Saturday
July 20, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3620


today should be......fun?


If the weather that's predicted to reach Scotland on Saturday does, in fact, find its way there, the British Open is going to look like...well...the British Open.

Rain, gusts of wind near 30 MPH, and a day of golfing-survival are in the offing for those fortunate to make the 36-hole cut and play on Royal Troon this weekend.

Sunday is calling for no rain, but winds in the 20's and 30's, still. In other words, a "proper Scottish day" as they say over there.

Today, though, might be an afternoon for the ages. There's no telling what a good score might be today: 72? 74? Who knows what havoc the weather will create in the third round.

The 36 hole leader at the British Open is very familiar with the nasty weather that's threatening to make its way to Scotland for today's 3rd round of the championship.

Then again, the weather could make an abrupt shift over there as it often does and scoring could be easier, which would open up a number of possibilities.

Shane Lowry, an Irishman who won the Open Championship at Royal Portrush five years ago, is atop the leaderboard at 7 under par through 36 holes. Two other guys who know a thing or two about wind and rain are at 5-under par and two shots back; Justin Rose and Daniel Brown, both of England.

Scottie Scheffler is right there in the mix at 2-under with identical rounds of 70-70 to start the year's final major.

TV analyst Paul McGinley summed up Scheffler perfectly on Friday evening as the winds started to perk up at Troon: "He's just like a thoroughbred racehorse. He paces himself. He knows the only thing that matters is who crosses the finish line first. He'll pick away at the course here and there, make birdies when he can, and do his best to not make any big numbers. He's still the guy to beat in this championship."

Scheffler has another American with him at 2-under, Billy Horschel. Those two share joint 4th place with South African Dean Burmester.

Other Americans hanging around include Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay (both at -1), along with Dustin Johnson and Colin Morikawa (+1).

Given the expected weather over the weekend, it's realistic to give anyone who made the cut (6 over par) a chance to win the Claret Jug. Sure, Max Homa (who made a 40-foot putt on #18 on Friday to make the cut on the number) probably has less of a chance than, say, than the guys at +2 like Tom Hoge, Gary Woodland and a #DMD pick, Matthieu Pavon.

But anyone who made the cut is still alive, particularly if those near the back of the leaderboard can somehow piece together an (unexpected) round in the 60's on Saturday.

The list of those who missed the cut at Troon is far more impressive than the list of guys who are actually playing all four rounds.

Will Zalatoris, Bryson DeChambeau, Tommy Fleetwood, Ludvig Aberg, Viktor Hovland, Tony Finau, Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods are all heading home after 36 holes.

McIlroy was listless on Thursday and Friday, shooting 78 and 75 to earn his early trip home.

Finau was in great shape after an opening round 71, then blew up with an 81 on Friday. For all the hype surrounding Finau, he's starting to cement his reputation as a guy who can't get it done under the pressure of major championship golf.

Tiger's play on Friday (77) was a smidgen better than Thursday, but only because he was able to hole a few more putts. Off the tee he was wildly ineffective. Woods played in all four majors this year and missed the cut in the last three of them. He did make the cut and play all four days at Augusta back in April, but that didn't do anything for the rest of his golf in 2024.

There were two surprising departures on Friday, but not because of their golf, per se.

John Daly and Ernie Els -- both of whom won the Claret Jug in their careers -- shot 82 on Thursday and promptly withdrew from this year's event prior to starting round two on Friday.

That Daly quit isn't a surprise. That Els would quit is a bit of shock to the system, though. Not cool.

Let's get back to the good players who didn't quit.

Lowry is known as a solid front runner. Whether he can hold on for two more days remains to be seen, but this year's Open is looking a little like last year's, when Brian Harman led by 5 shots after both day and day three and waltzed to a remarkably easy 5-shot victory for his first major title.

If Lowry can shoot something around par again today, you'd think he'd a 54 hole lead heading into Sunday's final round.

But there's a lot of golf to play and some nasty weather on the horizon. Anything is still possible.

A trio of LIV golfers (Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm and Brooks Koepka) are situated nicely at 1-over par. All three of those guys have major championships. None, though, have won the British Open. A win for any of those three would give them the "3 quarters grand slam".

Johnson would only have to win the PGA to capture all four majors.

Rahm, too, would only have to capture the PGA.

And Koepka would need to win at the Masters to win all four of golf's majors.

Any of those three could win this weekend and it wouldn't be a shock at all.

Let the weather roll in and let's see who survives.


The Orioles got off to a nice second half start last night with a 9-1 thrashing of the Rangers in Arlington, Texas.

Anthony Santander hit two homers for O's and Adley Rutschman and Colton Cowser both homered as well. Gunnar Henderson didn't homer but he did have four hits, much to the chagrin of any of us (err, I mean, "you") who had a 3-way homer wager of Henderson, Rutschman and Santander.

Thanks for nuthin', Gunnar.

Corbin Burnes picked up the win and, other than walking four batters, was his usual sharp self. That dude is a terrific pitcher. Let's just hope it's a National League team that lands him this off-season and not the Yankees or Red Sox.

Oh, and speaking of "landing somewhere", it's going to be interesting to see what kind of free agent deal Anthony Santander can cook up this winter. The All Star right fielder now has 26 homers and 63 RBI on the season, heading briskly in the direction of a 40 homer campaign that should make him very, very wealthy in 2025 and beyond.

The most-discussed O's deal this past week was the pursuit of Tigers pitcher Tarik Skubal, who will fetch Detroit a mighty sum if industry experts who predict these things are accurate about what Skubal might be worth to a contending team.

That the O's are likely going to lose Corbin Burnes could make the Skubal deal even that much more attractive to Mike Elias. Skubal would join Grayson Rodriguez at the top of the O's rotation next season and give them one of the best best 1-2 combos in all of baseball.

But what would it take to get him? Jackson Holliday? Would he have to be in the deal?

What about some combination of Cowser, Westburg, Mayo, Norby, Stowers, Povich, McDermott?

Wait, here's one: Detroit gets Urias, Mullins, Mateo and Dillon Tate. The O's get Tarik Skubal.

I'm kidding.

Well, not about getting Skubal. I think that's something the Birds should pursue. Urias, Mullins, Mateo and Tate might not even get you Nathan Eovaldi from Texas, the starter the O's clobbered last night in Arlington.

The oddest dilemma about a deal that would involve Jackson Holliday is that you'd potentially be shipping off a player who is totally unproven at the Major League level (Holliday) for a proven, sturdy, and very promising starting pitcher (Skubal).

But, Jackson Holliday might be Gunnar Henderson in 18 months. Who knows?

This is why Mike Elias makes the big bucks. He has to play the game with the Tigers (and all other teams) and figure out what his best course of action is with Skubal, who most certainly would enhance the chances that Baltimore sometime very soon finally gets to watch a World Series in person for the first time since 1983.

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#dmd comments








jk     July 21
CIK living rent free in a lot of DMD heads lol.

And no way BH was +15000.

RC     July 20
Elias needs to get this team one more quality starter and they're not losing to anyone in October. It looks like Crochet is headed to Atlanta. But even if we get Fedde, Skubal or Eflin, that could be enough to get us over the top in October.

JK     July 20
*Chefs Kiss* whenever I see CIK get his feathers ruffled.



Who has the thin skin now boss?

Brett B.     July 20
If the Eflin for Norby and Stowers rumor is true, I'll buy everyone a drink at the Yard the first night Eflin starts for the O's. Make it happen!

Richie in NY     July 20
You guys don't want Skubal? Enjoy getting swept again in the first round. No wonder the team down there never wins anything. Fans don't want good players.

Billy     July 20
Didn't think CIK was the type to have thin skin.

O's looking good in the two games after the break. DMD brings up interesting point about Tony. Might be on the verge of a

$100M deal over 4 years.

CIK     July 20
@ BTG

Els has apparently backed out of next week’s “Senior” Open…so yeah, I think his back is a problem. Maybe his back was feeling fine last week and he hurt it this week? Incomprehensible? Clown Shoes?

Dan     July 20
Odd to call Skubal "sturdy", since he's had two TJ surgeries already at the age of 27.


Blue Tee Golfer     July 20
Els hurt his back huh? Els back wasn't bothering him last week when he won on the senior tour. Some of you are so gullible.

CIK     July 20
Ernie Els hurts his back to WD…and gets called a quitter? Was he supposed to play through the injury? Clown shoes if ya ask me.

Rc     July 20
I put $20 on Billy Ho at +15000. I hope Drew is right!

Dr     July 20
LMAO, @DF handed out Horschel free of charge.

peter     July 20
Skubal is proven and sturdy? Based on his career high of 149.5 innings pitched....once? Back in 2021 and he had an ERA of 4.34 that year. Or his whopping 80 ip in 2023?

Just because media acts like he is Tom Glavine in his prime does not make it so. If anything, knowing how much the local FM radio clowns love Skubal, I'd steer clear. Skubal is promising, but definitely comes with a pretty big risk.

You want proven and sturdy, keep the prospects and pay Burnes. It seems new owner would allow it, the question is, does Elias want to do that? Players seem to be waking up to not always doing what Boras tells them to do, so who knows. Definitely won't get a "discount" but perhaps they can cut a deal before others start throwing offers at him. The real issue is would paying Burnes cost you say Westburg or someone else? I believe they will increase payroll, but paying "everyone" is not a sound way to run a business.

Unitastoberry     July 20
When Lamar shakes his January blues and takes over games or comes from behind to win Lombardis as in plural year in and year out then we can talk with words like legend and greatness.



And yes I feel the same way about former players at QB with MVPs and no ring such as Tarkenton.Marino,Jones,Newton,Matt Ryan,Fouts,etc. Very good ball players but not legends. I love football but that legend word is for guys like Brady,Montana,Mahomes,Bart Starr,Otto Graham,Bradshaw, and our own legend John Constantine Unitas.

Paul from Towson     July 19
@Jon You’re right and I didn’t take into consideration all the things Brady did in order to play 23 seasons in the NFL. On field performance notwithstanding, I was basing my opinion on the natural abilities each of them possess and while Lamar may be more gifted physically, taking into account Brady’s overall body of work, preparation, diet, etc. makes him the better overall athlete.

Jon     July 19
Here are some things that Brady did not do that Lamar has- pick 6 in playoffs, lose at home in AFC Championship, have a losing record in playoffs….and last till hes 46- so yes Lamar is a great athlete but time will tell if it trnslate to playoff success. Id argue Bradys preparation , diet and dedication to his craft do in fact make him the better athlete- natural talent is not enough. For what its worth- i woke up at 7 and will turn in by 10 for an early tee time tomm….

Paul from Towson     July 19
Good to see the folks at ESPN got one right for a change. Michael Phelps as the #1 athlete of the past 25 years is spot on. Serena as #2 is a joke, but it did exactly what ESPN wanted and created the buzz of discontent. Even Serena herself has said she's nowhere near the same league as men tennis players, let alone male athletes. But, alas, it's all over except for the discord at this point.



My contention is the lack of respect hockey players get for how athletic they are. Alex Ovechkin is the greatest hockey player of this generation, especially a young Ovie who would throw his body around and actually play defense. He should've been higher on the list in my humble opinion. And I don't consider Tom Brady a top 10 athlete. Quarterback, absolutely, #1 of the past 25 years going away. But athlete??? Nah. Put him around 15-16. As an "athlete" I put Lamar ahead of Brady. Lamar does things that Brady never could do, even in his prime, and with a stronger arm. Not more accurate, but stronger.



Drew, congrats to you and Ethan, brother!!!

carl@softwaresolutionsplus.tech     July 19
It's all good Tim D..............Have a great weekend !!

TimD in Timonium     July 19
Hey, Carl, just kidding with ya. We all have likes and dislikes. But if I'm awake at 3am, I'm trying to go back to sleep, not watch golf. But 6am? I usually awake any way. Cheers.

carl     July 19
Hi Tim D ...Maybe you can wake Drew up tomorrow ..I do enjoy Drew's articles!!

RC     July 19
Looks like Matt P might be in trouble this week eh?

Jason M     July 19
Congrats to DF and Ethan! Not a golfer but feel like I've known Ethan his whole life having listened to and read @DF daily for so long. Good job guys!

Chris P.     July 19
Hey Drew, congratulations to you and Ethan on your win yesterday!!

Steve of Pimlico     July 19
Greatest swimmer of all time was Johnny Weissmuller who constantly had to outswim crocodiles.

Delray RICK     July 19
JACK a lot better than MESSIAH, look it up. There's a player who should quit and join the old-timers in 2 years.

Billy     July 19
Why the hate for Carl?

Pat C.     July 18
DF called it. Serena wasn't #1 but she was #2 and social media is blowing up. Serena better than Lebron or Brady? NO CHANCE!



Forget about Tiger, he's almost 50. What has happened to Rory?????



And that Carl Tipton guy seems like a nice fella huh?

ED     July 18
Congrats Drew and Ethan!!

Pratt     July 18
Congrats to Drew and his son on winning the State Father Child tournament today. Might not be the US Senior Open but I bet it's pretty dang special to win a tourney with your son.

Bo     July 18
Nothing new with Tiger barely breaking 80. I can't believe anyone still believes he is competitive but I recall millions wagered on Ali before he got pummeled by Larry Holmes.

Bryan     July 18
Jack was better than tiger, and Jordan was way better than LeBron.

MFC     July 18
You can’t be a part time ceremonial golfer and expect to compete. It wasn’t lenght that’s for sure as this course has many holes under 400 yards. And he’s hitting it out there with them anyway. I think I counted 3 three-putts. Chips were like a 12 handicapper and couldn’t get any iron close all day. The heart is there but I don’t think he can practice the same way and he sure as heck isn’t playing much. It’s the golf world’s loss. I want him to be competitive, it doesn’t look like he can. This course was going to be the easier given lack of hills, so much for that. But hey Rory threw in a clinker as well. Plenty of time for them to get reacquainted this weekend at the pubs as they watch on tv.

Chuck Z     July 18
Eldrick is gonna have the weekend free in Troon. Hostesses at the local casual restaurants better have their A game ready. One of them could be the next future ex.

TimD in Timonium     July 18
@Carl, well, since you visited this page, read the content, and then commented -



apparently, YOU do.

phil m     July 18
Looks like Colin Montgomerie was correct, time for Tiger to call to a day at The Open.

Carl tipton     July 18
Who cares about the list and what time you got up ??

peter     July 18
ESPN gets money whenever random anonymous people post comments on DMD web site? Maybe those clowns are smarter than I think they are. "Peter"

such     July 18
For reasons unknown, I listened to approximately 2 minutes of the afternoon show on the local sports yak station yesterday. These guys were actually advocating for trading Holliday for Skubal and I was all "Whaaaaaa????"

Thank the gods for podcasts and Apple Music and Spotify. And that they're not in the Orioles front office. Wow.

Chris K     July 18
ESPN made this list because nothing is going on right now and also to get people worked up and therefore get more clicks. They are winning in this game of all of your complaints. That’s exactly what they wanted 😂. Continue getting mad about stupid stuff while espn laughs all the way to the bank.

Chris in Bel Air     July 18
Phelps. 5 olympics, won medals in 4 of them. Most medals all-time. Most gold medals all-time. Most individual medals all-time.

Hoping the AS break was the medicine for the O's funk. Less than 2 weeks to go until trade deadline and ready to see what moves Elias has. Doubt it happens for either but I like Skubal over Crochet.

Delray Rick     July 18
Right on HERMAN!!

TimD in Timonium     July 18
Sidney Crosby at #22, and Ovi at #54. Come on, man. Do all the ESPN writers live in Pittsburgh?



And watching early morning golf is FUN. Maybe not 2am fun, but good nonetheless.

HERMAN     July 18
Jesus, what a slow couple days here. Who cares about a top-100 list? It was written by some loser intern at ESPN and people get upset. Talk about a bunch of snowflakes.

Art     July 18
Serena is going to be #1 and everybody's head is going to explode.

Dan     July 18
Up early watching golf too and I have to ask Alex and Kevin something. What is it with the "" around people's name? I don't read or comment every day so maybe I'm missing something but why "Tom" but then it isn't "Kevin" or "CIK"? I'm confused, but my wife says that happens all the time when she sends me to the grocery store. Thanks, "Dan".

Anand     July 18
Matt P is either losing now, or if not, will be losing soon. NOBODY beats the house and its rake in the long haul. It's just too high. This is why the gambling companies have paid unprecedented millions to legislators to enact laws allowing online gambling and untold more millions to celebrities to lead the suckers into signing up for betting accounts. -- Put your money into 401ks -- you are not smarter than algorithms that know how you think, and what you will do, more clearly than you do yourself.

alex     July 17
Really "Tom"?? That's your takeaway from what Kevin and CIK posted? SMDH.

Tom     July 17
I don't bet and I don't have a dog in the race but it sure seems like Kevin and CIK should be less jealous of a guy who won (whatever he won).

kevin     July 17
Why are "Jerry" and "Bo" chiming in on me complimenting Matt P? Some of you people are weird. My interpretation of what Matt P is exactly what CIK said. Matt bet 4k and got paid 10K, ergo, he is ahead 6K.

My thinking is Matt P is the only person who can say hey Kevin, you are wrong, I bet 4K, got paid 14K and am "ahead" 10K. If Matt P says that's the case, I'd apologize for my misunderstanding.

My POINT remains the same, he risked 4K on a stranger's free advice, and my take is that was pretty ballsy of him and I congratulated him (ie a "compliment" not needing anyone to rush to his defense). Whether he netted 6K or 10K is not germane to that point.

Likewise, this "Larry" guy is confused as well. I was trashing ESPN for their subjective poll which is for attention only and serves no purpose. I commented that DMD took their bait is all. Never said DMD is not allowed to have an opinion, I come here daily to read DMD's opinions!






Paul from Towson     July 17
RIP, Jerry Walker.



When I was a kid, I remember how fondly my dad spoke about the O’s Kiddie Korp from the early 60’s. To this day, he reminds me how Paul Richards essentially built the Orioles into contention and never gets the credit he deserves for his part in creating “The Oriole Way.”

Friday
July 19, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3619


friday stuff


OK, so Michael Phelps is the #1 athlete of the last 25 years and Tiger Woods shot 79 in round one of the British Open yesterday and isn't going to make the cut at Troon.

Neither of those can be surprising.

Phelps is the most decorated Olympic athlete of our lifetime with 28 total medals and 23 gold medals in his incredible career. When ESPN.com started circulating the Top 100 list earlier this week, everyone assumed Phelps would be a contender for the top spot and a slam dunk Top 5 finisher at the very least.

He wound up #1 when the list was finalized and published on Thursday.

Giving in to pressure they've somehow managed to help create, ESPN.com went with Serena Williams at #2 rather than at #6 or #7 where she rightfully belongs.

Lionel Messi came in at #3, another attempt by ESPN.com to show how "worldly" they are, even though LeBron (#4) and Tom Brady (#5) are far more accomplished.

Rounding out the Top 10 were Federer (#6), Simone Biles (#7), Tiger Woods (#8), Usain Bolt (#9) and Kobe Bryant (#10).

The Top 5 were fine, even though Serena was misplaced.

The "next 5" were incredibly out of whack. But that's probably what ESPN.com wanted in the first place. All by design, in other words.

"What should we do with Simone Biles?" Bill asked.

"I don't know, we have enough basketball players in the Top 25, don't we?" replied Dave.

"Uh, she's a gymnast," said Bill.

"My bad," Dave countered. "I remember her now. She's the one that quit gymnastics a few years ago."

"Let's put her at #7, ahead of people like Tiger, Kobe and Novak Djokovic. That will really get the readers going," Bill reasoned.

"That's why we're doing this in the first place, right? I love it. Put Biles at #7 then," Dave stated.

You can debate Phelps, Brady and LeBron and put them in any order and I'd probably not argue with you. I see the merits of all three.

Coming up next week at ESPN.com: The Top 100 who didn't make The Top 100 list.

Don't worry, we already know Lamar Jackson is #1 on that list.


As for Tiger and his play at Troon yesterday (and today, he's halfway through his 2nd round as #DMD publishes), I can't imagine there's anyone at all who was (is) surprised by it, Woods included.

"I just need to play tournaments," Tiger said yesterday after his 8-over-par 79.

"In some ways I've made a lot of progress this year, even though my results don't show it. But I need to play more events next year so I'm sharper in the majors."

That issue -- as I've written here time and time again over the last four years -- is the primary reason why Woods is no longer competitive in professional golf.

He's no longer a great putter, either. That's the other reason. But more on that in a minute.

Tiger has been trying to catch lightning in a bottle ever since the car accident in 2021 that nearly took his life. He's no longer physically able to play a busy schedule, instead opting to "ramp up" his game in advance of the Masters, PGA, U.S. Open and British Open tournaments.

That formula simply doesn't work. It wouldn't work for Scheffler, Rory, Schauffele, Cantlay or anyone else in their 20's or 30's. It's certainly not going to work for a 48-year old guy with one leg who has had 10 surgeries in the last 10 years.

Tiger isn't completely wrong with his assessment of his 2024 play. His "data" from tee-to-green isn't terrible. He's not Tiger of 2000, 2005 or 2010, but Father Time is undefeated. You're also getting older, too. We all are. A downturn in performance was always going to happen.

The prevailing thought with Tiger always was his "B game" -- at age 45, let's say -- would still be good enough to beat the "kids" coming out on the PGA Tour. And that might have been true, too. But we haven't seen his "B game" since the car accident. He's barely played to a Korn Ferry Tour level.

All that said, Tiger's biggest problem on the course is the other thing I've been talking about and writing about for well over five years now. Even before the 2021 car accident.

He's no longer a great putter.

And if you're a believer in the data, it would tell you he's barely a "good" putter any longer. He's become, much to his horror, I'm sure, an "average TOUR putter".

There were two undeniable things about Tiger during his career zenith and they were the reasons why he joined Sam Snead as the sport's all-time winningest player with 82 wins.

He chewed up the par 5 holes in every tournament he played.

He made more putts inside of 10 feet than anyone else. Ever.

Both of those attributes no longer exist.

In the first two rounds alone, he missed numerous six foot putts. He was never going to win, of course, but a 79 is really a 75 if you make four of those shorties. And even though he's playing a hair better in his second round on Friday, he's still missing too many putts to have any kind of chance to post a reasonable score.

Just now, I watched him stripe it down the fairway on a hole on the back nine and leave himself 120 yards to the hole.

"Old" Tiger hits the approach shot from 120 yards to 12 feet and rolls that in for birdie, waving to the crowd and forcing the TV commentators to say, "My, my, that man sure does know how to attack a golf course, doesn't he?"

Today's Tiger hit a shot that found the left corner of the green. He then putted from 35 feet and rolled the birdie effort past the hole by five or six feet. And then he missed the par putt and walked away with a bogey.

I would never say Tiger is done. I watched Phil Mickelson win the PGA Championship at age 50. Now, sure, Phil's in much better shape than Woods will be when he turns 50 in December of 2025. But these guys aren't running marathons. They're playing golf.

So, while I won't go as far as saying Tiger is "done", I'll just keep saying what I've been saying for the last few years.

He can't compete and he can't win if he doesn't play tournament golf.

This four-times-a-year thing where he tries to magically pull a rabbit out of his hat at the major championships is a failure-waiting-to-happen.

And if I know that, Tiger certainly knows it as well.

He even said as much yesterday.


As for the tournament itself, Royal Troon is the early winner two days into the season's final major championship.

The golf course is phenomenal.

There are hard holes, easy holes, long holes and short holes. And funny enough, the shortest hole (#8, par 3, 110 yards or so) is one of the hardest holes.

There's a lot of golf left to be played on Friday but the guess here is that someone will lead at day's end with a score of 7 under. Bad weather is rolling in for Saturday and it promises to be, as they like to say over there, a "proper Open Championship day". The weather will be better on Sunday for the final round.

Someone named Daniel Brown finished the first round as the leader at 6-under par. Never heard of him? Don't worry, neither has anyone else. And, no, he's not going to be Ben Curtis or Todd Hamilton, two other guys you never heard of until they won the British Open out of nowhere a long time ago.

There aren't any other storylines percolating just yet. Billy Horschel (a #DMD pick) is the very early clubhouse leader through 36 holes at 2-under par. He finished playing at 7:30 am EST on Friday.

Shane Lowry sits around 7 under par and on top of the leaderboard midway through the second round but he just hit his 2nd shot at #11 into an area of the course where you could play until Christmas and never be able to hit your ball from there.

Something tells me Lowry will hang around until Sunday when he'll fire and fall back.

Scottie Scheffler is hanging around, as is Patrick Cantlay. Justin Thomas was very solid on Thursday but plays late on Friday, when the weather is apparently going to start moving in.

There's a lot of golf left. The leaderboard after round two will tell us more, since the cut falls after 36 holes. Anyone not making the cut heads home, anyone who gets to play the weekend still has a chance.

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faith in sports


This week's MLB All-Star Game featured a number of players who openly share their faith when given the opportunity.

One of those players was Yankees star Aaron Judge.

We love to spotlight athletes who are willing to take the microphone and glorify God and his son, Jesus Christ. We're not overly thrilled about spotlighting a Yankee in these parts. But we're OK with making an exception this time around.

Watch what Judge and other MLB stars had to say in the video below.

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


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Thursday
July 18, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3618


and #1 is......


Unlike yesterday morning, when I had the opportunity to wait until just after 8 AM to see ESPN.com's list of the top 26-50 athletes of the last 25 years, I don't have time to hang around this morning and wait for them to unveil their final 25.

It's probably better that way, honestly.

It's 5:50 AM as I write this. I've been up since 2:00 AM watching the British Open. Below you're going to see my top 5. If this Thursday morning was of the "normal" variety, I'd wait to see who they release as their top 5 and then I'd spend 45 minutes tearing into ESPN.com.

This way, I can tear into them tomorrow.

My top 5 are below.

Where will soccer superstar Lionel Messi wind up on ESPN's Top 100 Athletes of the last 25 years?

You won't agree with them, which is part of the fun, actually.

I don't agree with about 80% of the list I've seen from ESPN.com thus far. Far, far too many women's basketball players, for starters. And simply way too many soccer players in general.

As I've alluded to this week, several of the misplaced athletes led me to know, right away, the ESPN.com list was a comical attempt at appeasing everyone.

There's beyond zero chance that a list of the top 100 athletes of the last 25 years can have the best hockey player (Ovechkin), best baseball hitter (Ichiro) and best baseball athlete (Ohtani) outside of the top 25. Alas, they did. But, hey, Tamika Catchings came in at #37, so ESPN.com has that going for them......which is nice.

Anyway, here's the way I see it.

There are pretty much five non-negotiable athletes that have to be in ESPN.com's top 10 somewhere; LeBron James, Tom Brady, Patrick Mahomes, Michael Phelps and Novak Djokovic.

Swimmer Katie Ledecky will be in the top 25. Maybe as high as #15 or so.

Seeing those listed so far and realizing that Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer aren't yet listed in the 100-26 range (Andy Murray is the highest ranked tennis player so far at #80) tells me that FOUR tennis players (adding in Djokovic) will be in the top 25. That's a lot of tennis players.

Tiger Woods is going to be in the top 25 as well. He'll be the only golfer, I'm guessing, since Phil Mickelson has already been listed.

Lamar Jackson has to be in the Top 25, right? I realize he hasn't even played one decade, let alone two, but he's one of the best athletes in all of sports right now. Right?

Steph Curry is in there somewhere as well, probably around #20.

Lionel Messi will most certainly be in the top 10. I assume another soccer player, Cristiano Ronaldo, will also be in the top 25.

That's 14 people right there.

I'm missing 11.

Is it a boxer? MMA/UFC fighter? Would they put someone like professional wrestler John Cena in there? I doubt it. But they have a female soccer player named Marta ahead of Ray Lewis, Derek Jeter and Shohei Ohtani, so if that's possible, it's very possible to have John Cena at, say, #24.

Also, don't discount ESPN.com doing something goofy like listing hot dog eating champion Joey Chestnut at #23. 75 hot dogs, man. No one else in the world can do that in 10 minutes execpt for Joey.

I'm sure there's a no-brainer I'm simply forgetting. It's 4:04 am and I'm watching golf and working on my 3rd cup of coffee. Take it easy on me.

Anyway...

The moment you've been waiting for has arrived.

My personal top 5:

5. Messi

4. Tiger

3. Brady

2. Phelps

1. LeBron

You can mix those five up any way you want and roll them out and whatever order they end up would be fine. Messi is the best soccer player ever. Yes, better than Pele.

Tiger's the best golfer ever. Yes, better than Jack.

Brady's the best QB ever. Yes, better than Montana, Unitas and anyone else.

Phelps is the best swimmer, period.

And while I'm not sure LeBron is the best basketball player ever (he has a lot of competition for that honor), there's no doubt he's the best of the last 25 years.

And my personal methodology when putting something like this together is I always ask myself, "Could that guy play some other sport?"

I think LeBron could have been a NFL player. Or a baseball player. He's Deion Sanders x 3.

My point, though, is I think those are the best 5 and you can put them in order you want and I'd be OK with it.

I think Djokovic deserves Top 5 consideration as well.

So, too, does Serena Williams.

Patrick Mahomes doesn't deserve top 5 right now, but he's as athletic as anyone who has played that position...and...he's a winner.

I'll wait anxiously to see the 1-25 list that ESPN.com publishes on Thursday. And I'll be here on Friday to tell you how nuts they were for putting LeBron at #7 or Tiger at #15 or Katie Ledecky at #6.

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"Randy On The O's"


Randy Morgan takes #DMD readers through the recent week in Orioles baseball as the Birds try to win a second straight A.L. East title.


o's midseason review


Since we’ve reached the All-Star break, today we’ll review the Orioles first “half” of the season in lieu of our usual question of the week.

Despite the disappointing week leading into the All-Star break, the Orioles first “half” was still massively successful.

With the wild win over New York last Sunday, the team finished atop the AL East, one game ahead of the Yankees. They also finished tied for the most wins in the American League, only trailing the Phillies in the entire league, with the third best win percentage in all of MLB.

The Orioles were also one of the best teams against tough competition, with the second most wins against teams over .500.

Even after the poor final week, the team is on pace for about 97 to 98 wins. Fangraphs has them as a near lock for the playoffs, with a 96% chance of at least getting a Wild Card. The site gives them just a 43.4% chance of winning the division, slightly favoring the Yankees despite their recent tailspin.

Although you couldn’t tell from watching last week, the Orioles offense was among the very best in the league in the first half of the ‘24 campaign.

Led by the team's midseason MVP, Gunnar Henderson, the Orioles own a 1-game lead over the Yankees as the second half of the campaign starts tomorrow in Texas.

The O’s finished first in MLB in Baseball Reference’s OPS+, which adjusts for park effects. They were second in Fangraphs’ similar wRC+ statistic. They had the top hard hit percentage in the league and were second in average exit velocity, with a near league average batting average on balls in play, suggesting the success is no mirage or matter of luck.

If you wanted to nitpick the offense, they have struggled a bit in clutch situations, where they were top of the league last season.

The O’s are 18th in Fangraphs’ “Clutch” hitting stat and just 19th in the league in batting average with runners in scoring position. They have been one of the worst teams in the league at scoring runners from third base with less than two outs as well.

The Birds have also been less patient at the plate than in past seasons, placing a league average 14th in on-base percentage and 22nd in BB/K ratio. Though this has been more than made up for by a league leading slugging percentage and home run total.

On the other hand, the Orioles pitching has not been nearly as elite. While they rank a solid 6th in ERA, they are around league average (15th) in ERA+, which adjusts for park effects. The O’s are 10th in runs allowed per game and 10th in K/BB ratio.

They are 7th in Fielding Independent Pitching, which suggests they aren’t over-reliant on defense or luck. The pitchers have been roughly league average in both exit velocity and hard hit percentage allowed.

The starters have been better than the bullpen thus far, with starter ERA ranking 5th in the league, led by Corbin Burnes who is in line to start the All-Star game. Meanwhile, the bullpen ERA is 14th in the league, leaving ample room for improvement.

As we look ahead to the second “half” of the season and the upcoming trade deadline, the Orioles' needs are clear; they have to improve their pitching.

While it initially looked like Albert Suarez, Cade Povich and Cole Irvin may be able to exceed expectations and secure the back half of the rotation, it has now been made clear that none are a suitable replacement for the missing Kyle Bradish and John Means.

The front office will not sit on their hands. There are surely moves to be made in the coming weeks. The team will likely add at least one starter and one reliever before the deadline.

Hopefully they can be much more impactful than Jack Flaherty and Shintaro Fujinami were last season. With a deep and talented farm system, the O’s should be able to secure a few valuable pieces to boost their chances down the stretch this season.


Orioles Midseason MVP: Gunnar Henderson

While the Player of the Week award has often been difficult to hand out with so many strong contributors among the mostly winning weeks, the midseason MVP is a no-brainer in Birdland.

Gunnar Henderson has not only been the Orioles MVP, but the second-year star is in a head to head battle with Aaron Judge as frontrunners for the AL MVP.

Henderson entered the All-Star break 2nd in WAR at both Fangraphs and Baseball Reference, slightly behind Judge in both cases.

While Judge has been better at the plate, Gunnar has also provided top notch defense at the most important position on the field. Gunnar hasn’t been shabby with the bat either, finishing the weekend with a .286/.373/.584 slash line, good for a 174 OPS+ (74% better than average). He has smashed 28 home runs and leads MLB in runs scored with 78.

It has been a long time since we’ve had a baseball player like Gunnar in Baltimore. He has been a joy to watch day in and day out and we are certainly lucky to have perennial MVP candidates leading both teams in town.

In addition to Gunnar, Corbin Burnes certainly deserves an honorable mention for this award. The ace acquired from Milwaukee in the offseason has been everything the Orioles could have expected.

Burnes finished the half with a 2.43 ERA, good for second best in the American League and he sits at 5th in MLB with a 154 ERA+, which is adjusted for ballparks.

Burnes has been the picture of consistency, cranking out quality start after quality start and putting the O’s in position to win nearly every game he starts. The O’s will have no worries about sending Burnes out to start game one of any playoff series. The only drama with Burnes will be whether the new owner opens up the pocket book to keep him around beyond this season.

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Wednesday
July 17, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3617


and the winner is...


If today's edition of #DMD is focusing on a "winner", I can tell you for sure who it isn't a winner: The person that designed those All-Star Game uniforms.

And the person within Major League Baseball who looked at those and gave his/her approval? Not a winner as well.

Those uniforms were awful.

That's pretty much all the commentary I have on the game. I watched a total of about 20 pitches. It's just not my thing.

I've written here on numerous occasions about how treasured the All-Star Game was in my younger days. It was one of the best sports nights of the year.

Alas, there's a saying: All good things must come to an end. And that's what happened to the All-Star Game. It used to be good. It no longer is.

The American League won, 5-3, by the way. Good for them.


We started our review and discussion of ESPN.com's Top 100 Athletes here yesterday, and the first two curveballs were in the 51-75 category that was released on Tuesday morning.

Alex Ovechkin at #54 and Shohei Ohtani at #62.

We'll get to Ray Lewis and J.J. Watt in a minute, don't worry.

Alex Ovechkin at #54 on ESPN's Top 100 Athletes list was a complete swing-and-miss.

I'm not confused about Ovechkin at #54 because he's a Capital and they're my favorite team, ever.

And it will really stand out as an awful spot for Ovi once we see today's list of those from 50-26. There will be at least a dozen head-scratchers on that list above him, I'm guessing.

I'm confused because he is, without argument, either the first or second best hockey player in the world over the last 25 years. He has been the NHL's version of Lionel Messi, who is likely going to fall somewhere in the Top 35, I'm figuring.

Unless something dramatically wacky happens, he will become the NHL's all-time leading scorer sometime in October or November of 2025.

Now, perhaps that blunder is just ESPN.com's way of gently telling us they don't follow and/or value hockey all that much. If so, no worries there. I don't follow the WNBA all that much, so I'm out of touch on that league just like ESPN is apparently out of touch with what Ovechkin has done over the last two decades.

I will have to see the rest of the list to figure out where I think Ovechkin should be, but he's a clearly a Top 20 athlete at the very least.

As for Ohtani...

I have no idea what to make of his insertion at #62 on the list but I can only assume it's a "service" issue with him and nothing else. He hasn't even been around for 10 years, which probably made it hard for them to put him in the Top 10 where he clearly belongs.

If, in fact, we're talking about athleticism ONLY and we're putting more stock in what they can do over what their statistical accomplishments are (were), Ohtani is perhaps the best athlete we've seen over the last 25 years.

He could be #1.

He can throw a baseball 100 MPH and hit a 450 foot home run, on the same night, like he did in Baltimore back in May of 2023.

I'm not sure when he'll have the opportunity to pitch again, but there could very well come a day when Ohtani throws a no hitter on the same night he also hits the game-winning home run in the bottom of the 8th inning. He's Babe Ruth in modern times. Having Ohtani at #62 was beyond bizarre.

As for the J.J. Watt (#58) and Ray Lewis (#61) debate, it's not about where they both fall on the list. Football experts might say -- and be right -- that Watt was more stellar at his position than was Lewis at his. Maybe. I don't really care. We're talking three spots, anyway.

But for those two football stalwarts to fall behind Alexia Putellas at #56 is, right now, ESPN.com's #clownshoes moment of the list thus far.

If you think Steve Nash was better at basketball than Ray Lewis was at football, have at it.

But to suggest, in any way, that Alexia Putellas should rank ahead of Watt, Lewis and the greatest relief pitcher in baseball history, Mariano Rivera, is the ultimate attempt at pandering to the masses.

"Don't forget, we have Luka Modric, a male soccer player at #55. Get Putellas, the Spanish female soccer player, in there somewhere close to him."

Worst of all, they put former U.S. soccer star Mia Hamm at #64.

Anyway, the 75-51 list was a disaster. It leads me to worry that 50-26 (today) will be one as well.

To borrow a great line from a great movie: I expected more from a varsity letterman.

Editor's note: The 26-50 portion of the list was just released at 8:00 am as this was being published. Ichiro Suzuki is at #37. The list is officially in the toilet now.


Three quick programming notes for your personal calendar. My weekly golf radio show on 105.7 will air this Sunday from 2-4 pm instead of its usual 4-6 pm time slot. This gives us the opportunity for immediate live reaction to the final round of the British Open, which should conclude at 1:30 pm or so.

Tomorrow here at #DMD we'll be featuring Randy Morgan's first half review of the O's and a look back at how they're doing and what to expect over the season's final two and a half months.

And don't forget, tomorrow night (Thursday) at 5:30 pm, we're holding our monthly free FCA junior golf clinic at Pine Ridge. Juniors ages 6-18 are welcome to attend. Parents can certainly hang around and observe as well. Bring a water bottle for hydration fill-ups and a set of golf clubs. We'll do the rest.

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#dmd's british open top 10


Yes, I still call it the British Open.

I know it's formally known, now, as The Open Championship, but when you say "Open Championship", how do you know where it's being played?

When you say "U.S. Open", you know it's in the U.S.

When you say "British Open", you know it's being played in Great Britain. Or the United Kingdom. I realize they are not one and the same but you get the point. I call it the "British" Open because it's held over there, if you will.

Anyway, they're playing this year's edition of the British Open at Royal Troon, where 9 other "Open Championships" have been held since 1923. The last four of them have all featured something similarily unique. The winners all won their first (and as it turned out, only) major championship at Troon.

Mark Calcavecchia (1989), Justin Leonard (1997), Todd Hamilton (2004) and Henrik Stenson (2016) were the four most recent winners, with only Hamilton being a complete surprise. Calcavecchia, Leonard and Stenson were all top ranked players who were favored to win a major at some point and Troon just happened to be the site of their eventual victory.

You're going to see a theme with our Top 10. The names will not necessarily be of the household variety.

We'll issue our usual caveat when it comes to wagering on majors in 2024. Scottie Scheffler is currently at +400, which is kind of a crazy-low number, of course. You won't make much money on him if he wins. I assume he'll be right there at the end on Sunday. He is Scottie Scheffler, after all.

But for purposes of this 10-day exercise, we won't be listing Scheffler. We're urging you to wager on him to win just so you can wave the winning ticket at your friends, but there are several other players we're very high on and would urge you to consider as well.

The theme we're going with isn't that much different than last year's winner, Brian Harman. Or the 1989 winner in Mark Calcavechhia. We're keen on players who are nudging up against winning a major but just haven't managed to do it quite yet.

Recent history at Troon suggests one of those kind of players is going to be holding the Claret Jug on July 21.

#10 was Corey Conners. Robert MacIntyre was #9. Aaron Rai was #8. Xander Schauffele was #7. Billy Horschel was #6. Min Woo Lee was #5. #4 was Adam Scott. #3 was Collin Morikawa. #2 was Matthieu Pavon.

Viktor Hovland has 4 Top 10 finishes in 17 career majors as a professional, including a T4 at the 2022 British Open.

#1 Viktor Hovland and Tony Finau -- Let me explain. I know it looks weird to have two guys at #1.

I think it's going to be very difficult for Bob MacIntyre (listed above at #9) to win this week given that he just won last week at the Scottish Open. If you've already thrown some coin on him, maybe you'll be blessed. But I'd shy away from him given his success of last Sunday.

So......

I've sorta-kinda replaced him on my list by giving you two players at #1, both of whom I'm very high on this week.

Viktor Hovland and Tony Finau.

When I think of someone like Justin Leonard winning at Troon and think of an American comparison, it's Finau.

When I think of someone like Henrik Stenson winning at Troon and think of a European comparison, it's Hovland.

Leonard was "due" to win a major when he captured the '97 British Open. Finau's record in majors is quite impressive. He just hasn't finished on off yet. He very well might this week. He's also at a really nice number of 40-1.

Stenson was also one of those "best players without a major" when he finally claimed his Claret Jug in 2016. Hovland has been knocking on the door of majors for two or three years now and doesn't yet have one. That might change this week. He's due. And ready.

Hovland's number is 35-1, which is also quite appealing.

None of the last four winners at Troon were ever known as exceptionally good putters. Hovland and Finau both fit that bill. They get hot and streaky with the flat stick, though, which is all they're hoping for this week.

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Tuesday
July 16, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3616


forget 2 to 100, who is #1?


Like just about, well, everyone in the sports media world, ESPN.com is looking for content this summer.

The political field has content out the wazzoo, obviously. While some of those folks still do make stuff up to write or talk about, they certainly don't need to generate their own stories. Not until mid-November at the very least.

Sports has hit that patch in the summer where things have simmered down. Hockey and basketball (just) ended in June, there's only one golf major left on the calendar (this week) and even though football training camps are beginning here shortly, the teams now do most of their own content and the media need is just no longer what it once was for NFL clubs.

So, people like ESPN.com are starving for content.

If not for the two major soccer competitions over the last month and Wimbledon over the last two weeks, they -- and others of their ilk -- would have been really hurting for material.

As it stands now, ESPN and ESPN.com treat the WNBA like it's Major League Baseball. If they didn't have the WNBA in their back pocket they might have to write about soccer or lacrosse during the summer downtime.

Looking for clicks and in a genuine effort to drum up conversation, too, ESPN.com is putting together their Top 100 Athletes Of This Century.

Before I present anything else of interest about their Top 100, here's the "Methodology" ESPN.com used to create their list:

Experts in individual sports were asked to vote to rank the top athletes in their sport since Jan. 1, 2000 (no accomplishments before this date were to be considered). Those votes pared down pools in each sport to lists of 10 to 25 athletes each, which constituted the overall candidate pool for the top athletes of the 21st century so far. Each voter was presented two randomly selected names and asked to pick which one has had the better career in the 21st century. Across repeated, randomized head-to-head matchups, more than 70,000 votes were cast at this stage, and using an Elo rating system, the list was pared down from 262 to 100. That list was then evaluated by a panel of experts for any inconsistencies or oversights, resulting in the top 100 ranking seen here.

So they didn't sit around a coffee table, apparently, and yell out the obvious names: Brady! LeBron! Tiger! Serena! Djokovic! Jeter!

