into something much worse: cheating to win.

It's one thing to feign like you've thrown the ball back to the pitcher and then keep it in your glove to tag the guy out when he ventures off of first base.

That really does fall under "fun and games", I guess. And you know, if you're the first baseman who pulled that stunt, that you're likely getting a fastball in the ribs at some point in the game or series. Hence...not too many hidden ball tricks are pulled these days. No one wants the grief.

It's another thing, entirely, to stand at the plate and know the next pitch is a change-up because you heard a loud bang from the trash can in the tunnel of your dugout. Not hearing the bang also gives you an advantage. In the Astros' case, that meant fastball.

Sure, you still have to hit the pitch, but it's far easier to hit what you know is coming your way.

For those of you in the business of securing deals through a bidding or proposal process, think of it like this. Someone in "Smith Home Construction" tips you off that the lowest bid for a new roof on one of their houses is $32,000. Do you have an advantage, knowing the number? Of course. You still have to be able to produce a bid of less than $32,000 to be the low bidder, but at least you know going in what you have to do to be the vendor with the lowest expense for the job.

Other options mentioned recently for possible punishment of the Astros include stripping them of international spending money for three years, taking away their 1st, 2nd and 3rd round draft picks in 2020 and 2021, and forcing the Astros to permanently remove the World Series flag/pennant from their home stadium.

What do you think? What should Major League Baseball do with the Astros?

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what's your mount rushmore of sports events?

I appeared on a national radio show recently and the topic was "Top 5 favorite sports events of the year", as we get ready to pull the plug on 2019 and move into 2020.

Just to be a smidgen different today, I thought I'd ask you what your Mount Rushmore of Favorite Sports Events is each year. These have to be normal, standard events that are played out every year, no matter if your favorite player or team is playing. In other words, you can't say "The Super Bowl, but only if the Ravens are playing in it." You can say (my rules, so I can stretch them accordingly), NCAA March Madness, since that's one long event, or World Series, or College Football Playoff.

These four things (it's Mount Rushmore, remember) have to be events you wouldn't miss watching or attending. So, what are your four?

Here are mine, in case you care:

1. The Masters -- This is, by far, my favorite sporting event/tournament of the entire year. Spring starts on that Thursday in April when the Masters begins. A few years ago, I won a nice bottle of wine at a local golf course when I was able win a bar bet by naming every Masters winner from 1974 through 2017. I love the Masters.

The Masters, one of golf's four major championships, is a #DMD favorite.

2. Stanley Cup Finals -- I don't care who is playing, I watch every game from start to finish. Maybe it's the great play-by-play call of the incomparable Doc Emerick that pulls me in, but I can't miss a minute of the Stanley Cup Final. There's nothing in sports as exciting as playoff hockey. It's incredibly captivating.

3. March Madness -- If I can, I'd like to be a little specific with this. The first Thursday and Friday of March Madness are just awesome. 16 games each day, starting at around noon and ending at around 12 midnight or so. Small schools playing big schools, the 12 beating the 5, several buzzer beaters along the way. There is nothing in college basketball that matches the electricity of that first Thursday and Friday of March Madness. The whole three weeks is great theater, of course, but Thursday-Friday is unbeatable.

4. British Open -- Any excuse for getting up at 3:00 am to watch golf is a good one, I say. I've always loved the British Open because it's the one tournament every year where the powers-that-be don't doctor up the course to fit a specific scoring agenda. They just open the course on Thursday and say "Here it is. It's rained every day for the last 3 weeks so it's really wet and sloppy out there" or "Here it is, we haven't had rain in 10 days so the course is fast and firm and the greens are very unpredictable."

The announcers are typically much more entertaining than our stuck-in-the-mud crew for U.S. based broadcasts. "And here we are at the 8th hole, where Rory Sabbatini is trying to extricate himself from this mammoth bunker, with a lip on it that would make Mick Jagger jealous."

Sabbatini's ball hits the lip on the way out and bounds back to him. "Oh my," the announcer will say. "That's extraordinarily unfortunate. Sort of like having to take your mother-in-law to a doctor's appointment and have her in the passenger seat next to you. Sad, really, to see a man playing so well have this sort of thing happen to him on worldwide television."

The next shot hits the lip and again comes back to rest at his feet in the sand. "Oh, boy. Now it's really getting serious in there. Someone's going to come along soon and make him pay rent if he can't get himself out and onto the putting surface."

I've always loved the British Open. They play in rain, wind, sun, hot, cold, etc. Often times, in the same 6 hour period.

Feel free to leave your four Mount Rushmore events in the comments section below. Or, you can whine about not having enough here to read today. Either one works.


u.s. soccer advances in nation's league

With their backs against the wall, the US got the wins they needed to win their CONCACAF Nations League group and advanced to the next round.

Last night in the Cayman Islands, on what looked like a high school field, the US took care of business, beating an overwhelmed Cuba team, 4-0. Last Friday against Canada the US played with the passion and energy they were missing in the previous matchup and put together one of their best performances of the year in a 4-1 victory.

With those wins the US advances to the final four of the Nations League next June when they will play either Mexico or Honduras in the semifinals.

There was not much to learn from the blowout against Cuba, although it was good to see the US dominate away from home in a game they were heavily favored to win.

In the Canada match on Friday, the US was sharper technically and tactically than they were in the October matchup and Canada was unable to reproduce their performance from that game.