Where will Serena Williams eventually rank on ESPN's Top 100 Athletes of This Century?

There was a formula in place that helped the ESPN and their list-makers come to some sort of agreement. I know it's not easy to come up with the #1 athlete when there were so many remarkable accomplishments and careers in the almost 25-year span. It actually does require a variety of opinions and research nuggets to be uncovered that either confirm or alter those opinions.

They released 100-76 yesterday and will release the rest of the list in groups of 25 this week.

Ed Reed was #99, by the way. That should tell you something about the list. He got beat out by the likes of Annika Sorenstam (golf), A'ja Wilson (basketball) and a cricket player 99.5% of the people reading this have never heard of, Virat Kohli.

I have no idea why ESPN.com throws an obscure cricket player in as a "better athlete" than Ed Reed, but I'm also the guy who thinks Jimmie Johnson (auto racing) and John Velazquez (horse racing) should be on the list because they, too, are athletes of the highest caliber.

So, that's why there's a list in the first place. "Throw a cricket player in there somewhere and see if you can stir up some controversy."

Anyway, speaking of the Ravens, I assume there are two others on the list. I suspect Ray Lewis is in the 75-51 category or maybe even as low as the 50-26 group. If you made me bet it, though, I'd say it's Lamar in the 50-26 group with Ray somewhere around number 55 or so.

Who, though, is #1?

And even better, who actually should be #1?

Why the two questions? Because ESPN.com is prone to posturing in an effort to placate everyone they possibly can. Or at the very least, they're eager to satisfy a large portion of their "target audience" because, as we referenced here yesterday with regard to TV networks and their quest for ad dollars, that's the way they stay in business over the long haul.

We also get to that pesky word of "athlete", which is something that bogs us down and fans the flames. If you don't think a 100-and-some-pound jockey commandeering a 1,000 pound horse around a track that it might or might not want to run around on that particular occasion isn't an athletic endeavor, then you have no idea what athleticism really is.

The same goes for auto racers. You drive from here to Ocean City and you have to stop at least once to pee, once for food and maybe one more time to stretch when the traffic hits a standstill just outside of Rehoboth Beach or Salisbury. Those folks strap themselves in a car and drive it 200 miles an hour around a track for four or six hours at a time.

One of the reasons why "athlete lists" are so hard to compile is because we stuck in the starting gate with the debate about "athlete" and how we, as a society, see them.

If you don't have 2% body fat and aren't 6'3", 185, are you immediately discounted?

He's long gone, now, but you don't think someone like professional wrestler King Kong Bundy was an "athlete"? I'm not trying to argue about the validity of professional wrestling as a "sport" (even though ESPN.com covers it like it is a sport), but I would definitely love to hear you tell me that Dwayne Johnson -- as "The Rock" -- wasn't an athlete during his wrestling heyday.

So, yes, I love these kinds of lists and the water cooler discussion(s) they generate. But I always wind up disagreeing with where someone goes or doesn't go and it's almost always a byproduct of that word - athlete.

Golf is a sport, now, where kids who aren't athletic just have very little chance of ever being really good.

If any sport on the planet has gone from "non-athletic" to "athletic" in the last 25 years, it's golf. The entire swing and body movement that's being taught these days is an athletic effort from the ground up.

One of the very first questions I ask a junior golfer that I come across during camps or my teachings is this: "What other sports do you play or have you played?"

If I hear "I haven't played any", I know I'm starting from a different spot than if I hear, "soccer", "tennis" (my favorite to hear), "lacrosse", etc.

So, back to the topic at hand: "Athleticism", what is it, and how do we measure it when we're considering the greatest 100 athletes of the last 25 years?

But let's not allow that argument -- what about bowlers? there's another one -- to get in the way of the quest to figure out who is #1 on the list. And who should be #1 on the list, too.

My guess? LeBron is the #1 athlete on ESPN.com's list.

I assume Brady is perhaps #2, but they might throw a curveball at us and put Brady at #3 or #4.

It's easier to do this when you take the four major sports, first, and throw out the obvious non-factors. The best hockey players over the last 25 years have been Ovechkin and Crosby or Crosby and Ovechkin. They're not in the Top 10. I could see Ovechkin perhaps being at #20 or thereabouts because of the goal-scoring-record chase, but that's his ceiling.

The best tennis players are (were) great, don't get me wrong. Federer, Djokovic, Serena, Nadal, etc. But I doubt any of those four make the Top 10, with the outside chance that Serena slides in at #9 or so and winds up being the "top female" on the list.

It's almost a disservice to Serena, Simone Biles, and any other female of note who should be considered for the list. They should simply have their own list, where we can argue back and forth about their careers and accomplishments. I have a hard time putting Novak Djokovic, for example, at #30 on the list and putting Serena at, say, #15, when I know Djokovic would beat her, every time, 6-2, 6-2, 6-2.

And, not that it matters, really, but I think giving Serena two games in each set is me just being generous.

Anyway...

So if we eliminate tennis players, we're also eliminating golfers. And, obviously, the only golfer that even comes into the discussion is Tiger and I'm going to guess he winds up somewhere around #7 or #8. Your mileage may vary on that one, but I think that's a fair spot for him. If he winds up at #4 or #5 I'd consider that an overplay and if Woods is at #18 I would consider that out of whack as well.

But the Top 5 is really what we're trying to zero in on here, because from there you can chip away until you figure out the right order.

I'm holding out on my own, personal, Top 5 until Thursday morning.

That said, I know who number one should be. Whether I wind up aligning with ESPN.com is another story.

And you?

In the Comments section below, tell us who you think #1 should be and who you think ESPN.com's #1 will be.

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#dmd's british open top 10


Yes, I still call it the British Open.

I know it's formally known, now, as The Open Championship, but when you say "Open Championship", how do you know where it's being played?

When you say "U.S. Open", you know it's in the U.S.

When you say "British Open", you know it's being played in Great Britain. Or the United Kingdom. I realize they are not one and the same but you get the point. I call it the "British" Open because it's held over there, if you will.

Anyway, they're playing this year's edition of the British Open at Royal Troon, where 9 other "Open Championships" have been held since 1923. The last four of them have all featured something similarily unique. The winners all won their first (and as it turned out, only) major championship at Troon.

Mark Calcavecchia (1989), Justin Leonard (1997), Todd Hamilton (2004) and Henrik Stenson (2016) were the four most recent winners, with only Hamilton being a complete surprise. Calcavecchia, Leonard and Stenson were all top ranked players who were favored to win a major at some point and Troon just happened to be the site of their eventual victory.

You're going to see a theme with our Top 10. The names will not necessarily be of the household variety.

We'll issue our usual caveat when it comes to wagering on majors in 2024. Scottie Scheffler is currently at +400, which is kind of a crazy-low number, of course. You won't make much money on him if he wins. I assume he'll be right there at the end on Sunday. He is Scottie Scheffler, after all.

But for purposes of this 10-day exercise, we won't be listing Scheffler. We're urging you to wager on him to win just so you can wave the winning ticket at your friends, but there are several other players we're very high on and would urge you to consider as well.

The theme we're going with isn't that much different than last year's winner, Brian Harman. Or the 1989 winner in Mark Calcavechhia. We're keen on players who are nudging up against winning a major but just haven't managed to do it quite yet.

Can Matthieu Pavon break through with a major championship win this week at Royal Troon? #DMD thinks he can.

Recent history at Troon suggests one of those kind of players is going to be holding the Claret Jug on July 21.

#10 was Corey Conners. Robert MacIntyre was #9. Aaron Rai was #8. Xander Schauffele was #7. Billy Horschel was #6. Min Woo Lee was #5. #4 was Adam Scott. #3 was Collin Morikawa.

#2 Matthieu Pavon -- I was pleased as punch a month ago to see Matthieu Pavon fire and fall back in the final round of the U.S. Open at Pinehurst.

I've had Pavon circled as a British Open favorite of mine all season long. And a win at the U.S. Open would have led me to dismiss his chances at Troon later this week.

Alas, he didn't win at Pinehurst in June and he didn't factor in last week's Scottish Open, either, where he missed the cut. But those two nuggets lead me to lean even more heavily in his direction this week, where he's available at anywhere from 100-1 to 150-1 depending on what service you use and how fortunate you are that they don't pay attention to golf.

Pavon (Puh-vone) is the perfect off-the-radar-screen guy who could win this week. He has two international wins in the last 12 months, winning in Spain last October on the European Tour and then capturing the event at Torrey Pines on the PGA Tour back in late January.

As we saw at Pinehurst, he's a ball striking machine. The 31 year old Frenchman will feel right at home at Troon this week and will be able to play in whatever kind of weather is thrown his way.

His record at the British Open, you ask? He doesn't have one. He played in 2017 and missed the cut.

But this year, he has a T12 finish at the Masters and a 5th place finish at the U.S. Open. Sandwiched in between was a missed cut at the PGA.

I know he's not a popular U.S. household name, but he's precisely the guy who leads after 54 holes at Troon and gets you some Top 10 money if he falters or a buyout offer through 5 holes on Sunday if you have $20 on him at 100-1. There are a lot of ways to win with Matthieu Pavon this week and I'm here for them.

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Monday
July 15, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3615


where's the manual?


Like most of you, I assume, I've been involved in numerous discussions over the last couple of days with friends and family members about the horrific incident in Butler, PA on Saturday.

Sports, at least in my life, has taken a back seat over the last 36 hours or so. This is real-time tension and concern we're seeing unfold in front of us and it's incredibly nerve-wracking given what we all know are the possibilities and capabilities of folks in this country.

That said, anyone hear any good Alex Verdugo fielding jokes recently? We'll get to him and his 9th inning error shortly, don't you worry about that.

"How are we going to fix it?" a friend's 14 year old son said to me yesterday at Eagle's Nest.

That, I think, is the most pressing question. "Why do we this to ourselves?" is certainly important to navigate, but "How are we going to fix it?" is the bigger issue.

The problem is there's no manual for it or, in this day and age, no website to click on to fix it.

At least that's what most people think. We'll get back to that one shortly as well.

The idea that we solve our problems by shooting guns at people is not new, no matter what side of the political fence you're on and how much you disdain or approve of guns.

Shooting guns at people to resolve our differences has been going on since the Civil War. We didn't play chess to decide if the North should rule the South or the South should rule the North, remember.

So this notion that we've suddenly slipped into a country where it's guns, guns, guns is wildly off base. We've been shooting at one another for a long time.

And it's not just recently that political figures became the target of violence, either. People act like the 1963 Kennedy assassination was the first time a President was gunned down. Abraham Lincoln, anyone?

But what's happened in our country over the last two decades is somewhat new. And this is where we need a manual. Because we simply can't fix it or haven't figured out how to fix it.

We are a country that doesn't know how to disagree on something and move on from there.

That's the root of our problems. Period.

The experts on CNN spend hours every day driving home the point that our country is divided. And that is true, for sure. What they gloss over is the fact that they, of course, are one of the reasons why the country is divided in the first place, just as other media entities in the country are as well.

CNN divides us by telling anyone watching how "their side" is right and the other side is wrong. That's how they sell their ads. That's how Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper make $15 million a year.

FOX does the same thing.

They all do it. It's how they make a living. It's an incredibly well produced trap that must have them giggling at the water cooler. Right up until some 20-year old kid tries to kill a Presidential candidate.

It's not so funny then.

I've written here on numerous occasions over the last few years about the most obvious -- and maddening -- method we use to resolve our differences in this country: It's called "what about'ism".

"The former President was shot today. That's awful isn't it?"

"What about the time he laughed at Nancy Pelosi's husband for being attacked?"

"We have to do something about this gun violence. Someone just tried to assassinate a former President."

"What about Sandy Hook? The Republicans weren't crying about gun violence when that happened."

And this isn't a testimonial centered only on horrific attempted murders, either.

We use "what about?" to resolve our own personal, petty differences, too.

This, of course, is a very, very small thing. I only bring it up because it's here, at #DMD, and readily available for me to make comment on.

I wrote something here yesterday about a conversation I had with my son about baseball and the Saturday incident in Butler, PA and someone in the Comments section wrote something about "hate and vitriol for the Flyers."

Classic "what about?" if ever there was one.

But far more important than some goof on a website in Maryland are the problems we've developed here in this country, all on our own.

I have no idea what caused this sea change in the way we deal with disagreements. Food coloring? Too much sun? Not enough vitamin B12?

Something has happened in this century.

We do not know how to successfully and productively resolve our differences.

Everyone points out how we need unity in this country. We have two very distinct political parties. At the root of those two parties is a common theme shared by both: "We're right and you're wrong."

That's why they fought the Civil War.

And that's why we're still fighting today.

Each party believes they're right. And this November, at the battle box (President Biden has no idea how right he was last night when he slipped up and said that), one of the parties will be "right" and one will be "wrong". One will win, one will lose.

And the winner will rejoice and laugh and the loser will cry and rebel.

The differences will not be "solved" in November. They will actually heighten.

We simply do not know how to disagree on something and move on from there.

Unity?

I don't know how you're possibly going to be unified when the system in place is designed to create and enhance division.

And then every time you open your web browser, read a newspaper or turn on the TV, you're met with people telling you to pick a side, stand your ground and not give an inch to the other side.

I never hear CNN or FOX telling their viewers to consider "the other side".

Doing that would cost them viewers. Which in turn would cost them advertisers. Which then leads to decreased revenue. And when that happens, Anderson Cooper or Bret Baier might only make $2.5 million annually.

So our political climate is designed to divide us.

The media is effectively in business to divide us.

And we're shocked and mortified that we are, in fact, divided?

Worst of all, though? We can't fix it.

And the reason it can't be fixed is the same reason why you and your little sister or brother used to argue all the time: No one is willing to say, "I don't want to win. I just want this to be better."

We just don't know how to disagree and move on from there.

I wrote earlier there's no manual for this stuff, which isn't exactly true, of course. There is a book we can all read that serves as the best self-help book ever written: the Bible.

And in that book you'll find everything we're dealing with today, 2,000 years later. Anger, hostility, violence, greed, betrayal and, yes, even murder.

But in that book you'll also find someone, Jesus Christ, who gave us the example of how one could and should live their life.

Sadly, we all fall short of Him. Some people try harder than others to follow his living example, but in the end none of us do it.

The manual, though, does exist. The problem is our country has distanced itself from that manuscript and believes there's a better way.

I disagree with shunning the Bible, but I don't harbor any ill feelings if you agree with it. We'll all be judged accordingly some day. I hope your day of judgement goes well just as I pray that mine does.

But we're still back to the issue at hand, which is our country's sanity and safety, both of which are compromised at this point, mostly of our doing.

November won't solve it.

Only we can solve it.

I hope it gets fixed in my children's lifetime and they become part of the solution. As a parent, that's all I ask of them.

Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.


Now, let's focus on something fun for a second, which was the Orioles much-needed 6-5 win over the Yankees yesterday at Camden Yards.

It wasn't fun in the top of the 9th when Craig Kimbrel served up a 3-run gopher ball to Ben Rice -- after walking the #8 and #9 hitters, no less -- to move the O's from a 3-2 lead to a 5-3 deficit.

Craig Kimbrel blew the save yesterday against the Yankees but was saved by a 3-run uprising in the bottom of the 9th that gave the Birds a 6-5 win.

But it was wildly fun in the bottom of the 9th when two New York errors on plays that would have ended the game worked out in the O's favor and they wound up on the positive end of a 6-5 victory.

First, it was Anthony Volpe failing to handle a routine grounder at shortstop.

Then it was Alex Verdugo bungling a standard fly ball to left field that led to a pair of runs scoring to end the game.

In typical baseball fashion, the official scorekeeper credited Cedric Mullins with a "hit" on that final swing of the bat, but if that was a hit then I'm walking on the moon this Thursday.

It was an error. A mistake. A play that should have been made but wasn't. But Mullins was given a hit and the O's won, which is really all that matters anyway.

And for one day, at least, or perhaps one inning, as it were, all was well in Birdland.

The next two weeks will be big for Mike Elias and his staff.

Trades?

Who do the Birds get?

Who do they give up?

There's a juicy story floating around about J.D. Martinez and Luis Severino coming to Baltimore, but the Mets have suddenly started to perk up and are now 49-46 and in the middle of the wild card race in the National League. So we'll have to see about that one.

Either way, the next two weeks will be fun, fun, fun.

The O's start the 2nd half of the campaign in Texas and then down in Miami against the Marlins before returning home to face Manny Machado and the Padres. By the time San Diego gets to town, you can expect to see some new Birds at Camden Yards.

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#dmd's british open top 10


Yes, I still call it the British Open.

I know it's formally known, now, as The Open Championship, but when you say "Open Championship", how do you know where it's being played?

When you say "U.S. Open", you know it's in the U.S.

When you say "British Open", you know it's being played in Great Britain. Or the United Kingdom. I realize they are not one and the same but you get the point. I call it the "British" Open because it's held over there, if you will.

Anyway, they're playing this year's edition of the British Open at Royal Troon, where 9 other "Open Championships" have been held since 1923. The last four of them have all featured something similarily unique. The winners all won their first (and as it turned out, only) major championship at Troon.

Mark Calcavecchia (1989), Justin Leonard (1997), Todd Hamilton (2004) and Henrik Stenson (2016) were the four most recent winners, with only Hamilton being a complete surprise. Calcavecchia, Leonard and Stenson were all top ranked players who were favored to win a major at some point and Troon just happened to be the site of their eventual victory.

You're going to see a theme with our Top 10. The names will not necessarily be of the household variety.

We'll issue our usual caveat when it comes to wagering on majors in 2024. Scottie Scheffler is currently at +400, which is kind of a crazy-low number, of course. You won't make much money on him if he wins. I assume he'll be right there at the end on Sunday. He is Scottie Scheffler, after all.

But for purposes of this 10-day exercise, we won't be listing Scheffler. We're urging you to wager on him to win just so you can wave the winning ticket at your friends, but there are several other players we're very high on and would urge you to consider as well.

The theme we're going with isn't that much different than last year's winner, Brian Harman. Or the 1989 winner in Mark Calcavechhia. We're keen on players who are nudging up against winning a major but just haven't managed to do it quite yet.

Can Collin Morikawa parlay a nice week at the Scottish Open (T4) into a win at Troon this week?

Recent history at Troon suggests one of those kind of players is going to be holding the Claret Jug on July 21.

#10 was Corey Conners. Robert MacIntyre was #9. Aaron Rai was #8. Xander Schauffele was #7. Billy Horschel was #6. Min Woo Lee was #5. #4 was Adam Scott.

#3 Collin Morikawa -- I was happy to see Morikawa slip up on the back nine yesterday at the Scottish Open and fail to win. I don't know that anyone can win twice in seven days, which makes my #9 pick (above) a bit concerning.

Anyway, the British Open is perfect for Collin Morikawa. He's already won it once, of course, and I have to assume he's winning at least one more Claret Jug in his career if not more than one.

The greens over there simply aren't as difficult as the ones he regularly faces in the U.S., and that's a good thing for Morikawa, who only has one real weakness: putting.

And, as I say all the time, Morikawa is not a "bad" putter. If he were a bad putter, he wouldn't have two majors and be one of the best 10 players in the world. He's just not a GREAT putter, that's all.

But I sure do love his chances this week at Troon, where he's 20-1 to win his 3rd career major title.

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#dmd comments








jk     July 21
CIK living rent free in a lot of DMD heads lol.

And no way BH was +15000.

RC     July 20
Elias needs to get this team one more quality starter and they're not losing to anyone in October. It looks like Crochet is headed to Atlanta. But even if we get Fedde, Skubal or Eflin, that could be enough to get us over the top in October.

JK     July 20
*Chefs Kiss* whenever I see CIK get his feathers ruffled.



Who has the thin skin now boss?

Brett B.     July 20
If the Eflin for Norby and Stowers rumor is true, I'll buy everyone a drink at the Yard the first night Eflin starts for the O's. Make it happen!

Richie in NY     July 20
You guys don't want Skubal? Enjoy getting swept again in the first round. No wonder the team down there never wins anything. Fans don't want good players.

Billy     July 20
Didn't think CIK was the type to have thin skin.

O's looking good in the two games after the break. DMD brings up interesting point about Tony. Might be on the verge of a

$100M deal over 4 years.

CIK     July 20
@ BTG

Els has apparently backed out of next week’s “Senior” Open…so yeah, I think his back is a problem. Maybe his back was feeling fine last week and he hurt it this week? Incomprehensible? Clown Shoes?

Dan     July 20
Odd to call Skubal "sturdy", since he's had two TJ surgeries already at the age of 27.


Blue Tee Golfer     July 20
Els hurt his back huh? Els back wasn't bothering him last week when he won on the senior tour. Some of you are so gullible.

CIK     July 20
Ernie Els hurts his back to WD…and gets called a quitter? Was he supposed to play through the injury? Clown shoes if ya ask me.

Rc     July 20
I put $20 on Billy Ho at +15000. I hope Drew is right!

Dr     July 20
LMAO, @DF handed out Horschel free of charge.

peter     July 20
Skubal is proven and sturdy? Based on his career high of 149.5 innings pitched....once? Back in 2021 and he had an ERA of 4.34 that year. Or his whopping 80 ip in 2023?

Just because media acts like he is Tom Glavine in his prime does not make it so. If anything, knowing how much the local FM radio clowns love Skubal, I'd steer clear. Skubal is promising, but definitely comes with a pretty big risk.

You want proven and sturdy, keep the prospects and pay Burnes. It seems new owner would allow it, the question is, does Elias want to do that? Players seem to be waking up to not always doing what Boras tells them to do, so who knows. Definitely won't get a "discount" but perhaps they can cut a deal before others start throwing offers at him. The real issue is would paying Burnes cost you say Westburg or someone else? I believe they will increase payroll, but paying "everyone" is not a sound way to run a business.

Unitastoberry     July 20
When Lamar shakes his January blues and takes over games or comes from behind to win Lombardis as in plural year in and year out then we can talk with words like legend and greatness.



And yes I feel the same way about former players at QB with MVPs and no ring such as Tarkenton.Marino,Jones,Newton,Matt Ryan,Fouts,etc. Very good ball players but not legends. I love football but that legend word is for guys like Brady,Montana,Mahomes,Bart Starr,Otto Graham,Bradshaw, and our own legend John Constantine Unitas.

Paul from Towson     July 19
@Jon You’re right and I didn’t take into consideration all the things Brady did in order to play 23 seasons in the NFL. On field performance notwithstanding, I was basing my opinion on the natural abilities each of them possess and while Lamar may be more gifted physically, taking into account Brady’s overall body of work, preparation, diet, etc. makes him the better overall athlete.

Jon     July 19
Here are some things that Brady did not do that Lamar has- pick 6 in playoffs, lose at home in AFC Championship, have a losing record in playoffs….and last till hes 46- so yes Lamar is a great athlete but time will tell if it trnslate to playoff success. Id argue Bradys preparation , diet and dedication to his craft do in fact make him the better athlete- natural talent is not enough. For what its worth- i woke up at 7 and will turn in by 10 for an early tee time tomm….

Paul from Towson     July 19
Good to see the folks at ESPN got one right for a change. Michael Phelps as the #1 athlete of the past 25 years is spot on. Serena as #2 is a joke, but it did exactly what ESPN wanted and created the buzz of discontent. Even Serena herself has said she's nowhere near the same league as men tennis players, let alone male athletes. But, alas, it's all over except for the discord at this point.



My contention is the lack of respect hockey players get for how athletic they are. Alex Ovechkin is the greatest hockey player of this generation, especially a young Ovie who would throw his body around and actually play defense. He should've been higher on the list in my humble opinion. And I don't consider Tom Brady a top 10 athlete. Quarterback, absolutely, #1 of the past 25 years going away. But athlete??? Nah. Put him around 15-16. As an "athlete" I put Lamar ahead of Brady. Lamar does things that Brady never could do, even in his prime, and with a stronger arm. Not more accurate, but stronger.



Drew, congrats to you and Ethan, brother!!!

carl@softwaresolutionsplus.tech     July 19
It's all good Tim D..............Have a great weekend !!

TimD in Timonium     July 19
Hey, Carl, just kidding with ya. We all have likes and dislikes. But if I'm awake at 3am, I'm trying to go back to sleep, not watch golf. But 6am? I usually awake any way. Cheers.

carl     July 19
Hi Tim D ...Maybe you can wake Drew up tomorrow ..I do enjoy Drew's articles!!

RC     July 19
Looks like Matt P might be in trouble this week eh?

Jason M     July 19
Congrats to DF and Ethan! Not a golfer but feel like I've known Ethan his whole life having listened to and read @DF daily for so long. Good job guys!

Chris P.     July 19
Hey Drew, congratulations to you and Ethan on your win yesterday!!

Steve of Pimlico     July 19
Greatest swimmer of all time was Johnny Weissmuller who constantly had to outswim crocodiles.

Delray RICK     July 19
JACK a lot better than MESSIAH, look it up. There's a player who should quit and join the old-timers in 2 years.

Billy     July 19
Why the hate for Carl?

Pat C.     July 18
DF called it. Serena wasn't #1 but she was #2 and social media is blowing up. Serena better than Lebron or Brady? NO CHANCE!



Forget about Tiger, he's almost 50. What has happened to Rory?????



And that Carl Tipton guy seems like a nice fella huh?

ED     July 18
Congrats Drew and Ethan!!

Pratt     July 18
Congrats to Drew and his son on winning the State Father Child tournament today. Might not be the US Senior Open but I bet it's pretty dang special to win a tourney with your son.

Bo     July 18
Nothing new with Tiger barely breaking 80. I can't believe anyone still believes he is competitive but I recall millions wagered on Ali before he got pummeled by Larry Holmes.

Bryan     July 18
Jack was better than tiger, and Jordan was way better than LeBron.

MFC     July 18
You can’t be a part time ceremonial golfer and expect to compete. It wasn’t lenght that’s for sure as this course has many holes under 400 yards. And he’s hitting it out there with them anyway. I think I counted 3 three-putts. Chips were like a 12 handicapper and couldn’t get any iron close all day. The heart is there but I don’t think he can practice the same way and he sure as heck isn’t playing much. It’s the golf world’s loss. I want him to be competitive, it doesn’t look like he can. This course was going to be the easier given lack of hills, so much for that. But hey Rory threw in a clinker as well. Plenty of time for them to get reacquainted this weekend at the pubs as they watch on tv.

Chuck Z     July 18
Eldrick is gonna have the weekend free in Troon. Hostesses at the local casual restaurants better have their A game ready. One of them could be the next future ex.

TimD in Timonium     July 18
@Carl, well, since you visited this page, read the content, and then commented -



apparently, YOU do.

phil m     July 18
Looks like Colin Montgomerie was correct, time for Tiger to call to a day at The Open.

Carl tipton     July 18
Who cares about the list and what time you got up ??

peter     July 18
ESPN gets money whenever random anonymous people post comments on DMD web site? Maybe those clowns are smarter than I think they are. "Peter"

such     July 18
For reasons unknown, I listened to approximately 2 minutes of the afternoon show on the local sports yak station yesterday. These guys were actually advocating for trading Holliday for Skubal and I was all "Whaaaaaa????"

Thank the gods for podcasts and Apple Music and Spotify. And that they're not in the Orioles front office. Wow.

Chris K     July 18
ESPN made this list because nothing is going on right now and also to get people worked up and therefore get more clicks. They are winning in this game of all of your complaints. That’s exactly what they wanted 😂. Continue getting mad about stupid stuff while espn laughs all the way to the bank.

Chris in Bel Air     July 18
Phelps. 5 olympics, won medals in 4 of them. Most medals all-time. Most gold medals all-time. Most individual medals all-time.

Hoping the AS break was the medicine for the O's funk. Less than 2 weeks to go until trade deadline and ready to see what moves Elias has. Doubt it happens for either but I like Skubal over Crochet.

Delray Rick     July 18
Right on HERMAN!!

TimD in Timonium     July 18
Sidney Crosby at #22, and Ovi at #54. Come on, man. Do all the ESPN writers live in Pittsburgh?



And watching early morning golf is FUN. Maybe not 2am fun, but good nonetheless.

HERMAN     July 18
Jesus, what a slow couple days here. Who cares about a top-100 list? It was written by some loser intern at ESPN and people get upset. Talk about a bunch of snowflakes.

Art     July 18
Serena is going to be #1 and everybody's head is going to explode.

Dan     July 18
Up early watching golf too and I have to ask Alex and Kevin something. What is it with the "" around people's name? I don't read or comment every day so maybe I'm missing something but why "Tom" but then it isn't "Kevin" or "CIK"? I'm confused, but my wife says that happens all the time when she sends me to the grocery store. Thanks, "Dan".

Anand     July 18
Matt P is either losing now, or if not, will be losing soon. NOBODY beats the house and its rake in the long haul. It's just too high. This is why the gambling companies have paid unprecedented millions to legislators to enact laws allowing online gambling and untold more millions to celebrities to lead the suckers into signing up for betting accounts. -- Put your money into 401ks -- you are not smarter than algorithms that know how you think, and what you will do, more clearly than you do yourself.

alex     July 17
Really "Tom"?? That's your takeaway from what Kevin and CIK posted? SMDH.

Tom     July 17
I don't bet and I don't have a dog in the race but it sure seems like Kevin and CIK should be less jealous of a guy who won (whatever he won).

kevin     July 17
Why are "Jerry" and "Bo" chiming in on me complimenting Matt P? Some of you people are weird. My interpretation of what Matt P is exactly what CIK said. Matt bet 4k and got paid 10K, ergo, he is ahead 6K.

My thinking is Matt P is the only person who can say hey Kevin, you are wrong, I bet 4K, got paid 14K and am "ahead" 10K. If Matt P says that's the case, I'd apologize for my misunderstanding.

My POINT remains the same, he risked 4K on a stranger's free advice, and my take is that was pretty ballsy of him and I congratulated him (ie a "compliment" not needing anyone to rush to his defense). Whether he netted 6K or 10K is not germane to that point.

Likewise, this "Larry" guy is confused as well. I was trashing ESPN for their subjective poll which is for attention only and serves no purpose. I commented that DMD took their bait is all. Never said DMD is not allowed to have an opinion, I come here daily to read DMD's opinions!






Paul from Towson     July 17
RIP, Jerry Walker.



When I was a kid, I remember how fondly my dad spoke about the O’s Kiddie Korp from the early 60’s. To this day, he reminds me how Paul Richards essentially built the Orioles into contention and never gets the credit he deserves for his part in creating “The Oriole Way.”

Sunday
July 14, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3614


"things are really bad, huh?"


My son wandered in early Saturday evening and sat next to me on the couch.

"Man, Dad, things are really bad, huh?"

I didn't even feel like talking about it, honestly.

I mean, what do you say?

But when your son is looking at you for answers, it's your fatherly duty to try to give him peace.

"Well," I said. "The good news is the All Star Break is coming up."

"Sometimes even good teams need a little time to get reset. They need to take a deep breath and realize they're still in good shape," I continued.

"And you have to assume Mike Elias is going to do something at the trade deadline," I stated.

I was starting to get on a roll, so I continued. "We have plenty of guys in the farm system to move. It's just a question of whether he wants to part with them or not and who we can get in exchange and whether they are rentals or players under club control for a couple of years."

"And let's not forget the Yankees aren't chopped liver," I reminded my son. "Their pitching rotation lined up perfectly for these three games in Baltimore and our rotation wasn't all that great. I know the Cubs aren't anything special. But this New York team is pretty decent, so I wouldn't be all that worked up about losing to them."

"Dad, I'm not worried about the losing," my son said, his voice lowering.

"Oh, you're concerned we might not be able to add anyone of quality at the deadline?" I asked.

Before he could answer, I gave more support to Mike Elias.

"Elias has built this organization from the ashes," I explained. "When he took over six years ago, we were a laughingstock. And he vowed to do it the right way and he has. We have a great major league product, the minors are stocked with growing talent, and the O's scouting department will make some other good picks at the upcoming draft."

It was time for me to remind my son about the past, even if he wasn't around for all of it.

"If you would have been able to watch the games in 2004, 2006 and 2008, you might have a different feeling," I said. "Those were days worth getting upset about. The team was horrendous. The farm system was awful. We were only in 5th place in the A.L. East because the division didn't have six teams. We were bottom of the barrel."

"But, Dad," my son said before I cut him off.

"Stop reading the internet," I cautioned him. "A lot of people are Debbie Downers out there. If you let them bring you down, they will. The team is 57-38. They have more wins than the Dodgers, Braves and the Rangers, you know, the team that won the World Series last year."

"Dad, it's not the losing," my son said.

"Oh, you're still upset about the beanball stuff from Friday night?" I asked.

Before he could answer, I dove in.

"Look, baseball players are weird," I said, resting a hand on his shoulder for comfort. "They're all very talented. But they're also weird. They get upset when they're losing 9-1 and someone on the other team tries to steal a base. Or if you're winning 9-1 and you hit a home run you're not supposed to stand there and stare it as it leaves the stadium."

"And then if someone gets hit by a pitch accidentally, the other team automatically assumes it was done intentionally. And then they have to throw a pitch at the other team and act like it was accidental even though we all kind of know it wasn't," I said.

"So, Friday night probably wasn't intentional, but that doesn't really matter. Now, someone from the Orioles will have to throw at a Yankees player again, maybe even on Sunday, and then we're right back to square one."

"But, Dad, you're not letting me explain," my son said.

"You don't have to explain," I countered. "I know what you're feeling, pal. I've been there, done that. I've seen the team be great back in the 1980's and I've seen them be beyond horrible 20 years ago. I'm just here to tell you it will all get better at some point. It always does."

"Dad, when I said things are really bad, I wasn't talking about the Orioles," my son said. "I'm talking about our country."

We sat there together and watched coverage of the failed assassination attempt on former President Donald Trump.

"Why does this happen?" he asked.

I unintentionally used a line from the great movie A Few Good Men.

"Because sometimes people take matters into their own hands," I said.

"And we don't have enough love in our hearts for one another," I continued.

"I wish we had more people following Jesus," I stated.

The two of us watched the coverage for another minute or two.

"Things are really bad, aren't they Dad?" he asked again.

This time, I just nodded my head in agreement and put the baseball talk on the backburner, where it should be when our country is a mess.

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#dmd's british open top 10


Yes, I still call it the British Open.

I know it's formally known, now, as The Open Championship, but when you say "Open Championship", how do you know where it's being played?

When you say "U.S. Open", you know it's in the U.S.

When you say "British Open", you know it's being played in Great Britain. Or the United Kingdom. I realize they are not one and the same but you get the point. I call it the "British" Open because it's held over there, if you will.

Anyway, they're playing this year's edition of the British Open at Royal Troon, where 9 other "Open Championships" have been held since 1923. The last four of them have all featured something similarily unique. The winners all won their first (and as it turned out, only) major championship at Troon.

Mark Calcavecchia (1989), Justin Leonard (1997), Todd Hamilton (2004) and Henrik Stenson (2016) were the four most recent winners, with only Hamilton being a complete surprise. Calcavecchia, Leonard and Stenson were all top ranked players who were favored to win a major at some point and Troon just happened to be the site of their eventual victory.

You're going to see a theme with our Top 10. The names will not necessarily be of the household variety.

We'll issue our usual caveat when it comes to wagering on majors in 2024. Scottie Scheffler is currently at +400, which is kind of a crazy-low number, of course. You won't make much money on him if he wins. I assume he'll be right there at the end on Sunday. He is Scottie Scheffler, after all.

But for purposes of this 10-day exercise, we won't be listing Scheffler. We're urging you to wager on him to win just so you can wave the winning ticket at your friends, but there are several other players we're very high on and would urge you to consider as well.

The theme we're going with isn't that much different than last year's winner, Brian Harman. Or the 1989 winner in Mark Calcavechhia. We're keen on players who are nudging up against winning a major but just haven't managed to do it quite yet.

Adam Scott frittered away a comfortable back nine lead in the final round of the 2012 British Open. Could the golf gods reward him 12 years later with a win at Troon in 2024?

Recent history at Troon suggests one of those kind of players is going to be holding the Claret Jug on July 21.

#10 was Corey Conners. Robert Macintyre was #9. Aaron Rai was #8. Xander Schauffele was #7. Billy Horschel was #6. Min Woo Lee was #5.

#4 Adam Scott -- So you can count me among those who are really disappointed that Adam Scott is playing great this week at the Scottish Open and could even win today if Aberg and Macintyre fall back in the final round.

I was able to get Scott at 85-1 (he's now 80-1) earlier this week, but if he wins today he'll probably dip down to 50-1 or 60-1.

That said, I thought I might be one of the only people in the country who was "on" the former Masters champion.

His record at the British Open is awesome, even if most of that great play happened a decade ago. At 43 years old, and playing on a course that doesn't necessarily reward long hitters, the Australian is a great fit for Troon this coming week.

He's made the cut in 18 of the 23 Opens in which he's played and has 5 top 10 finishes, including a 2nd and T3 in back-to-back years ('12 and '13).

Now, if he wins today at the Scottish Open? Well, that likely means he's not winning at Troon. But I didn't know that when I snagged him earlier this week and I'm not willing to shove him to the side until I see what he does today.

I think Adam Scott has a great chance to play well next week.

And there's something about him that I can't shake. He's just too good of a ball striker to only win one major championship. And I think there are only two majors he can win; the Masters and the British Open.

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Saturday
July 13, 2024
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#3613


it's gonna get fun now


Never before has a 4-l loss and another listless offensive performance been shoved to the backburner like the one the O's experienced last night at Camden Yards.

4-1 loss? What 4-1 loss?

5-game home losing streak? Where? I don't see one.

The 9th inning shenanigans that led to a benches clearing "situation" was all the talk of the post-game wrap up last night, as the Birds seethed while the Yankees shrugged their shoulders and said, "You guys are just made 'cuz you lost."

Today's 4:05 pm tilt will be a fun one, that's for sure.

The Birds are mired in an ill-timed 4-game losing streak that has seen them score a grand total of 3 runs this week. Last night's woeful work at the plate included a 1-for-9 effort with runners in scoring position, a scenario that has bedeviled them to no end this month.

But that losing streak moves into 2nd place today. Getting back at the Yankees takes center stage. The first ball that comes even close to a New York hitter will be met with tension, an umpire warning, and who knows what else. It's going to be interesting. And that's an understatement.

O's skipper Brandon Hyde was outraged at the treatment he received from the Yankees bench after Heston Kjerstad was hit with a pitch in the 9th inning of last night's 4-1 loss.

Truthfully, the "official" guess here is nothing much happens today, because the home plate umpire will issue the ceremonial pre-game warnings to both managers and starting pitchers. And with the Birds slumping and the Yankees (and Red Sox) hovering close behind, Brandon Hyde will remind starter Grayson Rodriguez that the Orioles have a ballgame to win, first and foremost.

Sunday is the likely blow-up day, what with that silly 11:35 am start and the prospect of a few days off for the All Star break. Unless there's a wide scoring margin today where the O's are up 7-1 in the 8th inning and the Yankees appear to have waved the white flag, I don't think the Birds go after a New York hitter in Saturday's game.

But tomorrow........

As for the Clay Holmes throw from last night that everyone in Baltimore is angered over, I am certainly in the minority on this one but I didn't see that pitch as "intentional".

It was raining.

The game -- despite the fact the O's can't hit and/or score runs -- was still in the balance.

The Yankees have been gasping for air over the last month and have lost 8 straight series'.

The season series (now 5-3 in favor of the O's) is critical and the Yankees couldn't afford to throw away a 4-1 lead.

The count was 0-2 and it was Heston Kjerstad at the plate. I can't imagine Holmes was overly concerned with Kjerstad at that point.

Now, don't get this twisted.

I think the Orioles have every right to be concerned/frustrated/outraged at a 97 mph fastball dinging one of their players in his batting helmet.

Brandon Hyde was well within in his rights to lose his cool if, in fact, the Yankees were chirping and barking at him while Kjerstad was being attended to near home plate.

All three of those things can be true at the same time.

The O's should have been pissed about the Holmes pitch.

Hyde had the green light to get lathered up if the Yankees were laughing about it.

There was nothing about the situation at hand that suggested Holmes was intentionally trying to hit Kjerstad with a pitch.

In case it matters, Holmes said afterwards it was simply a case of the wet ball not giving him the grip he needed to throw the intended "front door sinker" to Kjerstad. Your mileage may vary on that one.

But just like I can't imagine Cionel Perez was trying to break Cody Bellinger's finger earlier this week when he nicked him with an inside pitch that "got away", I just don't see how it made any sense at all -- with all that's going on with the Yankees and their season -- for Holmes to intentionally hit Heston Kjerstad.

With all due respect to Kjerstad, who's he? If you're the Yankees and you're looking to disrupt the Orioles in the second half, wouldn't you want Henderson, Rutschman or Westburg out for 6-8 weeks?

And, yes, I know Kjerstad is hitting .314. But no one is confusing Kjerstad with Henderson when it comes to value.

Alas, all of the beanball stuff glossed over another listless offensive performance for the Birds, who got what the pro folks call a "gritty" effort from starting pitcher Cade Povich in the 4-1 loss.

It wasn't poor pitching that did in the Birds last night. It was a six-hit effort at the plate that included several wasted opportunities, including two-on-with-no-outs in the bottom of the first that then featured Santander, O'Hearn and Westburg all failing to cash in and give the hosts a much needed early lead.

Right on cue, the Yankees made the Orioles pay for those three unproductive outs in the very next inning with back-to-back run scoring doubles. The uprising included a clumsy error by Anthony Santander in right field that started the whole mess.

Aaron Judge would later hit his 33rd home run after Baltimore had cut the lead to 2-1 and that was pretty much all she wrote. The Yankees tacked on a 9th inning insurance run and then the Holmes-Kjerstad incident helped everyone in Baltimore forget about the loss.

Social media ignited afterwards with claims that the O's will come out on fire starting today at 4:05 pm. Even former O's catcher and broadcaster Rick Dempsey joined in, saying the flare-up and benches clearing situation was "just what the doctor ordered!"

A Major League Baseball player I am not. But I can't imagine the episode from last night will cause Gunnar Henderson to stop looking at strike three right across the middle of the plate or will help Adley Rutschman be more "locked in" at the plate with runners on 2nd and 3rd.

I mean, maybe?

But if it takes one of your players getting thrown at for you to buckle up and get locked in out there, I think I'd be concerned about that moving forward if I'm Brandon Hyde.

You should be locked in because you're one of 26 players on the roster and you're getting millions to "work" on a baseball field. I know everyone occasionally needs a reason to try harder, but when you've just lost three in a row to the Cubs of all people and the Yankees are in town for a huge series, I would hope you don't need extra incentive to try your best.

That said, if the O's reel off a 6-1 win today and 5-3 win on Sunday to end the first half of the campaign on a high note, everyone is going to point to the Friday night beanball event and claim that was the turnaround moment the Birds desperately needed.

Either way, I'm here for it.

Today and tomorrow should be a lot of fun.

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#dmd's british open top 10


Yes, I still call it the British Open.

I know it's formally known, now, as The Open Championship, but when you say "Open Championship", how do you know where it's being played?

When you say "U.S. Open", you know it's in the U.S.

When you say "British Open", you know it's being played in Great Britain. Or the United Kingdom. I realize they are not one and the same but you get the point. I call it the "British" Open because it's held over there, if you will.

Anyway, they're playing this year's edition of the British Open at Royal Troon, where 9 other "Open Championships" have been held since 1923. The last four of them have all featured something similarily unique. The winners all won their first (and as it turned out, only) major championship at Troon.

Mark Calcavecchia (1989), Justin Leonard (1997), Todd Hamilton (2004) and Henrik Stenson (2016) were the four most recent winners, with only Hamilton being a complete surprise. Calcavecchia, Leonard and Stenson were all top ranked players who were favored to win a major at some point and Troon just happened to be the site of their eventual victory.

You're going to see a theme with our Top 10. The names will not necessarily be of the household variety.

We'll issue our usual caveat when it comes to wagering on majors in 2024. Scottie Scheffler is currently at +400, which is kind of a crazy-low number, of course. You won't make much money on him if he wins. I assume he'll be right there at the end on Sunday. He is Scottie Scheffler, after all.