Forward Jordan Morris scored two goals for the U.S. on Tuesday night in their 4-0 win over Cuba.

Canada made one lineup adjustment that ended up playing to the US advantage. Canada chose to play Alphonso Davies at LB instead of at forward. In the October matchup Davies was the best player on the field and gave the US back line problems all game. This time he attempted to make those same attacking runs from the LB position but did not find as much success with more US players to defend him.

Those runs vacated space behind him which the US exploited on the counter attack. The first two US goals came off sequences where Davies went forward, Canada turned the ball over and the US quickly countered down his wing. The first time the US earned a corner kick which they scored from and the second time Arriola had time to hit a perfect cross field ball which Morris settled and crossed for a Zardes header. Davies had a nightmare first half which culminated with him passing the ball back to his keeper to gift the US a free kick at the Canada six yard box.

US coach Gregg Berhalter made a few tactical adjustments himself that put the team in positions to create more dangerous chances.

Defensively the US changed to a 4-2-3-1 shape as opposed to the 4-4-2 from the previous game. They were much more aggressive pressing the Canada centerbacks. The US wings often pinched in to provide pressure on the Canadian back line as well, making the formation look more like a 4-2-4 at times.

This pressure caused Canada to play quicker and more direct and led to turnovers that the US were able to exploit. Offensively the US was much more pragmatic than in previous games. They were willing to play balls over the top when Canada pressed high and they countered quickly and directly when Canada turned the ball over instead of slowing down and patiently building from the back. These tweaks allowed the US to frustrate Canada’s build up and leverage their speed on the wings.

The standout player and man of the match for the US was Sebastian Lletget. He consistently displayed a smooth touch in close quarters and his movement and passing were directly involved in many of the chances the US created. As a bonus he worked back to win balls from his attacking midfield position. Playing Lletget in the attacking midfield role allowed Weston McKennie to focus on his strength of winning balls all over the middle of the field. There wasn’t a US player that had a bad performance in the Canada game.

Other standouts included the entire forward line, Morris, Arriola, and Zardes. They were all heavily involved in the US goals. Zardes has often been a whipping boy for his poor performances, but on Friday he made many good linking passes and finished both of his chances effectively. Sergino Dest demonstrated why the Netherlands attempted to steal him from the US team. He consistently won his duels with Alphonso Davies on both the offensive and defensive ends while displaying a deft touch the US has rarely seen from a defensive player.

The biggest takeaway from these games was that Berhalter was willing to alter his tactics when they proved ineffective and embrace a pragmatic approach to maximize the players available to him.

The players showed heart in producing a comfortable win in a high pressure game against Canada and making easy work of Cuba in the Cayman Islands.

Despite many rumblings and rumours, the players showed they have not quit on the coach and are still willing to fight for Berhalter. The team will now have a long break as the full team will not reassemble until the spring. However, 2020 will be an important year for the program with the U23 team attempting to qualify for the Olympics and the senior team beginning World Cup Qualifying in August.

About the contributor: Randy Morgan was born and raised in the Baltimore area graduating from Dulaney HS and then University of Maryland. His day job is software development. He's an avid sports watcher and recreational participant. A devoted Ravens, Orioles and U.S. soccer supporter. he also follows many soccer leagues around the world as well as the NBA and college basketball. Randy played soccer, basketball, and baseball growing up and still plays soccer and basketball recreationally as well as the occasional round of golf. His commentary on mostly sports, but sometimes music and other miscellany can be found on twitter @jrmorgan16.

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November 19
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue

bored or excited?

I'm excited to learn more about just how much the Astros have been cheating over the last few years. While it's not great for the game to have one of the league's premier organizations brazenly breaking the rules like the Astros apparently have been, it's awesome to see them get their comeuppance. Anything they've accomplished in the last three years is now questioned...anything they do in the future will be dissected with skepticism.

I'm bored by the discussion of whether Nick Saban should have had Tua Tagovailoa in the game on Saturday when Alabama was up 35-7 over Mississippi State. It was late in the second quarter. The game wasn't even half over yet. You don't pull your starting quarterback at that point. If it's 35-7 with eight minutes left in the game, then, yes, go ahead and pull him. Saban has no one to apologize to and doesn't need to explain himself, either.

I'm excited to see Brendon Todd win two straight PGA Tour events after going winless since 2014. Todd is one of the TOUR's really crazy stories, in that he's nearly the quit the game on several occasions, only to answer the bell time and time again. Golf World magazine just published an awesome profile on Todd and his return to the winner's circle. It's a great read for anyone, but particularly for someone who has been down and out and didn't think they could find success again. You can check it out right here.

I'm bored with Colin Kaepernick. It's no longer about football with him. It's about the justice he seeks for himself, now. I don't know how Saturday's workout got so fouled up, but, predictably, the breakdown and the controversy outweighed the actual football that was played. The NFL deserves a lot of the blame for even attempting to organize the workout in the first place. They knew it was going to be a mess. It's all very boring now. I see the whole Kaepernick/NFL saga closely resembling a professional wrestling "angle" at this point.

One of the best logos in sports gets polished up and put back into use in 2020.

I'm excited to see the Milwaukee Brewers go back to the "MB" logo, which most people thought was just a baseball glove (which, it is). There are only a select few truly remarkable logos in all of sports and that Brewers "MB" in the design of a glove is Top 5 all time. I might even have to buy a Brewers tee shirt for spring/summer 2020, that's how much I like it.

I'm bored with this Lamar "MVP talk" again this week. Can't we just give that a rest until the season is over? I get the local pride factor and all, but why put so much energy into howling at the moon about who is the "front runner" in week 10? Who. Freakin'. Cares? If Lamar has a bad week next Monday night, you'll still get up on Tuesday and report to work. It's not worth worrying about and certainly not worth getting into multi-thread Twitter debates. And I really would like to see him win the award, by the way. But it's mid-November still. There's a lot of important football remaining and the MVP award probably gets won in weeks 14-17.

I'm excited, also, with the thought that John Harbaugh could be in the running for Coach of the Year honors. Just like with Lamar, there's a long way to go, of course, which is probably why you won't read anything else about it here until the season ends, but if the Ravens can compile a 14-2 or 13-3 regular season, Harbs will deserve consideration for the award. And I like that. I've always been a Harbaugh fan. Truth of the matter? If we did a Ravens Mount Rushmore and included front office personnel and coaches, the Ravens four faces would be Ozzie, Ray, Ed and.....Harbaugh.

At some point, the Giants are going to get tired of seeing the Dodgers win. Gerrit Cole would be a massive pitching upgrade for them.

I'm bored by free agent baseball discussion, but that's only because we know going in that the Orioles aren't going to do anything. If they were in the hunt for a player or two, I'd be excited. Instead, it's almost white noise. BTW, here are a few predictions for some of the prominent free agent names: Gerrit Cole signs with the Giants. Stephen Strasburg signs with the Yankees. Anthony Rendon signs with the Phillies. Madison Bumgarner signs with the Padres. Excited yet? Me neither.

I'm excited to hear that Tom Brady is "frustrated" with the Patriots offense. It's no secret New England's 9-1 record to date is fueled in large part by a staunch defense and excellent special teams units. Sure, Brady and the offense put up big numbers earlier this season against the likes of Miami and Washington, but those two teams are league bottom feeders. Against teams with solid records (Baltimore, Buffalo, Philadelphia) the New England offense put up 17, 16 and 17 points respectively. Brady's "frustrated" and "knows (we) need to make more big plays and score more points". Sounds like a plea to Rob Gronkowski if you ask me.

I'm bored with this talk of the NFL going to a 17-game regular season and really bored with how it's going to be put into place. Each of the 32 teams will play one extra game per-season outside of the U.S. to go from 16 to 17. to NFL...let's focus on the product here in our country and how we can get people to go to the games here before we worry about getting folks into stadiums in London, Frankfurt, Beijing, Cape Town, Tokyo and any other far off destination they're going to use. I've never understood the league's fascination with these international games when juxtaposed against their so called "deep concern" for player safety.

I'm excited about the 2020 PGA Tour season and not because we're likely going to see Tiger Woods set the all-time wins record. I'm more interested in seeing the continued development of young future starts like Collin Morikawa, Matthew Wolff, Maverick McNealy and so on. And interested in seeing if Jordan Spieth can pull himself out of this 18-month "slump" and win something big again. And interested to see if Rory can finally complete that career grand slam with a win at Augusta National in April. Oh, and speaking of "big wins", I have a feeling these four "old guys" all might win a significant tournament in 2020. A major, a WGC event or one of the other biggies like The Memorial or The Players; Graeme McDowell, Charles Howell III, Lucas Glover and Louis Oosthuizen. Oh, and speaking of the Masters, run, right now, and get your wager down on............Justin Thomas.

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we need your help again this december

For the 11th straight year, my old radio buddy Glenn Clark and I are teaming up for our "Winter Apparel Drive" to benefit the men at Helping Up Mission in downtown Baltimore.

We need your help.

Can you kindly go through your closets, attics and other storage areas in the next week or two and pull out a dozen or so no-longer-used coats, jackets, sweatshirts and any other forms of winter apparel (gloves, hats, socks) that you might be able to donate to our cause? We'll deliver them to Helping Up Mission on Tuesday, December 17, and you'll be making the Christmas season a lot more enjoyable for over 400 men who are at the Mission in their various treatment programs.

We'll have four "drop off" locations/events where you can bring your donated items to us. Please don't bring any loose items. All clothing should be in some sort of bag or box.

The kick-off event is on Thursday, December 5 at Glory Days on East Joppa Road in Towson from 6 pm to 8 pm. Towson University men's basketball coach Pat Skerry will be there to meet and greet those of you who bring out winter apparel, and Glenn and I will have some light fare and snacks there to keep you from starving. Please come out on December 5 to meet Coach Skerry and get our event off to a great start.

On Tuesday, December 10, Glenn and I will be at the SECU arena starting at 6 pm to collect apparel prior to the Towson-UMBC men's basketball game. We'll be stationed right near gate 1 next to the big Tiger statue to meet you. You can also attend the game that night for just $10.00! That Towson-UMBC game sets up to be perhaps the best local college hoops game of the season, so bring out your apparel and stick around for the Towson-UMBC game with Glenn and I.

The following Monday, December 16, Glenn and I will be joined by Ravens offensive lineman Bradley Bozeman at Chick fil-A Nottingham Square in White Marsh from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm.