But for purposes of this 10-day exercise, we won't be listing Scheffler. We're urging you to wager on him to win just so you can wave the winning ticket at your friends, but there are several other players we're very high on and would urge you to consider as well.

The theme we're going with isn't that much different than last year's winner, Brian Harman. Or the 1989 winner in Mark Calcavechhia. We're keen on players who are nudging up against winning a major but just haven't managed to do it quite yet.

Recent history at Troon suggests one of those kind of players is going to be holding the Claret Jug on July 21.

#10 was Corey Conners. Robert Macintyre was #9. Aaron Rai was #8. Xander Schauffele was #7. Billy Horschel was #6.

With career wins in Australia and Scotland already in his profile, is it time for Min Woo Lee to break through with his first major triumph at Troon next week?

#5 Min Woo Lee -- Now we get down to our nitty gritty, if you will. Other than Scheffler, these are the five guys we're really zeroing in on for next week at Troon. And Min Woo Lee (55-1) continues to be one of our favorites next week at the final major of the 2024 campaign.

The Australian is an accomplished international player and even has a win "over there", as he claimed the 2021 Scottish Open early on in his PGA Tour career.

Lee has played three previous Opens with a missed cut in '21, a T21 in '22 and a T41 in '23.

This year he's made the cut in all three majors to date, with top 30 finishes at the Masters, PGA and U.S. Open.

He struggled at the start of the '24 campaign but has turned things around nicely of late. If you're looking for a player with the talent and capability to win a major who just hasn't done it yet (think Brian Harman, 2023), Min Woo Lee is a perfect candidate.

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#dmd comments








jk     July 21
CIK living rent free in a lot of DMD heads lol.

And no way BH was +15000.

RC     July 20
Elias needs to get this team one more quality starter and they're not losing to anyone in October. It looks like Crochet is headed to Atlanta. But even if we get Fedde, Skubal or Eflin, that could be enough to get us over the top in October.

JK     July 20
*Chefs Kiss* whenever I see CIK get his feathers ruffled.



Who has the thin skin now boss?

Brett B.     July 20
If the Eflin for Norby and Stowers rumor is true, I'll buy everyone a drink at the Yard the first night Eflin starts for the O's. Make it happen!

Richie in NY     July 20
You guys don't want Skubal? Enjoy getting swept again in the first round. No wonder the team down there never wins anything. Fans don't want good players.

Billy     July 20
Didn't think CIK was the type to have thin skin.

O's looking good in the two games after the break. DMD brings up interesting point about Tony. Might be on the verge of a

$100M deal over 4 years.

CIK     July 20
@ BTG

Els has apparently backed out of next week’s “Senior” Open…so yeah, I think his back is a problem. Maybe his back was feeling fine last week and he hurt it this week? Incomprehensible? Clown Shoes?

Dan     July 20
Odd to call Skubal "sturdy", since he's had two TJ surgeries already at the age of 27.


Blue Tee Golfer     July 20
Els hurt his back huh? Els back wasn't bothering him last week when he won on the senior tour. Some of you are so gullible.

CIK     July 20
Ernie Els hurts his back to WD…and gets called a quitter? Was he supposed to play through the injury? Clown shoes if ya ask me.

Rc     July 20
I put $20 on Billy Ho at +15000. I hope Drew is right!

Dr     July 20
LMAO, @DF handed out Horschel free of charge.

peter     July 20
Skubal is proven and sturdy? Based on his career high of 149.5 innings pitched....once? Back in 2021 and he had an ERA of 4.34 that year. Or his whopping 80 ip in 2023?

Just because media acts like he is Tom Glavine in his prime does not make it so. If anything, knowing how much the local FM radio clowns love Skubal, I'd steer clear. Skubal is promising, but definitely comes with a pretty big risk.

You want proven and sturdy, keep the prospects and pay Burnes. It seems new owner would allow it, the question is, does Elias want to do that? Players seem to be waking up to not always doing what Boras tells them to do, so who knows. Definitely won't get a "discount" but perhaps they can cut a deal before others start throwing offers at him. The real issue is would paying Burnes cost you say Westburg or someone else? I believe they will increase payroll, but paying "everyone" is not a sound way to run a business.

Unitastoberry     July 20
When Lamar shakes his January blues and takes over games or comes from behind to win Lombardis as in plural year in and year out then we can talk with words like legend and greatness.



And yes I feel the same way about former players at QB with MVPs and no ring such as Tarkenton.Marino,Jones,Newton,Matt Ryan,Fouts,etc. Very good ball players but not legends. I love football but that legend word is for guys like Brady,Montana,Mahomes,Bart Starr,Otto Graham,Bradshaw, and our own legend John Constantine Unitas.

Paul from Towson     July 19
@Jon You’re right and I didn’t take into consideration all the things Brady did in order to play 23 seasons in the NFL. On field performance notwithstanding, I was basing my opinion on the natural abilities each of them possess and while Lamar may be more gifted physically, taking into account Brady’s overall body of work, preparation, diet, etc. makes him the better overall athlete.

Jon     July 19
Here are some things that Brady did not do that Lamar has- pick 6 in playoffs, lose at home in AFC Championship, have a losing record in playoffs….and last till hes 46- so yes Lamar is a great athlete but time will tell if it trnslate to playoff success. Id argue Bradys preparation , diet and dedication to his craft do in fact make him the better athlete- natural talent is not enough. For what its worth- i woke up at 7 and will turn in by 10 for an early tee time tomm….

Paul from Towson     July 19
Good to see the folks at ESPN got one right for a change. Michael Phelps as the #1 athlete of the past 25 years is spot on. Serena as #2 is a joke, but it did exactly what ESPN wanted and created the buzz of discontent. Even Serena herself has said she's nowhere near the same league as men tennis players, let alone male athletes. But, alas, it's all over except for the discord at this point.



My contention is the lack of respect hockey players get for how athletic they are. Alex Ovechkin is the greatest hockey player of this generation, especially a young Ovie who would throw his body around and actually play defense. He should've been higher on the list in my humble opinion. And I don't consider Tom Brady a top 10 athlete. Quarterback, absolutely, #1 of the past 25 years going away. But athlete??? Nah. Put him around 15-16. As an "athlete" I put Lamar ahead of Brady. Lamar does things that Brady never could do, even in his prime, and with a stronger arm. Not more accurate, but stronger.



Drew, congrats to you and Ethan, brother!!!

carl@softwaresolutionsplus.tech     July 19
It's all good Tim D..............Have a great weekend !!

TimD in Timonium     July 19
Hey, Carl, just kidding with ya. We all have likes and dislikes. But if I'm awake at 3am, I'm trying to go back to sleep, not watch golf. But 6am? I usually awake any way. Cheers.

carl     July 19
Hi Tim D ...Maybe you can wake Drew up tomorrow ..I do enjoy Drew's articles!!

RC     July 19
Looks like Matt P might be in trouble this week eh?

Jason M     July 19
Congrats to DF and Ethan! Not a golfer but feel like I've known Ethan his whole life having listened to and read @DF daily for so long. Good job guys!

Chris P.     July 19
Hey Drew, congratulations to you and Ethan on your win yesterday!!

Steve of Pimlico     July 19
Greatest swimmer of all time was Johnny Weissmuller who constantly had to outswim crocodiles.

Delray RICK     July 19
JACK a lot better than MESSIAH, look it up. There's a player who should quit and join the old-timers in 2 years.

Billy     July 19
Why the hate for Carl?

Pat C.     July 18
DF called it. Serena wasn't #1 but she was #2 and social media is blowing up. Serena better than Lebron or Brady? NO CHANCE!



Forget about Tiger, he's almost 50. What has happened to Rory?????



And that Carl Tipton guy seems like a nice fella huh?

ED     July 18
Congrats Drew and Ethan!!

Pratt     July 18
Congrats to Drew and his son on winning the State Father Child tournament today. Might not be the US Senior Open but I bet it's pretty dang special to win a tourney with your son.

Bo     July 18
Nothing new with Tiger barely breaking 80. I can't believe anyone still believes he is competitive but I recall millions wagered on Ali before he got pummeled by Larry Holmes.

Bryan     July 18
Jack was better than tiger, and Jordan was way better than LeBron.

MFC     July 18
You can’t be a part time ceremonial golfer and expect to compete. It wasn’t lenght that’s for sure as this course has many holes under 400 yards. And he’s hitting it out there with them anyway. I think I counted 3 three-putts. Chips were like a 12 handicapper and couldn’t get any iron close all day. The heart is there but I don’t think he can practice the same way and he sure as heck isn’t playing much. It’s the golf world’s loss. I want him to be competitive, it doesn’t look like he can. This course was going to be the easier given lack of hills, so much for that. But hey Rory threw in a clinker as well. Plenty of time for them to get reacquainted this weekend at the pubs as they watch on tv.

Chuck Z     July 18
Eldrick is gonna have the weekend free in Troon. Hostesses at the local casual restaurants better have their A game ready. One of them could be the next future ex.

TimD in Timonium     July 18
@Carl, well, since you visited this page, read the content, and then commented -



apparently, YOU do.

phil m     July 18
Looks like Colin Montgomerie was correct, time for Tiger to call to a day at The Open.

Carl tipton     July 18
Who cares about the list and what time you got up ??

peter     July 18
ESPN gets money whenever random anonymous people post comments on DMD web site? Maybe those clowns are smarter than I think they are. "Peter"

such     July 18
For reasons unknown, I listened to approximately 2 minutes of the afternoon show on the local sports yak station yesterday. These guys were actually advocating for trading Holliday for Skubal and I was all "Whaaaaaa????"

Thank the gods for podcasts and Apple Music and Spotify. And that they're not in the Orioles front office. Wow.

Chris K     July 18
ESPN made this list because nothing is going on right now and also to get people worked up and therefore get more clicks. They are winning in this game of all of your complaints. That’s exactly what they wanted 😂. Continue getting mad about stupid stuff while espn laughs all the way to the bank.

Chris in Bel Air     July 18
Phelps. 5 olympics, won medals in 4 of them. Most medals all-time. Most gold medals all-time. Most individual medals all-time.

Hoping the AS break was the medicine for the O's funk. Less than 2 weeks to go until trade deadline and ready to see what moves Elias has. Doubt it happens for either but I like Skubal over Crochet.

Delray Rick     July 18
Right on HERMAN!!

TimD in Timonium     July 18
Sidney Crosby at #22, and Ovi at #54. Come on, man. Do all the ESPN writers live in Pittsburgh?



And watching early morning golf is FUN. Maybe not 2am fun, but good nonetheless.

HERMAN     July 18
Jesus, what a slow couple days here. Who cares about a top-100 list? It was written by some loser intern at ESPN and people get upset. Talk about a bunch of snowflakes.

Art     July 18
Serena is going to be #1 and everybody's head is going to explode.

Dan     July 18
Up early watching golf too and I have to ask Alex and Kevin something. What is it with the "" around people's name? I don't read or comment every day so maybe I'm missing something but why "Tom" but then it isn't "Kevin" or "CIK"? I'm confused, but my wife says that happens all the time when she sends me to the grocery store. Thanks, "Dan".

Anand     July 18
Matt P is either losing now, or if not, will be losing soon. NOBODY beats the house and its rake in the long haul. It's just too high. This is why the gambling companies have paid unprecedented millions to legislators to enact laws allowing online gambling and untold more millions to celebrities to lead the suckers into signing up for betting accounts. -- Put your money into 401ks -- you are not smarter than algorithms that know how you think, and what you will do, more clearly than you do yourself.

alex     July 17
Really "Tom"?? That's your takeaway from what Kevin and CIK posted? SMDH.

Tom     July 17
I don't bet and I don't have a dog in the race but it sure seems like Kevin and CIK should be less jealous of a guy who won (whatever he won).

kevin     July 17
Why are "Jerry" and "Bo" chiming in on me complimenting Matt P? Some of you people are weird. My interpretation of what Matt P is exactly what CIK said. Matt bet 4k and got paid 10K, ergo, he is ahead 6K.

My thinking is Matt P is the only person who can say hey Kevin, you are wrong, I bet 4K, got paid 14K and am "ahead" 10K. If Matt P says that's the case, I'd apologize for my misunderstanding.

My POINT remains the same, he risked 4K on a stranger's free advice, and my take is that was pretty ballsy of him and I congratulated him (ie a "compliment" not needing anyone to rush to his defense). Whether he netted 6K or 10K is not germane to that point.

Likewise, this "Larry" guy is confused as well. I was trashing ESPN for their subjective poll which is for attention only and serves no purpose. I commented that DMD took their bait is all. Never said DMD is not allowed to have an opinion, I come here daily to read DMD's opinions!






Paul from Towson     July 17
RIP, Jerry Walker.



When I was a kid, I remember how fondly my dad spoke about the O’s Kiddie Korp from the early 60’s. To this day, he reminds me how Paul Richards essentially built the Orioles into contention and never gets the credit he deserves for his part in creating “The Oriole Way.”

Friday
July 12, 2024
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#3612


o's losing leverage?


OK, so here's a trade offer I created yesterday while watching some massive waves crash onto the beach in Ocean City.

And this was before last night's 8-0 humbling at the hands of the Cubs in Baltimore.

How about...

The Pirates get Jackson Holliday.

And the Orioles get Paul Skenes.

Like it?

I love it.

I'm kidding, of course.

The Pirates would never do that deal.

And those trade concepts that rattle around in our heads are almost always tilted in favor of our team(s). We try to fleece everybody, even the smart teams.

But while a Holliday-for-Skenes deal is silly talk, #DMD reader Bill P. has something on his mind that's not silly. His e-mail from yesterday afternoon might even be worth more consideration after Thursday's shutout loss completed a 3-game sweep by the visiting Cubs.

Bill P. wrote: If we lose tonight and the Yankees come in here and take 2 of 3 or sweep us has Elias lost a lot of trade leverage over the last two or three weeks? Teams now know we are flawed to the point where we might be desperate for a quick fix or two. Thoughts, Drew?

Well, the O's did lose "tonight", as in Thursday night. Their pitching wasn't great. Their offense was virtually non-existent. And when they were presented with opportunities to drive in runs, they couldn't do it.

But have they lost leverage?

It is a fair question.

I think, though, that the answer is "No, they haven't."

Is Mike Elias losing trade leverage with the O's recent tailspin?

Now, there's no telling what the White Sox really want for Crochet or the Tigers really want for Skubal. Those two pitchers in particular might be out of the O's trading wheelhouse no matter if they sweep the Cubs or lose three straight to the Cubs like they did this week.

But the reason Mike Elias isn't losing leverage is because I'm guessing he has a list of players he's willing to part with and a list of players that are on his own, private, no trade list.

He's not giving up Coby Mayo in a package for Crochet or Skubal.

He's not giving up Jordan Westburg in a package for Crochet or Skubal.

He's not giving up Heston Kjerstad in a package for Crochet or Skubal.

I don't know that, obviously. I'm just saying, there's a list of certain players that aren't available no matter if it's Crochet, Skubal or anyone else that might be available to the right bidder this month.

Now, where Elias might potentially be losing leverage is if some other team comes along and pays the asking price for those two pitchers and suddenly the O's are left to consider guys like Quantrill, Kikuchi or Severino.

The Rockies, Blue Jays and Mets might all say, "Well, before you lost out on Skubal and Crochet we would have taken "xxx" for our guy but now we're gonna need "xxx" and "xx".

But I'm guessing Elias wouldn't play that game, either.

He knows the O's need help. And he knows he'll part with guys like Stowers, Povich, Norby and maybe even Cowser to snag what he wants.

But he also knows now is not the time to get fleeced just because you've hit a little mid-season rut.

The Rangers, remember, had one of the best records in all of baseball for the first 110 games of the season in 2023, then bottomed out in August, barely made the playoffs in September, then went on a record-setting post-season run that saw win every post-season road game they played en-route to the title.

You can't rely on history to get you through, but it's also worth looking at history and remembering that it does tend to repeat itself.

I don't think Elias is losing leverage. He's going to ship off the same guys today that he would have been willing to ship off on Monday of this week.

But I understand the question and I think it's a fair one.

The White Sox are looking to fleece someone for Garrett Crochet and it's probably unimportant to them who the trade partner is at the end of the day.

They just want the best possible package of players. If the Orioles weren't willing to meet those demands last month and last week, I just don't see Elias caving in now and saying, "OK, OK, I'll give you Cowser and Mayo for Crochet now."

Maybe I'm wrong.

But I don't think I am.

And if the O's win 3 of 3 or 2 of 3 to the Yankees, we won't be nearly as worried about it all as we are this morning after getting punked three straight by the Cubs in Baltimore.


Bruce in Pasadena writes in with a question: "Do you think Tiger opting out of the Ryder Cup captain was truly about him not having the time to devote to it or do you think maybe Tiger wanted a lot of money and the PGA wouldn't pay him? And how do you think Tiger would have been as a captain of the team?"

DF says: "I have no way of knowing why he didn't take the job, really, but I'm guessing in the end it probably was more about the time associated with running the team and not at all about money. I think Tiger, like everyone else, enjoys earning money. But I don't think he runs around looking for big projects to pay him a lot of money.

I can't imagine he said to the PGA of America, "Give me $10 million to captain the team." They would probably say to him, "Tiger, be serious. It's a home game. In New York, no less. There's about a 3% chance we're losing there in 2025. We could put anyone in there to captain the team and we'll win."

I personally think Tiger is more interested in watching his kids play high school sports than he is being the Ryder Cup captain. And, sure, maybe his new role helping piece together the PGA Tour/LIV alliance is also part of the reason he turned down the opportunity.

But there's very little doubt that Woods will be a captain someday and will, most likely, be a multi-term captain as well.

As for the quality of his captaincy, I've never seen Woods tackle anything that he was solely responsible for and be anything but great. Sure, his Ryder Cup playing record isn't all that impressive, but a majority of that competition is a 2-man team event, remember.

I think he'd be an excellent captain. I have no idea if that means the team will go to Ireland and win with him in 2027, but whenever that opportunity arises, I suspect the U.S. will perform well for Tiger.

By the way, I think Keegan Bradley was picked, in part, because he gives the U.S. a nice chance for a multi-term guy. If they win at Bethpage in 2025, they'll run Bradley back again in 2027, assuming he wants the job for another two years."


C.J. asks -- "Hi Drew, can you check out these six names and tell me in what order you'd be willing trade them at the deadline? Mullins, Santander, Cowser, Hays, Mateo."

DF says -- "Well, Mateo doesn't have any trade value at all. I won't even list him. I mean, he might be DFA'd here in the next 15 days for all we know. I can't imagine any team would take him unless he was an "add on" in a deal for a veteran pitcher.

Of that list above, I'd say the guy I'm least interested in parting with right now is Cowser simply because he's just breaking into the big leagues. He's been hot, cold and somewhere in between all season. I don't know if he's ever going to be a great, every day player in the Majors, but of those guys you listed, he's at the top of the "don't want to trade" list.

Santander is next, I guess, but I also think there's a good chance he's going to get a nice free agent deal with someone this off-season. So with that in mind, I wouldn't be totally oppoosed to moving him if the deal was right.

You can flip a coin when it comes to Hays and Mullins. They're the same age and pretty much the same player, although Hays is a better hitter (barely) at this point in his career."

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#dmd's british open top 10


Yes, I still call it the British Open.

I know it's formally known, now, as The Open Championship, but when you say "Open Championship", how do you know where it's being played?

When you say "U.S. Open", you know it's in the U.S.

When you say "British Open", you know it's being played in Great Britain. Or the United Kingdom. I realize they are not one and the same but you get the point. I call it the "British" Open because it's held over there, if you will.

Anyway, they're playing this year's edition of the British Open at Royal Troon, where 9 other "Open Championships" have been held since 1923. The last four of them have all featured something similarily unique. The winners all won their first (and as it turned out, only) major championship at Troon.

Mark Calcavecchia (1989), Justin Leonard (1997), Todd Hamilton (2004) and Henrik Stenson (2016) were the four most recent winners, with only Hamilton being a complete surprise. Calcavecchia, Leonard and Stenson were all top ranked players who were favored to win a major at some point and Troon just happened to be the site of their eventual victory.

You're going to see a theme with our Top 10. The names will not necessarily be of the household variety.

We'll issue our usual caveat when it comes to wagering on majors in 2024. Scottie Scheffler is currently at +400, which is kind of a crazy-low number, of course. You won't make much money on him if he wins. I assume he'll be right there at the end on Sunday. He is Scottie Scheffler, after all.

But for purposes of this 10-day exercise, we won't be listing Scheffler. We're urging you to wager on him to win just so you can wave the winning ticket at your friends, but there are several other players we're very high on and would urge you to consider as well.

The theme we're going with isn't that much different than last year's winner, Brian Harman. Or the 1989 winner in Mark Calcavechhia. We're keen on players who are nudging up against winning a major but just haven't managed to do it quite yet.

Recent history at Troon suggests one of those kind of players is going to be holding the Claret Jug on July 21.

#10 was Corey Conners. Robert Macintyre was #9. Aaron Rai was #8. Xander Schauffele was #7.

Billy Horschel ranks 5th on the TOUR in putting in 2024. Can he parlay that excellent work on the greens into a British Open title next week?

#6, Billy Horschel -- If you're looking for the right handed version of last year's winner, southpaw Brian Harman, you just might have him. And he's 175-1, too.

There isn't much about Horschel's game that stands out, in the same way there wasn't much about Harman's that stood out, either.

But if Justin Leonard can win a British Open, so, too, can Billy Horschel.

He's played 9 "Open Championship" events in his career and made the cut in just 3 of them. But don't let that take you away from the fact that he's enjoying a nice 2024 campaign.

Horschel has made 12 of 17 cuts, with a win this season (Puntacana) and four other Top 10 finishes.

His shots gained numbers are fine, except for "approach to green", which are bottom half of the pack. But he's 5th in putting, which, as we saw with Harman last year when he made 58 of 59 putts within 10 feet, is where the majors are won.

Horschel has 7 career individual wins on TOUR, including the FedEx Cup title in 2014. He knows how to win. His golf wasn't great in 2023, but he's turned it around this year.

And if you're looking for this season's edition of Brian Harman, 2023, it just might be Billy Horschel. And at 175-1? Yes, please.

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faith in sports


Many of you will remember I helped run the national FCA golf camp at Kutztown University late last month.

We had a great time!

And so did roughly 600 other athletes who converged on the central Pennyslvania school for a week of faith, fellowship and athletic fun.

The 3 minute video below highlights the entire week of camp and showcases the various sports and activities that were part of the camp. You might even recognize a certain golf instructor in the video if you look closely enough.

To those of you who donated to our golf camp efforts this year, I hope you'll check out the video below to see where your support goes and how much it helps us produce one of the best camps you'll find anywhere.

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


JERRY'S TOYOTA banner
Thursday
July 11, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3611


fractured and fired


Did you guys ever see that 2007 movie, "Fracture", starring Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling?

You see, there's this scene in that flick that reminds me of the Orioles.

I'm kidding.

Not about the movie. It's a great movie, as I pointed out here yesterday.

I'm kidding about going back to the well with that one again today. Just seeing if you're paying attention, that's all.

But last night's loss to the Cubs and the club's failure to cash in with runners in scoring position continues to highlight a problem that seems to be more than just an occasional thing with the 2024 edition of the O's.

Last night they went 0-for-11.

In Tuesday's series opener vs. Chicago, they were a mere 0-for-1.

July 7, 2-for-9

July 6, 4-for-14

July 5, 2-for-10

July 4, 0-for-7

July 3, 2-for-6

July 2, 2-for-10

That's 12 for 68 with runners in scoring position over their last 8 games and the only game they actually were halfway decent in that category was a 19-8 loss.

Corbin Burnes allowed 3 runs in 6 innings last night but the O's offense produced goose eggs in a 4-0 defeat to the Cubs.

That's a .176 batting average for those Flyers fans who have a calculator handy but don't know how to compute it.

Two guys who were starting to perk up are once again scuffling at the plate.

It's certainly not the fault of both Jorge Mateo and Cedric Mullins that the O's are in the midst of a concerning offensive drought, but their lack of production at the plate has reduced the Birds to a 7-man lineup for the most part.

Mateo's last 20 games look like this: .197/.222/.344

I get it. He's fast. And he's a capable defensive player. But his offensive numbers speak for themselves.

Mullins had a nice little two week run back in mid-late June, but we're seeing more of the old Ced over the last week or so. He's 4-for-his-last-29.

But here's what's making the Mateo-Mullins situation worse: They are Ichiro compared to what's going on with Colton Cowser of late. If Mullins was struggling but Cowser was hitting. 280 or something like that, it might be OK. Alas, Cowser is also stinking it up.

Cowser has four, yes, four multi-hit games since June 1st. It's now July 11.

He's 8 for his last 51 at the plate, which is .156.

There was a time back in May when Cowser had the look of the team's Fair Haired Boy. There was some kind of section dedicated to him in the outfield seats, people were "moo'ing" when he arrived at the plate and it looked like the O's had potentially found their new, full time centerfielder.

Some of those moo's have been replaced with boo's, unfortunately. He is going through a rough patch of late.

You might not realize it, but James McCann has started 40% of the team's games at catcher this season. We'll touch more on that here tomorrow or over the weekend. There's a story there, too.

We've been rehashing some of these offensive issues for a while now, but winning always seemed to take care of them. And it still might, of course.

But summer baseball is different than fall baseball. The weather and temperatures change, the ball doesn't carry like it did in the sweltering months of June, July and August and you're suddenly 2-0 down in the series to Texas or Boston or Minnesota and you're saying to yourself the same thing Mike Damone said when Mark Ratner assaulted him in the locker room at the end of Fast Times At Ridgemont High: "I don't know what the hell happened."

As I wrote here yesterday, it's not panic time. The O's are still in first place, still on cruise control for an A.L. playoff spot and still have a plethora of minor league stash that will be attractive to other teams at the trade deadline.

But to ignore some of these warning signs -- both on the mound and at the plate -- would be a gross dereliction of duty.

The reality is Mullins has been lousy all season but did manage to put together a nice 2-week run that spiked his numbers up from miserable to discouraging.

Mateo is what he is, which is a guy who can hit lefties "just OK", can't hit righties "hardly at all" and is prone to the occasional show of power when all of his chakras are in line.

But the reality with Mateo is if he wasn't useful with the glove and wasn't fast on the basepaths, he wouldn't have a job in Major League Baseball. He's not a quality hitter.

Corbin Burnes wasn't his usual exceptional self last night but he was still more than good enough to win. He threw 6 innings, allowed just 3 earned runs, struck out 5, and even though he gave up 9 hits, several of those were dinky, off-the-end-of-the-bat types that were nothing to worry about.

Burnes and Grayson Rodriguez are unquestionably effective nearly every time they take the mound. GrayRod will throw in a stinker once every 6 or 7 starts, but he's clearly a #2 starter who will be the team's defacto #1 guy next season after Burnes leaves for the Dodgers, Rangers or Yankees this winter.

Pitching help and someone to drive in runs when there are guys on base. That's what the O's need. And that "someone to drive in runs" might even need to be two people if the bottom of the order keeps flatlining like it has been over the last two weeks.

Losing two in a row at home to the Cubs? Yikes.

Then again, let's remember the Reds just went into New York last week and took 3 of 3 from the Yankees.

There's always a silver lining somewhere. You just have to look carefully for it.

Kind of like looking for hairline fractures in eggs...


The U.S. men's soccer team did what they pretty much had to do yesterday, firing embattled head coach Gregg Berthalter after a relatively successful 5-year spell that ended with an embarrassing early exit from this summer's Copa America tournament.

Berhalter's time with the national team was met with mixed results, although it's fair to point out he's the one coach who finally figured out how to get the U.S. side to beat Mexico on a regular basis. In the end, though, a discouraging 5-1 loss to Colombia in a Copa warm-up tilt and a 2-1 home defeat to Panama in the tournament proper were the final pieces of evidence used against him.

As I've chronicled here on numerous occasions, I'm not a huge Berhalter fan but I was also not a Berhalter hater, either. I thought he did a capable job with the program given the lack of overall quality within the pool of U.S. players he was allowed to consider.

The hope here is that this is the beginning of a process that the United States Soccer Federation takes very seriously in advance of the 2026 World Cup.

Gregg Berhalter was relieved of his U.S. soccer team coaching duties on Wednesday.

Step one was to give in to public (and perhaps, corporate) pressure and fire the head coach.

Step two will be to bring in someone new and throw out the template promotional commentary that goes with it: "So-and-so will bring a new energy to the program" and "We're excited to see what so-and-so will do over the next two years with this incredibly talented group of players we have".

Step three will be some startling, impressive early success, even though the U.S. isn't slated to play any kind of formal, tournament-level competition until World Cup 2026 rolls around. But there will be some "friendlies" against top level countries and the Americans will perform well in those, leading everyone to assume there's hope for 2026 and that Berhalter, in fact, was the problem.

Step four will be the inevitable slice of "market correction" that always comes with coaching changes and such. The players, not the coach, will then be on the hot seat after a series of disappointing performances.

And then...step five. The USSF will realize they simply don't have enough quality soccer players to compete at the World Cup level.

As I noted yesterday on Twitter after Berhalter's firing, now all the Americans need to do is find 8 or 9 new starting players to replace the ones they currently have and they'll be rolling.

Coaching matters, yes. But there's only one of those.

There are 11 players on the field. You can't win if you have 1 or 2 really good ones and 9 or 10 "just OK" types.

As for new coaching candidates, the rumor is the U.S. is zeroing in on former National team member Steve Cherundolo, who spent his entire playing career in the German Bundesliga and is currently a head coach in L.A. with Major League Soccer.

LAFC has enjoyed a very respectable 2-year run under Cherundolo's leadership, which is why he's the hot choice to replace Berhalter.

But the only reason Cherundolo is being considered is because other more well accomplished international coaches are likely not interested in taking the U.S. gig.

They've seen the roster of the team just like you and I see it.

Cherundolo, who was a decent player, but nothing more, if that matters, will gladly accept the U.S. head coach position if offered to him. And, like Berhalter initially, he'll have some early success because that's generally how the soccer gods do it.

But those very same people clamoring for Berhalter's ouster in 2024 will be begging for Cherundolo's dismissal in two or three years. You can make book on that.

The U.S. will be gifted ("somehow", ahem ahem) a cozy group in World Cup 2026 that oils the lane nicely for them to advance to the knockout stage of the tournament. Once there, they either advance and Cherundolo is a wonderkid or they get bumped by someone like the Netherlands, England, Portugal or Belgium and we're right back to square one.

I thought we'd have U.S. soccer cleaned up and "legitimate" by 2026. Alas, it's still a mess.

But now we at least have a new coach to blame if it all falls apart. Again.

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#dmd's british open top 10


Yes, I still call it the British Open.

I know it's formally known, now, as The Open Championship, but when you say "Open Championship", how do you know where it's being played?

When you say "U.S. Open", you know it's in the U.S.

When you say "British Open", you know it's being played in Great Britain. Or the United Kingdom. I realize they are not one and the same but you get the point. I call it the "British" Open because it's held over there, if you will.

Anyway, they're playing this year's edition of the British Open at Royal Troon, where 9 other "Open Championships" have been held since 1923. The last four of them have all featured something similarily unique. The winners all won their first (and as it turned out, only) major championship at Troon.

Mark Calcavecchia (1989), Justin Leonard (1997), Todd Hamilton (2004) and Henrik Stenson (2016) were the four most recent winners, with only Hamilton being a complete surprise. Calcavecchia, Leonard and Stenson were all top ranked players who were favored to win a major at some point and Troon just happened to be the site of their eventual victory.

You're going to see a theme with our Top 10. The names will not necessarily be of the household variety.

We'll issue our usual caveat when it comes to wagering on majors in 2024. Scottie Scheffler is currently at +400, which is kind of a crazy-low number, of course. You won't make much money on him if he wins. I assume he'll be right there at the end on Sunday. He is Scottie Scheffler, after all.

But for purposes of this 10-day exercise, we won't be listing Scheffler. We're urging you to wager on him to win just so you can wave the winning ticket at your friends, but there are several other players we're very high on and would urge you to consider as well.

The theme we're going with isn't that much different than last year's winner, Brian Harman. Or the 1989 winner in Mark Calcavechhia. We're keen on players who are nudging up against winning a major but just haven't managed to do it quite yet.

Recent history at Troon suggests one of those kind of players is going to be holding the Claret Jug on July 21.

#10 was Corey Conners. Robert Macintyre was #9. Aaron Rai was #8.

Xander Schauffele is one of the favorites next week at Troon in the 4th and final major of the 2024 golf calendar.

#7, Xander Schauffele -- I'm certainly not going with all longshot types next week. No, no, no.

In as much as I'm assuming Scottie Scheffler will be there on Sunday, there's also almost no doubt that Xander Schauffele will be on the leaderboard at some point in the final round.

He's just too good to not have a chance to hoist the Claret Jug.

You're not getting much in return for him, obviously. Most books have him at 10-1, which isn't quite the 4-1 you're seeing on Scheffler, but it's still a low number.

Schauffele won the PGA, of course, and is enjoying the kind of year most people expected of him. Prior to this week's Scottish Open, he's 16 for 16 in events entered/cuts made. He backed up his win at the PGA with a T8 at the Memorial and a T7 at the U.S. Open in mid-June.

He's not the #1 player in the world because Scheffler is perched there, in concrete, but he very well might be the 2nd best player in the world, with apologies to Rory.

And the thought here is he's going to stand a solid chance to win next week at Troon.

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JERRY'S TOYOTA banner
Wednesday
July 10, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3610


"it's just baseball"


After last night's 9-2 home shellacking at the hands of the very-meh Chicago Cubs, #DMD reader Jonathan reached out to me with an 11:19 pm e-mail that led me to a shift in today's planned content.

"Over the last three weeks are we starting to see the first signs that the Orioles have bigger holes then (sic) maybe we're willing to admit they do?" he asked me.

His e-mail contained some pitch data on certain players (Henderson, Rutschman, Santander in particular) that Jonathan says is just now being sourced by other teams and will eventually be used against those three and others as the season carries on.

I could post those things and bore you to tears with it all but, like me, I'm guessing most of you wouldn't, A) care about it and, B) be willing to sit through a 20-minute tutorial to understand it all.

In general, though, the data, from a stat-nerd-website, points out that certain Orioles can't hit offspeed pitching, some can't offspeed pitching with runners in scoring position, some can't any-kind-of-pitching-with-the-game-on-the-line-and-runners-in-scoring-position in the 8th or 9th innings.

Is Garrett Crochet of the White Sox the number one trade target of the Orioles this month?

There's a stat for everyone, every inning and every at-bat sequence you can think of.

What's Gunnar hit in one-run day games in the 8th or 9th inning when he's facing a left handed pitcher? I don't know, myself, but there's a website somewhere that does.

Anyway, Jonathan's main point is the only one I'm really interested in and it was pretty straight forward and simple: "Over the last three weeks are we starting to see the first signs that the Orioles have bigger holes than maybe we're willing to admit they do?" I cleaned up the "then/than" issue there.

There was a 2007 movie starring Anthony Hopkins called "Fracture". It was one of his more obscure films of the last 20 years, I'd say, but also one of his best acting performances. That, of course, is akin to saying "Levon" was one of Elton John's best songs. They're pretty much all great.

In the movie, Hopkins is a wife-murder suspect who tries to outsmart young-whippersnapper-prosecutor Ryan Gosling. I won't spoil the rest of it for you. It's a great film.

Editor's note: I'd advise the men reading this to not allow your wife or female partner to watch any movies that feature Ryan Gosling. You might not ever get her back.

Anyway, there's a scene in the movie where Hopkins is being interviewed by Gosling for the trial and says (in paraphrase), "When I was a young boy, my grandfather was an egg farmer. He would give the eggs to me and ask me to look at them to make sure they weren't broken or cracked. When he came back at the end of the day I had put 300 eggs in the basket. I found a flaw in every one of them. Thin faces in the shell. Hairline cracks. If you look closely enough you can find that everything has a weak spot where it can break."

That's the Orioles.

That's also the Guardians.

And the Mariners.

The Yankees don't even have hairline cracks. They have egg leaking out of holes in their shell at this point.

Are the Orioles perfect? Of course not.

They do have flaws. And hairline cracks. And, as we saw last October when the Rangers came to town, those blemishes tend to get exposed more as the pressure cranks up.

But last night's 9-2 loss to the Cubs isn't much different, to me, than losing 3-2 to the Guardians. It's a loss.

I will admit I tend to look at baseball differently than a lot of people.

Baseball, to me, is 70% pitching, 20% hitting and 10% fielding/defense.

Good pitching always beats good hitting because the pitcher is the only person on the field who actually knows what he is doing before the pitch is thrown.

You might argue with the 70/20/10 split above and that's fine, but I can't imagine you'd ever claim that hitting is more vital than pitching. It's just not.

Now, have we seen some cracks and fractures in the Orioles over the last three weeks or so? Sure. They gave up 14 runs in Houston on a Friday night, then scored two runs in the next 18 innings on Saturday and Sunday on their way to getting swept.

Cleveland then buzzed into town and took two of three.

Texas poured 11 runs on the O's in an embarrassing Sunday Night Baseball fiasco and then the lowly A's scored 19 times last Saturday.

And then you have last night's dismal outing from Dean Kremer and the 9-2 loss to the Cubs.

I see where Jonathan is coming from. I'm not saying he doesn't have a point.

But my point is the same one Anthony Hopkins made.

Every team is flawed. Some of their blemishes (i.e., the White Sox and Marlins) are more painfully obvious. But every team has a crack or hairline fracture. Even the Dodgers and their $100 billion payroll have a 55-37 record thus far in 2024.

Now, do the O's need some pitching help? They do. I don't think there's an ardent fan of the team anywhere who thinks they're going to win the World Series with the starting staff they're currently trotting out there every week, not unless every post-season series suddenly gets changed to best-of-3.

Could they use another right handed bat or two? They sure could. I hear a rumor Coby Mayo bats right handed. I'm trying to confirm that piece of news, though.

But Mayo and Mayo alone won't win the O's a World Series. They need some veteran help from the right side of the plate, although it's fair to point out that Austin Hays has seen improved numbers over the last six weeks since he returned from the injured list.

Hays, though, is also not going to win the World Series for the O's. They do need some more help on offense.

Another reliable relief arm would also be a positive step.

I'm certain that if a dummy from Glen Burnie knows those things that so, too, does Mike Elias. The question is, of course, what is he willing to part with in an effort to clean up those cracks and blemishes?

If he wants a player with contract control, he's going to have to give up a valuable prospect (or two). This is the Garrett Crochet debate in high definition. Do you really want to give up some combination of Cowser/Kjerstad/Mayo/Stowers/Povich, etc. for Crochet?

Or would you prefer to just rent Severino or another veteran in the November of his career and not give up much of anything?

I'm probably the outlier in this, but I'm not overly enthused about giving up any of the more valuable, high profile prospects.

I want to get better. Yes indeed. But I'm not giving up 3 or 4 players for Crochet, who still remains mostly unproven, despite his solid numbers for the worst team in baseball.

I hate to bring up this dude, but he reminds me of Erik Bedard. The Mariners thought Bedard was the answer to their woes once upon a time and, well, not so much.

But if it's Crochet they wind up getting, that's fine. I assume Mike Elias and his band of number-crunchers will go through every last detail to figure out the best deal for the club. They will, like Anthony Hopkins did, go through every egg, holding them all up to the candle to see if there's a flaw or hairline fracture.

In the end, my answer to Jonathan's e-mail is simple.

"It's just baseball."

You go through 5 game winning streaks and 5 game losing streaks and you score 17 runs and then give up 17 runs. You hit 12 home runs in 6 games and you hit 4 home runs in 6 games.

And here's the thing that I hope Jonathan realizes so his summer doesn't get ruined.

Every team goes through the same trials and peaks-and-valleys. Some go through them three times a season and some go through them ten times a season.

Baseball is designed that way.

The best teams always rise to the top after 162 games. No one has ever fluked their way to a division title or a World Series.

Half a season does not a World Series win, but the O's are one of the best teams in baseball in 2024. Whether they win it all remains to be seen, but their cracks and blemishes are no different than the ones being "candled" in Philadelphia, Cleveland, Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York, Boston, etc.

Oh, and here's the last thing I'm doing if I'm the Orioles. It's not even the "last thing". It's the thing I'm not going to do.

I'm not going to panic.


The PGA Tour is officially "across the pond" for the next two weeks, with this week's Scottish Open serving as a nice prelude to next week's British Open.

Our summer heater continued last week with Denny McCarthy at the John Deere. We hope you were on the good end of that one. Likewise, we're hoping this week's selection of five players at the Scottish Open serves you well.

Thomas Detry is listed at a very inviting number of 80-1 at this week's Scottish Open, which makes me wonder if someone on the inside knows something about Detry that us regular folk don't. He's never missed the cut at the Scottish (when it's been played at The Renaissance Club).

He lost in a Scottish Open playoff in 2021 to Min Woo Lee and finished Top 10 the year before. We're on his side this week, for sure.

Can Matthew Fitzpatrick add a Scottish Open title to his 2022 U.S. Open trophy?

We love the chances of Matthew Fitzpatrick this week and his 35-1 number is well worth an investment. Fitzpatrick might also be a reasonable investment next week at Troon, so grab him now before he wins at the Scottish and his number dips.

This one is a bit off the radar, but at 125-1 we are very keen on Englishman Matt Wallace this week. The Scottish Open is one of those events where someone you might not expect occasionally comes out on top (Aaron Rai in 2020, Bernd Wiesberger in 2019 and Brandon Stone in 2018).

Wallace is a good links-style player who might not be ready for the big show at Troon next week, but could fare well at the Scottish this week.

It's hard to pass on Min Woo Lee this week...so we won't. He's won at the course before, is starting to show signs of having his game in top shape, and will be a favorite longshot pick next week at Troon, we're guessing.

If he drives the ball well (or at least decently enough), Lee has a real chance to win in either of the next two weeks. His price this week is a little off putting (28-1) but there's still money to be made there if he wins or finishes Top 10.

Collin Morikawa seems like a great fit for the next two weeks, even if his number (16-1) isn't great. Morikawa is playing some of the best golf of his career of late. He seems destined to win something big before the year is up and this week or at the British would be one of those occasions.

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#dmd's british open top 10


Yes, I still call it the British Open.

I know it's formally known, now, as The Open Championship, but when you say "Open Championship", how do you know where it's being played?

When you say "U.S. Open", you know it's in the U.S.

When you say "British Open", you know it's being played in Great Britain. Or the United Kingdom. I realize they are not one and the same but you get the point. I call it the "British" Open because it's held over there, if you will.

Anyway, they're playing this year's edition of the British Open at Royal Troon, where 9 other "Open Championships" have been held since 1923. The last four of them have all featured something similarily unique. The winners all won their first (and as it turned out, only) major championship at Troon.

Mark Calcavecchia (1989), Justin Leonard (1997), Todd Hamilton (2004) and Henrik Stenson (2016) were the four most recent winners, with only Hamilton being a complete surprise. Calcavecchia, Leonard and Stenson were all top ranked players who were favored to win a major at some point and Troon just happened to be the site of their eventual victory.

You're going to see a theme with our Top 10. The names will not necessarily be of the household variety.

We'll issue our usual caveat when it comes to wagering on majors in 2024. Scottie Scheffler is currently at +400, which is kind of a crazy-low number, of course. You won't make much money on him if he wins. I assume he'll be right there at the end on Sunday. He is Scottie Scheffler, after all.

But for purposes of this 10-day exercise, we won't be listing Scheffler. We're urging you to wager on him to win just so you can wave the winning ticket at your friends, but there are several other players we're very high on and would urge you to consider as well.

The theme we're going with isn't that much different than last year's winner, Brian Harman. Or the 1989 winner in Mark Calcavechhia. We're keen on players who are nudging up against winning a major but just haven't managed to do it quite yet.

Recent history at Troon suggests one of those kind of players is going to be holding the Claret Jug on July 21.