This is always one of our most popular drop off events of the drive every year. We're excited to have Bradley there with us to meet Ravens fans and help accumulate a record setting number of pieces of apparel for the men at Helping Up Mission.

Additionally, between now and December 16, you can drop off your apparel at Jerry's Chevrolet (Joppa Road) or Jerry's Toyota (Belair Road). They'll have boxes set up there for you to drop off your clothing and apparel.

Please join us at one of the three events or visit Jerry's Chevrolet or Jerry's Toyota and help us make the holiday season a great one for Helping Up Mission!

November 18
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue

and then there were three...

No, this isn't a tribute to that great Genesis album, And Then There Were Three, which was released in 1977 and was the first work produced by the band after the departure of guitarist Steve Hackett.

Editor's note: That really was a great album. "Down and Out", "Undertow", "Deep in the Motherlode" and "Follow You, Follow Me" are four terrific songs. I was a big Genesis fan. That album is one of my top 20 favorites of all-time.

But anyway...

With yesterday's slaughtering of the Texans in Baltimore, the Ravens have sent another imposter packing for the off-season. Sure, the Texans might squeeze their way into the post-season via a 9-7 record, but there's no long-term recovering from what happened to them yesterday.

Another big day from Lamar Jackson and a stout defensive effort from the Ravens led to a 41-7 thrashing of the Texans on Sunday.

The Texans are spending most of today and tomorrow with a bag of frozen peas on their......well, you know. They're no longer virile, in other words. A 41-7 loss will do that to you.

So with the Texans out of the January picture, things are fairly clear in the AFC.

It's between the Ravens and New England. The Patriots are 9-1 after their narrow win in Philadelphia yesterday, but they still have games remaining with Dallas, Houston and Kansas City. The guess here is New England finishes (best case for them) 14-2 or (worst case) 13-3.

The Ravens, meanwhile, are looking a lot like a team that could run the table from here until January. That game next Monday night in Los Angeles won't be a cakewalk. The east-to-west travel and the Rams being decent at home will make that one a challenge.

But let's pretend for a second like the Ravens go out there and win to improve to 9-2.

San Francisco in two weeks? A double-digit win for Harbs and Company.

At Buffalo? The Bills aren't beating the Ravens. Name the last time Buffalo beat a good team.

Jets in Baltimore? Should be over by halftime.

Browns in Cleveland? Oh, we can't wait for that punch-in-the-mouth the Ravens are going to give Baker and his buddies.

Pittsburgh in Baltimore? A laugher.

You're looking at the possibility of a 14-2 mark...or perhaps 13-3 if something goes sideways in one of the final six games. I can't see anything other than 14-2 or 13-3 at this point.

Either way though, here's what Sunday's smackdown of Houston did. It reduced the legitimate AFC title playing field to just two other teams besides the Ravens.

Kansas City. And New England.

That's it. There's no one else to worry about.

Now, all bets are off, obviously, if something happens to Lamar. But all bets would be off in New England if Brady goes out and the Chiefs are done if Mahomes can't play in January. Everyone's in the same boat in that regard.

But as it stands now, the Ravens are going to play for the AFC title on January 19. In case you're doing some advance planning, the AFC has the early game this year...the one that kicks off at 3:05 pm.

Don't underestimate what yesterday's loss did to the Texans. Heading into the contest, they were well aware of the stakes at hand. They could have vaulted themselves into the discussion for the #1 seed with a win. They would have, at the very least, given the Ravens something to concern themselves with come post-season time if they won or even battled to the very end and suffered a tough loss.

Instead, the Texans got stripped of their professional pride in Baltimore.

And with that win, the Ravens can see the fruits of their labor starting to bloom.

There are only three teams left now...and the Ravens beat one of those other two a couple of weeks ago...handily.

One last thing: Don't forget to pack sunscreen for that trip to Miami in early February. It might be winter here, but that sun can still bake you in South Florida on any given day.

My RideMyCause banner ad

we need your help again this december

For the 11th straight year, my old radio buddy Glenn Clark and I are teaming up for our "Winter Apparel Drive" to benefit the men at Helping Up Mission in downtown Baltimore.

We need your help.

Can you kindly go through your closets, attics and other storage areas in the next week or two and pull out a dozen or so no-longer-used coats, jackets, sweatshirts and any other forms of winter apparel (gloves, hats, socks) that you might be able to donate to our cause? We'll deliver them to Helping Up Mission on Tuesday, December 17, and you'll be making the Christmas season a lot more enjoyable for over 400 men who are at the Mission in their various treatment programs.

We'll have four "drop off" locations/events where you can bring your donated items to us. Please don't bring any loose items. All clothing should be in some sort of bag or box.

The kick-off event is on Thursday, December 5 at Glory Days on East Joppa Road in Towson from 6 pm to 8 pm. Towson University men's basketball coach Pat Skerry will be there to meet and greet those of you who bring out winter apparel, and Glenn and I will have some light fare and snacks there to keep you from starving. Please come out on December 5 to meet Coach Skerry and get our event off to a great start.

On Tuesday, December 10, Glenn and I will be at the SECU arena starting at 6 pm to collect apparel prior to the Towson-UMBC men's basketball game. We'll be stationed right near gate 1 next to the big Tiger statue to meet you. You can also attend the game that night for just $10.00! That Towson-UMBC game sets up to be perhaps the best local college hoops game of the season, so bring out your apparel and stick around for the Towson-UMBC game with Glenn and I.