#10 was Corey Conners. Robert Macintyre was #9.

Aaron Rai is one of the more capable ball strikers on the PGA Tour so far in 2024, a stat that should bode well for him next week at the British Open.

#8, Aaron Rai -- Just like I was disappointed when Bob Macintyre won the Canadian Open in early June, I'm equally as bummed about the fine recent play of Aaron Rai.

I thought, six weeks ago, that Rai would be one of those 250-1 longshots at Troon that I'd secretly scoop up and have enough to retire on when he scored a 4-shot win at this year's British Open.

Alas, he's now at 50-1 for next week's Open Championship after a month of outstanding play on the PGA Tour. Rai is an Englishman who has spent most of his career on the (DP) European Tour but has recently set up camp on the PGA Tour and is starting to really make a name for himself.

He doesn't have a win on TOUR yet but he does have two European wins and has knocked on the door here in the U.S. on several occasions recently, playing in the final group on Sunday at both Rocket Mortgage and John Deere.

He's made the cut in both majors he's played this season and put together a nice T19 finish at Pinehurst last month.

If you're looking for a bit of an obscure player for next week's foray around Troon, take a deep look at Aaron Rai, particularly as a potential first round leader.

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Tuesday
July 9, 2024
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#3609


roasted by the guardian


It's four days old but I'm just getting around to digesting the criticism and back and forth that's been generated by last Friday's scathing piece in The Guardian that shredded the recent international soccer coverage of FOX Sports here in "the States" as they call it.

For those that don't know, The Guardian is a (completely) liberal publication born and raised in Manchester, England way back in 1821. It wasn't always (completely) liberal. But by the time they changed the publication's name from The Manchester Guardian to just The Guardian in 1959, it had taken on a liberal political stance.

These days, there's a Guardian UK and Guardian US, both of which distribute the same message, just in different time zones.

Former U.S. national team defender Alexi Lalas is the main analyst for FOX's soccer coverage this summer.

Now, you should know this right from the very first whistle: This is not a stab at The Guardian for being a liberal news organization. I couldn't care less about them.

Unlike CNN here in the U.S., who attempts -- very poorly -- to pass themselves off as a well-rounded, neutral source of American and international news, The Guardian makes no effort to disguise themselves as anything other than what they are.

In fact, CNN would be well served to pay attention to what The Guardian did last Friday and just follow suit. Rather than try to pretend they aren't liberal, CNN should just dive in and roll with it.

But let's get back to the story at hand and get out of politics.

If only we could.

Because it's entirely germane to the theme, I'm going to give you the opportunity to read the lengthy piece published last Friday that centers on FOX's coverage of the European soccer championships and the Copa America soccer tournament, both of which FOX is airing. You can read it here.

I'll save you the trouble.

Here are the quick hits:

FOX is terrible at covering soccer.

Their announcers are bland, prone to hyperbole and pretty much cut from the same cloth as every American sports announcer: they're more style than substance.

Alexi Lalas is a conservative Trump supporter who is the worst of the worst.

The first two are pretty much right there in print, smacking you directly in the face like the almost 100 degree temps we've felt in Baltimore over the last two weeks.

The Lalas part is subtle. You have to know The Guardian and the manner in which they've torn into Lalas over the years to understand the plot and the game they're playing.

They make only one "real" mention of Lalas and Trump but that's all they needed: Ponying up in a pastel suite of summer suits from Men’s Wearhouse, his thinning orange locks swept into a Trumpy scroll, the Big A has commanded the desk from his far-right perch with customary charmlessness and belligerence.

Make no mistake about it, Lalas is the central whipping boy from last Friday's piece. Sure, they also rag on studio host Rob Stone and other analysts like Carli Lloyd and Clint Dempsey. But they're just appetizers for the main course. Lalas is the big piece of meat they want to filet.

And it's all because Lalas is a conservative, Republican and supporter of Donald Trump.

The truth of the matter is The Guardian got a lot of it right in their column last Friday, just like they did in 2022, 2020 and 2018 when they also published scathing commentaries about Lalas, Stone and FOX's soccer coverage. What they did last Friday isn't new and it's not necessarily undeserved, either.

Stone is mostly a wet blanket in his role as studio host. He's pro-American, as you'd expect the lead guy of a broadcast centered on American soccer to be, but he does it in a way that's awkward at best.

Carli Lloyd is terrible. I realize there has to be a female on the set and all and her resume and professional pedigree suggests she'd be good at studio work. Alas, her soccer was extraordinary and her broadcasting acumen is bench-worthy. She's just not very good.

Clint Dempsey might actually be worse than Lloyd. I know you're thinking, "Is that possible?" Yes, it might be possible.

But you can write those things or say those things and it's OK. Because scrutiny is part of the business.

When it comes to Lalas, though, The Guardian can't help themselves.

He's a conservative. They're liberal. And that's the end of the scrutiny as it relates to being fair.

I don't think Lalas is terrible. I also don't think he's great. But I do think he's the best we have in terms of American broadcasters who, A) have played the sport and know what they're talking about, B) have enough passion about the state of the sport to dig in and understand what's happening on the ground floor and, C) are willing to criticize when necessary and even take an unpopular stance if called for.

What I don't care about whatsoever is who Alexi Lalas thinks should be the next President, in the same way I don't care who Jim Nantz is going to vote for or who Kevin Brown is going to vote for in November. It's really none of my business, anyway. And even if they publicize their voting tendencies, I don't give a rat's rear end if they support Biden or Trump.

The Guardian raked everyone affiliated with FOX over the coals, but the only one they turned over and baked three times was Lalas. He was, after all, the only one they mentioned in connection with his conservative political leanings and support of Donald Trump.

Their commentary last Friday wasn't that far off the mark. FOX is trying hard to be good at soccer, but -- much like the American men's team over the last 50 years -- they're just not there yet.

My personal opinion? FOX's coverage of Copa America has received a passing grade, but mostly in the same way a teacher decides midway through the semester to pass a kid as long as he doesn't put any more boogers on Amy Trimbull's back and just sits in his seat with his head on the desk.

The Guardian doesn't think FOX passed the class and much of what they say about the student is reasonable, if not a little over the top for theater sake.

But their hatchet job on Lalas was off the mark because they made it obvious that any criticism they handed out was lathered in disdain for the former U.S. player's political alignment.

Then again, that is what they want you to know about their product and mission.

The Guardian portrays themselves as an "international source of news" but in the end we all know what they're really trying to do.

And it's not.......soccer.


I surmised here a few weeks back that Tiger Woods wasn't going to be the U.S. Ryder Cup captain or else he would have accepted the position already.

I was right about that. Right after the U.S. Open he apparently informed the PGA of America he wasn't taking on the role for the 2025 event at Bethpage.

How it stayed a secret for three weeks is anyone's guess.

Keegan Bradley, who was bypassed as a Ryder Cup player in 2023, will instead by the 2025 captain at Bethpage.

But while I was correct about Woods not taking the gig, I was never going to be right about the guy who did wind up being announced as the American captain yesterday.

It's Keegan Bradley.

And, I think, he's a great pick.

Like, beyond great.

In fact, when word first started circulating in the golf world late Monday night that Bradley was the choice, the first thing I thought was: "Sure! He's a natural! Why didn't I think of him?"

Bradley isn't quite Captain America but he's of that ilk. Think Paul Azinger minus the bluster. Think Steve Stricker with a little more personality.

OK, well, maybe a lot more personality than Stricker.

But anyway...

Bradley gets a home game next September, which means, like Azinger in 2008 and Stricker in 2021, he's being gifted a 4-shot lead on the first tee.

I hope he doesn't screw it up.

One interesting sidebar to yesterday's announcement is that Bradley was effectively the "last man out" as a team member in 2023. A two-time winner in 2023, Bradley was left off the team that got routed in Rome as Zach Johnson went with guys like Fowler, Spieth and Thomas.

The irony of yesterday's announcement is profound. He wasn't good enough to play on the team last September but he's now valuable enough to captain the team next September? Strange, indeed.

I said this about Woods and I'll say it about Bradley, too: If the U.S. wins at Bethpage, the guy who captained them in 2025 should be the guy who captains them in 2027 when the competition shifts to Ireland and the Americans try -- once again -- to win on foreign soil for the first time since 1993.

The Europeans are doing exactly that with Luke Donald, who captained them to a win in 2023. He's back once again in 2025, as he should be.

Bradley should get the same opportunity from the U.S. powers-that-be if he leads the American squad to win next year.

Shifting captains every two years is dumb. I'm not here to suggest Zach Johnson deserved a second chance after his disaster last year in Italy. But if he did, in fact, learn from his mistakes of a year ago, how will he ever improve upon his performance if not given a second chance?

Likewise, if Bradley pioneers the team to a win at Bethpage, why wouldn't you ship him over to Ireland in 2027 and run it back one more time?

One of the rumors late last year was that Woods told that very thing to the PGA of America. "If I'm going to take this job, I want it for a home and away competition."

That makes total sense.

Alas, Woods opted not to take the gig for whatever reasons.

Stewart Cink was on the short list of replacements, apparently.

So, too, was Matt Kuchar.

Of late, Webb Simpson's name was being bandied about.

I don't know that any of those three would have been awful choices, but I do know -- or at least, I really believe -- that Keegan Bradley is an excellent choice for Bethpage 2025.

Let's hope he becomes a two time captain in 2027.

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#dmd's british open top 10


Yes, I still call it the British Open.

I know it's formally known, now, as The Open Championship, but when you say "Open Championship", how do you know where it's being played?

When you say "U.S. Open", you know it's in the U.S.

When you say "British Open", you know it's being played in Great Britain. Or the United Kingdom. I realize they are not one and the same but you get the point. I call it the "British" Open because it's held over there, if you will.

Anyway, they're playing this year's edition of the British Open at Royal Troon, where 9 other "Open Championships" have been held since 1923. The last four of them have all featured something similarily unique. The winners all won their first (and as it turned out, only) major championship at Troon.

Mark Calcavecchia (1989), Justin Leonard (1997), Todd Hamilton (2004) and Henrik Stenson (2016) were the four most recent winners, with only Hamilton being a complete surprise. Calcavecchia, Leonard and Stenson were all top ranked players who were favored to win a major at some point and Troon just happened to be the site of their eventual victory.

You're going to see a theme with our Top 10. The names will not necessarily be of the household variety.

We'll issue our usual caveat when it comes to wagering on majors in 2024. Scottie Scheffler is currently at +400, which is kind of a crazy-low number, of course. You won't make much money on him if he wins. I assume he'll be right there at the end on Sunday. He is Scottie Scheffler, after all.

But for purposes of this 10-day exercise, we won't be listing Scheffler. We're urging you to wager on him to win just so you can wave the winning ticket at your friends, but there are several other players we're very high on and would urge you to consider as well.

The theme we're going with isn't that much different than last year's winner, Brian Harman. Or the 1989 winner in Mark Calcavechhia. We're keen on players who are nudging up against winning a major but just haven't managed to do it quite yet.

Recent history at Troon suggests one of those kind of players is going to be holding the Claret Jug on July 21.

#10 was Corey Conners.

Is Scotland's Bob Macintyre capable enough to win a major? #DMD thinks so, yes.

#9, Robert Macintyre -- I was a little bummed out when Macintyre won the Canadian Open back in June. Not because I dislike "Bobby Mac". It's the opposite, actually.

I like him so much I thought he was going to be a well kept secret at Troon. The Scottish (and even left handed) version of last year's winner, Brian Harman, if you will.

Now, after that win, he's still available and all, but his price tag of +4000 is way off from what it would have been had he not triumphed in Canada.

There was a time when I thought Macintyre would be a +7000 option at Troon. Now, not so much.

But betting odds have nothing to do with golf and his chances to win, and I think Troon presents itself very nicely for him.

He is very efficient at links style golf.

He drives the ball very well.

As we saw in Canada, he's a very solid putter.

All he needed to do was win on the PGA Tour and he did that six weeks ago.

His confidence must be high.

And we're loving his chances next week at Troon.

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Monday
July 8, 2024
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#3608


monday? i honestly don't know


This has to be one of the strangest Mondays I can ever remember.

I realize some people had to work on Friday, July 5, but for the most part -- if traffic on the roads was a barometer -- it felt like most of the universe was off on Friday.

And last Wednesday I have to admit to taking most of the day off myself, aside from publishing #DMD and recording my weekly golf radio show that aired yesterday on 105.7.

So with the holiday last Thursday and the next few days of leisure that followed, I had to catch myself yesterday when my daughter asked me, "Dad, are you and Ethan playing golf on Monday?"

Monday...

I didn't answer her for a couple of seconds while my brain raced and I tried to figure out when, exactly, is Monday.

It turns out it's today.

"Yes," I replied. "Yes, we are."

I love these summers in The Land of Pleasant Living, 95 degrees and all.

As I tell people all the time when they complain about the heat: "You never have to shovel it."


The Orioles completed a decent West Coast swing with a 4-2 mark after yesterday's 6-3 win in Oakland.

They took 2 of 3 in Seattle and 2 of 3 in Oakland. The most bruising came in the 19-8 thrashing they took at the hands of the A's on Saturday. It's starting to look like Cade Povich wasn't ripe enough for the majors, huh?

Grayson Rodriguez improved to 11-3 on Sunday with the win in Oakland, but he is not pitching in next week's All-Star Game.

The O's come home for three games with the Cubs and then they host a big 3-game series with the Yankees this weekend that includes one of those goofy 11:35 am games on Sunday.

The series with the Cubs is important, of course, but that 3-game set with New York looms large since the season series (which the Birds currently lead, 5-2) is the first tiebreaker if two teams are tied for the division title after 162 games.

As it stands now, the O's are slated to send Povich, Rodriguez and Kremer to the mound vs. New York. If everything stays equal for the Yankees, they're going to counter with Cole, Gil and Rodon on the mound in Baltimore.

Corbin Burnes is supposed to pitch Wednesday against the Cubs.

You know where I'm heading with this, right?

I wish there was a way to get Burnes two extra days of rest and throw him on Friday vs. New York. You could skip Povich this time around. No harm there.

That said, Burnes might not want the disruption to his schedule. Starting on Friday might also limit him on Tuesday for the All Star Game. I have no idea if he cares about that or not. Probably not, would be my guess.

Couldn't the O's trot Cole Irvin out there on Wednesday against the Cubs? Kremer would still go on Tuesday and Suarez would start on Thursday.

Then again, let's be honest. The Yankees' lineup is pretty much nothing except for Judge and Soto. Perhaps shifting Burnes from Wednesday to Friday is overkill. But who would you rather have on the mound facing Gerrit Cole -- Cade Povich or Corbin Burnes?

All that said, there's probably not a big difference between having Irvin facing the Cubs or Povich facing the Yankees. Either way, you're gonna need to score 7 or 8 runs to win.


Speaking of the All Star Game, I can't imagine there's more of a nothing burger in all of sports than being snubbed for the mid-season classic.

The All Star Game did, at one point 40 years ago, really matter. Back in those days, there were only two times every season where the A.L. and N.L. went head-to-head.

One was the World Series. The other was the All Star Game.

In the 70's and '80's, before interleague play commenced (1997), that Tuesday night in mid-July was wildly anticipated. Remember going to Memorial Stadium in June back in those times and having to "punch holes" next to the players you were choosing for the All Star Game?

Stadium ushers would hand out dozens of those cards to us and we'd gleefully take 10 of them at a time and use our car keys to punch holes next to Eddie Murray's name.

Today? The All Star Game is a complete waste of time. Everybody plays everybody, pretty much. There's no more marquee value to seeing Shohei Ohtani go up against A.L. pitchers. He does it all the time.

The O's were on the bad end of some disappointing All Star news over the weekend when it was announced that guys like Grayson Rodriguez, Ryan O'Hearn, Craig Kimbrel and Jordan Westburg were all bypassed for selection.

The bet here is one of those guys, at the very least, will get added to the A.L. team by virtue of someone either getting injured over the next seven days or simply declining their All Star Game invite.

Rodriguez probably deserves the selection more than anyone else, but you can certainly make a decent case for Ryan O'Hearn, even though his numbers against lefties (5 for 19, no extra base hits) are almost non-existent in 2024.

Kimbrel's actually been solid over the last month. Westburg's enjoying a very nice season. But neither of those "snubs" is overly offensive, in my opinion.

And even if all four of those guys got added to the team, I don't think it's enough to force me into watching the game next Tuesday.


Thanks to Jon in the Comments section for reminding me to remind all of you about our next FCA junior clinic at Pine Ridge. It's on Thursday, July 18 from 5:30 pm to 7 pm.

It's entirely free and open to boys and girls ages 6 to 18. All you need to do is bring your golf clubs along and an enthusiasm for learning. If you do that, we'll do the rest.

We're in our third year of FCA Maryland Golf in 2024. Each month, we host one of those free monthly junior clinics I referenced above.

This summer, we're hosting 7 junior tournaments, including the highly anticipated "Summer Shootout" at Pine Ridge on Wednesday, July 17. There are still 7 openings left on the tee sheet for any junior golfers interested in playing in the 18-hole, one day event on the 17th. Entry fee is $60 and includes golf, lunch and prize money/awards.

If you're interested in playing, please e-mail me: drewfcamdgolf@gmail.com

We also have tournaments scheduled for July 22 (Chesapeake Bay GC), August 6-7 (Pine Ridge, Match Play) and August 22 (Compass Pointe), plus our Tour Championship in late September.

FCA Maryland Golf has hosted 11 tournaments in the last two-plus years, with 326 total players participating.

This year, we introduced our "club golf" program and currently have a total of 42 players with us for a summer full of faith, fellowship and golf. Club members receive personalized apparel, instruction and other benefits throughout the 12-month calendar year.

Adults are also welcome to attend our free clinics and see what FCA Maryland Golf is all about. Please join us on July 18!


Speaking of golf and teaching, I pulled out an old favorite book of mine for my upcoming family vacation and wanted to share it with all of you.

It is a book about golf, but the writer actually took the concept from a tennis experience he had that led him to first write a tennis instruction book that eventually pushed him to write a similar book about golf.

Did you get that? If not, read it again. It will be more clear the second time around.

The book is called The Inner Game of Golf and it was written by Timothy Gallwey.

The Preface of the book is a perfect summary of what the contents are all about.

If human beings did not have the tendency to interfere with their own ability to perform and learn, there would be Inner Game.

Similarily, if golfers hit every shot as well as they did their best ones, there would be no Inner Game of golf. But the fact is that because self-interference, few of us perform up to the level of our potential for more than brief moments at a time.

Learning to get out of one's way is the purpose of the Inner Game of Golf.

This is not a book about the mechanics of the golf swing, nor is it one that focuses on strategy. These are conditions of the Outer Game and have received sufficient attention in golf literature. The subject of this book is the mental side of golf -- namely, the learning of the "inner skills" that enable the player to decrease the mental obstacles that prevent him/her from playing their best.

There's a lot more in the preface, but it all connects with the same common theme. You can learn just as much about the mental side of golf as you can the physical, golf-swing side of golf and both of those are of equal importance.

Golf is a technique sport, no two ways about it. You have to understand the basic physics of what makes the clubface meet the ball squarely if you want to play the sport at a reasonably high level.

But you do not need those high level physical attributes to master the mental side of golf. Those can be mastered by a 15-handicap player just as easily as a 5-handicap player.

As the great Bob Rotella once wrote: Golf is a game of confidence.

But what comes first? Good golf that promotes increased confidence or increased confidence that promotes good golf?

The Inner Game of Golf will help answer that question for you.

And the best news of all? Almost 50 years after it was first published in 1979, you can still get the book. And it's relatively inexpensive, too.

Here's my promise to you: If you buy it, read it, and don't think it's a game-changer for you, I'll buy it back from you, no questions asked. I've given the book to a dozen or so of my Calvert Hall players over the years. I always have a need for an extra copy if you somehow don't like it.

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#dmd's british open top 10


Yes, I still call it the British Open.

I know it's formally known, now, as The Open Championship, but when you say "Open Championship", how do you know where it's being played?

When you say "U.S. Open", you know it's in the U.S.

When you say "British Open", you know it's being played in Great Britain. Or the United Kingdom. I realize they are not one and the same but you get the point. I call it the "British" Open because it's held over there, if you will.

Anyway, they're playing this year's edition of the British Open at Royal Troon, where 9 other "Open Championships" have been held since 1923. The last four of them have all featured something similarily unique. The winners all won their first (and as it turned out, only) major championship at Troon.

Mark Calcavecchia (1989), Justin Leonard (1997), Todd Hamilton (2004) and Henrik Stenson (2016) were the four most recent winners, with only Hamilton being a complete surprise. Calcavecchia, Leonard and Stenson were all top ranked players who were favored to win a major at some point and Troon just happened to be the site of their eventual victory.

You're going to see a theme with our Top 10. The names will not necessarily be of the household variety.

We'll issue our usual caveat when it comes to wagering on majors in 2024. Scottie Scheffler is currently at +400, which is kind of a crazy-low number, of course. You won't make much money on him if he wins. I assume he'll be right there at the end on Sunday. He is Scottie Scheffler, after all.

But for purposes of this 10-day exercise, we won't be listing Scheffler. We're urging you to wager on him to win just so you can wave the winning ticket at your friends, but there are several other players we're very high on and would urge you to consider as well.

The theme we're going with isn't that much different than last year's winner, Brian Harman. Or the 1989 winner in Mark Calcavechhia. We're keen on players who are nudging up against winning a major but just haven't managed to do it quite yet.

Recent history at Troon suggests one of those kind of players is going to be holding the Claret Jug on July 21.

Corey Conners has made all three cuts in majors so far in 2024.

#10, Corey Conners -- By now you're tired of us touting the Canadian to win a major. We've been "on" him for the better part of two years. He's had several nice finishes and close calls, but no major victory as of yet.

He has four career Top 10 finishes in majors: 3 Masters and 1 U.S. Open, the latter of which just came at Pinehurst a month ago.

Conners has made three straight cuts at the British Open, but his track record at the event isn't all that great.

Fortunately, his ball striking numbers are great.

And the last four winners at Troon were known for their ball striking prowess, particularly Leonard and Stenson.

He has made the cut in all three previous majors in 2024. We're not giving up on him just yet. At +6500, he returns a healthy chunk of change if he winds up winning. And even his Top 20 and Top 10 lines will be decent enough to throw some money on, we think.

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"Randy On The O's"


Randy Morgan takes #DMD readers through the recent week in Orioles baseball as the Birds try to win a second straight A.L. East title.


orioles week in review


Week Record: 4-2

Season Record: 57-33

AL East Standing: 1st (3 GA of NYY)

Player of the Week: Craig Kimbrel - 4SV 4IP 1H 0R 8K

Another winning week as the Orioles extended their lead atop the AL East to three games, going 4-2 on their west coast trip against the Mariners and Athletics. The Yankees slide continued as they were swept by the Reds then dropped two of three to the Red Sox in Yankee Stadium.

The O’s on the other hand, finished the week with the most wins in the American League. Though somehow they are only sending three representatives to next week’s All-Star game.

Craig Kimbrel has been excellent for much of the last month, including two saves in Oakland over the weekend.

Gunnar Henderson and Adley Rutschman were voted as starters by the fans and Corbin Burnes was selected as one of the starting pitchers. It’s probably a benefit to the team that players like Craig Kimbrel won’t waste innings in a meaningless game, but it's a shame for deserving players like him, Jordan Westburg and Anthony Santander.

The week started with a win as the Orioles traveled to Seattle and beat the Mariners in the series opener 2-0. Grayson Rodriguez had a great start, delivering 6.1 shutout innings and eight strikeouts. The O’s didn’t need much offense and managed two runs on RBI singles from Anthony Santander and Cedric Mullins.

They followed that up on Tuesday with a 4-1 win behind a strong return from injury by Dean Kremer. Kremer put up five shutout innings with eight strikeouts and just two hits and two walks. Ryan O’Hearn supplied most of the offense, driving in two with a 3rd inning double and then adding another with a 5th inning homer.

The O’s went up early on Gunnar Henderson’s 27th homer of the year on Wednesday in their bid for the sweep. However, the bullpen ignited in the 7th inning, with Bryan Baker and Keegan Akin combining to surrender five runs to spoil another good start from Corbin Burnes, leading to a 7-3 loss.

The Birds recovered on Friday in the first game of their weekend series with Oakland. Albert Surez delivered his second strong start in a row after a couple of rough outings. Suarez went six innings, limiting the A’s to two runs while striking out six and walking just one.

That was followed by three shutout innings from Jacob Webb, Yennier Cano and Craig Kimbrel, who secured his second no-hit save of the week for a 3-2 win.

Saturday was a game to forget as rookie Cade Povich couldn’t find the strike zone, walking the first two batters before Brent Rooker took him deep for a three run homer.

Povich would only last one inning, allowing eight runs, leading to a blowout 19-8 loss for the O’s. Adley Rutschman and Ryan Mountcastle managed some consolation homers late in the game but the Orioles never threatened to make it a contest.

They did recover to get the series win on Sunday, jumping out to an early 4-0 lead with homers from Santander and Heston Kjerstad. Grayson Rodriguez dealt his second effective start of the week.

He was nearly unhittable until his final inning when he tailed off a bit, finishing with three runs in six innings on six hits, a walk and eight strikeouts. The A’s chipped away but couldn’t close the gap and Craig Kimbrel capped off three shutout innings from the bullpen with his fourth save of the week.

Those four saves, spanning four innings of one-hit ball with no runs and eight strikeouts, earned Kimbrel the Player of the Week honors.

Rodriguez was another worthy candidate with his two wins spanning twelve innings where he surrendered three runs and struck out sixteen. Jordan Westburg also had an outstanding week, recording a hit in every game for an .800 OPS including three doubles and a home run.


Down on the Farm –

In Norfolk this week it was Connor Norby leading the way, hitting three homers and driving in nine with a 1.057 OPS on the week.

Jackson Holliday also had a solid week at Norfolk, getting on base at a .449 rate with a 1.316 OPS including three doubles and a homer. Coby Mayo cooled off a bit from his league leading pace but still posted an .802 OPS with a home run, a double and six RBI.

On the mound, top remaining pitching prospect Chayce McDermott had quite the mixed week. On Monday he delivered his best start of the season, striking out twelve over seven innings while allowing one run on three hits and three walks.

However, he followed that up on Saturday with an outing where he only recorded a single out while surrendering four runs before being pulled from the game.


Question of the Week –

How will the Orioles make room for the eventual call up of Mayo and/or Holliday?

The recent performances of Coby Mayo and Jackson Holliday have started to make it more a question of when, not if, they are called up to the big league squad.>[?

Holliday is still nursing his way back from an elbow injury, but has seen his hitting improve since he was sent back to the minors earlier in the season. He may need a little more time for his arm to recover in order get more reps in the field, but Mayo has proven everything he can at Norfolk.

The giant 22 year old third baseman is the current International League leader in OPS, with the only two ahead of him (James Wood and Heston Kjerstad) already in the majors. He is also among the leaders in home runs, average and RBI.

While some scouts see Mayo’s future in the outfield, the Orioles front office seems determined to keep him in the infield. He has played the vast majority of his games at third base, with a few starts at 1st base.

What makes Mayo so intriguing is the Orioles relative lack of impact right-handed bats. This was made all the more apparent last week when Ryan Mountcastle missed a few games.

This often forces some weaker lineups against left handed pitching, featuring Jorge Mateo, Ramon Urias, Austin Hays and James McCann. It would be nice to get Mayo up to add some pop to those right-hand heavy lineups. The problem is, how do you make room for him?

Heston Kjerstad is up and has been hitting the cover off the ball, so he might be in Baltimore to stay. It appears Mountcastle’s illness was temporary and he will be back to his normal starting spot. That really only leaves a few options. The men in the crosshairs would be Ramon Urias, Jorge Mateo or Austin Hays.

Austin Hays has largely turned his season around since returning from his injury earlier in the season. He now rates as a slightly above average hitter by Fangrapsh wRC+ and is valued by Brandon Hyde for his defense in the corner outfield, so he seems safe here.

Jorge Mateo has been about a league average player so far, with solid defense and slightly subpar hitting. He was in a stronger position but has slumped over the past few weeks. However, the team seems to highly value Mateo’s speed and defense, opting to keep him around all of last year when he couldn’t hit a thing.

That leaves Ramon Urias. Unfortunately the veteran can not be sent down to the minors, so any move would require DFAing him and likely ending his tenure with the O’s. Urias has been useful at times this season, posting a slightly below average 94 wRC+.

Since his gold glove winning season, his defense has fallen off a bit, and he rates as below average by most defensive metrics the past two years. It would be a hard decision, but the time may be coming where the O’s just can’t keep Mayo in Norfolk any longer.

A call-up for Holliday would only further complicate things in a crowded infield picture. Mayo could find time at third base and at DH against lefty starters. Holliday would require further roster gymnastics.

Perhaps the front office can punt the problem until the trade deadline. Most expect the team to make at least one or two moves for pitchers between now and the deadline.

It's possible they could find a trade partner that would value Ramon Urias or Austin Hays in return for a pitcher. It’s also possible that Mayo could be the centerpiece of a deal to bring back a high value starter, though he is seeming more and more untouchable. Either way, there are going to be some tough decisions in the near future.

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Sunday
July 7, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3607


teach them honesty


If you have junior athletes in your family -- either your own children, nieces, nephews or grandchilden -- you might find this interesting.

If not, we'll beat up the Orioles a little bit as well today and maybe that will get your blood flowing.

I'm kidding. We're not beating up the Orioles. They lost 19-8 yesterday but beat the Yankees 100-to-something in New York a few weeks ago. Those games all tend to even out along the way.

Earlier this week I was at Pine Ridge driving range working with a couple of young players who are part of our FCA golf program. I briefly noticed a man and a young boy enter the area and set up shop eight or nine stations away but didn't think anything of it.

Twenty minutes went by and the man approached me, extending his hand with a smile. He had a towel wrapped around his neck. It was hot. And it looked like he was putting in worth at the driving range.

"Are you the golf coach at Calvert Hall?" he asked, introducing himself and noting that he saw my Calvert Hall bag and asked someone in the cashier's building if I might be the coach.

He and his family have been in Baltimore since 2022. They moved here due to a job change. The man's wife, it turns out, works for an area school.

At some point in his life, Max Homa was bad at golf just like everyone else who first started playing the sport.

The boy is 13 years old and will be starting 8th grade this fall. They, the dad explained, are starting to consider high schools.

He asked if I'd come down and take a look at his son's swing when I was done with my group of FCA players. Will, the boy, had just shot 84 at Fox Hollow the day before, the dad told me.

Thirty minutes later, with the FCA group departing, I headed down to see Will for a few minutes. Dad was stationed directly behind him, chair, video recorder out. There were four empty Gatorade bottles on a small table. These two were truly putting in work, I thought to myself.

Will hit four balls and I immediately thought to myself, "There's no chance this kid shot 84 yesterday. Unless it was for 9 holes."

I introduced myself to Will. I asked him to name his favorite golfer. He told me it was a tie between Justin Thomas and Max Homa.

"What do you like about them?" I asked him.

"Their intensity," the dad said. "Right, Will?"

I let the pause linger in the air for a second. Will looked at me. I looked at him.

"What do you like about them?" I asked him again.

"They're just really good golfers," he said, sheepishly.

"Here's something you should know about Justin Thomas and Max Homa," I told Will. "They both shot 100 at some point in their life. They didn't just suddenly start shooting 72 every time they played. They were just like the rest of us. They were all bad golfers as kids."

I asked Will to hit a few more balls. They were all pretty much missing the clubface with regularity. Two shot quickly left, one darted off to the right and one toppled harmlsesly off the mat and finished up about 10 feet in front of us.

"Are you nervous because the coach is here?" the dad asked.

"It's fine," I said. "What's your favorite club, Will? Hit me a few with that one."

"My 5 iron," Will replied.

It struck me in that all of my years of working with junior golfers I'm not sure I ever -- and I mean this -- had a boy or a girl tell me their favorite club is a 5 iron. Not that there's anything wrong with that. It was just an oddity of the day that included several odd moments.

Will hit 10 more balls. One of them was actually a nice strike, heading straight out in the direction of the 150 yard marker. The rest of them were all hit poorly.

"You have any tips, Coach?" the dad asked.

Had Will been an adult friend of mine with a sense of humor, I would have said, "Sure, here's a tip...take up tennis." But I could tell the father was serious and any attempt at humor at that point would have been a bad idea.

Instead, I dove in.

"Well, his grip needs some work," I said.

"I think it starts there. I find people who are just starting out that don't make solid contact with the ball are struggling in large part because of a bad grip."

"His coach back home in New York always said he had a good grip," the dad countered.

"Well, maybe he's just slipped into a bad habit or something," I said as I took Will's left hand off the club and showed him how to move it into a slightly stronger position.

"It feels weird," Will said.

This, again, is where you could have some fun with an adult student.

"Does it feel more or less weird than you hitting those shanks and smothered duck hooks you've been hitting for the last 20 minutes?" I might say to someone who could take it.

And there would be truth in that, of course. An attempt to lighten the mood, sure. But also the truth. Doesn't it feel weird to shank the ball? How can a grip change make it worse? You're already hitting hosel rockets like Rod Carew used to hit opposite field singles.

"Just hit a few like that and let's see what happens," I said to Will.

The first three balls he hit were much better. One, I'd say, was almost "perfect", in fact. It rose up quickly and pierced straight ahead, carrying the 150 yard sign by a few feet. It was, by far, the best ball I'd seen him hit in the 15 minutes I was there.

Will smiled. The dad smiled.

"It's not that hard after all," the dad said.

That, of course, is actually not true. Golf is hard. And it only gets harder the more you try to improve. It's easy to go from shooting 120 to 100. And easy, still, to go from 100 to 90. But it gets harder along the way because your expectations change.

Predictably, of course, Will's improvement waned off a bit as he continued to slug away at ball after ball. About every third or fourth ball was really well struck, which was still better than when I first saw him.

I would notice his grip unintentionally slipping back to the old, weaker version he had when I first saw him hit balls 20 minutes earlier. I'd remind him to change his grip on the club back to the stronger version I showed him and he'd immediately hit 2 or 3 good ones again.

"Let's also get your right forearm into a different position," I suggested. I don't want to get overly technical here because it's hard to explain without actually seeing it, but Will's right elbow wasn't moving internally on the backswing and his right hand was losing some contact with the grip of the club.

I showed him the proper way for his right elbow to move and explained how that would help a couple of things in the swing.

BOOM! Will blasted two or three more nice shots out near the 150 yard marker. He wasn't "fixed" or anything like that. But now he at least had two distinct changes he could work on and I suspected his play would improve just from those two things alone.

I remarked to Will's dad I had dinner waiting at home and needed to get going.

He got up and walked alongside me.

"He was nervous with you there," he explained. "He's a good little player when he's focused."

That was an extraordinary fabrication. Will is not a "good little player". He's just a kid who likes golf and, hopefully, grows up to love the game. But the words "Will" and "good little player" should not be used in the same sentence. It's just not true.

"He's fine," I said. "He's in 8th grade. He has lots of time to get better and enjoy golf. If he works on that new grip and getting his right elbow into that position I showed him, I think he'll see some improvement right away."

"What do high school players at Calvert Hall shoot who play for your team?" the dad wondered.

Whenever someone asks me this, I always give them the scoring range of the players who actually play in the matches. No one wants to know how many points and rebounds the #10 guy on the bench scores in practice. They want to know how many points the starting point guard scores.

Golf, I think, is the same way. And when it comes to me evaluating 8th graders, 9th graders, etc., I always ask myself the same question, "Is there a chance this kid might play in the matches someday?"

"Well," I told the dad. "My top 3 kids last season all averaged around 1 under par for 9 holes. We don't play 18 holes in our matches. We only play 12. So any scoring we do to assess where the kids are is pretty much done on 9 hole increments."

"One under par?" the dad said with shock in his voice.

"Yes, sir. One to two under for 9 holes. On average. The other 5 kids on the team who each played in matches last season all had 9 hole scoring averages of 1 to 2 over par."

"Will has some work to do then," he said. I could hear the disappointment in his voice.

I never want to say "never" when it comes to junior golf. So, I don't. But I also don't ever lead anyone on, either.

"Hard to say if he'd ever make it all the way to varsity," I said. "But he'd spend a couple of years on JV and if he improves over those two years you never know."

"He has his heart set on making varsity," the dad said.

"Well, his golf swing needs a lot of work," I said. "And he needs to play tournament golf moving forward. A lot of it. He still has almost two years before he'd be trying out for JV, but as it stands now he would have a tough time making it."

You would have thought I just told the dad President Kennedy came back from the dead and was going to run in the election as an independent in November. He was that stunned.

"What do the JV players shoot?" he asked.

"Somewhere between 85 and 95, in that range," I told him. "But it's not about what they shoot. It's more about how they advance the ball and keep themselves in the hole. I mean, they hit some really bad shots from time to time. But they also hit a lot of really good shots, too. They're making par or bogey on a lot of holes and the occasional double bogey or two."

"I can't believe kids are shooting those scores," the dad stated. "I see kids out here at the range all the time and they look a lot like Will."

"Junior golf is booming," I said. "Every team in the conference we play in has a scratch handicap player or two on their roster."

"I'll have to figure out a way to let him down gently," the dad said as I headed across the street to the parking lot.

"Just tell him the truth," I replied. "High school golf is very competitive. It's not a club sport. It's not an intramural sport. The kids who make the team are all accomplished players. I have four players going on to play college golf this fall."

"He wants to play golf in college," the dad said.

"He has to improve a lot for that to happen," was the only honest thing I could say at that point. "Let's get him into a golf tournament or two next summer and take it from there."

I shook his hand and headed to the car.

The sub-story to the story here is obvious. Be honest with your junior athletes.

Your promise that they can make the team, be a starter, play in college, be the next Justin Thomas, Lamar Jackson or Mike Trout is all dependent on a number of things they aren't in a position to control at 10, 11, 12, 13, etc.

Don't think you're "letting them down" by telling them they aren't good enough, right now, to make it. Kids aren't dumb, by the way. They see others around them and immediately know, deep down, if they're as good, better or worse than their counterparts.

It's the information they get from us, the adults, that clouds their opinion(s).

Be honest with them. If you want your junior athlete to improve, that's the best lesson they'll ever get from you.

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#dmd comments








jk     July 21
CIK living rent free in a lot of DMD heads lol.

And no way BH was +15000.

RC     July 20
Elias needs to get this team one more quality starter and they're not losing to anyone in October. It looks like Crochet is headed to Atlanta. But even if we get Fedde, Skubal or Eflin, that could be enough to get us over the top in October.

JK     July 20
*Chefs Kiss* whenever I see CIK get his feathers ruffled.



Who has the thin skin now boss?

Brett B.     July 20
If the Eflin for Norby and Stowers rumor is true, I'll buy everyone a drink at the Yard the first night Eflin starts for the O's. Make it happen!

Richie in NY     July 20
You guys don't want Skubal? Enjoy getting swept again in the first round. No wonder the team down there never wins anything. Fans don't want good players.

Billy     July 20
Didn't think CIK was the type to have thin skin.

O's looking good in the two games after the break. DMD brings up interesting point about Tony. Might be on the verge of a

$100M deal over 4 years.

CIK     July 20
@ BTG

Els has apparently backed out of next week’s “Senior” Open…so yeah, I think his back is a problem. Maybe his back was feeling fine last week and he hurt it this week? Incomprehensible? Clown Shoes?

Dan     July 20
Odd to call Skubal "sturdy", since he's had two TJ surgeries already at the age of 27.


Blue Tee Golfer     July 20
Els hurt his back huh? Els back wasn't bothering him last week when he won on the senior tour. Some of you are so gullible.

CIK     July 20
Ernie Els hurts his back to WD…and gets called a quitter? Was he supposed to play through the injury? Clown shoes if ya ask me.

Rc     July 20
I put $20 on Billy Ho at +15000. I hope Drew is right!

Dr     July 20
LMAO, @DF handed out Horschel free of charge.

peter     July 20
Skubal is proven and sturdy? Based on his career high of 149.5 innings pitched....once? Back in 2021 and he had an ERA of 4.34 that year. Or his whopping 80 ip in 2023?

Just because media acts like he is Tom Glavine in his prime does not make it so. If anything, knowing how much the local FM radio clowns love Skubal, I'd steer clear. Skubal is promising, but definitely comes with a pretty big risk.

You want proven and sturdy, keep the prospects and pay Burnes. It seems new owner would allow it, the question is, does Elias want to do that? Players seem to be waking up to not always doing what Boras tells them to do, so who knows. Definitely won't get a "discount" but perhaps they can cut a deal before others start throwing offers at him. The real issue is would paying Burnes cost you say Westburg or someone else? I believe they will increase payroll, but paying "everyone" is not a sound way to run a business.

Unitastoberry     July 20
When Lamar shakes his January blues and takes over games or comes from behind to win Lombardis as in plural year in and year out then we can talk with words like legend and greatness.



And yes I feel the same way about former players at QB with MVPs and no ring such as Tarkenton.Marino,Jones,Newton,Matt Ryan,Fouts,etc. Very good ball players but not legends. I love football but that legend word is for guys like Brady,Montana,Mahomes,Bart Starr,Otto Graham,Bradshaw, and our own legend John Constantine Unitas.

Paul from Towson     July 19
@Jon You’re right and I didn’t take into consideration all the things Brady did in order to play 23 seasons in the NFL. On field performance notwithstanding, I was basing my opinion on the natural abilities each of them possess and while Lamar may be more gifted physically, taking into account Brady’s overall body of work, preparation, diet, etc. makes him the better overall athlete.

Jon     July 19
Here are some things that Brady did not do that Lamar has- pick 6 in playoffs, lose at home in AFC Championship, have a losing record in playoffs….and last till hes 46- so yes Lamar is a great athlete but time will tell if it trnslate to playoff success. Id argue Bradys preparation , diet and dedication to his craft do in fact make him the better athlete- natural talent is not enough. For what its worth- i woke up at 7 and will turn in by 10 for an early tee time tomm….

Paul from Towson     July 19
Good to see the folks at ESPN got one right for a change. Michael Phelps as the #1 athlete of the past 25 years is spot on. Serena as #2 is a joke, but it did exactly what ESPN wanted and created the buzz of discontent. Even Serena herself has said she's nowhere near the same league as men tennis players, let alone male athletes. But, alas, it's all over except for the discord at this point.



My contention is the lack of respect hockey players get for how athletic they are. Alex Ovechkin is the greatest hockey player of this generation, especially a young Ovie who would throw his body around and actually play defense. He should've been higher on the list in my humble opinion. And I don't consider Tom Brady a top 10 athlete. Quarterback, absolutely, #1 of the past 25 years going away. But athlete??? Nah. Put him around 15-16. As an "athlete" I put Lamar ahead of Brady. Lamar does things that Brady never could do, even in his prime, and with a stronger arm. Not more accurate, but stronger.



Drew, congrats to you and Ethan, brother!!!

carl@softwaresolutionsplus.tech     July 19
It's all good Tim D..............Have a great weekend !!

TimD in Timonium     July 19
Hey, Carl, just kidding with ya. We all have likes and dislikes. But if I'm awake at 3am, I'm trying to go back to sleep, not watch golf. But 6am? I usually awake any way. Cheers.

carl     July 19
Hi Tim D ...Maybe you can wake Drew up tomorrow ..I do enjoy Drew's articles!!

RC     July 19
Looks like Matt P might be in trouble this week eh?

Jason M     July 19
Congrats to DF and Ethan! Not a golfer but feel like I've known Ethan his whole life having listened to and read @DF daily for so long. Good job guys!

Chris P.     July 19
Hey Drew, congratulations to you and Ethan on your win yesterday!!

Steve of Pimlico     July 19
Greatest swimmer of all time was Johnny Weissmuller who constantly had to outswim crocodiles.

Delray RICK     July 19
JACK a lot better than MESSIAH, look it up. There's a player who should quit and join the old-timers in 2 years.

Billy     July 19
Why the hate for Carl?

Pat C.     July 18
DF called it. Serena wasn't #1 but she was #2 and social media is blowing up. Serena better than Lebron or Brady? NO CHANCE!



Forget about Tiger, he's almost 50. What has happened to Rory?????



And that Carl Tipton guy seems like a nice fella huh?

ED     July 18
Congrats Drew and Ethan!!

Pratt     July 18
Congrats to Drew and his son on winning the State Father Child tournament today. Might not be the US Senior Open but I bet it's pretty dang special to win a tourney with your son.

Bo     July 18
Nothing new with Tiger barely breaking 80. I can't believe anyone still believes he is competitive but I recall millions wagered on Ali before he got pummeled by Larry Holmes.

Bryan     July 18
Jack was better than tiger, and Jordan was way better than LeBron.

MFC     July 18
You can’t be a part time ceremonial golfer and expect to compete. It wasn’t lenght that’s for sure as this course has many holes under 400 yards. And he’s hitting it out there with them anyway. I think I counted 3 three-putts. Chips were like a 12 handicapper and couldn’t get any iron close all day. The heart is there but I don’t think he can practice the same way and he sure as heck isn’t playing much. It’s the golf world’s loss. I want him to be competitive, it doesn’t look like he can. This course was going to be the easier given lack of hills, so much for that. But hey Rory threw in a clinker as well. Plenty of time for them to get reacquainted this weekend at the pubs as they watch on tv.

Chuck Z     July 18
Eldrick is gonna have the weekend free in Troon. Hostesses at the local casual restaurants better have their A game ready. One of them could be the next future ex.

TimD in Timonium     July 18
@Carl, well, since you visited this page, read the content, and then commented -



apparently, YOU do.

phil m     July 18
Looks like Colin Montgomerie was correct, time for Tiger to call to a day at The Open.

Carl tipton     July 18
Who cares about the list and what time you got up ??

peter     July 18
ESPN gets money whenever random anonymous people post comments on DMD web site? Maybe those clowns are smarter than I think they are. "Peter"

such     July 18
For reasons unknown, I listened to approximately 2 minutes of the afternoon show on the local sports yak station yesterday. These guys were actually advocating for trading Holliday for Skubal and I was all "Whaaaaaa????"

Thank the gods for podcasts and Apple Music and Spotify. And that they're not in the Orioles front office. Wow.

Chris K     July 18
ESPN made this list because nothing is going on right now and also to get people worked up and therefore get more clicks. They are winning in this game of all of your complaints. That’s exactly what they wanted 😂. Continue getting mad about stupid stuff while espn laughs all the way to the bank.

Chris in Bel Air     July 18
Phelps. 5 olympics, won medals in 4 of them. Most medals all-time. Most gold medals all-time. Most individual medals all-time.

Hoping the AS break was the medicine for the O's funk. Less than 2 weeks to go until trade deadline and ready to see what moves Elias has. Doubt it happens for either but I like Skubal over Crochet.

Delray Rick     July 18
Right on HERMAN!!

TimD in Timonium     July 18
Sidney Crosby at #22, and Ovi at #54. Come on, man. Do all the ESPN writers live in Pittsburgh?



And watching early morning golf is FUN. Maybe not 2am fun, but good nonetheless.

HERMAN     July 18
Jesus, what a slow couple days here. Who cares about a top-100 list? It was written by some loser intern at ESPN and people get upset. Talk about a bunch of snowflakes.

Art     July 18
Serena is going to be #1 and everybody's head is going to explode.

Dan     July 18
Up early watching golf too and I have to ask Alex and Kevin something. What is it with the "" around people's name? I don't read or comment every day so maybe I'm missing something but why "Tom" but then it isn't "Kevin" or "CIK"? I'm confused, but my wife says that happens all the time when she sends me to the grocery store. Thanks, "Dan".

Anand     July 18
Matt P is either losing now, or if not, will be losing soon. NOBODY beats the house and its rake in the long haul. It's just too high. This is why the gambling companies have paid unprecedented millions to legislators to enact laws allowing online gambling and untold more millions to celebrities to lead the suckers into signing up for betting accounts. -- Put your money into 401ks -- you are not smarter than algorithms that know how you think, and what you will do, more clearly than you do yourself.

alex     July 17
Really "Tom"?? That's your takeaway from what Kevin and CIK posted? SMDH.

Tom     July 17
I don't bet and I don't have a dog in the race but it sure seems like Kevin and CIK should be less jealous of a guy who won (whatever he won).

kevin     July 17
Why are "Jerry" and "Bo" chiming in on me complimenting Matt P? Some of you people are weird. My interpretation of what Matt P is exactly what CIK said. Matt bet 4k and got paid 10K, ergo, he is ahead 6K.

My thinking is Matt P is the only person who can say hey Kevin, you are wrong, I bet 4K, got paid 14K and am "ahead" 10K. If Matt P says that's the case, I'd apologize for my misunderstanding.

My POINT remains the same, he risked 4K on a stranger's free advice, and my take is that was pretty ballsy of him and I congratulated him (ie a "compliment" not needing anyone to rush to his defense). Whether he netted 6K or 10K is not germane to that point.

Likewise, this "Larry" guy is confused as well. I was trashing ESPN for their subjective poll which is for attention only and serves no purpose. I commented that DMD took their bait is all. Never said DMD is not allowed to have an opinion, I come here daily to read DMD's opinions!






Paul from Towson     July 17
RIP, Jerry Walker.



When I was a kid, I remember how fondly my dad spoke about the O’s Kiddie Korp from the early 60’s. To this day, he reminds me how Paul Richards essentially built the Orioles into contention and never gets the credit he deserves for his part in creating “The Oriole Way.”

Saturday
July 6, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3606


saturday with greg


I enlisted the help of occasional #DMD contributor Greg Trehane for today's edition. I hope you don't mind.

We're borrowing Glenn Clark's "Would You Rather" segment from his popular show (10 a - 12 p, Mon-Fri, www.glennclarkradio.com) and also a "Pick Your Poison" segment that you'll understand once we present it to you below.

I e-mailed Greg 2 different "Would You Rather" scenarios and 10 "Pick Your Poison" questions and he did the same with me. Feel free to provide your own answers and opinions below.

Drew asks Greg --

Would you rather...the O's trade for White Sox pitcher Garrett Grochet and give up Jordan Westburg as part of the deal -- or they give up Coby Mayo as part of the deal?

Greg says -- "Mayo goes. I think we have seen enough of Westburg to know what we have with him. Mayo might turn out to be really good as well but if I have to give up one of those two for Crochet, it's Mayo."

Would you rather...the Ravens beat the Chiefs soundly on opening night, 37-13, but then drop their next two to start the season 1-2 -- or they lose 37-13 to the Chiefs but win their next two to start 2-1?

Greg says -- "I'll go against the grain on this one and say give me the win over the Chiefs and a 1-2 start. I think going out there and beating them will be important in the long run."


Are you taking Justin Herbert over Patrick Mahomes?

Patrick Mahomes or Justin Herbert?

Greg: "Mahomes. Every time. Herbert has to win something first in order for me to consider him on par with Mahomes."


Fenway Park or Wrigley Field?

Greg: "I've been to both and it's Wrigley by a hair. They're both great."


Colton Cowser or Heston Kjerstad?

Greg: "I know we haven't seen enough of Silent J to make a full assessment of his skills but I think I'm taking him over Cowser over the long haul."


Oriole Park stadium food or M&T Bank stadium food?

Greg: "Everything about the food experience is better at M&T Bank. More menu items, better prices and much more efficient service. Definitely the football stadium."


Means comes back fully healthy or Bradish comes back fully healthy?

Greg: "This one is tough. My first reaction is Means but after thinking about it I'll say Bradish."


Orioles make the World Series but lose to the Phillies or Ravens advance to the AFC Championship Game next January and host the Steelers?

Greg: "I'll take Ravens advancing to the AFC title game again. No way we're losing two in a row at home."


Justin Tucker has a 45-yard field goal with 3 seconds left that would put the Ravens in the Super Bowl (if he makes it) or Gunnar Henderson comes up with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 9th inning of Game 7 of the ALCS with 2 outs and the O's trailing 4-3.

Greg: "Tucker from 45. It's automatic."


Adam Jones is the O's next manager or Deion Sanders is the next Ravens head coach?

Greg: "100% Jones. It seems like managing is a logical fit for him. I don't know if Deion can handle NFL coaching."


You're in the stadium when Santander hits a HR off the Warehouse or Tucker makes a league record 70 yard field goal?

Greg: "Someone is going to hit the Warehouse someday. A bunch of guys probably will actually. But no one is making a 70 yard field goal. I'll take Tucker's 70 yarder."


Kevin Brown signs on for 5 more years to do O's TV but Jim Palmer retires or Palmer signs on for 5 more years to do color but Brown leaves to do network play-by-play?

Greg: Tough here to answer. But I think I'll take Cakes for 5 more years. Sorry, Brownie."


Greg asks Drew --

Would you rather the O's beat the Red Sox and Yankees in the playoffs or the Ravens beat the Chiefs and Steelers in the playoffs?

DF says -- "Red Sox and Yankees. I don't know why. I don't really have a whole lot of disdain for Kansas City and the Ravens-Steelers rivalry just isn't what it once was. I'd love to eliminate Boston and New York in October."


Would you rather Tiger Woods wins 3 more majors to tie Nicklaus or Ovechkin breaks the NHL goal scoring record on a night you're in attendance at the record setting game?

DF says -- "Tiger wins 3 more majors. I don't have to be at the record-setting game. If he breaks the record that's good enough for me. And even if Ovi somehow comes up short, Tiger winning 3 more majors is the answer here."


Gunnar Henderson over Shohei Ohtani?

Ohtani or Gunnar?

DF says: "Ohtani. It's Ohtani over every player. If you said "Trout or Gunnar" or "Judge or Gunnar", I think it's probably Gunnar. But no one is above Ohtani."


Baltimore gets a MLS team or a brand new 20,000 downtown arena?

DF says: "Downtown arena for sure. I'd never go to a MLS game, I don't think. But having a new arena downtown would be great."


Van Halen with David Lee Roth or Van Halen with Sammy Hagar?

DF says: "David Lee Roth. Hagar was a better singer but DLR was a way better front man. I grew to like VH with Sammy Hagar, but they were at their best with David Lee Roth."


U2's Joshua Tree or Rush's Moving Pictures?

DF says: "Two of the best albums of my life. Not a bad song on either one of them. It's Moving Pictures by a nose."


Joe Burrow or C.J. Stroud?

DF says: "I think it's Stroud. We'll see if he's as injury prone as Burrow is. If he isn't, it's definitely Stroud. I think Burrow's a nice QB but I'm not sure he's tough enough. Time will tell. I'll take Stroud."


Jaws or Rocky?

DF says: "Dang. This one's tough, Greg. If you told me I had to watch one of them today, I'd go with Jaws."


DeNiro or Nicholson?

DF says: Despite the fact that he's lost his mind, it's DeNiro. Nicholson's great. But DeNiro's greater."


LeBron or Kobe?

DF says: I don't know. Honestly, I don't. It's Kobe. No, wait, it's LeBron. Just by a little bit. On second thought, it's Kobe. And that's my final answer. Kobe."


Ravens go the Super Bowl or you get to play Augusta National?

DF says: Oh, come on. I'm not answering that. You're not doing that to me. (But you know what the answer is...)"


Patrick Mahomes or Peyton Manning?

DF says: Mahomes. I didn't have to think about it. It's Mahomes. Peyton was great. But Mahomes is going to win 5 or 6 Super Bowls. He's a beast."

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Friday
July 5, 2024
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#3605


radio i really enjoyed


It was sometime in early 2001 when I ran an idea past my friend George McDowell.

He was the guy, back then, that I could bounce something off of and I knew I'd get an honest assessment from him.

George would either tell me I was crazy or he'd tell me to dig in and go for it.

"I'm going to put together a weekly golf radio show," I told George as we meandered down the first hole at Mount Pleasant.

I was waiting for him to stop, laugh, and say, "That might be the dumbest thing I've ever heard."

Instead, he never broke stride.

Talking about Tiger Woods on the radio during his incredible run in the early 2000's wasn't work. It was fun.

"What took you so long to come up with that idea?" he asked.

"If anyone in town should do it, it's you," he added on.

And that, unofficially, was the date of birth of Maryland Golf Live.

As George notes in his hysterical piece below, I even created a segment for him called "The Eccentric Starter."

If you ever had the privilege of knowing George, "eccentric" is both a word that fits him perfectly and comes nowhere close to accurately describing him.

He's the most uneccentric eccentric person in the world.

But it was his push that got me to go to a local radio station and carve out a deal to buy 2 hours of time on Monday nights from April through September.

It was also the first time I dove into the world of being an entrepreneur: a person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so.

I started the show with no sponsors. I don't remember exactly what I paid for two hours, but I think it might have been $400 weekly.

My initial goal was simple: Sell 8 commercials per-hour at $50 each. That would be 16 total "spots" and $800 in revenue.

I learned, quite quickly, that 16 commercials at $50 each was ambitious.

But about a month into the show we secured a title sponsor (Baltimore Municipal Golf / Classic 5) which essentially paid the weekly bill to the station and, from there, we cobbled together enough clients at $500 and $1,000 to make it work.

Spiro Morekas joined me as an on-air host. He had two things going for him. He was the one guy who knew how to run the audio/production board and he also had an opinion on golf.

Rob Wilson, a friend of mine, handled some interview and commentary duties along the way.

And then there was our "Eccentric Starter", who would sit behind the glass and produce the show, answering phones and contributing his weekly segment, along with some, ummmmm, cold beverages for us to enjoy during those two hours.

We were experiencing radio's version of a golfing hole in one: On the radio, talking about golf, with no boss or supervisor to tell us what to say, who to interview and, yes, we'd enjoy a cold beer or two (probably against the rules) while doing it all. It was better than flusing an 8-iron from 150 yards into the hole on a par 3.

I would parlay that two year run of Maryland Golf Live into a full time spot on the same station. I worked with Terry Ford from 2002 through 2006, then hosted my own show from 2007 until August 22, 2014.

There were parts of doing morning radio that I really enjoyed. You go into that business thinking it's the best gig in the world.

"Wait, you're going to pay me money to go on the radio and talk about sports with people?" At first, you think you're on Candid Camera.

Then you have your first locker room flare up with Jay Gibbons because he's hitting .204 and you had the audacity to say he "stinks" on the air or you get into it with Adam Terry of the Ravens because you gave him a "D" on your post-game report card on a Monday morning.

Months later, the boss storms in one day after you spent 12 minutes chatting about basketball with the head coach of Stony Brook and berates you for "talking about a UMBC basketball game when no one in town even knows where they play their home games."

You think to yourself you could have sworn you played a UMBC basketball ad earlier in the show. Yes? No?

A few hours later, you hear the boss on his own show talking on the air with the traffic reporter and the two of them discuss whether toilet paper should be torn off from the top of the roll or underneath the roll.

When those things happen, plus other stuff that turns you off, the whole radio gig starts to lose its appeal.

And now you know why it's easy for me to say that those two years doing golf-only radio on Monday nights were the best of my days on the air.

I owned it. I built it. I pulled it off. And I loved it. If it was good, it's because I made it that way. And if it was bad, my fingerprints were on that, too.

That is not to say I didn't enjoy the daily conversations with people like Jerry in Timonium, Bob in Hereford, Lou in Phoenix, Steve in Dundalk, Mark in Rosedale and many, many others. In my mind, I always thought that was what "talk radio" was supposed to be. I talk about the subject and you call in with your thoughts on the same subject.

Then I was told, "Stop putting so many callers on the air. They don't know s**t."

Once the format started to shift towards more guests and less interaction with callers, I started to really lose my enthusiasm for morning radio.

What did I care what some sportswriter from Chicago thinks about the Orioles when I can talk to someone like Mark in Rosedale and he forgot more about Sydney Ponson and pitching than that guy in Chicago will ever know?

Alas, as is almost always the case, the boss won out. By the time the staff was dismissed in August of 2014 it was time for me to go, anyway. It had become a "job" in more ways than I wanted.

Don't get me wrong. I love to work. I work hard every day, whether it's here, at the IHM Outreach Office, at Calvert Hall Golf or at FCA Maryland Golf. I will roll up my sleeves with the best of them.

But there's a component of radio -- particularly when you're getting up at 4:45 am -- that should be fun, first, and work, second.

Once that script flipped and it was work, first, I was ready to move on to something new. Three days after my full time radio career ended, Drew's Morning Dish was born.

I enjoy this project for the same reasons I enjoyed Maryland Golf Live. It's mine. I built it. If it succeeds, I helped it succeed. If it fails, I helped it fail.

And that's also why Maryland Golf Live was such a blast. It was fun. It was mine. I love golf. I love talking about it. And I love hearing others talk about it, too.

These days, I have my own golf only show on 105.7 on Sunday (4-6 pm) and I thoroughly enjoy it. No one to tell me what to say, who to interview, how long to talk with someone, etc. It's just golf talk. And they even pay me to do it.

What a country, eh?

I still do the occasional "sports" talk show shift on 105.7 and I do enjoy those one-off trips behind the microphone. I can handle it for 3 hours. I just can't handle it for 3 or 4 hours every day.

I often wonder what would have happened to me if George would have stopped in his tracks on that first hole at Mount Pleasant and said, "Why would you give that radio station money to go on the air and talk about golf?"

Instead, he gave me the exact opposite directive.

"Do it. Don't even think twice about it. Sign the papers today."

And that leads me to the piece you'll find below...from the Eccentric Starter.

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NOTES & COMMENT
George McDowell


George McDowell is #DMD's foreign correspondent. His international reports are filed from a hardened outpost just across the U.S. / North Carolina border. He writes on sports topics that interest him that he feels might also interest some segment of the wildly esoteric #DMD readership. George has been a big fan of DF and his various enterprises since the last century, and for several seasons appeared as a weekly guest on his Monday evening radio show, Maryland Golf Live, delivering commentary as The Eccentric Starter. George also donates his time and talents to the less fortunate, and currently volunteers as secretary of the Rickie Fowler Fan Club.


the eccentric starter, revisited


NOTE: Twenty-some years ago, Drew aired a two-hour show on WNST called Maryland Golf Live. This was an evening show, Mondays I think, in addition to his regular morning slot on the station. Drew's co-hosts were Rob Wilson and the irrepressible Spiro Morekas. I would do a three- or four-minute monologue under the moniker, The Eccentric Starter, at about the halfway point, which gave them a short break. Drew's content guideline for the pieces was something like, "anything you want to do," and I was often able to stay within that boundary. Rummaging through some household stuff the other day, I came across a script from one of the monologues. I'll share it with you and perhaps you'll have a chuckle.

The piece below was not an April Fools Day edition. It was a flight of fancy done for pure pleasure just to see what would come of it. I heard that, when one of the major networks called the station the next morning to get more information, they were bluntly told that the story was mere fiction cooked up by a local hack. Truly a missed opportunity to have a little fun with a national broadcast company!

the eccentric starter
commentary #17

Good Evening !

Folks, tonight you're going to hear about the extremely radical revolution that will no doubt be coming to the game of golf, right here on Maryland Golf Live. Perhaps we're not the first to break the story, but as of 6:00 pm tonight neither the Golf Channel nor ESPN has yet reported it. I picked it up off a minor wire service earlier this morning.

Herbert Piltdown, champion of the South Dakota State Open.

I'll get straight to the point. A 37-year-old high school physics and shop teacher named Herbert Piltdown won the South Dakota State Open last weekend. He shot 17-under-par to win by 11 strokes. His score was the lowest ever in the tournament by seven strokes in an event held annually for the last 94 years at the Last Stand Golf & Country Club, just outside Little Bighorn, South Dakota.

The unbelievable part of the story is what Piltdown used to drive his golf balls. He used a Louisville Slugger. Yes, a baseball bat, or more precisely, what once was a baseball bat. Remember, Piltdown was both a physics teacher and a shop teacher, and he used the mental and physical skills those arts bestowed to wreathe himself in sports glory.

He used his woodworking skills and tools to modify the bat, and also machined special tees, both legal under USGA rules. The clubhead end of the bat was planed to a flat-edge face for five inches in from the tip, with the circular part behind the flat edge remaining intact. The handle of the 38-inch bat also remained intact for a length sufficient to allow the golfer to hold it with a ten-finger grip (reminding some observers of the way Mickey Mantle held a bat). The middle part of the bat was cut down with a lathe to a thickness of about ¾ of an inch.

Observers reported that Piltdown was able to generate tremendous club/bat-head speed with his device. The tees he made were said to resemble regular tees, just a lot longer. Piltdown teed his balls up about waist high.

It was reported that there was tremendous laughter on the first tee when Piltdown, a popular weekend player with a 13 handicap, showed up with his odd-looking stick. When his turn came, Piltdown stared down an imaginary pitcher, took a few practice swings, and with a mighty baseball swing, launched a 390-yard drive. Laughter stopped. Piltdown strolled off toward his ball, resigned (as some of us are) to a day of having honors on the tee and being last to hit approach shots. After but a few minutes, a herd of golf carts raced by the first tee, sending patrons scurrying for safety, and sped out towards Piltdown. They arrested him 200 yards out and demanded to see his bat/club, waving rulebooks in his face.

Play was halted for a few minutes until Tournament Committee members came to the astounding but correct conclusion that the bat/club and tees were both within the rules. Piltdown was sent on his way with a warning for slow play.

Piltdown hit a 9-iron 125 yards onto the green, three-putted for par, and the rout was on! He routinely drove the ball 390 yards off the tee. Thirteen times over the three rounds he drove par-4 greens, the shortest of which was 412 yards.

The tournament was all but over with five holes to play. Piltdown held a 19-stroke lead. The only question was whether he could drive a ball over the Styx River, which is actually a small creek that fronts the green on the 444-yard par-four 14th hole. The carry was laser-measured at 404 yards. In two previous rounds, Piltdown had plunked his ball into the drink, suffering pars on the hole after the penalties were assessed.

A drunken mob estimated at over 30 people awaited Piltdown on the 14th tee in the final round. They chanted, "Her–bert, Her–bert, Her–bert," egging on their ground-breaking champion. Piltdown's first drive didn't even reach the near bank of the Styx. The crowd began a concerted snake noise – shshshshshshs – seemingly embarrasing the otherwise unflappable Piltdown. After a brief discussion with his playing companions, he re-teed. A Ruthian clout ensued, the ball easily clearing the Styx and coming to rest 10 feet from the hole. He brushed in the putt for par to the delighted screams of his now-devoted fans.

Mindful of the recent Jean van de Velde collapse, Piltdown hit irons off the tees of the final four holes, bogeying two and parring two. Even with this ultra-safe strategy, he still broke the tournament scoring record by seven shots. He became the hero of every shop teacher and physics teacher in America!

Prologue: After a raucous celebration in the clubhouse, Herbert Piltdown was seen leaving the golf course with none other than J. Algonquin Calhoun, who everybody who was anybody in Little Bighorn, South Dakota knew was the slickest patent attorney in those there parts.

Prologue 2: Soon after this piece hit the airwaves, the USGA and the R&A changed the Rules of Golf to severely constrain the shapes and materials of approved drivers and limited tees to four inches in length.

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faith in sports


This is one all the networks tried to somehow hide, but they couldn't.

Imagine their shock and horror when the Oklahoma women's softball team cited their faith as one of the main reasons they were able to be successful on the field.

This is an "oldie but goodie" -- keeping with George's theme above -- but it's one I love to show because these young ladies totally get it. With God, anything's possible.

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




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Friday
July 5, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3605


enjoy your independence


Maybe it's the jaded (getting) old man in me, but it feels almost kind of wrong to celebrate our nation's independence today.

Don't get me wrong. I'm eternally grateful for living in the land of the free and home of the brave. I've never really thought about living anywhere else, anyway, but I wouldn't want to be anywhere but here.

I have friends who have lived in various other places in the world; Australia, Germany, England, Canada and Japan. They were all born and raised here, became adults in the U.S., then moved abroad when either their profession or schooling took them there.

Each of them, independent of the other, said pretty much the same thing at some point upon returning back to the United States: "Everyone else thinks we're nuts."

And it sorta-kinda feels that way these days. Doesn't it? Are we nuts?

We certainly can't get along.

I mean, I can get along with you. And you. And you as well. But I'm talking about as a group. As a community. As a nation of people all trying to live our best lives.

The great Dave Mason once said in a song:

"So let's leave it alone 'cause we can't see eye to eye

There ain't no good guy, there ain't no bad guy

There's only you and me and we just disagree

It's a shame we can't adopt that philosophy these days.

Just because we disagree doesn't mean you're the bad guy. Or I'm the bad guy. It just means we don't agree.

But we should still be able to get along.

Alas, it's getting tougher and tougher these days to do that.

There's vitriol.

Disdain.

Misplaced anger.

"If you're voting for him, you and I can't be friends."

Somehow, and I don't know how this started or when it snowballed into what it is today, we lost our ability to grasp the one common thing that should stand out above everything else we've learned about humanity.

It's impossible for all of us to agree on everything. It just doesn't happen.

Some folks say it's partly sunny.

Others, though, have to call it "partly cloudy".

If it's partly cloudy that means, of course, that it's also partly sunny. But rather than just agree that it's partly sunny and use that term, we also have folks who insist on calling it partly cloudy instead.

That's a small point, of course. Just an attempt at proving how silly we are when it comes to agreeing on something.

The current state of our country has us disagreeing on just about everything.

The state of Louisiana just passed a law mandating that the Ten Commandments be displayed in all public schools. They didn't pass a bill saying all public schools have to teach a class on the Ten Commandments. They didn't say every public school student has to pass a test on the Ten Commandments.

They didn't say the Ten Commandments were going to be read on the PA system every morning.

They're simply mandating that every public school post the Ten Commandments somewhere in the classroom.

There was a time in public school -- the horror of this, right? -- where students actually stood up every morning and recited The Pledge of Allegiance. We eventually got rid of that, though. Too many people complained.

There are still private schools who recite The Pledge every morning, though, which is a source of pride, I'd think. I know it warms my heart, personally, when my golf coach duties at Calvert Hall have me there at the start of school for some reason and I'm walking the halls and hear the Pledge being recited.

Having the Ten Commandments on display is akin to having the American or State flag on display. It's there. You can read it or honor it if you like. You can believe in it or be proud of it if you like. It's just...there.

But we can't even agree on that, let alone agree on who the next President of the country should be.

The reality is, of course, that we aren't going to agree on things because we're just not wired to be that way. And one of the reasons why it's not in our DNA to agree on everything is because of --------- independence.

We grew up being told time and time again: It's a free country. You can think what you want. These days, you can actually almost "do" whatever it is you want.

Ten days ago in New York City, a woman was removed from a cafe and issued a citation for breast feeding her baby while enjoying coffee with a friend.

That very same week, hundreds of gay men and women celebrating Pride month ran through the streets of New York naked.

That's not a comment intended to resent Pride month.

It's intended to point out that one woman thinks the country is "free" enough to nurse her newborn child in public and is told she can't do that. In the same general time span, men and women take off their clothes and dance around in the streets and that, somehow, is acceptable.

No wonder we're nuts, as my friend who just returned from Japan after living there for 7 years recently told me.

"All you have to do is live in Japan for a week and you'd understand," he told me.

"I was supposed to go over there on a 2-year contract to help build a hospital. I was there 2 months and told them to sign me up for any other work the company was doing in Japan."

I asked him what the one fundamental difference was in Japan.

"People in Japan care about one another. In Japan, it doesn't matter how much money you make. Or how big your house is. Or what college you got your degree from. You are judged, as a human being, on how you treat other people."

I found that fascinating.

"In terms of the way the Japanese treat one another, the U.S. is generations behind," he said. "We don't get it. But they do."

When I started writing this, I remarked that it feels almost weird to be celebrating independence today. And that's because it feels almost weird celebrating anything these days.

We know what's coming up in November.

No matter what happens, it's going to be a mess.

We are, for sure, going to embarass ourselves no matter the outcome.

One half of the country will be happy.

The other half will be hateful.

We know it's coming and there's nothing at all we can do about it.

I will, however, take today to celebrate what those before us created and gave to us. Freedom.

Indpendence is a great thing. The ability to think and do what you like -- within reason, of course -- is wonderful.

Somewhere along the way, though, we let it get to our heads.

I hope we turn it around someday soon.

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RANDY MORGAN
on American soccer


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


u.s. copa america review


The USMNT’s run at their last major tournament before the 2026 World Cup came to a premature end on Monday night in Kansas City when the team lost 1-0 to Uruguay and was eliminated in the group stage.

I had been away on vacation the past week or so (culminating in a trip to said game) and wasn’t able to write about any of the previous games. I was hoping I’d be able to write a preview of their knockout round matchup, but alas, it is a post-mortem instead.

The Copa America represented a great opportunity for both the team and the country’s soccer infrastructure to test itself at a high level before hosting the 2026 World Cup.

The tournament is held every four years and usually only involves South American countries, but the US had the privilege to host this year (mostly to make CONMEBOL more money) and multiple CONCACAF nations were invited to round out the field. What we learned is that there is a chasm in class between the two confederations.

The six CONCACAF nations managed a total of 4 wins in 13 games against South American teams, with two of those coming against doormats Bolivia.

The USA’s poor showing was equaled or exceeded by Mexico, who failed to advance, only beating Jamaica, who lost every game. Canada and Panama were the only two CONCACAF sides to advance to the quarterfinals.


US Group Games –

The US began their campaign on a positive note, defeating a weak Bolivia team 2-0 with goals from Christian Pulisic and Folarin Balogun.

The team was defensively stout in the opener, preventing Bolivia from creating any real danger, but the attack certainly left some goals on the table, perhaps a harbinger of things to come.

The second game was the hammer blow to the Americans’ hopes as they lost 2-1 to fellow CONCACAF opponent Panama. A nearly unfathomable loss on home soil with a full strength team. The loss was largely due to a petulant red card on Tim Weah in just the 18th minute of the game that reduced the US to ten men for roughly 80% of the game.

Despite that, the US went up 1-0 just a few minutes after Weah was sent off with another goal from Balogun. However, they allowed Panama to quickly equalize then made several super conservative decisions to try to gut out a draw on defense alone. Granted, playing down a man makes retaining the ball and generating an attack a more difficult proposition, but given the supposed gulf in talent between the teams there is no reason the US couldn’t control more of the ball than the paltry 26% possession they managed.

For much of the second half it seemed like the conservative approach would pay off, but it simply afforded Panama too many lottery ticket-type chances to heave the ball into the box and eventually in the final minutes of the game they found a goal for a 2-1 victory.

It was always going to be a tough final game against Uruguay, one of the best teams in the tournament. Heading into Monday there was some hope that Uruguay might rest some of their starters with the top spot in the group virtually clinched, but the US got no such luck and they played their first choice team.

The US team looked motivated and came out playing hard. They had the better of the game for most of the first half, but despite playing in the Uruguay end for a large part of the half they failed to find the killer final pass or shot to create a truly dangerous chance.

They came closest on a nice passing sequence that led to a would-be penalty on Balogun, but he was well offside before he was fouled.

In the middle of the second half Uruguay took the lead on a controversial goal, one of a plethora of quizzical refereeing decisions. It came off a free kick sent into the box that was headed on by defender Ronald Araujo.

Matt Turner saved the initial shot but the rebound spilled in the box and Mathias Olivera was the first to pounce on it for the goal. From the broadcast, Olivera appeared to be clearly offside on the initial header, but the Copa America doesn’t have the same laser-sharp offside technology as the Euros and thus the goal stood.

With Panama coming back to take the lead over Bolivia in the concurrent game, the US needed two late goals to find their way out of the group. They created a couple of half chances down the stretch but couldn’t claw back into the game as they tried in desperation against a solid and experienced Uruguayan defense.


Berhalter Out? –

As I left the stadium on Monday night, the overwhelming sentiment from US fans was that this was the end of the road for coach Gregg Berhalter. To be fair, it was a big part of the pregame discussion by both fans and pundits as well.

After the loss to Panama, much of the fanbase and the media agreed that if the US didn’t pull off a big win against Uruguay, there needed to be a change in leadership.

Throughout his tenure, Berhalter has largely met expectations, but never exceeded them. He has molded a young group of talented players into the dominant force in CONCACAF, but he hasn’t demonstrated the ability to push them any further than that.

One thing this tournament has made abundantly clear is how large a gulf in class there is between CONCACAF and the elite regions like South America and Europe. It is great to consistently beat Mexico and largely dominate the rest of the region (except maybe Panama), but it seems that may be more a reflection of the poor state of the Mexican team than a sign the US is an elite team.

During the Berhalter era they have exactly one win over a team in the top 20 of the FIFA rankings besides Mexico, the World Cup win over Iran. Their biggest “win” of the Berhalter era was their 0-0 draw against England at the 2022 World Cup.

Aside from the regional success, Berhalter oversaw a mediocre qualifying campaign that came much too close for comfort but ultimately saw the team achieve their goal of getting back to the World Cup.

At that tournament in Qatar the team met expectations by qualifying from a group where they were slight favorites to advance. The performances on the whole were uneven, with a disappointing draw in the opener with Wales followed by the outstanding effort to draw England and a clutch win over Iran to secure a knockout spot.

Leading one of the youngest teams in the tournament out of the group was no small achievement, but they were subsequently outclassed by the Netherlands in the round of 16, stalling at basically the same place nearly all past US teams have since the dream run in 2002.

So while there have been moments of success, Berhalter has certainly not “changed the way the world views American soccer” as he stated his mission when taking over the job. At times he’s had the team play some beautiful soccer, but the results haven’t been any better than teams of the past whose players had less pedigree than the current crop.

The most glaring concern in continuing with Berhalter is that the team hasn’t seemed to improve on any of their recurring issues. Berhalter has crafted a tactical plan that has made the US solid in defense, but the team has consistently lacked creativity and guile in the attacking third.

From qualifying to the World Cup to this Copa America, the US has struggled to create chances against weaker CONCACAF teams on the road and any similarly talented teams aside from Mexico.

A common retort to this criticism the last few days has been that this has as much or more to do with the quality of the current players. There is certainly some validity to that argument. Everyone assumed that once we had a team full of players at clubs in the best European leagues that the level of the national team would rise significantly.

The current group fits that bill with several players at the most elite teams in Europe, but it hasn’t always translated to the field. There were varying levels of success among these players in Europe this past season, ranging from several who were among the best in their league to others who struggled to see the field.

Even so, a small sample of three games doesn’t always capture a player’s true talent. Weston McKennie came off a strong season for Juventus but looked off the pace for much of this tournament.

Meanwhile Gio Reyna barely played, shuffling between two clubs this season and he looked like the most skilled player on the field against Uruguay, often finding the key pass to progress into attacking positions.

At the end of the day, the players deserve plenty of criticism for this failure, especially Tim Weah, who has been a key figure in qualifying and Qatar but doomed the team with his silly red card against Panama.

However, the team has never seemed to be better than the sum of its parts under Berhalter. The lack of attacking production with a group of attackers who are amongst the most productive at club level the country has had, points to some tactical or philosophical shortcomings.

Maybe the players just aren’t that good or for whatever reason their club form can’t translate to the national team. In that case, it may be even more reason to change the coach in an attempt to find someone who will play a more pragmatic style instead of trying to emulate the leading club teams.

Perhaps a new face to re-evaluate the talent pool would decide that we don’t need to go toe-to-toe against the best teams and adopt a more counter-attacking style like the one implemented successfully by Morocco at the last World Cup.

It is clear that Berhalter has a great relationship with many of the players on the team and he does seem to have them motivated for the biggest games. The loss to Uruguay wasn’t down to effort or grit. The players’ support appeared to be a large factor in restoring him as the head coach after his brief post World Cup hiatus.

Sometimes you can be too much of a players coach. Maybe some of the entrenched players have gotten too comfortable and have too much leeway. The Weah red card wasn’t the first petulant outburst in recent games. Not that it was Berhalter’s fault, but it's possible behavior could tighten up with a new man in charge. A new coach may provide cause for some of the veterans to fight harder for their spots and may give them the kick in the rear they need to get to another level.

The performances in this Copa America provide a murky picture. If you squint at it, you could defend Berhalter and say he was unlucky, with the loss to Panama mostly due to the early red card and a decent effort against a strong Uruguay team.

If you look at it the other way you could put blame on Berhalter for not having the guys ready to deal with the agitation from a team like Panama. He certainly could come in for some blame for how he managed the game after that. Even down to ten men the US did not need to play so conservatively against an overmatched Panama, a team whose best player is slightly above average in MLS.

Ultimately the team failed to qualify from a group where they were easily the second best team and heavily favored to progress, in a tournament on home soil. So you can make all the excuses you want, but that is a failure and because of that, they need to change direction before the biggest World Cup for USA fans since 1994.

As they say, you can’t change the players, but you can change the coach. That is doubly the case in international soccer, where you can’t just go out and find new players. This current group will largely be the group in two years. There will be a few spots that transition but the core of the team is young and playing in top leagues and there aren’t many ready-made replacements.

There is always a risk in changing course. There is no guarantee the next coach can forge the same relationship with the players and could have even worse tactics, but at this point a change is necessary to at least attempt to progress to the next level.

The problem with firing Berhalter is hiring a suitable replacement and that is not as easy as some may think. The US federation doesn’t have unlimited funds and managing a sub-elite national team doesn’t have nearly the prestige as leading the top club teams for most coaches.

There have been some rumors about former Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp. He is easily the highest profile unattached coach in the entire sport and could literally pick any job he wants. A reporter for The Athletic suggested he was only interested in Germany or the USA job, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

It seems like a pie in the sky fantasy to be honest. Even the top national teams are often unable to recruit the highest profile club coaches. That's how England, the most historic and well funded national team, ends up with Gareth Southgate.

There are many more realistic candidates and they all have their pros and cons. Popular names circulating are Wilfried Nancy, who has had success with the Colubmus Crew playing an attractive style, and Jim Curtain who has guided the Philadelphia Union to sustained success.

Others with international pedigree like Herve Renard, who currently coaches the French women’s team and has led several men’s national teams, or David Moyes, recently of West Ham United.

Hey, Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti was vacationing in Montana last week, maybe they can offer him a large plot of the state to jump ship to the US job.

All kidding aside, each candidate has their merits, though none are an obvious slam dunk. Nevertheless, after this Copa performance, it seems clear the team has reached a plateau under Berhalter and there won’t be another real test until 2026, so there needs to be a change.

A new set of eyes with some fresh ideas are the only hope to push the team to another level before they host the biggest tournament in the world. There isn’t another Christian Pulisic waiting in the wings to boost the team within the next two years (maybe by 2030, search for Cavan Sullivan).

One final anecdote before closing. On Sunday night when I arrived at my hotel I was surprised to come face to face with Ricardo Pepi. I had unknowingly booked the same hotel the team was staying at in Kansas City.

When I returned from the game on Monday night I witnessed most of the players walk back in through the lobby and several hung around with their families and/or entourages in the bar/lobby area.

It was interesting to see how some of them seemed totally devastated and others seemed like nothing had happened. I’m not going to call anyone out because everyone processes things differently, but Pepi for one looked devastated, barely able to lift his head as he sat with his family.

Hopefully for those like him, this disappointment can be a lesson and can light a fire as they prepare for the biggest tournament of their life in 2026.

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July 3, 2024
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#3603


remembering charley


It's become a rite of passage here to take a moment every year on July 3rd to remember one of the most colorful, genuine people I've ever had the pleasure of knowing in my 61-plus years on this planet: Charles Markwood Eckman.

Charley passed away on this date in 1995 after a three year battle with cancer.

The unofficial Mayor of Glen Burnie, Charley's life and times spanned a number of generations and included several high profile moments.

He was a very good baseball player at City College High School and was drafted by the Washington Senators, but never made it past the minor leagues.

I remember Charley once saying, "The general manager of the ballclub didn't like me."

He then quickly followed up with, "He didn't like the way I hit, he didn't like the way I fielded the ball and he didn't like my arm."

The late, great Charley Eckman, who passed away on July 3, 1995.

I once asked Charley if he ever said anything to the general manager about his failure to rise up through the system.

Charley said he asked the GM, "Why did you draft me in the first place?" and the GM replied, "We thought you might get better."

When his baseball dream died, Charley turned to his other love: basketball officiating.

He spent two years in the military and honed his officiating craft there, in Arizona, where he remained employed by the U.S. military after his discharge from active duty circa 1945.

Charley became well known in officiating circles for his honest approach to the task and his willingness to stand up to the players who thought he wasn't calling the game "squarely", as Charley used to say.

Eckman once told a story about officiating a game in the old BAA (Basketball Association of America) where a coach and player harrassed him throughout the opening half. At halftime, Eckman knocked on their locker room door and went in, an unheard of visit by a game official.

He went in and said to the coach, "If (player's name here) says one more word to me, he's gone."

He then pointed at the player and said, "And, you...I'm holding you responsible for your coach. If he says one more word to me, you're gone. Got it? Good!"

That's how Charley handled things. With a creative twist. In his own style.

He eventually moved on to coach the NBA's Fort Wayne Pistons in 1954 and had a successful coaching run that included one of the all-time great lines in sports.

After the Pistons hit an early season slide in 1957-58 that saw them fall into last place, owner Fred Zollner brought Charley into his office.

"Chas, the team is really struggling," Zollner said.

"I know. We've got some guys going through the motions," Eckman said. "But it will turn around. It always does."

"I've been thinking," Zollner continued. "I think we should make a change in your department."

Eckman nodded his head in agreement. "I think that's a good idea, Boss. Shake the boys up a bit. Who are we changing?"

"Well," Zollner said. "You're the only man in your department, Charley."

And with that, Eckman was dismissed as the head coach in Fort Wayne/Detroit.

But to this day, Charley Eckman is still the only man to have ever done two things in the history of basketball in our country.

He's the only man to ever coach (1956 and 1957) and officiate (1951) in the NBA All-Star Game.

And he's the only man to officiate the NIT, NCAA and NBA Finals.

After his officiating career ended due to a worsening knee condition, Eckman settled full time in Glen Burnie and started his broadcasting career at WCBM and WFBR. And that's where the real fun began for Charley.


-------------------


Charley handled morning sports duties at WFBR and also hosted a nightly call-in show, which, as the station owners would find out, usually included a late afternoon stop at one of his favorite Glen Burnie watering holes like the Embers Restaurant on Ritchie Highway.

Eckman was one of the very first "tell it like it is" show hosts, unafraid to confront listeners when their calls to the show included opinions he didn't share.

"Where are you calling from, Reisterstown? Sounds to me like you're calling from the moon if you think the Orioles should trade (so and so)."

Charley once earned a three day vacation from his hosting duties when someone called into the show complaining about the Orioles owner and suggested the baseball team needed an owner more actively involved in the team like Calvin Griffith of the Minnesota Twins.

"Griffith?" Charley said. "You want Griffith? He's so cheap he wouldn't give a quarter to see Jesus ride on a float in a parade."

These days, a statement like that would be considered benign. Back then, though, the station told Eckman that was the final straw.

Eckman would routinely butt heads with station GM Harry Shriver, who tried, but failed, to get Charley to calm down on the air.

"We had a strange and wonderful relationship," Charley would say with a laugh. "Harry was strange. And I was wonderful."

But deep down, Eckman liked Shriver and respected him.

"He was like a coach," Charley would often say when Shriver's name was brought up. "He had different players on the team and had to learn how to handle them. I wish he would have left me alone to do my job, but I knew he was just trying to keep everyone happy."

It was there, at WFBR, where Eckman got the opportunity to handle color analyst duties for the fledgling indoor soccer team in town, the Baltimore Blast.

He spent from 1981 until 1988 in that capacity, working with Art Sinclair, who handled play-by-play.

By then, Charley was beyond repair. He was in the November of his broadcasting career and was, pun intended, having a blast. He would routinely enjoy an adult beverage (or three) during the games and would also develop a penchant for (intentionally?) mispronouncing names on the air.

Two of his favorites were Charlie Fajkus of the Chicago Sting and Steve Pecher of the St. Louis Steamers.