The following Monday, December 16, Glenn and I will be joined by Ravens offensive lineman Bradley Bozeman at Chick fil-A Nottingham Square in White Marsh from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm.

This is always one of our most popular drop off events of the drive every year. We're excited to have Bradley there with us to meet Ravens fans and help accumulate a record setting number of pieces of apparel for the men at Helping Up Mission.

Additionally, between now and December 16, you can drop off your apparel at Jerry's Chevrolet (Joppa Road) or Jerry's Toyota (Belair Road). They'll have boxes set up there for you to drop off your clothing and apparel.

Please join us at one of the three events or visit Jerry's Chevrolet or Jerry's Toyota and help us make the holiday season a great one for Helping Up Mission!


"bad beat hall of fame" gets new member

I don't know how many examples people need, but I'd like to introduce Exhibit #3044 for why you should NEVER wager on the NFL.

I can't imagine any of the other 3043 exhibits were worse than the bad beat gamblers suffered yesterday in San Francisco.

I've seen some bad beats in my day. And it's hard to differentiate a "bad beat" from a "really bad beat". A loss is a loss is a loss, after all. But this fiasco yesterday in San Francisco is one of the all-time worst. Ever.

The Arizona Cardinals were 13.5 point underdogs earlier in the week. By Thursday, the number shifted down to 10.5 or so. By early Sunday morning, it was Arizona +9.5, which was still inviting.

In fact, we here at #DMD included the Cardinals-49'ers game in "Show Me The Money" and took Arizona plus the 9.5 points, although, as we always note, we're not really gambling here. We're just having fun.

But let's say you did wager real money yesterday and let's say you had the Cardinals plus 9.5 points.

Arizona led the game 26-23 with two minutes remaining. The 49'ers buzzed down the field and threw a touchdown pass with 31 seconds remaining in the game to go up 30-26.

On the very first play after the kick off, Arizona fumbled the ball. San Francisco recovered it. Game over, right?


The 49'ers ran a play. Arizona called their first time out.

San Fran ran another play. Arizona called another time-out.

The 49'ers ran it again on 3rd down and didn't get the first down. Arizona called time-out.

On 4th and 1 -- with 11 seconds left -- the 49'ers basically took a knee in the backfield. They killed 5 seconds, but the clock stopped due to a change in possession.

Arizona had the ball on their own 22 with six seconds remaining.

If you have the Cardinals plus 9.5 points, you've already spent the money you won, right?

Kyler Murray threw an incomplete pass. There were two seconds left on the clock.

On the game's final play, Murray completed a short pass to Larry Fitzgerald at the 30 yard line. Fitzgerald threw the ball backwards to a waiting teammate, who failed to come up with it. The ball was live. Bodies were on the ground. The ball suddenly popped out and was somehow kicked/batted/driven towards the Arizona goalline, where a 49'ers player scooped it up and fell into in the end zone for a touchdown.

Final score: 49'ers win, 36-26.

Play-by-play announcer Chris Myers picked up on it immediately. "Now wait a minute," he said. "This could mean a lot to a certain amount of people." Those broadcasters...they don't know anything about the point spread, huh?

If you had the Cardinals plus 9.5 points and you EVER bet on football again, you deserve to lose every wager you make for the rest of your life.

Just to rub it in, if you were one of the poor souls with plus 9.5, here's the final play.


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Week 11

Sunday — November 17, 2019
Issue #1910

Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens

1:00 PM EST

M & T Bank Stadium
Baltimore, MD

Spread: Ravens (-4.5)

bragging rights

They met up in college, one playing for Louisville, the other at Clemson, but that was just a preview of more important battles someday down the road.

Today is "down the road". The first-ever professional encounter between Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson takes place today in Baltimore and it should be a doozy. Both teams are good, which helps, and both quarterbacks are among the best in the NFL so far this season.

There are 20 other players on the field, obviously, but those two will be the showstoppers today. The quarterbacks alone will be worth the price of admission, we all assume.

The game is crucial for both teams.

While the Ravens already have the AFC North just-about-locked-up, the Texans have to keep winning in order to separate themselves from their AFC South rivals. Baltimore's main goal now is to finish as the #1 seed in the AFC...#2 at worst. The Texans need to make the playoffs first and worry about seeding later. Today's game will stunt one team's growth, at least temporarily.

Can the Ravens secondary keep DeAndre Hopkins from lighting them up today in Baltimore?

After a laugher against one of the league's JV teams last week, the Ravens go back to playing the varsity today. Houston will not be a pushover. Their offense is capable of doing good things and their defense, while certainly hurt by the absence of J.J. Watt, is also a competent group.

But let's be clear on this: Houston winning in Baltimore this afternoon would be an upset. It wouldn't match last Sunday's shocking Falcons win in New Orleans or anything like that, but if the Texans come to Charm City and leave with a win, it's an upset nonetheless. The Ravens are 7-2, playing at home, and haven't come to close to losing since a 26-23 OT win at Pittsburgh in early October. They're on quite a roll. Or, maybe we should say, Lamar Jackson is on quite a roll.

The biggest test facing the Ravens today is limiting the output and production of DeAndre Hopkins, the all-world wide receiver whom many believe is the best in the NFL these days. His 2019 numbers are staggering. 9 games, 68 catches, 685 yards. The fewest amount of catches he has in a game this season is five, and he has five games with eight or more catches. That he only has four touchdown grabs this year is puzzling, but make no mistake about it, he's a game changing player.