Fajkus was pronounced "Fy-kus", but Charley would tend more to the "u" sound in "Fy-kus" instead of the "y" sound in "Fy-kus". Get it?

And Pecher was pronounced "Petcher", but Charley left out the "t" and called him "Pecker" instead.

I would routinely remind Charley of the correct pronounciation as I worked alongside the broadcasting duo at Blast games, but Eckman would just smile and say, "You just keep the stats, kid. I'll do the broadcasting."

Charley loved indoor soccer. And the Blast. He developed a very close relationship with head coach Kenny Cooper. Of all the media folks in town in the early 80's, Charley was our biggest supporter.


---------------------


I first met Charley in the 1970's when I was playing Little League Baseball in Glen Burnie at Sawmill Park (which now boasts "Charley Eckman Lane" in honor of him). I played on the same team as Eckman's nephew.

Charley occasionally showed up at our games and would cat-call our manager from the stands, jeering him for not bunting or calling for a hit and run. I'm sure a cocktail or two had been consumed by the time Charley got there, but us 13 year olds thought it was awesome that Eckman, a true celebrity at that point, would be coming to our games and paying attention to what was going on.

I would later shovel Eckman's sidewalk and driveway after snowstorms and get invited inside by his wife, Wilma, for a hot bowl of chicken noodle soup.

Charley would hand over $10 for shoveling and then say to me, "You should be paying me, leader. That soup is worth more than 10 bucks it's so good."

When I was offered the opportunity to intern for the Blast soccer team in 1981, the push that got me to accept the position was the promise I'd be working with Eckman and Sinclair on the radio broadcasts. If I could hang out with Charley Eckman, sign me up.

I then traveled with Eckman for the better part of five seasons.

I would need a week's worth of #DMD to publish the top 5 Charley stories. But here's one that stands out.

In those days when the Blast traveled to St. Louis, we stayed at an old hotel called the Chase Park Plaza. I don't remember why we stayed there, since it was 20 or 25 minutes from the arena, but that's always where we stayed.

Anyway, the first time we went to St. Louis when Eckman was the broadcaster, he remarked that he, too, had stayed at the Chase Park Plaza. He told the players, Cooper, me and anyone that would listen how great it was. He shared stories about nights of revelry in the hotel bar. And he mentioned "Willard", the lobby attendant.

"Anything you need in St. Louis, Willard can get you," Eckman said.

We all pretty much thought Charley was full of it.

He hadn't been to the Chase Park Plaza hotel since his days in the basketball world and there was little chance he'd remember the name of the lobby attendant. We all mostly assumed Eckman was making up the story.

We arrived at the Chase Park Plaza and as I went to hand out room keys, I heard a commotion.

"Charley Eckman, while I'm be damned."

There was loud laughter.

I looked over and there was Eckman, shaking hands and hugging a tall African American gentleman.

"Willard," Eckman said in his loud voice. "Come on over and meet Coops and the team!"

It was Willard. Looking maybe 80 years old at the time. But he was there, in his hotel uniform, handling lobby duties like he had been for some 50 years.

We never doubted any of Charley's stories ever again.

Charley turned out to be a great friend to me as I worked my way up the ladder in the adminstrative department of the Blast indoor soccer team.

He was an entertainer, to say the least.

But he was also a good, good man. He was a straight shooter, for sure. But if he liked you, he'd do anything he could for you.

May he be resting in peace somewhere, officiating a basketball game and enjoying a 5 pm scotch-and-water as well.


The PGA Tour makes its annual stop at the John Deere Classic this week and I'm here to say that I think this is finally, finally the week that Denny McCarthy wins on TOUR.

Is this the week Denny McCarthy finally breaks through with a win on the PGA Tour?

His track record at the course is awesome, with a couple of Top 10 finishes recently.

He's coming off a week of no golf and a trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming to visit his swing coach.

The course is perfectly suited for someone who doesn't bash it off the tee but hits their irons well and putts it great. That describes Denny to a tee.

We're veering away from our normal wagering information here, where we give you 5 or 6 players, and leaning ONLY on McCarthy this week.

If we're wrong, so be it. But we're on McCarthy in all of the categories; Top 30, Top 20, Top 10 and win.

It's his week to win.

Let's get it done, Denny.

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July 2, 2024
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#3602


wanted: u.s. soccer players (good ones)


The good news for the non-soccer folks reading this is that last night's U.S. soccer loss to Uruguay will pretty much end the need for any further American soccer news for the next 12 months or so.

The U.S. will be the primary host nation in 2026 when the World Cup returns here for the first time since 1994. Because of that, their customary qualifying efforts in the CONCACAF region will not be necessary. The U.S., Mexico and Canada are all exempt from qualifying in 2026.

That's actually a good thing, because there's definitely no guarantee the Americans would have been able to work their way through the qualifying portion of World Cup '26.

After last night's dreadful 1-0 loss to Uruguay, I'm more perplexed than ever as to the direction of U.S. soccer and what we can honestly expect from the men's national team moving forward.

The defeat to Uruguay last night eliminated the U.S. from Copa America. It's the first time in 20 international tournaments hosted by the Americans that a U.S. team failed to advance out of group play.

Here's the truth: They have about four really good, high quality, "international type" players on their roster. That's it. Four.

The entire team plays in Europe. Two decades ago, people who thought they knew soccer said the U.S. team would never be any good until all of the players on the roster made their living playing for a European side.

Well......that was a whiff. Almost every guy on the roster that matters plays in Europe.

Gio Reyna called the players out after Monday night's loss to Uruguay eliminated the Americans from the 2024 Copa America competition.

We were told the U.S. team would never be any good until the U.S. Soccer Federation poured millions of dollars into the men's program, hired the best coaches at all levels (U17, U23, etc.) and paid the American players what they were (are) worth in an effort to entice them into caring about their performance.

All of those things were done. No excuses there.

Last night's game was a fiasco that showcased just how far the Americans have slipped.

People are going to blame the referee (who most certainly was grade-school like, for sure), the controversial goal (was it offsides? maybe) and the hack-and-whack style of the Uruguay side, who kicked everything that moved. And if it didn't move, they kicked it until it did move.

But those are just convenient excuses intended to disguise the truth.

The players aren't good enough.

They just aren't.

The Americans played 90+ minutes of soccer last night and had one realistic chance at scoring and that came after Uruguay's goalkeeper and defender miscommunicated on a ball and left the net empty for a few nervous seconds.

When you're playing 90 minutes, against anyone, and you don't generate more than one (or six?) scoring chance, you are the reason why you're not winning. Not the coach. Not the refs. Not the VAR decision to call a controversial goal a goal. It's YOU.

Gregg Berhalter is everyone's favorite whipping boy. His record as U.S. men's coach now includes 43 wins in 73 games. That's not Vince Lombardi like, but it's also not horrible.

What is horrible, though, is the talent pool of American soccer that's available for him to roster over the next two years. And, yes, "horrible" is probably a tad excessive, but that's one of the reasons why the U.S. lost to Panama and Uruguay in the last week. No one wants to admit the truth. We don't have enough good soccer players.

At least one American player sees the picture for what it is. Gio Reyna is a mercurial figure on the team and a polarizing player given his exceptional talent along with a penchant for getting injured all the time. But at least he had the courage after last night's loss to speak the truth.

"I don't think this tournament really had anything to do with the staff or the tactics or the way we play," Reyna said. "I think it was more individual mistakes, and I think the staff can only do so much. I think at the end of the day, the players sort of have to take initiation on the field. And I think at the end of the day, the players didn't do enough to go through."

He, of course, is one of those players. Much has been expected of him. And at times he's been a bright light. But in international soccer, you can't bat .300 and go the Hall of Fame like you can in baseball.

Star players on the international level have to man up for 90 minutes in almost every game they play. The U.S. has quality players, that much is true. But those guys bat .300. They're good for 30% of the game instead of 100% of the game.

Coaching does matter. Let's not kid ourselves. A great coach can extract something out of ordinary players that an ordinary coach couldn't get.

When the U.S. struggled 30 years ago, it was Steve Sampson's fault.

Bruce Arena turned the program into something decent, but eventually it was his fault, too.

It was Bob Bradley's fault in 2011.

They turned the program over to Germany's Jurgen Klinsmann because, they said, Bradley couldn't coach.

Klinsmann was fine. Until it was his fault.

And it's pretty much been Berhalter's fault since he took over in 2018.

We're a nation that has to have one person to blame. It's just the way we're built. Look no further than what's going on with the Presidential race as an example. "If so-and-so wins, we're doomed."

In Baltimore, we live that motto of someone-has-to-get-the-blame six times a year when the football team loses a game. It's always John Harbaugh's fault when the Ravens drop a game.

"Lamar is the greatest player ever..." when they win.

"Harbaugh stinks, get rid of him..." when they lose.

Everyone wants to blame Gregg Berhalter.

They can add anyone you want to the U.S. coaching roster, but the results aren't going to change unless they generate better soccer players.

The U.S. has good players. A few are even better than good. But on the whole, they have a bunch of .300 hitters.

In baseball, that would be fine. In soccer, not so much.

I can't see it getting much better between now and 2026. I know you might be thinking, "What? That's two years."

It is two years, that's true. But because the Americans don't have to qualify, there's no schedule of games for them to evaluate their player roster, build a team, and prepare for the World Cup.

The only games they'll play over the next 24 months are "friendlies" where nothing is on the line whatsoever.

I have no idea if Gregg Berhalter survives this. If you made me bet it, I'd say he gets fired in the next 30 days and Jurgen Klopp gets ushered in as the coaching-savior-to-be.

But they can bring in Klopp, John Wooden, Bill Belichick and Coach K if they want.

Without quality soccer players who then play quality soccer, there's very little hope.


Geno asked a question about the U.S. Ryder Cup team in the Comments section that is probably worth answering now that we're hearing the PGA of America is going to make an announcement about the 2025 captain sometime next week.

His first question centered on the captain for the U.S. team.

This is, to my knowledge, the latest the captain's announcement has ever been made. It usually comes in December after the Ryder Cup, which means the U.S. is roughly seven months behind in their planning.

Speculation always centered on Phil Mickelson being the captain of the '25 team at Bethpage in New York and Tiger Woods being the captain in '27 when the event shifts to Ireland.

Tiger Woods, captain of the 2025 U.S. Ryder Cup team? Everyone thinks so, but it's not yet official.

Mickelson, of course, is no longer a candidate for the position because he pulled a Steve Miller (took the money and ran) two years ago and joined LIV.

Tiger has publicly acknowledged that he has discussed the captaincy with the PGA of America, saying only, "We're going through it and trying to see if we can make it work."

The rumor that has been floating around the golf world is that Woods told the PGA he'd take the gig as long as he was assured of back-to-back runs instead of the traditional one time effort most captains are provided.

Why the PGA of America wouldn't scoop that offer up right away is beyond me. "Tiger wants to captain the U.S. team two straight times? Where do we sign that agreement?"

The other rumored candidate, Stewart Cink, is just a guy. Nothing against Cink, but he has the same amount of cachet with American golf fans as my buddy Fred Funk. Or David Toms. The captain of the team should be a special player and a special leader. I realize Steve Stricker didn't fit that bill at Whistling Straits in 2021, but he was only given the role because the event was in his home state of Wisconsin.

Tiger is the only guy for the job at Bethpage. Why it hasn't been announced yet is puzzling, though. What's taking so long?

As for Geno's other question, LIV players were allowed to play last time, remember. Brooks Koepka was a captain's pick.

I think what Geno might have meant is will LIV players somehow be allowed to "make" the team on points instead of being picked by the captain.

As it stands today, given what he did in the Masters, PGA and U.S. Open (based on the "double points" offerings for majors), Bryson DeChambeau would already have enough points to be on the 2025 team.

Either way, he's going to play in 2025. He'll either be picked or somehow make the team on points.

What will be interesting is this: If the PGA Tour and LIV finally reach an agreement -- their so called "working alliance" -- to stop hating each other, will the PGA of American retroactively award points to LIV players such as DeChambeau for their 2024 accomplishments?

I'm still not sure a working agreement will ever be completed between the TOUR and LIV. But I'm fairly certain that at the very least, the U.S. team in 2025 will have DeChambeau and Koepka wearing the red, white and blue.


WJZ TV sportscaster Mark Viviano announced on Monday he'll be retiring later this month after four decades in the sports media business, nearly all of them here in Baltimore.

What a great run.

And what a great man.

I've known Mark for a long, long time. He was at Channel 13 during my soccer days, I competed against him, sorta-kinda, when we were on the air at opposite radio stations, and he's been a friend to me over the last decade while this website has been part of Baltimore's daily sports offerings.

I see him these days at the ballpark occasionally and he's always there with a smile and a handshake. And if Ethan is with me, he always mentions him by name and treats him like a friend as well.

I assume he won't mind me saying this and telling you about this side of Mark Viviano.

Back in the old, old days at the radio station, we got involved in a very public and occasionally ugly spat with the baseball team in town.

It started fairly innocently. There was a typographical error on a sales contract that was supposed to read $30,000 and instead read $3,000 and it boiled over from there. It wasn't my sale or my fight, per se, but I knew the nuts and bolts of it because word traveled fast around the station in those days.

The Orioles were dead-red wrong. And they knew that. But they tried to press the issue based on "you signed the contract" rather than just being decent people and saying, "Yeah, we know it was a mistake. We know we agreed to the $30,000 figure."

Anyway, people often ask me what started the spat between the radio station and the baseball team and that was the incident that ignited it.

Later that season, the station sold almost 1100 tickets to a Friday night home game with the Angels -- and this was back when the team was awful, remember, and anyone selling 1100 tickets for the team should have been knighted on the pitcher's mound. It was on that night that the Oriole Bird (playfully?) shot the station owner with a large squirt gun filled with water.

I'm not getting into that story here because it's neither here nor there. But those two moments started the dispute with the baseball team and I, personally, wasn't involved in either one of them.

But those two issues, along with the Orioles refusing to allow station hosts into the stadium, initiated a battle that lasted -- for me, at least -- well over 7 years. During those years, I didn't always feel welcomed in certain media circles. I'll just leave it at that.

A lot of folks in the industry would scamper away from us anytime a station employee was at the Ravens facility, for instance. Mark Viviano never did that. Not once.

He was always kind to all of us. "Keep doing what you're doing. If you believe in what you're doing, that's all matters," he would say to me at Owings Mills.

A lot of radio and TV folks distanced themselves from us for fear of Orioles retribution, I guess. Mark never did anything of the sort.

I was a Mark Viviano fan before all of that happened circa 2006. But my respect for him increased tremendously when he treated me -- and others at the station -- with kindness and professionalism thereafter.

Jamie Costello just retired from Channel 2 recently after a great run.

And now, Mark Viviano is throwing his final pitch later this month at WJZ.

We've been blessed in this market to have some really great people on the air over the last 50 years.

"Viv" is great people. They don't make them like that any longer.


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Monday
July 1, 2024
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#3601


at the halfway mark


Give or take a game or three, the 30 MLB teams reached the halfway stage of the 2024 campaign over the weekend.

My pre-season prediction of an Orioles-Dodgers World Series still has life. I realize it's hard for "chalk" to make it in both leagues, but I'll stick with my guns and see where we finish up in October.

It's always risky to do a lot of evaluating the morning after a thrashing like the O's took on national TV last night. I think we all knew before the 11-2 loss to the Rangers that the O's need pitching help. But with Cole Irvin now officially in danger of being replaced in the rotation, I think it's safe to say Mike Elias will be doing some serious pitching shopping this month.

Crochet or Fedde from the White Sox?

Skubal from the Tigers?

Gunnar Henderson struck out four times last night in the 11-2 loss to Texas.

Luzardo from the Marlins?

Severino or Quintana from the Mets?

Gausman or Kikuchi from the Blue Jays?

Put whatever stock you want in the rumor mill, but all eight of them might be available for the right price this month. The O's don't want or need all of them, obviously. But two of those would certainly help. Big time.

The big question, of course, isn't whether the O's are going to make a deal or two. We know they will. The question is: What will they have to give up to get what they want?

Will Elias have to part with someone who has seen time with the big league club this year? Kjerstad? Cowser? Norby? Povich?

Or will Elias try to move pieces from the minor league system and keep those four above?

Crochet would almost assuredly not be available for minor league prospects. It would take at least two players of the Kjerstad, Cowser level, if not three.

Skubal would also require a Major League player or two.

But Severino or Quintana could be had for a cheaper price. So, too, would Gausman or Kikuchi.

I knows what you're thinking: As long as whatever we get this year is better than Fuji and Flaherty from last summer, it's an upgrade.

I agree.

Let's get to our halfway review of the American League and National League, shall we?

American League East: It's the Orioles and Yankees now and it will be the Orioles and Yankees in October. In that order. The Red Sox (44-39) are in the mix for a Wild Card spot, which is hard to believe. Tampa Bay is starting to make one of their patented "out of nowhere" runs. They're now 42-42 and starting to sniff around a playoff spot. Toronto might trade all of their decent players at the deadline.

What happens? - The Orioles win the division by 5 games and the Yankees claim a Wild Card spot with 94 wins. The Red Sox finish with 85 wins and miss the post-season.

Best storyline - Who wins the A.L. MVP? Gunnar or Judge? It's a race between those two.


American League Central: Cleveland (52-30) is the real deal, as the O's just experienced for themselves last week in Baltimore. Minnesota and Kansas City are deadlocked with 47 wins. They both have a puncher's chance of a playoff spot. Detroit is one of the surprises of the league. They've been shockingly bad. The White Sox? They're lucky baseball doesn't have relegation or they'd be in Triple A next year.

What happens? - Cleveland wins the division by 12 games. Minnesota claims a Wild Card spot with 89 wins. Kansas City loses out on the last Wild Card spot on the final weekend of the season.

Best storyline - Can the Royals actually make the post-season after spending several years as a league doormat?


American League West: Seattle (47-39) leads the division by 3.5 games, but that's mainly because Houston has caught fire of late. Can the Astros make a deadline deal or two to lift themselves into a playoff spot (or division title)? Maybe. Their pitching isn't all that great but they can still put runs on the board, as we saw last we last week in Houston. The Angels and A's are done.

What happens? - Seattle wins the division by 10 games. Houston stumbles down the stretch, losing 8 of their last 12, and falls out of the Wild Card race on the final weekend of the season. The Rangers produce yet another remarkable September surge, going 20-6 in their final month to grab a Wild Card spot with 88 wins.

Best storyline - Do the Mariners have what it takes to be this year's 2023 Texas Rangers? Will they make a deadline deal or two to beef up their lineup and make a run to the World Series?


National League East: Injuries have crushed the Braves, but now it's Philadelphia's turn to fight the injury bug. The Phillies (55-29) have the most wins in baseball as of this morning. Atlanta is hanging in there and will do enough to snag a N.L. playoff spot. The Mets (40-41) are in no man's land. Do they dig in and try to add a piece or two and make a playoff run? Or do they sell at the deadline and prepare for next year? D.C. and Miami have been preparing for next year since May 15.

What happens? - Philly wins the division by 9 games and Atlanta wins 92 games and easily secures a Wild Card berth.

Best storyline - Could it be a rematch of the '83 World Series? Philly and Baltimore? Will the Phillies be able to withstand mid-season injuries to Harper and Schwarber?


National League Central: The Brewers (50-34) are leading the division and even they're surprised by that feat. St. Louis (43-40) is alive and well in the playoff chase and the Pirates are just enough on the outside-looking-in to take the final three months of the season seriously. Cincinnati and the Cubs aren't that far out, either, but it's unlikely any of those three can make enough of a second half run to get into the upper 80's or low 90's win total.

What happens? - The Brewers win the division by 2 games over the Cardinals, who hang on for a Wild Card spot with 86 wins.

Best storyline - Can the Pirates with their young, impressive pitching staff actually work their way into a playoff spot in the watered down Central?


National League West: The Dodgers are going to win the division. I know you're surprised. They'll finish with 99 wins and win the West by 14 games. The Padres, Diamondbacks and Giants are all still alive in the post-season chase. The Rockies? They don't have a chance.

What happens? - It goes down to the final weekend and the Giants get that final Wild Card spot with 85 wins.

Best storyline - The Dodgers and their gazillion payroll just have to win the World Series this year. Right? Nothing less than a World Series justifies their payroll explosion, the Ohtani signing, etc.


Four feet, two inches is all that stood between Akshay Bhatia and a playoff in yesterday's Rocket Morgtage Classic in Detroit.

Most professionals stand up to a four footer and brush it in the way you and I would coax one into the cup from 12 inches away.

Just seconds before Bhatia attempted the putt that would send him to a playoff with Australian Cam Davis, this flashed on the screen: Bhatia from inside of 5 feet this week: 52 of 52.

Make that 52 of 53.

Right on cue, with that 52 of 52 statistic embedded in the screen above his right ear, Bhatia's par effort broke more than he thought and whisked around the right edge of the hole. Cam Davis, welcome to the victory circle.

Now, it's fair to remember that Bhatia didn't make 52 of 52 putts from five feet. He made 52 of 52 from five feet and in. Many of those 52 were tap-ins. Some were from a foot or two away. And some, yes, were from four or five feet.

But the four footer he really needed, at 18, he couldn't convert.

Bhatia is a terrific young player. He's almost a shoo-in now for the U.S. President's Cup team and, if you're someone prone to remembering these things I saw 14 months in advance, I'd bet he's going to be on the U.S. Ryder Cup team in 2025, particularly if LIV golfers are still not allowed to play in that event.

Akshay Bhatia made just 2 bogeys in 72 holes at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, but the one he made at #18 on Sunday cost him a chance at the title.

But he is not a great putter, as evidenced by his woeful effort on the greens throughout Sunday's final round. He could have driven a nail in the coffin of Cam Davis on the 17th hole, but his birdie try from 11 feet was horribly mishit.

"It's a putter's game," my old friend Charlie Harris used to say. "A great putter wins a lot. A bad putter hardly ever wins."

Bhatia turned professional when he was 17 years old. The day he gradudated from 11th grade, he announced he would bypass college and try his hand at professional golf after high school. He could have gone to any college in the country to play golf, but opted instead for the hard road.

He announced he would turn pro after high school in an effort, he said, to be fair to the colleges who were pursuing him. I've always liked that about him.

The Northridge, California native played one more summer of amateur golf (after graduating high school) so he could play on the Walker Cup team, then turned professional in the fall of 2019 at the ripe age of 17.

Now, at 22 years old, he's a seasoned veteran on TOUR. Yesterday's loss wasn't all that bad. He moved up to 7th on the FedEx Cup points list and continued to churn his way in the direction of a Presidents Cup spot.

It's interesting to watch Bhatia play because he's one of the rare players on the PGA Tour who uses the long putter. As a long putter user myself, I'm particularly connected to him, but I also know the truth: If Bhatia had more confidence with the short, "regular" putter, he'd probably be more effective on the greens.

I know the great short-game guru Dave Pelz once opined that every boy or girl who starts playing golf, no matter their age, should be handed a long putter right from the very start. "It's the easiest way to make putts because it keeps you in an athletic position," he reasoned. "And you can also practice for hours without stressing your back."

Who am I to question Dave Pelz? But I just don't know that I buy that. And I'm a guy who uses the long putter, remember.

Does it have some advantages? Sure. The long putter even works as a defacto chipping club around the greens, for example. I've made a lot of pars in my life from spots that might have been challenging had I needed to chip or pitch the ball.

But there's something about the long putter that still doesn't measure up to the short, standard putter. People quiz me all the time about my use of the long putter for the better part of 20 years now.

"Do you like that style of putting?" they'll ask.

"Not necessarily," I always say. "But it's the only way I can putt. Either this or left handed."

So when I see Akshay Bhatia putt, I have to think that somewhere, deep down, there's an issue or two he's dealing with that has little to do with technique and more to do with either nerves or the mental side of golf.

I'm not an expert on much, as many of you will remind me. But I'm an expert on something called "focal dystonia", which isn't necessarily a golf-only condition. Musicians and painters also experience focal dystonia, which is defined as: A neurological disorder. It causes involuntary muscle movements or contractions in one part of your body. You may have focal dystonia in your neck, eyes, jaw or vocal cords. Focal dystonia can also affect your wrists, hands or fingers.

The worst thing about having focal dystonia as a golfer is that you never really know when it's going to make an appearance. I could go out today with a short, regular putter and putt decently for 3 holes, 7 holes or maybe even 13 holes. You'd watch me putt with the short putter and think to yourself, "There's nothing wrong with this guy's putting."

Then, out of nowhere, especially on putts that break left to right or are uphill, I'd "flinch" at the ball just prior to impact and the ball would shoot off in some crazy direction, nowhere near the hole.

That involuntary muscle contraction interrupts the natural, smooth stroke of the putter and pretty much sends a small "shock wave" through my hands.

I wouldn't wish focal dystonia on anyone...well, maybe members of the Flyers. But other than that, I wouldn't want anyone to have to deal with it.

That said, I've navigated my way around it and through it with the long putter. I'm not a great putter these days, but I have days where I putt great. I also have days when I don't putt great. But I try to remind myself that guys (and girls) who putt with the short putter experience the same sort of up-and-down success rate.

I have no idea at all if Akshay Bhatia has experienced focal dystonia. Maybe he just putts with the long putter because he's 6'1" and it's just a more natural, easy-on-the-body method of putting for him.

But when I watch him putt, particularly under the gun when it matters most, I don't see someone who looks comfortable.

I don't really have a "favorite" golfer these days, but Bhatia ranks high on my list of players I follow and root for on a regular basis.

Yesterday was hard to watch, especially #18.

But if he gets that flat stick figured out someday, you're going to have one of the best American golfers of his generation.

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"Randy On The O's"


Randy Morgan takes #DMD readers through the recent week in Orioles baseball as the Birds try to win a second straight A.L. East title.


o's weekly recap


Week Record: 4-3

Season Record: 53-31

AL East Standing: T-1st with NY Yankees

Player of the Week: Gunnar Henderson .519 OBP 2HR 5RBI 8R

I’ve been out on vacation this week so this will be an abbreviated version of the weekly recap.

The Yankees swoon that Drew predicted was in full swing this week with the Evil Empire dropping four of their six games against the Mets and the Blue Jays. That allowed the Orioles, who went 4-3 after their Sunday Night Baseball loss to the Rangers, to jump back into first place in the AL East for a day or two.

Not only are the Orioles atop the AL East, but going into Sunday night they had the second most wins in all of baseball as well as the second highest run differential.

This week we’ll dive straight into the question of the week. It is the one on everyone’s mind with the trade deadline approaching and the O’s down several key starters with injuries.


Who should the Orioles target and what should they be willing to give up?

This time of year, trade candidate lists are ubiquitous and it's fun to dream about pie in the sky trades where the O’s give up nobody of real value and get back an ace starter. As great as that would be, the reality is to get a useful player you are going to have to give up something that hurts a little.

For the Orioles, the positive is that it will only come down to how much they are willing to part with, as they have one of the best stocked minor league systems in MLB and can likely outbid any team if they truly want to.

So today we’ll break down the Orioles most valuable prospects into five tiers and try to match those tiers to the trade targets the team might hope to get in return.


Tier 1 - Untouchable

Jackson Holliday

Despite his struggles in his first call up, Holliday is still unanimously seen as a future star and remains the number one prospect in all of baseball on most lists. He will likely come back up and helpt the O’s later this year, but even if he doesn’t he is a cornerstone for the future.

Now, nobody is 100% untouchable. You could conceive of a scenario where the White Sox are willing to send the Orioles Garrett Crochet, Erick Fedde and Louis Robert Jr. if Holliday is the headliner in the trade. Maybe something like that could convince the O’s to part with him, but it seems exceedingly unlikely.


Tier 2 - Nearly Untouchable

Samuel Basallo; Coby Mayo

Basallo and Mayo are both outstanding hitters that are tearing up their leagues despite being well younger than the average player in them. They are both in the top ten or twenty in most prospect rankings and Basallo has a decent chance to be the number one overall prospect by next season.

These two are potential cornerstone All-Star players. However, as we said above, to get a player to really push you over the top, it is going to hurt.

I can’t see the team parting with either of these prospects for a rental player. If they are trading one of these guys it will be for a pitcher with some team control next year or beyond. There are four candidates that fit this category and may be available at the deadline.

A trade for one of these pitchers would need to involve at least one of these two prospects as well as some from the tiers below.

The pitcher in this category that seems most possible to move is Chicago’s Garrett Crochet. The 25 year old lefty has been one of the best starters in baseball this year, leading the league in strikeouts.

Crochet won’t be a free agent until 2027, so he is an investment in the near future as well as this season. The main concern is that he has some injury history and he has already surpassed his previous maximum innings in a season.

This could actually make Crochet a better fit for the O’s than other teams. Given his multiple years of team control, the Orioles could use him in the back end of the bullpen the remainder of this year and then move him back to a starting role in 2025.

With Bradish out for at least part of next season and Corbin Burnes possibly gone in free agency, the Orioles will need another front line starter in 2025 and beyond. Getting two and a half years of Crochet would be worth parting with one of these highly promising prospects.

The three other names that could fit this category but are less likely to move are Detroit’s Tarik Skubal, Oakland’s Mason Miller and the Angels’ Jose Soriano. All of those teams look to be out of competition for 2024, but will be reluctant to trade their top line starters for less than a king’s ransom.


Tier 3 - Big League Ready

Heston Kjerstad; Colton Cowser

This is another two player tier, with two of the Orioles’ glut of outfield prospects. Both Cowser and Kjerstad have already shown they can be effective major leaguers.

Could the O's have to part company with Colton Cowser at the trade deadline in effort to acquire a front line starting pitcher?

Cowser got off to a scorching hot start and has cooled off a bit, but remains a contender for AL Rookie of the Year. Kjerstad was recently recalled and has been hitting the cover off the ball since he returned to Baltimore.

There is only so much room in the Orioles outfield, even with Anthony Santander as a pending free agent. The front office will have to make some decisions about who to keep and who to let go at some point soon. So while both of these players are highly promising, you could see the team choosing to part with one of them to strengthen another part of the roster.

It would be surprising however, if they dealt either of these players for a rental player. If they are sending out a useful bat this season, they will look to get back a player who can at least help next year as well.

This tier is where the Orioles might find trade partners with teams looking to deal some controllable non-ace starters. The one exception in this group would be if the Rays look to deal Zac Eflin. He might require one of these prospects plus a few other valuable assets. The Rays would probably prefer to not deal Eflin in the division too.

Below Eflin, others the Orioles could target with Cowser or Kjerstad would be the White Sox Erick Fedde, Colorado’s Cal Quantrill, the Angels’ Tyler Anderson, Miami’s Jesus Luzardo or Oakland’s Paul Blackburn. The latter two are both currently injured, so that may scare the team off them.

Fedde, Quantrill and Anderson are all having strong seasons and are under team control through next season as well.

While none of them would be the ace to replace Kyle Bradish in the rotation, they would bolster the rotation to help the team get through the remainder of the season and could slot in the back end of the rotation next season. Any of them seem capable of getting hot and providing a solid candidate for a third starter in the playoffs as well.


Tier 4 - Available for a High Tier Rental

Connor Norby; Dylan Beavers; Enrique Bradfield Jr.; Jud Fabian; Kyle Stowers; Brandon Young; Seth Johnson;

In this tier we get to the prospects you would be willing to part with for a high quality rental player. As of right now there really isn’t an ace-type rental pitcher who appears available. If that was the case the team may need to go back up to the tier above to get them.

This group of prospects spans the MLB-ready utility players in Norby and Stowers to some promising but not top-end arms in Young and Johnson to the next wave of outfield prospects in AA and A with Beavers, Fabian and Bradfield.

The top end of this trade target group may require more than one of these prospects but they could probably be had without going into the tier above.

Starting pitchers in this group include the Mets Luis Severino, Toronto’s Yusei Kikuchi, Houston’s Justin Verlander, the Rangers’ Max Scherzer, and Detroit’s Jack Flaherty (no thanks).

All of these guys could help the O’s rotation but none are a lock to be a playoff starter except maybe Verlander, though it has looked like father time is catching up to him this year. Each of these players would have the potential to go sour as the experiment with Flaherty did last season.

Also in this tier the O’s could target several high quality rental relievers. Tanner Scott is the name most mentioned with a move and the former Orioles prospect would be a huge addition to the back end of the bullpen.

In addition to Scott, Angels closer Carlos Estevez is another name who could enhance the late innings. Kyle Finnegan of the Nationals, Jake Diekman of the Mets and Tyler Rogers of the Giants are other reliever candidates who also have an additional year of team control in 2025, making them targets for this tier of prospects.


Tier 5 - Fringe Prospects and Bench Players

Ramon Urias; Justin Armbruester; Terrin Vavra; Trey McGough; Hudson Haskin; Matthew Etzel; Matt Krook; Kade Strowd; Carlos Tavera; Luis de Leon; Jackson Baumeister; Juan Nunez; Michael Forret; Leandro Arias; Moises Chace; Mac Horvath; Max Wagner; Creed Willems

This group includes current bench players that may be expendable as well as some fringe prospects at various levels and some low minors prospects with limited track records.

It would probably take a few of these prospects packaged together to return a player of value but they may bring back a mid to low tier trade target or they may be used to bolster a package around one of the higher tier prospects.

A few candidates in this mid to low tier on the market are Nationals starter Trevor Williams, Mets starter Jose Quintana, Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks, Mets reliever Adam Ottavino and White Sox reliever Michael Kopech.

If the O’s can’t land one of the higher value trade targets they may look to take a flier on one of these players to try to hit on a lottery ticket. They could also look to add a player like this in addition to a bigger ticket trade to help solidify the bullpen.


Best Move?

Given all of these potential trade matches, my favorite target is Garrett Crochet. The White Sox starter would at a minimum boost the bullpen this season and provide a top end starter for the following two years.

It's possible he could blow past his innings max and give the team another top end starter for the playoffs. The White Sox want a huge return for him given his years of control, but with his innings limit and injury concerns they may not get anything better than a package built around one of the aforementioned tier two prospects.

If the front office doesn’t go big for a starter then Tanner Scott would be the next best move. It would alleviate some of the fears around Craig Kimbrel and give the bullpen another quality lefty to fill the Danny Coulombe role while he is out injured.

A more realistic move for a starter that could still move the needle would target one of Quantrill, Anderson or Fedde. They could definitely help sure up the rotation this season and may be a third starter in the playoffs. In addition they would be around next season to help fill out a rotation that could be missing some key pieces.

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Sunday
June 30, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3600


sunday ramblings


What you'll find below are the words of Sports Illustrated on Saturday morning, June 29, as they described the behavior of O's owner David Rubenstein during Friday's game in Baltimore.

While Rubenstein was clearly having a blast, there's a fine line between having fun at the ballpark and having too much fun. Rubenstein behaved more like a drunken 24-year-old fan than the team's 74-year-old principal owner. The team needs him to be a leader and a face of the franchise, not a goofy cheerleader.

Sports Illustrated.

I know a lot of us no longer put significant stock in what they publish, but there certainly was a day when Sports Illustrated was the cat's meow.

O's owner David Rubenstein drew the wrath of Sports Illustrated on Saturday after participating in the 7th inning stretch on top of the Orioles dugout on Friday night.

Oh, it's also worth showing you the headline of the piece, which I assume an editor -- not the writer -- creates.

Baltimore Orioles Owner Stuns Fans With Ridiculous Antics

And if that wasn't enough, just under the headline was this: David Rubenstein made a fool of himself during Friday's game against the Texas Rangers.

Here's the thing. I'll make this point again, here, and then tell you why what SI.com presented about O's owner should be filed under the heading of: Hogwash.

I said back in mid-April and again last month, at some point, that I thought Rubenstein's behavior at the ballpark was somewhat questionable.

And I also predicted it would eventually come under scrutiny by the national media, which it apparently has over the weekend.

There's no manuscript on how a sports owner should behave or conduct him/her self, but I'll explain it the way a Supreme Court judge once tried to explain pornography.

"I don't know how to define questionable sports ownership behavior...but I know it when I see it."

I always thought Mark Cuban was goofy when he sat courtside and danced around like a goof and argued and needled both opposing players and game officials. I get it. They own the team. But at some point, they should be above the fray.

It's my belief that the owner of the baseball team shouldn't be dancing around on the dugout. Or squirting people with a water hose in the bleachers. That's what I think. But let me get back to what was written by Sports Illustrated yesterday and then hopefully you'll agree with the point I'm making about SI.com.

Here's the personal information of the writer, Tyler Maher. This wasn't dug up. It wasn't found on some other obscure website where he contributed something a decade ago. This was right next to his name in the published piece about David Rubenstein.

Tyler grew up in Massachusetts and is a huge Boston sports fan, especially the Red Sox. He went to Tufts University and played club baseball for the Jumbos.

Are you seeing what I'm seeing?

Right, it's a hatchet job. An admitted Red Sox fan tasked with offering his opinion on the new Orioles owner. This is similar in nature to SI.com asking me to be their Philadelphia Flyers beat writer. Can you see my personal information now?

Drew grew up in Baltimore and is a lifelong fan of the Washington Capitals and a 40-year despiser of the Flyers.

It's OK for me to question David Rubenstein. I'm from here. I live here. I've seen the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to sports owners in town. I worked for four of them, in fact, during my 17 years in the indoor soccer business. Each of them had good and bad attributes. Like all of us, they weren't perfect.

So, yes, I'm allowed to question and even critique David Rubenstein. Or Steve Bisciotti.

But a Boston guy? And a Red Sox fan? Why would SI.com believe he's going to give David Rubenstein a fair shake?

And then he brings up getting beat by the Rangers last year in the playoffs as another reason why the owner shouldn't be on the dugout jumping around like Kevin Bacon in the movie "Footloose"?

If Baltimore beats out the New York Yankees for the division and finally ends its 41-year World Series drought this fall, Rubenstein can dance all he wants. Until then, he might want to cool it with the dancing, especially in a one-run game against the team that swept the Orioles out of the playoffs last year.

This is #clownshoes stuff by SI.com. They're the ones who hired Maher and handed him the freedom to opine on the Orioles.

Maher's attack on Rubenstein isn't shocking, of course. He's a Red Sox fan.

And therein lies the rub.

SI.com has the right to criticize Rubenstein or anyone else. And, yes, they also have the right to assign anyone they want to that Orioles beat.

But if they want us, the reader, to put stock in what the author is contributing, they'd be better served to deliver someone that isn't predisposed to having an obvious agenda. You know, like the one Mr. Maher clearly has against that baseball team from Baltimore.

Meanwhile, I sent in my contact info to SI.com's "staffing" email address and asked if they have any openings for the Flyers beat writer position.

I'd love, love, love to get that gig.

You just know I'd be fair and above board with that one, don't you?


E-mail questions we need to answer:

John Lesher asks -- "Hi Drew, I'm a daily Dish reader and I know you get a lot of "golf bets" and I have another for you. My regular foursome got into this discussion last week and I'm turning to you for the ultimate answer. If Nelly Korda played 20 PGA Tour events how many times would she finish in the Top 20?"

DF says -- "I'm pretty sure the answer to this one is ZERO. I'd have to go back and look at the 20 events on TOUR this year and try to figure out if Nelly could have shot the Top 20 number -- potentially -- at least once. I don't think she could.

I do think she'd make a cut or two, though. Maybe even more than one or two cuts. But it also stands to reason she might play 20 events and not make a single cut.

But making the cut and then finishing in the Top 20? I just don't see that happening.

She's averaging 265 yards off the tee this year. That's why she's the top women's player on the LPGA Tour. But it's also why she couldn't finish in the Top 20 on the PGA Tour."


Miles asks -- "I'm wondering what you thought of the Orioles not allowing the "Free Palestine" banners in the stadium on Wednesday night? Thanks, Drew."

DF says -- "Well, I have to assume the team has themselves well covered, policy wise, and that's why they had the signs and fans who brought them removed. I'm with Israel, so I think you know where I stand in terms of the decision to remove the fans.

The Orioles apparently said the reason the fans were removed was because they weren't in their ticketed seats and were "inciting" fans. That sounds like a valid reason, even though we all know it was likely more about the banners/signs than anything else.

At the end of the day, using the baseball stadium to protest something totally non-baseball-related isn't productive for anyone.

It's one thing to bring signs/banners about players, coaches, the other team, etc. Knock yourself out. But bringing "Free Palestine" banners to a baseball game is just asking to get kicked out."


Will asks -- "I have a golf question for you and your website. I am not a golfer but I do watch it every once in a while. Here's what I'd like to know. If the golfers had to carry their own clubs and didn't have a caddie at all what difference would that make in their score? Thank you Drew. I enjoy your website."

DF asks -- "This is a great question. I'll use this week's Rocket Mortgage Classic to answer it. Through three rounds, the leaders are 17-under par. My guess is their caddies are worth somewhere around one-and-a-half shots per round, maybe as high as two.

Without caddies lugging their bag around and helping them with club selection, reading the greens, etc., I suspect the leaders (Bhatia and Rai) would both be 13 under instead of 17 under.

The caddie is a huge part of the team. The players hit the shots, that much is true. But there's a massive difference between carrying your bag for 18 holes or walking along for 18 holes while someone else carries it.

Great question, Will."


J.R. asks -- "We're at the middle of the baseball season, give or take. What are the odds of Gunnar Henderson being the A.L. MVP?"

DF says -- "They're very high, especially if the Orioles roll on and finish with the A.L. East title and/or best record in the league.

I know Aaron Judge is going to get thrust into the discussion and he's the consensus "champion" because he plays for the Yankees and all (and he's also very good at baseball, admittedly). And that means Henderson will have to be greater-than-great to draw more votes than Judge.

But, yes, Henderson has an excellent shot at winning A.L. MVP honors. In my book, he's the favorite after the first half. There's a lot of baseball remaining, obviously. I'd put him at +600 right now with Judge at +800. Bobby Witt Jr. is in there somewhere (+1200) and so, too, is Cleveland's Jose Ramirez (+1200)."

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Saturday
June 29, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3599


questions, direct and indirect


A win is a win, even when you only manage five hits.

Thus was the tale of the tape last night at Camden Yards before a surprisingly mediocre Friday night crowd of just over 27,000 at Camden Yards. The Birds scraped together just five hits on the night, but managed to squeeze out a 2-1 win over Texas.

After a 5-game losing streak, the O's look to be themselves once again. Last night's win was the third in a row for Brandon Hyde's team.

Colton Cowser homered off of Max Scherzer last night in the O's 2-1 home win over Texas.

The Rangers are in the midst of a 5-game losing streak of their own and are looking like anything but the defending World Series champions.

Colton Cowser homered off of Max Scherzer (that's something to tell the grandkids someday) and Albert Suarez outpitched Max Scherzer (that's also something to tell the grandkids) in last night's win, which kept the O's a hair above the Yankees in the A.L. East after New York throttled the Blue Jays in Toronto, 16-5.

For those who care who about these things, one of the veteran pitchers the O's reportedly have an interest in -- Toronto's Yusei Kikuchi -- gave up four earned runs in five innings of work in that Blue Jays loss. It marked the third straight start he's allowed four earned runs or more.

Clayton Kershaw he's not. But Kikuchi is almost assuredly being dealt at the deadline to someone.

So, after a restless weekend in Houston and a tough series with Cleveland, the O's are back on track it would appear.

And let's not overlook the fact that Craig Kimbrel came in last night and shut down the Rangers in the 9th inning without scaring anyone to death. The veteran (closer?) did need 18 pitches to get it done, but he struck out two in picking up his 18th save of the campaign.

All is well once again in Birdland.


We have questions from the mailbag to get to and some questions from the Comments section that were indirectly asked. We'll answer several of them here today.

Lou wonders in the Comments section if the O's are attempting to negotiate a long term extension with pitcher Corbin Burnes.

I'm sure they are interested in doing that, just like I once thought about asking Jennifer Aniston on a date when I saw her in the Dallas airport.

But I think the O's would get the same answer to Burnes that I would have received from Aniston: "Not interested."

Burnes is well on his way to being a Cy Young finalist in the American League. I think there's a good chance he winds up winning the award, even. All that will do is increase his value, if that's even possible.

Here's the other thing that's helping Burnes's cause in 2024. He made the switch from the National League to the American League and is still mowing people down.

I realize that nuance is not the same as it was when the National League didn't have the DH and the American League did. But there's still something about pitching in the A.L. that seems more difficult than the N.L. Lots of guys used to jump over to the National League to end their career (Halladay is a great example) and beef up their numbers. Very few were successful going from N.L. to A.L.

Like I said, I understand that's not as important as it once was, but the point is Burnes was a great pitcher in the N.L. and he's still a great pitcher in the A.L.

There's no reason for him to sign anywhere right now. What he needs to do is put together a 19-6 campaign with a 2.44 ERA and then rent four Brinks trucks to haul all the money around he's going to get this off-season.

I hope he rents those in Baltimore, but I'm already assuming he's going to the Yankees, Dodgers, Rangers or Braves.


Would the Orioles really consider trading Jackson Holliday? #DMD says "no".

Bart asks -- "There are a couple of baseball sites hinting that the O's aren't opposed to trading Jackson Holliday. Do you think there's any way that happens?"

DF says -- "Of course there's a way. Anything is possible. But, no, I don't see the O's trading him. It's just not something Elias does. He's not a push-the-panic-button kind of guy. Now, if they got some kind of incredible deal they couldn't pass up, maybe he at least considers it?

But I don't think Holliday's failed three week experiment in the early part of the season has done anything to diminish the organization's enthusiasm for him. It will happen in due time. Maybe not this season. But in 2025 he'll be more ready than he was in 2024.

I'm not really shocked by anything any longer, but if they trade Holliday, I'd be beyond shocked."


Wally P. didn't actually ask a question, but he wrote something in the Comments section that was interesting and worthy of a response, nonetheless. "Time to get over the move from Westminster, this is even worse than the people not able to let go of "the London incident".

That response came after I opined that one of the reasons why summer enthusiasm for the Ravens seems to be "down" is because the team no longer has a 6-week long open training camp like they did during the days of McDaniel College.

I think people are "over" the move from Westminster. I'm not sure what Wally was trying to get at, but I don't sense the Ravens' in-season fandom is all that much different today than it was in 2005.

But I do believe off-season enthusiasm has waned, in part because the Orioles are now good and in part because the opportunity to go out to Westminster for camp was part of that off-season "fuel" that's no longer there.

I know the team has tried to rekindle some of that by allowing a couple of hundred folks to attend training camp at Owings Mills (a nice gesture) and holding open practices in Baltimore and Annapolis (nice gestures). I don't want to confuse folks. I understood the move from Westminster to Owings Mills when it took place and was actually one of the few media types in town who supported the Ravens when they announced that move.

But I also think the move came with collateral damage. And one of those pieces of damage is a lack of enthusiasm for what goes on over the summer.

That's just my opinion. I could be wrong. Maybe the Orioles are 90% of the reason. If so, I get that, too.


Art asks -- "Hey Drew, I'm watching the U.S. Senior Open this afternoon (Thursday) and thought of you. I'm just curious, is it easier to watch it or harder to watch it when you aren't able to play in it? The course looks fantastic. Have you played it?"

DF says -- "It's easier to watch it. I didn't get to see any of the first round on Thursday because I was involved with the FCA golf camp, but I did get to watch an hour or so on Friday and I enjoyed it. I'm definitely one of those who says, "Be glad that it happened rather than sad that it ended."

The golf course looks great, and, no, I haven't played it. It would have been a much better fit for my game, that's for sure.

Omaha CC was hilly and difficult and 11 of the 18 holes featured uphill approach shots, which definitely wasn't good for my ball flight. Newport CC is flat. Almost like a links style course. Beggars can't be choosers, but I would have really enjoyed playing Newport.

As I wrote here earlier this month, I'm facing the reality that I probably won't get back to another U.S. Senior Open. Father time, like always, is one step ahead of the game. But it's great to watch the tournament this year and know I was there once. It was a great thrill to have my family there with me."


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Friday
June 28, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3598


there's hope, don't worry about that


Because some of today's edition will center on the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the word "athletes" is in there, I hope you'll agree this is sports related content.

It's probably more of a quick look into today's generation and what lies ahead for them us and us, but sports related it still is.

And while this is not necessarily intended to be an endorsement of the great work FCA does with today's youth (and coaches), I'm also not at all afraid to share this with the hope that you'll agree: FCA is doing great work.

Anyway...

I just spent five days helping run the golf portion of FCA's annual summer camp at Kutztown University. But this isn't about golf, even though it could be.

It's about the young and women we had on hand at Kutztown, no matter their sport.

One of our FCA golf campers hitting dead perfect iron shots on the practice range!

We had 14 golfers, which was probably one of the smaller sport groups of the camp. There was also boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, boys and girls flag football (which was HUGE, by the way), cheerleading, girls volleyball and probably a sport or two I'm overlooking.

In all, there were 600'ish campers on site from Sunday until yesterday when camp concluded.

Throughout the week, I found myself surrounded by the some of the nicest, most respectful 13-18 year olds I've ever encountered.

As the father of two children in that age group and a high school golf coach, I'm in that arena a lot. This young generation coming up through high school is oft-criticized. And some of it, I certainly understand. The news and internet are both filled with distressing stories about 15 year olds getting into trouble. Or 16 year olds. Or 17 year olds.

Whether we're failing them or they're failing us is a debate for another day, but here's what I saw, again, this week at Kutztown.

There are a lot of great kids in our midst.

These might be small things to you, but when you see them happen in front of you, in high definition, you can't help but be impressed and think to yourself, "I sure hope he/she has a hand in running our country someday."

They say character is what you do when no one's watching.

I agree with that. But sometimes character is also doing something for someone when you, yourself, are now going to be impacted but you do it anyway.

I saw a camp counselor coming out of their building yesterday. Her arms were full of bags, blankets, and soccer balls. She was trying to make it work in one trip, like us adults love to do.

I saw two young girls coming out of the cafeteria and heading up the hill to their dorm.

They noticed the counselor struggling and veered to the right, walking some 50 yards in her direction. I saw them help her with bags, soccer balls, etc. They walked off to the parking lot, some 200 yards away.

I also saw campers in the dining hall help clean up spilled chocolate milk. And it wasn't their milk. Nor was it their responsibility. But I heard one of them say, "I'll get that. You go back and get more milk."

The spiller was probably 13 or 14. The clean-up volunteer was older, perhaps a high school senior. I have no idea if they knew one another, but one looked like she was probably a basketball player and the other looked like he was a rough-and-tumble football player.

And I saw him go retrieve napkins and clean up the mess on the floor while the young lady did, in fact, go refill her chocolate milk.

I personally encountered a golfer in our group who showed up to camp having never, ever, touched a golf club in his life prior to Sunday. Once we got the basics down, he started to try to make contact with the ball.

After any swing that produced a ball that moved forward, no matter how far, I would always respond with "That's awesome! Way to go! We're making progress!" (or some other supportive commentary) and every time I said that, he would look back, smile, and say, "Thank you, Coach."

Every time.

Yesterday when we gave out our fun, week-long awards (best dressed, best smile, most likely to play in the U.S. Open someday), we gave Karr the "most improved award".

On Sunday, he swung and missed virtually every time he tried to make contact with the ball.

On Wednesday at Golden Oaks Golf Club, he hit a drive of 150 yards on several occasions, made great contact with some iron shots, and looked like a young man who might go home to Philadelphia and say to his friends, "I'm going to be a golfer someday."

And then he came up after the awards, when we were all departing, and thanked each one of us, including his teammates.

I know the Orioles won last night.

I brought a group of my FCA Golf donors up to the Kutztown area for a day of golf on Thursday (and today) and we watched the O's game on our phones last night while we enjoyed a nice dinner together and I shared camp details with all of them.

I'm aware the O's won and I'm happy.

We'll get back to them here tomorrow, have no fear.

I know the U.S. soccer team lost to Panama, 2-1, after one of their players got a silly red card (ejection) 18 minutes into the 90 minute game. That loss could be the beginning of the end for the American team in Copa America. It was a costly defeat.

The Yankees lost, too, in case you didn't know.

So, yes, I know "real sports" was going on yesterday.

But I wanted to tell you all that I just spent five days with some of the most amazing young men and women you can find anywhere. And it wasn't their athleticism that stood out, either.

Some of them were very good golfers. And very good basketball players. And very good soccer players. Yes, there was athletic talent on hand, for sure.

But they were better people.

Earlier this week I wrote about some of my favorite sports axioms and one of them came from college basketball coach Frank Martin.

"I don't need 5 star players. I need 5 star people."

I saw a lot of 5 star people at the FCA camp.

Everywhere I turned, in fact, I saw them.

Praying together.

Playing together.

Staying together.

It was awesome to see.

Maybe we've been led to believe that it's impossible to have unity and friendship in our country given the divide that "us adults" have helped create over the last half century.

But I saw something different at Kutztown.

I saw possibility.

Matthew 19:26 says: Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this impossible. But with God, all things are possible."

If those young boys and girls that I encountered this week are our future, anything is possible. God willing, he puts them in the right place to help them...help us.


As I write this at 6:05 am on Friday, coffee rolling, early morning employees at the golf course where we're staying work hard, I receive this text from one of the campers.

"Coach Drew, thank you for inspiring me this week. I am going to work on that cut shot you taught us and send you a video of it if that's ok with you. I can't wait to see you next year!"

So, yes, my Friday is going just fine, thank you very much.

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faith in sports


If you followed me on Twitter this week while I was at camp, you no doubt saw me praising a man named Heiden Ratner, who handled sermon duties Sunday through Thursday at our nightly chapel service.

I first encountered Heiden last year when I helped run the golf camp at Kutztown.

He's one of the most gifted speakers of any kind I've ever heard in my 61 years. That he preaches the gospel makes it all the better.

That he connected with my 16 year old and 13 year old daughter at camp and brought them closer to God is something I can't repay him for, but I'm trying to do that by sharing his information with anyone and everyone I can.

Today's video is just a quick, 2 minute entry in Faith in Sports. It gives you a quick idea of who Heiden is and where he's been.

And, yes, there's a sports component. He was a former college basketball player at JMU.

And now, he's running his own church in Las Vegas, and sharing the gospel with the youth.

Please take two minutes to watch the video below. If you're inspired to watch more of Heiden, you can find a lot of his work on YouTube.

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



Thursday
June 27, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3597


we're back


It's a bummer that June is coming to a close.

Why, you ask?

Because I don't know what we're going to call the Yankees' freefall in July.

"June swoon" is a perfect fit.

But what happens in July when they continue to stumble? What do we call it then?

Oh well, we'll figure something out I suppose.

Gunnar Henderson's 26th homer of the season was one of three round trippers the Birds hit on Wednesday night in the 4-2 win over Cleveland.

The O's got themselves back on track last night with a 4-2 home win over Cleveland that included three solo homers in the 6th, 7th and 8th innings. That victory moved the Birds halfway to the 100-win mark, too.

There were no managerial blunders or bonehead plays by the catcher last night. No, no, no.

Grayson Rodriguez looked like Grayson Rodriguez again in moving to 9-3 on the season and the resurgent Cedric Mullins (now hitting .214) went 2-for-3 with a homer to help the Birds break that pesky 5-game losing streak.

It wasn't a great series for the O's, but winning 1 of 3 is better than losing all 3, that's for sure.

Let's stop for a second and give a tip of the hat to the Guardians, who actually own a better record (51-27) than both the Orioles (50-30) and Yankees (52-30). Sure, Cleveland plays in a division with the White Sox and all, but the rest of the A.L. Central is competitive enough. 51-27 is good, good baseball.

It stands to reason that the Guardians are going to be trade deadline "buyers" just like the O's. While their farm system and offerings might not match Baltimore's, Cleveland is on the fast track to being a thorn in someone's side in October.

I'll stop short of calling them "last year's Texas", but the Guardians are going to be a tough out in the Fall, particularly if they add an arm or two at the deadline.

Meanwhile, the Yankees have lost 8 of their last 10 and are stumbling around like Tommy Hearns in the 3rd round against Marvelous Marvin Hagler.

They lost two of three in Boston ten days ago.

Came home and lost two of three to the O's.

Lost two of three again, at home, to the Braves.

And then lost three straight on the road to the Mets, who aren't exactly lighting up the N.L. East.

The Orioles are in "need to make a move or two" mode at the deadline. I'm sure they'll add someone or someones in July. But it's not like Mike Elias should flat out panic about making a deal.

The Yankees aren't in "need to make" mode. They're in "must make" mode. I assume they know that. If New York stands pat with their current team, they're in deep-doo-doo. Ain't that a shame?

Speaking of the Rangers, they're in town for a 4-game series that starts tonight at Camden Yards. They haven't quite hit the same stride this season that sent them to their first-ever World Series title in 2023, but they're a dangerous offensive team and the O's will need to play decent baseball to win the series.

The Yankees head to Toront to get beat up.

As June comes to an end, buckle up for July. It's going to be fun both on and off the field.


Bill P. asks -- "Drew, do you think it says more about the Orioles or Ravens that we don't hear much of anything about the Ravens from the draft through the summer until training camp begins in late July? Has the Orioles stock just soared in town or has the Ravens luster worn off over the years?"

DF says -- "It seems like this is a topic every year now. The answer is definitely "it says more about the Orioles". When they were terrible, every move the Ravens made, even in May and June, was scrutinized, double scrutinized and then triple scrutinized. Meanwhile, the Orioles were 26-60 and no one cared about them.

But now that the O's are among the best teams in all of baseball, we're locked into them. And unless the Ravens make some kind of significant summer news, there's no real reason to get excited about them or what they're doing.

Circa 2005, the baseball season in Baltimore annually ended in late May when the team slipped to 15 games out of first place. We were ready for football every summer in June. The O's gave us no reason to be excited.

That has changed over the last three years or so. We're locked and loaded for the O's for six straight months.

Now, the Ravens might have helped a little bit along the way. I know it's been almost 20 years now, but when they left McDaniel College and shifted their training camp to Owings Mills full time, that definitely changed the way we, as a sport community, got excited for Ravens training camp.

There was something special about going out there and seeing camp in person and getting the chance to see the players up close and personal.

I understood why they moved. Field conditions were becoming an issue. Players were complaining about living conditions during those six weeks. I "got it".

But there was some collateral damage from that decision that left a mark. It is possible to both understand something but also have the ability to recognize that it might not be the perfect decision in the end.

And I guess that's how I would chronicle it. It was an understandable decision to go from Westminster to Owings Mills, but it certainly wasn't a perfect one."


Wednesday
June 26, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3596


speaking of...a june swoon


I promised you a June swoon and it's happening.

The Yankees lost again last night. They've now won just twice in their last 7 games.

Trust me, the losing will continue up there in the Bronx. It's going to get worse before it gets better.

But........

There's apparently another June swoon in the making and it's happening in The Land of Pleasant Living.

Anthony Santander set a new Orioles franchise record with his 12th homer in the month of June last night, but the O's fell to Cleveland, 10-8.

Our Birds have now dropped an almost unthinkable 5 straight games after last night's 10-8 loss to the Guardians at OPACY.

It's not a "swoon" just yet, but it will be if five losses in a row turns into losing 12 of 16 or something like that. Alas, I don't see that happening. But I also didn't envision a 5-game losing skid, either.

Last night's loss can be traced to two people and two moments: James McCann and Brandon Hyde.

Sure, Cole Irvin wasn't all that great on the mound.

And the Baltimore bullpen didn't exactly sit 'em down with ease, either.

But McCann and Hyde both suffered damaging brain farts in the top of the 4th that shifted the entire momentum of the game to Cleveland.

With one out and a runner on first, Gabriel Arias barely made contact on a ball that dribbled out in front of McCann. Rather than just make the easy throw to first and get the second out, McCann tried to nail the lead runner at second, but his throw was off the mark and uncollectable by Jorge Mateo. That moment (gaffe) put runners at second and third.

The Guardians then produced a pair of singles to go from 4-3 down to 5-4 ahead.

Now it was time for Brandon Hyde's faux pas. And it was a big one.

With runners at second and third and two out, Hyde eschewed the wisdom of walking red hot Jose Ramirez and instead elected to have Irvin pitch to Ramirez, who homered on Monday night in Cleveland's series opening 3-2 win.

Right on cue, Ramirez dumped another homer to center field, leaving Hyde looking senseless as the 3-run dinger put Cleveland ahead, 8-4.

The Birds did scratch their way back to an 8-7 deficit before Cleveland pumped in two more runs in the 8th to make it 10-7.

After a run in the bottom of the 8th, the O's managed to get the tying run to the plate in their last at-bat in the 9th after Cedric Mullins doubled with one out. But Cowser (ground out) and Rutschman (fly out) failed to deliver the big blow and Mullins was left stranded as the Guardians celebrated their 7th straight win.

In Houston, the O's exploded for 11 runs in the series opener on Friday night but lost.

After that, their bats flew back home to Baltimore and the offense produced just two runs in 4-1 and 8-1 losses.

The lumber was quiet once again on Monday night in the 3-2 loss to Cleveland.

Then last night, it was pitching that did the O's in. Or lack thereof, actually. The Birds reeled off 16 hits on Tuesday, but still couldn't win.

But last night's loss was one of those "shoulda, coulda, woulda" nights.

If McCann just throws the ball to first base...

And if Hyde just walks Ramirez...

Things might have been different.

Alas, they weren't. And the Birds have now dropped 5 in a row.

The internet was filled with vitriol on Tuesday night. A few folks turned in their seats on the bandwagon, even, which is sorta-kinda the way we are in Baltimore.

We tend to get jittery when the football team loses two straight.

And we're definitely on edge when the baseball team can't win for a week.

These things happen, though.

It's a long season.

You win a few you're not supposed to win and you lose a few you don't deserve to lose.

I don't know that this five game skid makes Mike Elias press any harder on the trade pedal, but it probably doesn't do much good for the O's leverage in discussions with other teams. I'm not saying the Birds will be "desperate" next month when they start really making final decisions, but I still suspect they might have to part with someone they'd rather not (Norby, Mayo, Kjerstad, Cowser) if they're going to get a quality veteran at the deadline.

If the July pitching help is of the same ilk as last year's guys -- Fuji and Flaherty -- then I don't think we'll lose anyone of real quality from the minors. But if Elias learns from those two mistakes and takes it up a notch or two in terms of quality, then the O's aren't going to be able to give up peanuts in exchange for a 16 ounce filet.

We might have to lose one of the good ones -- think having to part company with Ortiz to get Burnes -- in the pipeline in order to add a legitimate contributor. If so, that's how the game is played.

As a wrap up, I'll stop short of calling this a "June swoon" for the O's, but check back with me over the weekend when the Rangers are in town and I might have an update for you.

But up in New York? Yeah......that's a swoon.


The PGA Tour heads to Detroit this weekend for the Rocket Mortgage Classic, with a lukewarm field following three straight significant events in the world of professional golf (Memorial, U.S. Open, Travelers).

A lot of the best players on TOUR took this week off. I took last week off from posting picks here. Why? I just didn't feel like diving into the research after a busy weekend staying glued to the U.S. Open.

But I'm back. And ready to hand you five promising names and one super-duper longshot that you're welcome to invest in -- or not.

Is it time for Min Woo Lee to post his first ever win on the PGA Tour? #DMD thinks he has a great chance this week.

Taylor Pendrith (+2800) is one of the better unknown/unheralded players on TOUR. He has emerged as one of the best putters on the circuit, which should come in handy this week at the birdie fest that is the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

Davis Thompson (+4000) is potentially on the verge of a major breakthrough. He has three Top 20 finishes in his last 5 events and was within a whisker of being on the Sunday leaderboard at the U.S. Open. He's not a great putter, data wise, but can make birdies in bunches on occasion. We're thinking he could have a big week in Detroit.

Tom Kim (+1200) is pretty much the tournament favorite everywhere you turn this week and our thought about Kim is simple. He's either going to play great in the aftermath of last Sunday's disappointing playoff loss to Scottie or he's going to stink it up and miss the cut. We're going with the "play great" angle. It wouldn't be a surprise at all to see Kim fighting for the lead on Sunday. He's Tom Kim, after all. "Bad golf" and "Tom Kim" don't often collide in the same sentence.

Min Woo Lee (+2200) is just about ready to break through. And when he does, we don't want to be sitting on the sidelines saying, "I knew we should have played him this week." This field in Detroit is a perfect fit for him. He's not quite an elite, top of the TOUR player just yet, but he's plenty talented enough to win against a roster of players he'll be competing against in Detroit. We love his chances this week. I know he has played Detroit Golf Club before, but I'm not overly concerned about that note.

Will Zalatoris (+3300) is pretty much like Min Woo Lee. Ready to break through. It's been a hot and cold season thus far for the sublime ball striker, but the watered down field in Detroit this week will most certainly help ease back into contention. Zalatoris is due for something good to happen. We're on him this week.

Mark Hubbard (+6600) has quietly not missed a cut this season. He's our super-duper long shot. Putting $20 on Tiger at +25000 at the U.S. Open turned out to be a donation. The same might hold true for Hubbard this week. But the bet here is you'll win more money putting $20 on Hubbard to win or finish Top 10 or Top 20 than you would win on the same bet involving Tiger. So, Mark Hubbard, you've earned our trust this week. $20 across the board it is.

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Tuesday
June 25, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3595


5 sports axioms for your everyday journey


I'm spending the next few days at the national Fellowship of Christian Athletes sports camp, helping to run a growing golf camp and breaking bread with some of the best spiritual leaders I've had the privilege of knowing.

When you're surrounded by successful people, in any line of work or endeavor, you almost can't help but get better yourself. It's particularly easy when you're willing to be challenged and excited at the prospect of learning new things and considering how you're going to integrate those new teachings into your own sport or team.

A lot of what we do at the FCA national camp is, of course, Christian based. Our goal at FCA is to help guide athletes and coaches in three different ways; physically, mentally and spiritually.

During the day, campers break off into their respective sports for all day training and practicing. During those hours, they also break for water, lunch, etc. and it's during that time they might also take part in small group "huddles" to discuss the highs and lows of their sports, their school year, life at home, etc.

We take care of the physical and mental part of their camp training there.

Michael Jordan says he pushed and challenged others when they didn't want that from him, but in the end, it made them all better.

And then, every night from 7:30 to 9:30, there's a mandatory chapel service for all campers where we dive into the spiritual aspect of camp.

This year, again, the chapel service is led by an incredibly dynamic Las Vegas based Pastor named Heiden Ratner, a former James Madison University basketball player. Ratner's message last night about "humble Jesus" was very moving. Our campers (and coaches) are blessed beyond belief to have him there with us.

If you'd like to know more about Heiden's church and his talents, you can visit his Walk Church website: www.walkchurch.com

What I thought I'd share with you today, though, is not really FCA or church connected. It's connected to sports, for sure, but it's not something we're learning here at camp or passing along to the over 600 athletes and 300 coaches who are in Pennsylvania this week.

These are things I've learned along the way in my days of coaching and, way back when, running the indoor soccer team in town.

You've heard it said: 90% of the best ideas are stolen. Four of these five aren't mine. One of them is mine. We'll play a friendly game and see if you know which one is my original thought.

Every single one of these has merit. And each of them can be taken from the world of sports and mixed in with your business or your personal life at the drop of a hat.

And, so, off we go:

"To be successful at anything, the truth is, you don't have to be special.

You just have to be what most people aren't; consistent, determined, and willing to work for it.

Do not take shortcuts."

Like that one? I sure do.

You don't have to be special to be successful. You just have to be what most people aren't.

Most folks stop short of being consistent, determined and willing to work for it.

They put in "some" effort. They try hard for a little while. But then they give in and say, "The juice isn't worth the squeeze."


"Winning has a price.

Leadership has a price.

I pushed people when they didn't want to be pushed.

I challenged people when they didn't want to be challenged.

But the one thing a great leader does...they never ask someone to do something they wouldn't do themselves."

Man, is this a great one to follow. Winning does have a price. And being a leader has a price to. Leadership doesn't always equal popularity. A lot of leaders are resented by those they're trying to mentor because the price is too big to pay.

But as a leader, you can never ask someone to do something that you yourself either haven't done already or would be willing to do right now.


"The best way to improve is to put yourself in the most uncomfortable position possible and learn how to get comfortable and grow from there."

This is a big one, too. You have to become uncomfortable, first, before you can get comfortable.

It's not easy. No one likes being uncomfortable.

You don't really want to run out there and have to try a 40 yard field goal down two points with nine seconds left in the game. You're uncomfortable with that scenario because of the "if" element. What "if" I miss the field goal? But the only way to learn how to be comfortable is by experiencing that level of discomfort.

You'd prefer not to be up at the plate in the bottom of the 9th or on the foul line with five seconds left or facing a 6-foot par putt just to make the field at the club championship. But until you deal with how uncomfortable that moment feels, you can't ever get fully comfortable.


"We talk about the will to win.

Let's eliminate the will to win and think instead about the will to prepare to win.

Because the preparation is much more important. Everyone wants to win, but not everybody wants to prepare to win."

Isn't that the truth, right?

Everyone wants to win. But it's the players and teams who prepare to win the best that actually wind up winning.

This is an incredibly important message to try to get across to people who are working together or playing together for a common goal.

It's not easy to grasp because human beings all, by and large, have a different agenda they're trying to serve. How you get them to come together is the secret sauce.

Preparing to win. That's the special ingredient a lot of great leaders have and a lot of good leaders don't have.

We hear people say all the time, "They didn't look like they wanted to win."

That's probably because they didn't prepare to win.

They wanted to win, but they didn't do nearly enough to prepare for it.


"I don't want 5 star players.

I want 5 star people.

I don't want 5 star high school players that become 3 star human beings.

Don't tell me who you are when you're 18.

Show me who you are when you're 36...and you have to take on a life of responsibilities."

Deep. Very deep. And also very true.

I tell my high school golfers this all the time. Every year I field dozens of phone calls from college golf coaches asking me about a player or two on my Calvert Hall team.

Those coaches all inevitably lead off the phone conversation with the same two questions.

What do you think they are?

"What kind of kid is he?"

"Is he coachable and willing to accept criticism?"

It's almost scary how many times I start off a phone call from a college golf coach with those two questions.

I love this one.

I don't want 5 star players.

I want 5 star people.

Athletes and employees all think we're judging them soley on their capabilities to perform the tasks at hand.

Sure, we need production from them. No secret there.

But what they don't realize is that production isn't coming if they aren't quality human beings in the first place.

One branch shakes the other.

If you're a 5 star person, you can definitely be a 5 star performer.

But it's pretty rare that you're a 5 star performer but a 3 star human being.

It just doesn't work that way.


The first quote above was authored by the best quarterback in the history of the NFL, Tom Brady.

The second one came from Michael Jordan.

The third one is mine. I believe in it so much. If you aren't willing to put yourself into uncomfortable situations, you're never going to grow. There are plenty of ways to improve in sports. But the best way, in my opinion, is to dive into situations that make you uncomfortable and navigate your way through them.

The third one is particularly critical in golf. Bobby Jones once said: "There's golf. And then there's tournament golf. And in no way are the two at all similar."

One of the reasons why Maryland FCA Golf runs 7 junior tournaments a year is to give those young boys and girls the opportunity to "get uncomfortable" and learn how to play under the pressure of "this shot counts".

I often introduce this topic to my new Calvert Hall players by reminding them of the first tee scene at the U.S. Senior Open back in 2022 when I stood there getting ready to hit my opening tee shot on Thursday with thousands of people standing outside the ropes throughout the length of the fairway to my left.

"You can bet I was very uncomfortable in that moment," I tell them. They all tend to laugh. And I do, too, now. But I wasn't laughing then. I was very uncomfortable. But I somehow made contact with that first tee shot and hit the fairway with it. I followed that up with an 8 iron into the middle of the green and two-putted for par.

I started to feel a little less uncomfortable as I walked off the 1st green, but I needed that experience on the first tee to help me get better as a player.

I never really got comfortable at Omaha CC, but I definitely learned a lot over that week I was there. And it all came from being uncomfortable at first.

The fourth one above comes from Bobby Knight.

And the last one comes from college basketball coach Frank Martin.

In Jay Z's song, Do U Wanna Ride, he says: "You know why they call a project a project, cuz it's a project."

In other words, they call it that because it is that.

Bobby Knight talks about winning by telling you that in his experience, it's not about wanting to win. It's about wanting to prepare to win.

I'll take Bobby Knight's word for it. I think he knew what he was doing.

What Knight is saying, of course, that the work you put in before you take the field, court, ice, diamond, course, etc. is what determines if you win. You wanting to win doesn't determine anything except that you want to win, which, of course, everyone else does as well.

But are you and your team willing to prepare to win in a way that others might not?

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Monday
June 24, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3594


no jumping off the bandwagon allowed


OK, so things didn't go so well down in Houston.

Sunday's uninspiring, lethargic 8-1 loss in Houston marked just the second time all year the Birds were swept in a series. The other team tries too, you know.

Alas, the Birds rolled home last night from that six-game road trip against the Yankees and Astros with a 2-4 mark. It makes you appreciate that 7-6 win last Wednesday night in the Bronx a little more, doesn't it?

Oh, and let's be honest about something. A lot of people did some serious chirping on Twitter Thursday afternoon when the O's bombarded the Bronx Bombers. You all got some overcooked humble pie served to you on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It's OK. Dessert, in moderation, is good for you.

The internet was filled with Negative Nancys on Sunday night, but I don't see how you can be overly concerned with the road trip. The Birds beat the Yankees twice in three days and lost three in Houston. Would 3-3 be that much different or better than 2-4?

Maybe I'm just the classic "glass half full guy". And, if so, I'll own that. I do tend to shrug my shoulders at losses more than a lot or people I read on the web.

Jordan Westburg accounted for the only Baltimore runs on both Saturday and Sunday with home runs in the 5-1 and 8-1 defeats to the Astros.

Sure, the pitching wasn't great over the weekend in Houston. OK, well maybe we could be more accurate and say, "The pitching wasn't good at all over the weekend in Houston." That's probably a fitting way to describe it.

But Grayson Rodriguez has one of those stinky starts maybe 2.5 times out of 10 and Corbin Burnes has one of those "blah" starts about once a month. And Burnes wasn't really "horrible" on Saturday. He just wasn't Corbin Burnes.

Albert Suarez on Sunday? Yeah, that one was forgettable. Ugly. Not what the doctor ordered, for sure.

But this all leads back to what we've been suggesting here for the better part of four weeks now. The Orioles are likely going to need pitching depth help by the trade deadline, if not sooner than that.

Some of that aid is now predicated on the knowledge that Kyle Bradish is done for the year after last week's Tommy John surgery.

But even if Bradish would have gone the Gerrit Cole route and tried to fully rehab it over the next 10-12 weeks, the prevailing thought is that Mike Elias would have still needed to add at least one more starter of some quality in June or July.

That help is even more necessary now, particularly if you're one of those people -- and that's me in the back of the room holding up my hand -- who thinks the bloom has fallen off of Albert Suarez's rose. Let's get him into the bullpen and see if he's useful there, especially with Dean Kremer due back at some point in the next week.

But even with Kremer, we're still of the mindset that Elias needs to go pitcher shopping. A lot of people have the O's penciled in as a main suitor for Erick Fedde of the White Sox, but the Birds won't be the only team interested in the 31-year old right hander. The Phillies, Red Sox and Brewers are also apparently keen on him.

Fedde might also fetch outfielder Tommy Pham as a throw in, which wouldn't be a terrible move. With Cedric Mullins coming alive a little bit over the last week or so, it might not be completely necessary to bring Pham in, but he does have playoff experience and he has spent time in all three outfield positions in his career.

Make no mistake about it, though, Fedde would be the diamond. Pham would just be a wrist watch the jewelry store throws in to get you to buy the ring.

If it's not Fedde, the pickings might be slim. The Astros were thought to potentially be willing to sell some of their pieces at the deadline, but if they continue to play over the next four weeks like they did against the Birds, they'll be right back in the wild card race and perhaps hesitant to trade anyone of note away by the end of July.

Ross Stripling (A's), Jesus Luzardo (Marlins) and Zach Eflin (Rays) are also rumored to be pitchers who will be available in July.

One potential trade partner I see for the O's would be the Mets. Luis Severino or Jose Quintana anyone? I haven't heard anything on the streets. I just look at underperforming teams and see what legitimate players they have and those two stick out to me. And it would be easier, I think, for Elias to send a prospect -- regardless of his value or upside -- to a National League team.

Meanwhile, the Yankees lost again (that's 4 out of 6 they've dropped at home, for those who care) on Sunday to the Braves and Giancarlo Stanton made his much-promised (by #DMD) trip to the injured list with a hamstring problem that will apparently keep him out for at least four weeks.

As we wrote here after that 17-5 thrashing of the Yankees on Thursday, the "June swoon" in New York is officially underway. It's Stanton on the I.L. this week. In a couple of weeks Torres or LeMahieu will strain their oblique and take a seat for a few weeks. And Aaron Judge is always one foul ball off the foot away from a stint with Stanton on the I.L.

Have no fear. The Yankees are going to be hard pressed to go .500 in the month of July. Cut this out and put it on your refrigerator if you like.

The O's are now home for 7 games against Cleveland (Mon thru Wed) and Texas (Thurs thru Sun). Feels like a 5-2 week to me. How about you?


Scottie Scheffler won his 6th PGA Tour event of the season yesterday, marking the first time since 1962 that a player recorded six TOUR wins before July 1.

Arnold Palmer was that guy in 1962.

I don't know what Scheffler's ceiling is, career wise, but I'll continue to poke around at something that is now starting to become a bit more of a reality. He's incredibly close to entering "Tiger territory" as it relates to winning vs. expected wins.

At his zenith, Tiger was always the assumed winner of any event he entered.

Scottie Scheffler won his 12th career tournament on Sunday with a playoff victory over Tom Kim at the Travelers.

Scheffler is in that world right now. He has 6 wins this season and not one of those events has been anything other than "signature" type tournaments.

He won at Bay Hill.

He won the Players.

He won the Masters.

He won the RBC Heritage.

He won the Memorial.

And he just won the Travelers, which typically wouldn't have the best field but it did in 2024 because of the large purse and hefty FedEx Cup points that were at stake.

Oh, and don't forget, he finished 2nd in Texas earlier this year when he missed a five-foot putt to get into a playoff.

And he probably would have won the PGA had he not been arrested and his caddie would have been there for all four days.

But those two "ifs" in no way overshadow what he's already done. We're not yet at July 1 and he has SIX wins in less than five months.

Jason Dufner enjoyed a really nice PGA Tour career, punctuated by a PGA Championship win, no less. He won FIVE times. Ever. In his career.

Scheffler has six wins since baseball teams reported to spring training.

Yesterday's triumph came at the expense of Tom Kim, who rallied to get into the playoff with a birdie at the last hole, then promptly played the first playoff hole like a 15-handicap, giving Scheffler (who made par) the win on a silver platter.

That final hole of regulation was marred by a bunch of kooks running onto the green to protest something or other. But even their disruption couldn't stop Scheffler from eventually winning for the 12th time in his career.

Oh, and don't look now, but Scottie is just over $27 million in earnings for the 2024 campaign.

With the two or three (or more) expected wins this season, his earnings will likely soar above $40 million and could even nick the $50 million range.

Pretty good for a guy who turned down LIV's blood money and opted to earn his living the old fashioned way...by just playing golf and making more birdies than everyone else.

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Sunday
June 23, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3593


another 59


Cameron Young shot 59 yesterday on the PGA Tour.

It's still a remarkable feat, don't get me wrong. Thousands of professional golfers have teed it up in PGA Tour event and never once shot 59. Tiger still hasn't done it, in fact.

But Young's 59 yesterday means 13 players have now reached golf's holy grail on the PGA Tour. Cristobal del Solar shot 57 in a Korn Ferry Tour event and Bryson DeChambeau posted 58 in a LIV event. I'm not sure if you count either of those, but we thought we'd mention them nonetheless.

Shigeki Maruyama once shot 58 at the easy (or, easier of the two) South Course at Woodmont CC during the U.S. Open sectional qualifying event back in 2000. He actually had a 15-foot eagle putt at the last hole to post 57 but missed it.

There was a time, circa 1990, when shooting 59 was a dream. Al Geiberger first did it in 1977 and then Chip Beck followed suit with his own 59 in 1991. Cameron Young needed only a par on the last hole yesterday to post his 59. Beck needed a birdie, and made it, at the 18th hole in '91 to shoot his 59.

The one we all saw on TV back in those days was David Duval's 59 at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic in January of 1999. That was really cool to see because Duval needed to eagle the last hole to do it and it came during a Sunday final round as well.

He still doesn't have a win on the PGA Tour, but Cameron Young joined a rare group yesterday with his 59 at The Travelers Championship.

59 is 59, so please take what I'm about to say in the general nature in which it's intended.

The golf course those guys play up there is just too easy for them.

Well, it's too easy and the players these days are just so doggone good. That's actually the combination.

It's also worth mentioning that they were playing "preferred fairway lies" yesterday due to wet conditions over the last few days.

But 59 is 59. Doesn't matter if it's a par 72, par 71 or par 70 course.

And here's the thing that's also worth considering. It's the "think about" element of shooting 59. At some point during your round, you're stacking up birdies and/or eagles to such a degree that you start to think about shooting 59. That's when it really becomes difficult.

My only remote flirtation with 59 was a long time ago during an amateur event at The Bridges in Southern PA. I shot 7-under on the front, then posted back-to-back birdies at #11 and #12.

"I might shoot 59", I thought to myself, knowing I had two par 5's remaining.

As soon as you start thinking about it, you're done.

I made par at #13 and then a bogey at #14 and that was that. I didn't do anything special coming in and I even threw in another bogey at #17 for good measure and finished at 7-under for the day.

Something's out of whack when you sign for 7-under and you're disappointed.

But I got there once, if you can consider needing 4 birdies or 2 birdies and an eagle over your last six holes "being there".

It at least gave me some perspective on what the TOUR players go through when they get into the territory of potentially shooting 59. Not only does your golf have to be great, but so, too, does your brain have to be great.

One of the greatest lines, perhaps unintentionally, ever uttered in a movie, anywhere, that applies to real life came in the Ron Shelton classic, Bull Durham.

Kevin Costner (Crash Davis), the appointed chaperone for hotshot prospect Nuke La'Loosh, strolls out to the mound while the rookie is going through a difficult stretch in one of his first starts.

La'Loosh is babbling on about what to throw to the next hitter and Davis hands him the ball and says, "Don't think, Meat. Just pitch."

Once you start thinking about it, you're in trouble.

Cameron Young was sitting on 11 under par yesterday when he drove his tee ball at #18 into a fairway bunker. He was unable to get to the green from there, so he pitched on for his 3rd and faced an 8-foot putt to record his 59.

There you are. 8 feet between you and a slice of golf history that even the great Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods still haven't accomplished.

Now......

You're thinking about it.

And Young still managed to roll it in.

I don't know what the equivalent to 59 is in other sports, but I assume the closest thing might be bowling a 900 series (3 straight games of 300).

There have been, according to the internet, a grand total of 40 certified 900 series' thrown, including one guy who did it twice. The last time it happened was in 2022 in Indiana, apparently.

Back in 2009, I interviewed a local bowler on my radio show from Perry Hall (Rich Jerome) who rolled a 900 series. At that time, he was just the 12th bowler ever to accomplish that feat. Since then, it's happened 28 more times in the last 15 years.

There have been lots of "amateur" 59's in golf and other rounds of 59 on smaller professional circuits like the Korn Ferry Tour. It's also happened on the LPGA Tour, but just once. Annika Sorenstam (who else?) did it back in 2001.

Like I wrote here the other day when talking about the differences between running a 4-minute mile, bowling a 300 game or breaking 70 in golf, it's all about your level of skill in that individual sport and the notion of "perfection" in that sport as well.

You do not have to be perfect to shoot a 59 in golf. You just have to be great.

If you run a 3:58 mile, you could have run a 3:57 or 3:56 mile if you were just -- wait for it -- one or two seconds quicker.

But in bowling, you can't roll a 300 or a 900 series without absolute perfection. There's no making up for a pin left standing in the 7th frame.

In golf, you can even make a bogey and still shoot 59. Or 58. You just have to make up for it along the way with an eagle somewhere, presumably.

Don't get me wrong. Shooting 59 is incredibly, incredibly special in golf. Only 13 guys have ever done it on the PGA Tour. A lot of TOUR players have probably done it "at home". I'm sure Tiger has more than one 59 in his career, but they didn't take place in professional events.

But shooting 59 in a professional event is very special, just like rolling a 900 series in a certified, sanctioned setting is rare indeed.


Quick Sunday morning hits:

Don't look now, but Cedric Mullins had another multi-hit game yesterday in the 5-1 loss in Houston and is now all the way up to .208 on the season. I can't imagine Joe DiMaggio is all that worried about his 56-game hitting streak or anything like that, but it's great to see Mullins getting himself together.

Right one cue, just like I've been saying, Giancarlo Stanton experienced "hamstring tightness" yesterday and had to get tests done to determine the extent of his injury. There are 3 things in life that almost undeniable: If you're a musical act and you put out a debut album, there's no way possible it can be better than The Cars' debut album.

2nd, Major League Baseball should have awarded Armando Galarraga a perfect game the day after (or that night, even) once it was obvious that Jim Joyce screwed up the final out of that one.

And, 3rd, Giancarlo Stanton is always going to make at least one trip to the injured list every single season.

At least it feels that way, I'd say.

Is it me or does it feel really weird that it's June 23 and they're still playing a "college sport"? The College Baseball World Series is down to the final between Texas A&M and Tennessee, with the Aggies up 1-0 in the best-of-3 series. I don't follow college baseball at all. And I mean...at all.

So when I saw this little note about Texas A&M, I had to laugh.

Texas A&M was bounced from the SEC tourney in two games, including a 7-4 loss to Tennessee, lost its surefire first-round MLB pick for the remainder of the postseason due to a broken ankle, lost its No. 2 pitcher to an arm injury the very next day and had its leading home run hitter tweak a hamstring running the bases on a round tripper.

Seems like Texas A&M is destined to win it all based on that information alone.

I know you'll be shocked by this, but there was another #clownshoes umpiring moment in Major League Baseball yesterday, as the home plate ump decided a game by citing Nationals pitcher Kyle Finnegan for a pitch-clock violation in the 9th inning with the bases loaded.

I understand the pitch clock and the need for it. I get it. I also understand "rules are rules". I also understand that, even though baseball umpires create some of their own rules sometimes.

But in the bottom of the 9th, with a tie game, and the bases loaded, there's actually no real need for a pitch clock violation that's one second late. No one's going anywhere at that point. The fans are in their seats, eager to see the outcome. No one is turning off their TV because Finnegan took one second too long to throw his pitch.

Everyone's there, in place, anxiously awaiting to see the outcome. Calling a pitch-clock violation there is so "umpiring", isn't it?

Baseball deserves better.

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Saturday
June 22, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3592


holy baseball! that was fun!


So, yeah, the Orioles didn't win last night.

But they also turned a boring blowout-to-be into a nailbiter, falling 14-11 in Houston in the opener of a 3-game weekend series with the Astros.

The home team erupted for 9 runs in the 6th inning to take a 5-3 game and make it 14-3. The talk at that point was all about which field position player was going to pitch the bottom of the 8th and, just a day after scoring 17 runs in New York, would the O's potentially give up a 20-burger to Houston?

Baltimore chipped into the lead with a Gunnar Henderson solo homer in the top of the 7th. Nick Vespi then came in and did what no other O's pitcher could do on Friday night. He retired the Astros without breaking a sweat, throwing 12 pitches and keeping the score at 14-4.

Adley Rutschman went 5-for-5 last night but the O's dropped a 14-11 decision in Houston.

That turned out to be crucial. The O's hit 3 home runs in the 8th (Mateo, Henderson, Santander) and scored a total of 7 runs.

The talk went from "who pitches the 8th?" to "are the Orioles going to come back from 14-3 to tie this thing and maybe win it?"