Fortunately for the Ravens, they have a plethora of options when it comes to shadowing or marking Hopkins. There's Marlon Humphrey, Jimmy Smith or Marcus Peters who can do the dirty work. The guess here is that Smith probably draws the main assignment throughout most of the afternoon.

The Ravens pass rush will be important today, too. Watson, like most NFL quarterbacks, can pick you apart if he's given time in the pocket. As long as the Ravens can apply decent pressure on him, they should be able to keep Watson from having a field day. John Harbaugh needs a big day out of Matthew Judon, for starters, and Wink Martindale, the defensive coordinator who is mostly responsible for the game plan to try and limit the Watson-Hopkins combination.

Perhaps the biggest issue facing the Ravens today is the expected absence of defensive lineman Michael Pierce. Without Pierce, the Ravens will be challenged to stop Houston's running attack.

And then there's Lamar Jackson. No one has been able to stop this kid all season. He's 13-3 as a regular season NFL starter, with two losses at Kansas City and a home defeat to Cleveland the only blemishes on an otherwise spectacular start to his career. The last four weeks have almost been comical, as Jackson has sliced and diced some of the best defensive units in the league and generated lots of legitimate MVP talk along the way.

How will the Texans go about stopping Jackson today? Cram the box with 8 defensive players? Throw 6 or 7 linebackers in there, like Los Angeles did last January? Put one linebacker spy on Jackson at all times and then play the standard 10 vs. 10 from there? If Houston figures out a way to quiet Jackson today, they have a real chance of winning. Good luck with that, Texans.

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how drew sees today's game

Lamar and the offense buzz right down the field on their first possession, with Jackson finding Hollywood Brown for a 23-yard gain on 3rd and 10 to keep the drive alive. Baltimore moves all the way down to the Houston eight yard line before the drive is halted by incompletions and a penalty and Justin Tucker's 38 yard field makes it 3-0 Ravens.

Houston comes right down the field with a similar drive, moving deep into Baltimore territory before they, too, settle for a field goal. It's 3-3 at the end of the first quarter.

The Ravens start the second quarter with an impressive 73 yard drive, capped off by Jackson finding Mark Andrews in the end zone from 7 yards out. Tucker's PAT makes it 10-3, Ravens.

A promising Houston drive on the next series ends with an interception by Marlon Humphrey at the Baltimore 21 yard line.

It's going down to the wire today in Baltimore...

Jackson then engineers another drive, with big throws to Brown and Boykin, but again the push for the end zone stalls and Tucker hits another field goal -- this one from 31 yards, and it's 13-3 Ravens.

Watson and Hopkins get in the groove next, with the wide receiver collecting four catches on the following series. He beats Jimmy Smith on a 20 yard touchdown catch and it's 13-10 Ravens at the half.

Houston's field goal early in the 3rd quarter knots the score at 13-13, but Jackson and the offense go right down the field and pick up a touchdown, with Mark Ingram putting the finishing touches on the drive with a 5 yard touchdown run.

Just prior to the end of the third quarter, Houston faces 4th and 1 at the Baltimore 22 yard line. Rather than kick the field goal, they go for it. And they're stopped, as the Ravens lead, 20-13, heading to the final 15 minutes.

After each team starts the fourth quarter with an unsuccessful drive, the Ravens get a 40 yard throw from Lamar to Hollywood and a handful of chew-up-the-clock runs from Mark Ingram. Jackson puts his stamp on the game with an 11 yard touchdown run with 7:04 to play and it's 26-13 Ravens. Justin Tucker misses the extra point to keep it a 13-point game.

The Texans return the kickoff 73 yards and four plays later, Watson again finds Hopkins in the end zone to make it 26-20. The crowd is getting restless.

For only the second time all day, Lamar and the offense go three and out on the next possession, and Houston gets the ball back with 3:23 remaining in the game. They immediately move down the field and eventually face a 4th and 7 from the Baltimore 28 yard line. Bill O'Brien elects to go for the safe play and the Texans hit a field goal to make it 26-23 with 2:02 left.

On 3rd and 3 from the Baltimore 43 yard line, Mark Ingram fumbles and Houston falls on it. Now the crowd is very restless.

Watson's first two throws are incomplete, but on 3rd and 10, he finds Hopkins down the sideline and he hauls in a spectacular grab at the Baltimore four yard line.

But wait...

There's a flag on the play.

"Pass interference, offense, #10..."

And on 4th and 10 from the 43 yard, Watson's throw is batted in the air by Matthew Judon and when it falls harmlessly to the ground, the Ravens have won a nailbiter, 26-23.

Lamar finishes the day with 59 yards rushing and 224 yards in the air on a 17-for-29 afternoon.


show me the money

The only thing hotter these days than Lamar Jackson? It's us, here at #DMD, rolling along with three straight non-losing weeks and a record of 11-7 in our last 18 games. Just think, if you would have bet $5,000 on each of our last 18 games, you'd be almost $20,000 to the good by now.

We're feeling like a 6-0 week is just around the corner. It could even be THIS week, in fact. Some of these games are so easy, a Flyers fan could pick them. (Editor's note: This seems like an appropriate time to mention -- since this is a sports website and all -- that the Flyers lost at home last night to the Islanders, 4-3. Let the good times roll...)

So let's get started, shall we?

BILLS AT DOLPHINS (+6.5) -- When's the last time Buffalo was a 6.5 point road favorite? 1991? This one seems almost too good to be true. Buffalo is starting to show signs that they're not all that good and Miami just went to Indy and upset the Colts last Sunday for their second win of the season. Take Miami and the points and run, right? Ahhhhh, but that's what Vegas wants you to do. You're not really going to bite that hook are you? You're not that naive, are you? We are. No way Buffalo goes there and wins by a touchdown, so we're taking the Dolphins and the points as Miami wins, 22-20.

Can Drew Brees and the Saints bounce back from last Sunday's loss at home and beat an improving Tampa Bay team today?

BRONOCOS AT VIKINGS (-10.0) -- Another weird one. 10 points is a lot in the NFL. And the Vikings might be due for a letdown after that Sunday night win in Dallas. Denver stinks, though, and there's no telling what they might do today. We've run this one through the #DMD wagering machine every which way possible and the more times the machines gets this game, the more they smell blowout, so we're going with Minnesota to cover the ten and win in a romp, 33-14.

SAINTS AT BUCCANEERS (+5.5) -- Oh, boy, do we LOVE this game. Everything about this game tells you to take Tampa Bay. Everything. New Orleans just got drilled at home by the Falcons so they might be in the beginning stages of a small downturn. Tampa Bay has been hyper-competitive this season and just knocked off Arizona at home last week. They've been in every game this year, have the Bucs, and there's no reason to think today won't be the same thing. And it will be. Right up Drew Brees throws a late TD pass to turn a 24-23 deficit into a 30-24 win. We'll take the Saints and lay the 5.5 points as they win by six points on a late touchdown.

CARDINALS AT 49'ERS (-9.5) -- This could be a good game. If Arizona is looking to show people they really are an up-and-comer, today's the day to do that. San Fran is still beat up from that cage match they had with Seattle on Monday night. The Cardinals are not a walk in the park. We think 9.5 points is crazy here. We're going with Arizona and the 9.5 and almost feel like calling the outright upset, but we'll say the 49'ers hold on to win 24-20.

BEARS AT RAMS (-6.0) -- Wow, Vegas has zero confidence in the Rams, eh? The Bears are TERRIBLE. And Vegas thinks the Rams are only going to beat them by a touchdown? Yikes. We don't see any way Chicago stays in this one. The Rams are faltering, yes, but at home, they're a slam dunk to clobber Mitchell Trubisky and that lame Chicago offense. Take the Rams in a laugher here, as they cover the 6 points in both halves and win easily, 30-16.

BEST BET OF THE DAY -- We just can't see the Broncos doing anything but getting run out of the gym in Minnesota, so we'll take the Vikings as our best bet.





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72% of you say...

OK, I'll admit, this was a shocker.

In yesterday's reader's poll, we asked you if you thought it would be a good idea for the Ravens to lose a couple of games between now and the end of the season.

Surprisingly, 72% of you said "yes". 72% of our responders voted for "lose a couple of games and finish 12-4."

Only 28% of the people who voted thought it would be a good idea to run the table and finish 14-2.

There was one nitwit who voted for "x", but we threw his vote out when factoring in the data. He probably made his vote on the way to the Flyers game last night.

The topic of "not peaking too early" was discussed on Friday during Glenn Clark's show that I appear on somewhat regularly. I'm a believer that you need to lose one occasionally just to keep things balanced. I'd love to see the Ravens run the table...but I'd be fearful that the law of averages would catch up to them. Losing one or two between now and January diminishes that chance, I think.

November 16
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14 notes for a saturday morning

1. The U.S. men's soccer team gave a much more representative account of themselves last night, posting a 4-1 win over Canada in the Nation's League battle in Orlando. The U.S. now just needs to beat Cuba by any score on Tuesday night and they'll move on to the semifinals next summer. Last night's win was particularly impressive given that Christian Pulisic wasn't available due to injury. He won't play in Tuesday's game, but that shouldn't be a concern given that the Americans trounced Cuba in a home game last month, 7-0.

2. It was bound to happen at some point, but the Caps laid a massive egg at home last night, losing to the Canadiens, 5-2, in their most lackluster performance of the last four weeks. Montreal scored 4 times in the second period to send the Caps to just their third regulation loss of the season. The bright spot for the Capitals and their fans? You'll see a little later here in "14 notes".

3. Without giving much away about tomorrow's game, let me just say this: The Ravens are in for a dogfight tomorrow against the Texans if Michael Pierce isn't able to play. Pierce (ankle) didn't practice all week, which is typically an indication of being unable to go on Sunday, but John Harbaugh said on Friday it will be a gametime decision. The guess here is that Harbs said that just to withhold as much information from the Texans as he could...but that Pierce won't be in the lineup tomorrow. If he's could be trouble.

Vontaze Burfict, already suspended by the NFL, didn't help his cause on Friday during an interview where he lashed out at Roger Goodell.

4. I thought the punishments handed down by the NFL yesterday were fair. Myles Garrett said the right things on Thursday night after the game, but he did have an earlier "incident" in the Browns' home opener where he was penalized for throwing a bunch at a Titans player. I'm not sure the league took that into account when handing out his indefinite suspension, but nonetheless, having Garrett sit out the final six games of the season was reasonable, even if I thought, personally, four games would have been more fitting.

5. Speaking of the NFL and punishments. I'd say Vontaze Burfict might have dug himself into an even deeper hole yesterday when he lashed out (again) at Roger Goodell over his current suspension that came as a result of a hit he put on an Indianapolis Colts player in October. "I met Roger Goodell in New York, and he was a total b--ch," Burfict told The Athletic on Friday. "He was a b--ch. He didn't let anybody speak. He rushed us in and out of the meeting. The meeting was bulls--t. He already had the suspension in his hand." Just a hunch here, but calling the Commissioner a b--ch probably won't curry favor for Burfict in the off-season when the subject of reinstatement comes up.

6. The Golden State Warriors lost last night, at home, 105-100 to Boston. Golden State is now 2-11 on the season. Now, there's a reason for that, of course. They don't have Steph Curry, they don't have Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant is gone. In other words, they're losing because they don't have any good players. But 2-11? It won't be long before the "tanking" topic starts getting bandied about. As if the Warriors need a top 5 pick next June in the NBA Draft, right?

7. Now we find out the Yankees were accusing the Astros of sign-stealing in the very first game of the ALCS last month, with third base coach Phil Nevin threatening to "kick (Alex Cintron's) ass if he doesn't stop whistling while Houston players are at the plate." Nevin and the Yankees somehow figured out that the Astros were stealing signs and relaying them to their dugout, where Cintron -- Houston's hitting coach -- was whistling to alert players to the upcoming pitch.

8. The Ravens are giving you an advance opportunity to purchase playoff tickets for January home games. All you have to do is put a deposit down on PSL's for next season and you get to skip to the front of the priority line when playoff tickets go on sale to the general public in December. Before you think that's a shady tactic, please know every team (in every sport) does it. The question is, really, is the PSL model still viable in the NFL? I'm not sure.

One of Will Smith's best theatrical roles was a mystical caddie who helped Matt Damon find his "authentic swing" in The Legend of Bagger Vance.

9. Relief pitcher Will Smith became the first baseball free agent to sign with a new team earlier this week when he joined the Atlanta Braves. For no reason other than name similarity, let me just say this: Will Smith's performance in The Legend of Bagger Vance was really, really good. I haven't seen all of his films, mind you, but I'd say -- at least from what I've seen -- that his role in the Bagger Vance movie was his most underrated work ever. It was a box office flop, by the way, pulling in $40 million on an $80 million budget. Hard to believe any film with Charlize Theron in it didn't make budget, right?

10. It was a great night in Ottawa on Friday, where the Senators knocked off the Flyers, 2-1. That reminds me of a funny Flyers joke I heard last week. There was this Flyers fan who just got sick and tired of all the jokes about the Flyers. One evening, he went home and memorized all the state capitals. Back in the office the next day, some guy started telling another Flyers joke. He interrupted him with a shrill announcement, "I've had it up to here with these Flyers jokes. I want you to know that this particular Flyers fan went home last night and did something probably none of you could do. I memorized all the state capitals." One of the guys at the water cooler said, "I don't believe you. What is the capital of Nevada?" "N," the Flyers fan answered.

11. Please circle Tuesday, December 10 on your calendar and make plans to come out with Glenn Clark and I to see Towson host UMBC in men's basketball. There's more to it. A lot more. And I'll have the details on Monday here at #DMD. For now, though, lock yourself in to December 10, and join us, please.

12. I got involved in a wacky Super Bowl pool this week where you had to pick a Super Bowl match-up that doesn't involve teams who currently have 2 losses or less. That means you can't include the Patriots, Ravens, Packers, Saints, 49'ers or Seahawks. The winner of the pool gets a lot of "points". I took Minnesota vs. Kansas City. If that hits and I wind up winning (multiple entries would result in a random draw of all winners), you all can join me at the beach for a golf weekend next summer. And you can even bring a friend. Oh, and the tiebreaker in the event the pool doesn't have a winner was picking your "real" Super Bowl winner. I went with the Ravens.

13. Since I've been red hot with this sort of thing recently, here's my "official" prediction for the Presidents Cup replacement pick if Tiger Woods has to bring in a new player to replace the injured Brooks Koepka. I think Tiger's going with.......Jordan Spieth.

14. My old radio buddy Glenn Clark brought up an interesting topic on his Friday show. Does it concern you at all that the Ravens are perhaps peaking too early? I think it's a fair question. We all know how sports works. There's a certain "movement" to the season, if you will. Some teams start slow, pick up steam, get a big win in late November, lose another one or two, but are playing their best football right around Christmas. They might be 11-5 or 10-6 at season's end, but they're no less dangerous at that point than a team who is, say 12-4 or 13-3. See the 2012 Ravens team as a perfect example of this.

I'm a believer that you might not want to go into the playoffs with a massive winning streak. It might be beneficial to lose a game or two in November and December for "balance" purposes. So...would you rather see the Ravens run the table, finish 14-2, and get home field throughout the playoffs? Or would you rather see them lose a couple of games along the way, finish 12-4, but still get home field? Important: No matter which way you vote, the Ravens still get home field throughout the playoffs. This is just to see if you'd rather them run the table or lose a game or two along the way. You can cast your vote below. But please, remember, don't vote for the X's. The poll question software we use demands that we include five answers, hence the 3 x's you see.

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