If you thought Kevin Brown was overly giddy in New York on Wednesday and Thursday, those two moments were nothing compared to how excited he was with last night's comeback. It was certainly fun to watch.

Alas, the dream died in the 9th inning when the O's couldn't push any more runs across. Austin Hays did manage a 2-out single to give Baltimore some last-gasp hope, but Gunnar flew out to end the game and that was that.

I get it. A loss is a loss. But that was fun. And it was heartwarming to see the O's not pack it in and have to send Ramon Urias or Nick Maton out there in the 8th to throw meatballs to a Houston team that you just know would have been swinging for the fences throughout the inning.

Say what you will, but losing 14-11 looks and feels way better than losing 21-4.

Grayson Rodriguez got the start and he wasn't very good. He allowed 7 earned runs in 5 innings of work.

Jacob Webb followed and he was dismal as well. He didn't record a single out in the 6th inning, giving up 4 earned runs along the way.

Dillon Tate gave up three more earned runs in his one inning of work.

No one could get a Houston hitter out for about 12 minutes in the 6th inning. Everything the Astros hit found a gap or Ryan Mountcastle's glove. A grounder Mountcastle was unable to field opened the floodgates in that inning, but it was called a hit, of course, because baseball scorekeepers are scared to death to hand out errors for some weird reason.

But that top of the 8th inning sure was fun. The O's did to Houston what Houston did to them in the 6th. The Birds showed heart that the Yankees didn't during Thursday's 17-5 thrashing in the Bronx.

Oh, and if you're a silver lining guy like your's truly, Adley collected his second career five hit game and Gunnar and Santander both had 3 hits in the loss.

Even better, Cedric Mullins had two hits -- although one was the wackiest thing we've seen all year, a blooper over the head of the pitcher that fell between the mound and second base -- and is now.........wait for it..........hitting above .200!!!

Not to be outdone, though, James McCann went 0-for-3 at the plate is now hitting .194.

But Mullins, at the very least, is starting to show signs of life at the plate this week. It's still not great, obviously, but if he continues at this clip perhaps we'll get .225 or .230 out of him and that would certainly be a "win" for both him and the O's.

And not to worry. The Birds have an automatic win coming their way today when Corbin Burnes takes the mound.

One thing we learned (again) last night: The Orioles are never out of a game, even one in which they trail 14-3 in the 7th inning. That the Astros had to burn through four pitchers to put the game away could come in very handy over the next two days.

I was sort of hoping to see a field position player do some 8th inning pitching just to see what came of it, but I'll take 14-11 over 21-4 any day of the week.

Just keep those late bats hot today and tomorrow and the Birds will scoot out of Houston winning yet another series.


A week ago, the Florida Panthers were ahead 3-0 in the Stanley Cup Finals and were on the verge of their first-ever championship.

Monday night in South Florida, they'll play Game 7 against Edmonton and need a win to avoid suffering the worst Finals collapse in NHL history.

The Oilers pulled even with the Panthers on Friday night with a 5-1 home win. To say Edmonton has momentum now would be akin to saying that Rod Carew was a pretty good hitter in his day. True, two of Edmonton's last three wins came at home, but that Game 5 victory in Florida was really the one that turned the series around.

Playoff hockey is, as I've said here often, the best post-season of any sport known to man. There's something about it that can't be fully explained. But it's something to behold. And you don't need a horse in the race to watch it and respect it, either.

Both teams are fantastic.

But one of them was up 3-0 and is now on the verge of squandering the equivalent of a Rory McIlroy 3 foot putt.

And the Oilers, as you can tell by watching, know they have the makings of a historical run that could cement the legacy of someone like Connor McDavid, who is, right now, the best player in the entire league by five lengths.

You feel a little bad for Florida, though. Sure, they might win on Monday night and all's well that ends well, but blowing a 3-0 lead has to be hard on the old ticker for most of those guys. It's one thing to go up 2-0 and lose the series. That happens a lot.

But being up 3-0 and knowing you have two home games left to finish the deal is just too much.

I love a good story.

Edmonton being down 3-0 and coming all the way back to force Game 7 isn't good -- it's great. If they do happen to win on Monday night, it would be a fairytale told in many a locker room for years and years to come.

But all the Panthers need to do is win a hockey game. Just one. And if they do that, all will be (mostly) forgotten.

The 3-0 to 3-3 series reversal has been great business for ticket holders and ticket brokers. That Game 7 seat on Monday night will fetch a lot of money, even if it is South Florida.


To the e-mail inbox we go for a few questions:

He now has 2 majors in his career. How many will Bryson have by 2030?

Justin asks -- "Now that you've seen Bryson win his 2nd U.S. Open, please peer into the DF crystal ball and tell us how many majors he has by the end of this decade. Thanks!"

DF says -- "I'll give him four. Bryson is actually a lot like Scheffler in that his game can win on any venue. I like his chances to win a Masters someday even though he hasn't played great there throughout his career. He can definitely win a PGA. And the British Open is right up his alley, particularly with his imagination and creativity.

I think DeChambeau is finished with the "carnival act" portion of his career where he just wanted to be the guy that hits it 400 yards and have people stand there with their jaw dropped while they watched his ball sail into the distance.

And that's a good thing.

He was a great junior (U.S. Amateur winner) and a great college player (NCAA champ). There's no reason to think he isn't going to be a Hall of Fame golfer, too. The LIV move stymied his popularity, for sure, but winning trumps everything. He went -- to borrow a line from the great movie, "Can't Buy Me Love" -- from totally geek to totally chic with that win at Pinehurst #2 last week.

I don't know which other two he'll win, but I'll give him four majors by the end of 2029. And if you looked into your own crystal ball and saw him with five or six majors instead of four, I wouldn't be shocked by that at all."


Mark asks -- "I heard you say on your Wednesday show on The Fan that you'd entertain trade offers for Jackson Holliday and it made me think about that for a minute. Please assure me the Orioles wouldn't do that."

DF says -- "Let's add some context to that for a second. Someone asked if he's "untradeable" and I said, "No one who hasn't made their mark in the majors is untradeable to me." Gunnar? Won't trade him. Adley? Won't trade him. I have seen what those two can do.

Holliday? I have no idea what he's going to do in the majors. I think he's going to be great. But if someone came along and offered me a whopper of a package for him, would I listen and consider it? I sure would.

I'm not actively looking to trade Jackson Holliday. A listener called into the show and asked if he's still untouchable and I said, "Not to me, but that's sort of because he never was untouchable in the first place. Once you come up and make a statement in the majors, only then do you move into that category, like Gunnar and Adley have. I also think Westburg is close to being an "untouchable" as well.

And, yes, I'm fairly certain the Orioles don't think like me. And I assume Holliday is, in fact, untouchable. So you're safe there, Mark."


Jerome asks -- "What's the skinny on the Calvert Hall kid that Maryland football just landed? Can he play? He chose the Terps over Michigan and Florida State?"

DF says -- "JT Taggart is his name. His dad is Willie Taggart, a Ravens coach. He's a big, strong athlete; 6'6", 210 pounds. JT will play tight end at College Park. He has one year left at Calvert Hall, where he also plays on the basketball team.

I see much more of him in basketball at CHC than football, but I do know he's an exceptional all around athlete. I think he also dabbled in volleyball a little bit.

I love that he chose Maryland over those other schools. The Terps have worked hard to recruit more Baltimore/MIAA players and it's apparently paying off. Daniel Owens was also a Calvert Hall guy that Mike Locksley brought into College Park a couple of years ago."

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Friday
June 21, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3591


that sews up the a.l. east


What a glorious Thursday afternoon in the Bronx.

No bellyaching about inside pitches.

Absolutely zero need to utilize those silly unwritten rules.

It was just a baseball game.

And, as you probably know by now, it ended in a 17-5 win over the Yankees.

17 runs.

I'd go as far as to say the O's might have even taken some discreet joy at running up the score on the home team.

If they did, I think we can all agree with this statement: Way to go boys!

Nothing in sports is better than that one word...scoreboard.

Ryan Mountcastle went 3-for-6 on Thursday with 4 RBI in the 17-5 thrashing of the Yankees.

It's the oldest retort known to man when it comes to an athletic competition and someone on the other side is razzing you, complaining or poking fun at your performance.

"Scoreboard".

The O's got bloodied while taking New York's opening punch on Tuesday night, survived a 12-round thriller on Wednesday evening, then on Thursday they treated the Yankees like Mike Tyson treated Marvis Frazier back in 1986.

It was 7-0 before Aaron Boone went through his first handful of sunflower seeds in the New York dugout. From there it went to 11-3 and the rout was officially on.

OK, I'll go ahead and say it now since no one else wants to do it for whatever weird reason. You can mark down this date, June 21, 2024.

That combo-kick to the Yankees' family jewels on June 19-20 is a beating from which they won't recover. The Orioles won the A.L. East yesterday.

It's done.

Perhaps the Yankees refused to believe it before the series started. But they know it now. The Orioles are better than the Yankees in virtually every single category with the possible exception of closer.

Baltimore's lineup is actually far deeper and superior than New York's.

If you take Judge out for any extended period of time, the Yankees are cooked. They're not quite a one-man show, but without that one man, they'd be in big trouble.

The Orioles can pound you with seven or eight different hitters. Heck, it got so out of hand in that 3-game series at Yankee Stadium that Cedric Mullins has almost climbed above the .200 mark in batting average.

New York has Aaron Judge. And Giancarlo Stanton. They have Juan Soto, too, but it's hard to recognize him for his hitting when he's wandering around in right field like Jose Feliciano trying to catch a fly ball.

Truth of the matter, other than Judge, their best player is actually 23-year old Anthony Volpe. When I say, "I'd take that kid on my team any day", I'm not saying I'd take him instead of Gunnar Henderson. I'm merely saying I'd be happy to have Volpe on my team. He's a nice player.

But the Birds are much better than the Yankees overall. These last two games should have erased any doubts about that.

Sure, New York will likely coast into the post season with 92 or 94 wins. That will be 8 or 10 less wins than the O's, of course, but a return to the post-season is almost a definite for them.

That all said, I don't see New York posing much of a threat in October.

The Orioles, though, will be a tough out in the playoffs, particularly if Mike Elias adds a quality piece or three prior to the trade deadline.

It's all coming together nicely.

A mid-season bashing of the Yankees in New York was just what the doctor ordered.

Scoreboard.


Rich asks -- "Hey Drew, while watching coverage of the U.S. Open on Golf Channel, one of the announcers talked about Tiger playing senior golf and mentioned that he could use a cart on that tour and also that he could have asked for an exemption to use a cart at Pinehurst and it made me wonder something. If Tiger would have used a cart at this year's majors how do you think he would have fared? Thanks."

How much would the use of a golf cart in the U.S. Open or other major championships help Tiger Woods?

DF says -- Interesting question. We'll never know the answer, obviously, but it's worth pondering. I don't know where he would have finished, but one thing for sure: A golf cart would help him tremendously. At Pinehurst #2, for example, I have to assume he would have made the cut (he missed it by two...walking) there.

I don't think using a golf cart would have helped Tiger win. But it would have certainly helped him play better golf in last week's U.S. Open.

That said, Tiger has already maintained he wouldn't ask the USGA or the PGA of America -- or the PGA Tour -- for a waiver to ride in a golf cart. Mostly, I think, because he knows if he did win while riding a car that his win* would have an asterisk next to it.

He'll get that benefit on the Champions Tour -- if he plays -- but you have to remember everyone else can ride in a cart as well. He's not getting any kind of preferential treatment. You can't ride a cart in the U.S. Senior Open, but other than that, on "regular" Champions Tour events, all players can ride if they so choose."


Mike E. asks -- "Help settle a friendly argument between me and my brother. If baseball changed the extra innings rules and gave the manager an option of two things to take, which would they take? Start the inning with a runner on first and no one out. Or start the inning with a runner on second and one out. Thanks, Drew."

DF says -- "This is probably one the stat nerds would love to consider and answer. I think I'd rather have the runner on second base with one out.

I can get him in with one base hit. That's all I'm looking for is one run. If I get more, that's great.

Starting a guy on 2nd with one out also removes a double play threat, whereas a guy on first with no outs can be erased right away with a ground ball. Maybe you'd have to make a rule that says "no intentional walks to start an extra inning" or something like that if the rule was a runner on 2nd with 1 out.

As it stands now, starting the inning with a runner on second and no one out is almost too easy. Sure, that's actually what Major League Baseball might want. But it's almost too easy at this point. I like the idea of having the manager choose, too. It adds some more strategy to the game.

Good question, Mike."


Russ asks -- "Hear me out on this one. I know it's one of your crazier e-mail questions for the Dish. The O's are going to lose Burnes at the end of the year. They are overstocked with young talent. Why not trade Burnes and Norby or Burnes and Stowers or Burnes and Kjerstad at the deadline for a young pitcher with 2 or 3 years left on his contract?"

DF says -- "You're right. That's one of the crazier e-mails of 2024. But we take all questions here, crazy or not.

I guess the first thing that stands out to me is you'd have to be trading Burnes to a contender in order to maximize his short term value (to them) and why would a contender give up something of major value (a young, solid arm with rookie contract service time left) for a guy they're going to lose at the end of the season?

Contender-to-contender trades are hardly ever made. Now, if you're going to sell me on the key piece one of the O's young prospect types like Kjerstad, Stowers, Norby, etc., that's fine. But, still, I just don't see how a team in contention is going to give up a young pitcher (who presumably has helped get them into contention) for a pitcher who will leave them in three months and a (mostly) unproven high level prospect.

I like that you're trying, though, Russ. There's nothing wrong with thinking outside the box. But this one is waaaaayyy outside."


J.M. asks -- "What's harder to do in your opinion? Bowl a 300 game in ten pins. Shoot under 70 in golf. Run a 4 minute mile. Thanks, Drew!"

DF says -- "Holy cow, I have no idea. I know how hard it is to shoot something in the 60's in golf. The other two I just don't know. I know they all take incredible athleticism and experience. But I'm not a bowler or a runner. I would have to think that someone in really good shape could run a 4 minute mile with effort and practice toward that goal.

I assume you can be an excellent amateur bowler and never bowl a 300 game, just like you can be an outstanding amateur golfer and never break 70.

That said, most scratch golfers have, at some point, shot a round in the 60's.

I just don't know how often people bowl 300 games because that's not my arena, so to speak. A round in the 60's isn't "perfect" golf. I've shot something around 100 rounds in the 60's, I think, and probably 80% of them included a bogey, at least, so that round was far from perfect.

If you bowl a 300 game, you're not making ANY mistakes. Not one.

OK, look at that. I just came up with the answer.

It's harder to bowl a 300 game than it is to shoot something in the 60's in golf.

If there's anyone out there who has done both, please chime in and tell me I'm right -- or wrong."

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RANDY MORGAN
on American soccer


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


The second major international tournament begins this week. The Copa America is held every four years to crown the South American champions.

This edition is being hosted in the US and features six entrants from CONCACAF (North/Central American) in addition to the ten from CONMEBOL (South America).

This tournament will serve as something of a test run for both the infrastructure hosting the 2026 World Cup and for the US team as it brings some stiff competition to the States.


The Favorites –

Argentina won the last Copa America in 2021 (delayed due to Covid), defeating Brazil in the final. They are not only defending that title but enter as the reigning World Cup champions.

Messi and Argentina are favorites to win the Copa America tournament over the next three weeks.

Led by perhaps the greatest player of all time, Leo Messi, Argentina is favored to win again, with their betting odds set at +175. Entering the Qatar World Cup, Messi was playing for one of the top teams in Europe at Paris St. Germain. The question now becomes, can he still dominate at the highest international level after taking the step down to move to MLS.

Argentina isn’t all Messi anymore, as witnessed during their World Cup run. They have finally built a well-rounded team to support him, featuring Premier League stars like midfielders Alexis Mac Allister and Enzo Fernandez as well as Manchester City attacker Julian Alvarez and veteran goalkeeper Emi Martinez.

The top competition for Argentina will of course be their neighbors and perennial regional favorite, Brazil.

With the next best odds at +225, this Brazil team lacks the flair of Neymar, but still boasts a lineup of stars from around Europe. They will be led by Real Madrid Champions League hero, Vinicius Jr. He partners with his Madrid teammate Rodrygo to create a formidable attack.

Brazil will also feature 17 year old wonderkid Endrick, who is also on his way to Real Madrid next season.

Despite all the talent, Brazil has underperformed thus far in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying with just two wins, a draw and three losses. They will hope to find some better form in this tournament.


The Challengers –

While the top two in South America are firmly entrenched, there are two other countries that have a legitimate chance to spring a surprise run for the trophy. Uruguay has the third best odds at +500 and they have an intriguing roster.

They are led by Real Madrid midfielder Fede Valverde and Liverpool striker Darwin Nunez, but the rest of the roster is full of veterans from top European clubs as well. Uruguay is also coached by the legendary and influential Marcelo Bielsa.

Uruguay has the best goal differential in South American World Cup qualifying with a 4-1-1 record, including back to back wins over Brazil and Argentina. They also drew away at Colombia. They will be a difficult opponent for the US in the group stage and will certainly be a tough out once they reach the knockout rounds.

At quite a bit longer odds, Colombia are +1000 to win the tournament. If you watched the warm-up game they played with the US you will know they are capable of piling on goals in a hurry.

Though they don’t have nearly the star power of Brazil, Argentina or even Uruguay, Colombia seems to have found a great balance in their team, going undefeated over their last 22 games.

That is partly because they failed to qualify for the 2022 World Cup, but the streak still demonstrates how hard they are to beat. Their top attacking threat is Liverpool winger Luis Diaz and they are still led by creative midfielder and 2014 World Cup star, James Rodriguez.

Of the two US warmup opponents, Colombia appeared to be the much more disciplined and organized team. It would be no surprise for them to push any of the favorites above to a penalty shootout in the knockout rounds.


U.S. outlook –

The Copa America will be the only true test for the US men before they host the 2026 World Cup. There is no CONCACAF qualifying for the US this time around since the three host nations were all given automatic berths.

In addition, the US has proven over the past several years that they are head and shoulders above the rest of the region, especially with Mexico’s recent downfall.

The US needs these games against World Cup quality opponents to gain the valuable experience to navigate a deeper run in 2026.

At the 2022 World Cup in Qatar this team was very young and they largely met expectations without exceeding them. There was a mix of good and bad at that tournament, with an exciting win over Iran and one of the best performances by a US team in the draw with England, but also a disappointing draw with Wales.

Ultimately the US got put in their place by a more seasoned and talented Netherlands team that pushed eventual winners Argentina to the brink. Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Colombia represent the kind of teams the US will need to beat to get to the latter stages of a World Cup.

The minimum expectation for the Copa America is to advance out of their group. The US won’t be favorites to win the group with that honor going to Uruguay, but they are much more talented than either Bolivia or Panama. A failure to get out of this group would be grounds for firing the coach and going in a new direction for the World Cup.

In order for this team to truly prove that they have learned from their experience in Qatar they will need to at least put up a strong fight in the quarterfinal knockout round.

A win over likely opponents Brazil or Colombia in that first knockout round would be fantastic, but even keeping the game close and showing they belong on the same field would be a step in the right direction, especially if they end up paired with Brazil.

Aside from how far they advance in the tournament, another sign to watch for progress is how they play, both against the weaker and stronger teams. Throughout the Berhalter tenure, the US has often struggled to break down weaker opponents and has yet to look dangerous in attack against stronger foes.

It will be affirming if this team can come out and dominate against Bolivia and/or Panama or if they can take the game to Uruguay, Colombia or Brazil. They need to show some evolution in their ability to create better chances in attack against a variety of opponents.

The US roster for the Copa America contains many of the familiar faces from the Qatar World Cup. The biggest loss from that roster is the absence of dynamic right back Sergino Dest, who will miss the tournament with an injury. In addition to Joe Scally, who is the favorite to replace Dest at right back, there will likely be three other new starters from the World Cup.

Stiker Folarin Balogun joined the US in early 2023 and has emerged as a top choice for Gregg Berhalter. Both Balogun and Pepi saw time up top in the warmup games, and Josh Sargent will be in the mix after returning from injury as well, but Balogun is the likely starter in the first group game against Bolivia.

Chris Richards was unfortunate to miss out on the World Cup due to injury, but he is now back with the US team after a breakout year for Crystal Palace in the English Premier League. He should be the starting center back next to veteran Tim Ream, who is still holding off Father Time to lead the back line.

The other player with a more prominent role in this tournament is Gio Reyna. The young talent entered Qatar with some injury concerns and had his minutes limited for a variety of reasons that don’t need to be rehashed here. However, fences have been mended and Reyna will be a key starter in midfield/attack in this iteration of the team.

One other spot to watch is the defensive midfielder role. US captain Tyler Adams missed most of the season for Bournemouth with injuries. He has returned to health in time to make this roster but may not be at full fitness. If Adams can’t go in all three games, Johnny Cardoso and Yunus Musah are both candidates to play that role.

Cardoso transferred to Real Betis in Spain’s top division La Liga and was outstanding in the second half of their season.

Musah was in and out of the starting lineup for AC Milan this season but provides a unique ability to dribble out of pressure in the back. Musah was a starter in Qatar, but is likely the midfielder dropped to make room for Reyna when both Adams and McKennie are starting.

The US kicks off their run on Sunday at 6:00 pm against Bolivia at the Cowboys Stadium in Texas. They follow that up next Thursday at 6:00 pm in Atlanta against Panama and then conclude the group stage with their toughest opponent, facing Uruguay on Monday July 1st at 9:00 pm in Kansas City. The games are all being broadcast on Fox or Fox Sports.

It will be critical for the Americans to win their first two games if they want to have a chance to take the group from Uruguay.

That would help them avoid a second round matchup with Brazil. They want to avoid at all costs going into the final game needing a result to get out of the group as Uruguay will be a much bigger test than the first two opponents.

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faith in sports


For those who saw the earlier video installment of Wells Thompson, we had some technical difficulties with the video so we had to make a change.

In this video below, former Vanderbilt basketball player Drew Maddux shares his personal testimony in just five (awesome) minutes.

One of the toughest parts of coaching today's youth, in any sport, is convincing them that they are not what their athletic statistics or accomplishments say they are.

Sports has become so important in our society that boys and girls identify themselves (and others) by what score they shoot, how many points they had, how many base hits they accumulated, or how many touchdown passes they threw.

It's important for all of us to think the way Drew Maddux tells us to think in the video below. "Sports is what I do, it's not who I am."

Please take 5 minutes today to watch this video. It's great!

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



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Thursday
June 20, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3590


a night of frustration and elation


Now that, right there, was one heck of a mid-summer baseball game last night in New York.

Sure, it helps that the good guys pulled out a 7-6 win in extra innings. Two straight losses to the Yankees would have been tough to swallow.

But the night was tarnished, for me, by the two broadcasters on MASN. More on that to come. You won't understand it. And I don't expect you to, frankly.

One of the main heroes last night was Cedric Mullins, which was really heartwarming to see considering the season Mullins is putting together. I realize he's still only hitting .193, but for one night, at least, he looked like the Mullins of a couple of years ago.

Mullins went 2-for-5 at the plate, including a key 10th inning hit, and also scampered home with the eventual game winning run later that inning after the Yankees threw the ball around in the infield.

Cedric Mullins came up with a couple of hits on Wednesday night including a big one in the 10th inning as the O's nipped the Yankees, 7-6.

I don't know Mullins at all. My days of venturing into the Orioles locker room have long since passed. But he sure seems like a terrific guy and a plus to have in the locker room. He's clearly having a woeful season to date. So games like the one we saw from him on Wednesday are, as I noted above, heartwarming. Good things should happen to good people.

Ryan O'Hearn also had a nice night until he was lifted for a pinch hitter. O'Hearn had two doubles and drove in a pair of runs. But with the bases loaded in the 9th inning, Brandon Hyde pulled O'Hearn and inserted Austin Hays to face lefthander Anthony Misiewicz. Hays promptly struck out and social media lit up with fury for Hyde.

O'Hearn is not very good against lefties. He's actually pretty terrible against them.

Hays is not having a great campaign at the plate. But of late, he's been very solid against southpaws.

If Hays stings one down the line there to put the O's up 7-4, all's well that ends well. Instead, he struck out. And when Anthony Santander was robbed of a bases clearing hit by Yankees centerfielder Alex Verdugo one batter later, the game remained 5-4 and everyone (well, mostly everyone) raked Hyde over the coals for taking O'Hearn out of the game.

That moment called for O'Hearn to be removed, no matter if he had no doubles on the night or two doubles on the night. His numbers against lefties just aren't good enough to warrant confidence he'd do something special there. Hyde does some goofy stuff from time to time, no two ways about it. But that wasn't goofy last night. Hays just didn't produce when needed.

Craig Kimbrel offset the thrill of victory by once again failing to close out a one-run game. In a bizarre twist, he actually got credit for the win, despite coughing up a victory.

If I heard the ESPN guys correctly last night, they mentioned Kimbrel is now 0-for-4 when entering games with a one-run lead. I'll say it a little louder for the guys in the back of the room: The Orioles need a closer.


Any win over the Yankees is a good win, but last night's was particularly gratifying given the tension that surfaced from the Tuesday night encounter where Aaron Judge and Gleybar Torres were both hit by a pitch and all of New York reacted as if The Son of Sam had just been released on good behavior.

The home team then predictably went into message-sending-mode, hitting Gunnar Henderson (intentionally, I think) and Colton Cowser (not intentionally, I think). The score was 4-1 in the 7th when Henderson was hit, and the ball was thrown high and into his upper back. To his credit, Henderson set the bat down and strolled to first base. If the Yankees were looking for the O's star to react and create a stir, they whiffed on that one.

Much more to his credit, I think Henderson is an athlete, which is a smidgen different than being a baseball player. Athletes understand "the game within a game". Baseball players get mad when you slide into second base too hard or stare at a home run for more than 1.4 seconds.

Baseball players are always looking for something to get pissed off about.

"You're winning 9-2 in the 9th inning and you stole 2nd base? You'll have to pay for that in tomorrow's game." It's pathetic.

Baseball players are (mostly) soft. Athletes like Henderson, though, are not. And, so, when Gunnar got plunked, he simply made his way down to first base and moved on. He might get hit today and charge the mound, for all I know, but the Henderson I watch on a daily basis is an athlete first. He understands how sports work.

Now Cowser was, if we're being honest, crowding the plate a bit in the 8th inning when he was hit. Cowser banged the bat down in disgust and said a few words to the Yankees pitcher, but nothing else came of it. Sometimes guys get hit with a pitch in baseball because those things happen. The Cowser hit-by-pitch was a nothing burger in my eyes.

That said, it was clear with the Henderson moment the Yankees are trying to add "bullying" to their arsenal of ways to beat the O's in 2024.

They hit five Orioles in Baltimore during the midweek series earlier this month. And even though Juan Soto might have "started it" with his clumsy base running and collision with Jordan Westburg on Tuesday night, the Yankees then took great umbrage with Judge and Torres getting beaned on Tuesday evening.

It's all very, very tiring.

I'm not sure I can think of anything in sports, to me, that's more pathetic and exhausting than baseball players enforcing their archaic, asinine "unwritten rules". It's so bush league that bush league called and said, "Enough is enough."


Which brings me to my final point. And one that I'm sure won't be entirely popular because of the incredible amount of affection our town has for team broadcasters in both baseball and football.

Hearing those two last night defend the Orioles at every corner, in every moment, without any possibility of blame for them was so over-the-top maddening I finally turned down the sound in the 8th inning.

And I am generally not one to get mad at dumb, silly things like team broadcasters and their ability to "homer it up" for the very team that employs them.

I'm an old guy. Not much bothers me any longer, except missed three foot putts and coffee that comes out luke warm instead of hot at restaurants.

But last night was just maddening.

And I think Kevin Brown is, for the most part, an outstanding play-by-play guy.

I know Brett Hollander, which is to say we shared many a conversation at the Ravens facility back when I was on the air and would go out there a couple of times a week. I like Brett. I realize last night's role was an emergency situation because Jim Palmer was forced to miss the game with Covid (I had to LOL when I saw Palmer's tweet, I had no idea we still thought Covid was something you missed work for) and Brett was pushed into the unfamiliar role of color analyst.

I just couldn't get over how much whining the two of them did about the Yankees, the bean balls, and so on and so on. It's like the Orioles would never stoop to the level of throwing at someone or enforcing an unwritten rule.

And I totally understand the gig and how broadcasters are essentially team employees and all that other stuff. They're getting $100K or more to fly around the country on chartered planes, stay at the Wyndham, collect $108 of daily per-diem and a bunch of other perks we're not thinking of. So when the team says "be a homer" the broadcasters salute them like Popeye and say, "Aye, aye, sir."

I get it. I just can't stand it.

The Yankee broadcasters are no different, of course. On Tuesday night, after Torres got hit, they spent two minutes discussing -- very openly -- the concept of a New York pitcher hitting an Orioles hitter in retaliation. Once again, bush league called and said, "You guys are embarrassing yourselves."

The series up there is exciting, that's for sure. And the tension level will only increase today if one of the teams is ahead 6-1 in the 8th and they plunk a guy on the other team just to get the last laugh. And it will only get worse in late September if the two clubs are still fighting for the division title.

But the broadcasters, last night, with their holier than thou praise of the Orioles, as if they do no wrong, was just too much to hear inning after inning. So I finally turned down the sound and just watched it.

And what I saw was Kimbrel blow another save, Mullins come through with a surprisingly good night, the O's show their usual heart and grit in the 10th inning, and a nailbiting finish, all of which led to a 7-6 win.

It felt like a playoff game.

Stay tuned today for more potential fireworks. And don't feel bad about turning down the volume.

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JERRY'S TOYOTA banner

Wednesday
June 19, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3589


there's no softening here


I was going to author something poignant and insightful about the Orioles losing 4-2 to the Yankees last night, but then I figured, "Ah, what the heck, it's just one game out of 162 in the middle of June."

The big news from the Bronx last night wasn't the New York win or the Baltimore loss. It was Aaron Judge getting hit on the hand and leaving the game.

For a month or so now, I've been perhaps prattling on about the Yankees and how the/their annual mid-season injury bug is bound to hit them at some point soon. Almost on cue, Juan Soto missed a few games, Anthony Rizzo is now out for two months and Judge, potentially, will miss some period of time after last night's incident.

Anthony Santander's hot streak continued last night with a 2-run homer in the 4-2 loss in New York.

Late last night the Yankees announced x-rays and scans were negative on Judge's hand, but even if he misses three or four games, that impacts New York's lineup.

And we still haven't seen Giancarlo Stanton pull his hamstring yet. You know that's coming at some point.

They can't help it. The Yankees can never go through a season without key parts of their team going on the injured list.

Now, they do get an injured (key) player off the injured list tonight when Gerrit Cole makes his first start of the 2024 season after missing almost three months with an elbow ailment. Cole, if healthy, makes a huge impact in New York's rotation, no two ways about it.

But all in all, I'm still here betting that the Yankees suffer through an 12-14 month of baseball when their injuries start to pile up.

So, sure, they won last night. Big deal. Check back with me at the end of July and let's see where things are then.

How's that for baseball talk?


A commenter yesterday -- "PA" -- offered something that pushed me to an explanation here today. Rather, it's really more of a clarification than an explanation.

PA wrote this: I do find it interesting that DMD seems to have softened on one of the LIV pariahs because he's clearly proven to be an elite golfer. To me, BAD took "blood money" same as others whose stars have faded (Phil, DJ, even Kopeka) or guys who never were stars, so find it odd BAD seems to be getting a pass on that. I thought the DMD stance was "anyone but a LIV" guy when any of the majors rolled around. I'm ok with the new stance, just surprised is all.

I'm not here to suggest PA needs to enroll in the much-talked-about "reading comprehension class" here. But I will say that PA whiffed with that commentary on Tuesday.

To be clear: There is most certainly no new stance here, at #DMD, as it relates to LIV Golf.

I don't like it. At all.

If you want a more fitting and edgy word, I'll go with "despise".

I never liked LIV. Not from day one. Not last year. And certainly not now.

While LIV Golf has failed to deliver on many of its promises relative to TV exposure and heightened excitement, Greg Norman and Phil Mickelson continue to promote the entity as the future of golf.

The players who jumped over there to take the money were charlatans. Plain and simple.

But that doesn't mean I've lost respect for the kind of golf they're capable of playing. Brooks Koepka is a great player. So, too, is Dustin Johnson. I'm most certainly not a Patrick Reed fan, but the man can golf his ball.

And the same goes for Bryson DeChambeau. As I wrote here last weekend, I like him. As a player. The same way, as I mentioned, that I'm fond of guys like Max Homa and Sahith Theegala. DeChambeau is an excellent player and, as we are learning in the aftermath of his win last Sunday, quite a spotlight-seeker as well.

I did not want him to win on Sunday. I was really pulling hard for a late comeback from Tom Kim, Russell Henley or Akshay Bhatia, for reasons you can probably figure out on your own. There for a while, as Henley started pouring in putts, I thought I might have a guy backing into a U.S. Open win, somehow.

Failing one of those three winning, though, I wanted McIlroy to win. Or Cantlay. Heck, I would rather have seen Matthieu Pavon win than Bryson.

That said, maybe because it's wired into people who play competitive golf, I never flat out root against any player, at any time. It's just the way you do things in golf.

I realize that in other sports it works that way. We root against the Yankees. And the Steelers. And, of course, the Flyers. It's an accepted part of those sports to be happy when the other team stumbles or loses a game.

You just don't do it in golf.

Don't ask me why it's that way, but it is.

So I never once rooted against Bryson on Sunday. I just wanted other guys to win. But I thought the way he finished off the tournament was spectacular. And there's no denying his talent, DeChambeau is an extraordinary player.

Alas, he's also a guy who joined a rival league and accepted money from creeps who have not been friendly to our country and who continue to walk a very fine line when it comes to human rights issues. I made my bed on that situation early on and I'm very comfortable sleeping in it.

So, I'm not sure where "PA" got the idea that I'm softening on LIV or its players. I am not. I can see the value of them as golfers and have immense respect for their careers because I know how hard it is to win.

But root for them to win? Nah, I won't be doing that. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not, well, ever.


One final piece of housekeeping from the U.S. Open but it concerns a guy who only played in two rounds of the four-round tournament.

Tiger Woods.

Rich reached out via e-mail with a question about the news that Tiger Woods will be receiving a lifetime exemption into certain PGA Tour events starting next year.

I actually feel kind of weird even offering this opinion because, I assume, even the staunchest of Woods haters would agree he deserves the special lifetime exemption he was given by the PGA Tour yesterday.

But I'll offer it nonetheless.

The current iteration of the PGA Tour, with whatever level of popularity you want to give it, was essentially reconstructed by Woods when he started playing full time on the TOUR 30 years ago.

I'll stop short of saying he "built the TOUR" because that would be dishonorable to guys like Palmer, Nicklaus, Trevino, Norman and others whose popularity helped draw spectators and sponsors to the sport long before Woods started competing.

But the "modern" PGA Tour was built by Tiger.

If he can't receive a special lifetime exemption, who can?

The PGA Tour announced yesterday that Tiger Woods will receive a lifetime exemption into all of their signature events moving forward.

The TOUR announced on Tuesday they were creating the exemption for Woods for their eight signature events (the ones with the most money in the player purse) effective in the 2025 campaign. This does not grant him entry into any of the major championships, although he's eligible for the Masters (lifetime), PGA (lifetime) and British Open (age 60) without needing an exemption.

Woods received a special exemption into this year's U.S. Open at Pinehurst and will need another one to compete next year at Oakmont CC unless he wins the Masters next April.

The subject of how many exemptions he should receive into the U.S. Open is, I think, worth debating. The lifetime exemption on the PGA Tour is not.

Here's what I think will happen with Tiger relative to the U.S. Open. He'll receive three more of them consecutively, leading up to 2027 at Pebble Beach, the site of his first U.S. Open title in 2000.

That means he'll get to play at Oakmont (2025), Shinnecock Hills (2026) and then Pebble Beach (2027). Once those three exemptions are used, he'll be done with the freebies.

I also think that's more than fair. And by "more than fair", I mean that. It's more than fair. Yes, I know he has 15 major championships. Yes, I'm aware he's won 82 tournaments.

And, yes, I'm very aware he's the greatest golfer ever. Or the 2nd greatest golfer ever, depending on your opinion of Jack Nicklaus and his 18 majors and 73 wins.

Either way, greatest or 2nd greatest, I think giving Woods four consecutive exemptions into the U.S. Open is exceedingly favorable for an event that is very stingy with their generosity.

But, again, if you can't give Tiger Woods an exemption into the U.S. Open, who, then, can you give one to?

As it relates to the subject at hand, though, I'm 100% on board with the TOUR giving Tiger a lifetime free pass into any signature event he wants to play. Remember, too, he doesn't really play any longer anyway. This was more a gesture of kindness than anything else.

If Tiger wasn't otherwise eligible for, let's say, The RBC Heritage in Hilton Head, all he would need to do would be to reach out to the folks who run that event and say, "Hey, it's Tiger, if you have any sponsor exemptions laying around for your tournament this April, I'll take one."

And he'd get one.

Giving him a lifetime exemption into that tournament actually opens up a spot, in theory, for someone who might actually use it and benefit from playing in the event.

I assume the TOUR is also starting to put together a plan to make the Champions Tour inviting for Tiger to compete in when he turns 50 in December of 2025.

He'll get the benefit of a cart if he decides to play on the senior circuit, which will certainly make it easier for him to compete, just as it does for any of the old(er) guys who compete out there.

That he hasn't asked the TOUR or the USGA for a cart is admirable, I suppose. But he won't have to worry about ruffling any feathers once he turns 50 since every senior event except the Senior Open allows players to ride in carts without needing any kind of medical exemption.

Perhaps yesterday's "lifetime exemption" announcement was made, in part, in an effort to curry favor with Woods moving forward.

If so, I guess we'd file that under "smart business".

No matter why it was put in place, though, the lifetime exemption for Woods is a no-brainer. The TOUR still needs him. He might not need the TOUR any longer, but they could still use an occasional Tiger appearance on the leaderboard a few times a year.

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Tuesday
June 18, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3588


with the dust having settled


For those of you who appreciate #DMD for the diversity of topics we like to tackle here, today's edition is right up your alley.

I won't say anything else other than -- please read George's outstanding story below. And thank me later. Or, actually, thank him later.

I love the diverse nature of what we do here.

Some of you are stuck in your ways and I get that. I'm old, too.

But we have (almost) something for everyone here. Orioles, Ravens, Terps, Golf, Soccer and some occasional enlightenment from my friend, George, who never ceases to amaze me with his remarkable memory and penchant for providing interesting topics.

I've offered this forum to you, too, and some of you have taken me up on that along the way.

That offer still stands today. If you're a writer or think you might be one, or even partially one, you can always reach out to me to discuss your role here as a contributor.

I'd love to find someone to write about, well, anything they want. Hockey. MMA. Local college football. More O's. More Terps. More Ravens. More Golf. More Soccer.

Whatever floats your boat, as the saying goes.

Anyway, enjoy George's piece and reach out to me (18inarow@gmail.com) if you're interested in writing here in the future.


Summer baseball is awesome. We've had some Chamber of Commerce weather in these parts over the last 10 days, including the weekend home series vs. Philadelphia that just transpired. These next three games in the Bronx will be played in perfect summer conditions. And the teams are both playing great baseball.

Aaron Judge and the first place Yankees host the Orioles for three games this week starting tonight at Yankee Stadium.

There's something about baseball in New York, particularly in the Bronx, that I just can't shake. It's mesmerizing.

I've been to a lot of ballparks in the U.S.

I still say -- sorry, friends -- that Chavez Ravine is the best baseball stadium and environment in all of the Majors. Watching a game there is probably very close to what it's like to watch a game in heaven. One of those awesome, 84 degree Southern California Tuesday nights. You just can't beat it.

But if Chavez Ravine is the best stadium, New York, the city, is the ultimate place to take in a game.

I can't put my finger on exactly why. Maybe it's the subway. Or the guys hawking tickets out front. Or the jam-packed skyline.

There's just something incredibly heart-thumping about sitting in Yankee Stadium and watching a baseball game, particularly one that matters like the next three this week.

Baltimore and New York, playing for first place, in late June.

Yes, friends, the beer is very cold these days in the Land of Pleasant Living.

Two or three wins over the Yankees would make it even a bit colder.


One thing that stood out to me as I watched the final hour of Sunday's U.S. Open was this: Tiger Woods would have never done what Rory and Bryson did in the final round.

I know what you're thinking. That's the dumb statement of the day. Maybe even the whole year.

Of course Tiger wouldn't have coughed up a lead late on Sunday. That's why he has 15 major titles. When Woods had a chance to beat you, he closed the deal almost every single time.

At his zenith, Woods was a stone-cold-finisher of the highest degree. That birdie putt DeChambeau had from 18-feet at #15, tied with Rory at the time? You know, the one he three putted? Tiger would have made that one from 18 feet to take the lead and that would have started the coronation.

The 20-footer Rory had at #16? Woods would have rolled that one in, too.

Those two wild drives authored by Rory and Bryson at #18? Tiger never hits one that crooked with the tournament on the line.

The two short misses by McIlroy at #16 and #18? Tiger makes those with his eyes closed.

It's more about how great Woods was 20 years ago and far less about how both Rory and Bryson spit the bit somewhat on the final four holes on Sunday.

Tiger was a finisher. Plain and simple.

He just wouldn't give you a chance to get up off the canvas. Once he had you down there, it was time to call in the cut man.


Like I tend to do after major golf championships, I spend the first day afterwards revisiting what happened and trying to thoroughly digest who won, who lost and what the outcome does for the sport.

Bryson DeChambeau's win at Pinehurst #2 shook the golf world, I'd say. Whether it shook favorably or unfavorably is debatable, but one thing that's not part of the debate is whether the best player over the four days won the tournament. Yes, he did.

Most of the national discussion on Monday didn't center on the winner, though. It centered on the guy who finished in 2nd place. Rory McIlroy contributed to that content late on Monday afternoon when he published a social media message that basically said three things:

1. Congratulations to the winner.

2. I'll recover from Sunday's loss.

3. I'm not playing this week in Cromwell, Connecticut.

McIlroy didn't apologize for skipping out on a post-round media session. And he didn't apologize for not hanging around to shake DeChambeau's hand afterwards. One of those mistakes, I think, was significant. The other was just a blemish.

I totally understand not playing this week's TOUR event even though he previously signed up for it. Everyone knew that announcement was coming yesterday, at some point, in the aftermath of what happened in the final four holes at Pinehurst the day before. You have to be "in it" to play successful golf and there's no way McIlroy's head would be "in it" this week in Connecticut.

Rory skipping out on the event up there this week isn't important. They'll still have a great field. The tournament will roll on nicely without him.

But let's go back to what happened on Sunday after he lost the U.S. Open to Bryson DeChambeau, because that is important.

Rory doesn't really need public favor. His bank account doesn't need it, for sure, and his legacy as one of this generation's best players is in cement.

But not sticking around for one minute to shake DeChambeau's hand in the scoring office was a massively poor call on McIlroy's part.

As I wrote here yesterday, I sorta-kinda get not answering questions from the media. It was wrong, but it was like going 72 in a 55 mile per hour zone. Everyone does it.

Honestly, I suspect DeChambeau or Cantlay would also have scooted out of there in similar speedy fashion on Sunday had they missed two short putts to cost themselves a major championship.

By not being a good sport about losing, Rory robbed himself of a chance to show that he, like DeChambeau, is different.

And perhaps McIlroy doesn't care about that or the image boost he would have received by being a gentleman about the defeat he suffered. If so, that's his cross to bear. A couple of hundred million in the bank will do weird things to your view of right and wrong, I guess.

But waiting one minute -- seriously, 60 seconds after Rory left the room, DeChambeau entered to sign his card -- to greet and congratulate the winner was not only the right thing to do, it was the thing to do if you're trying to show the people who support you why you're worthy of their endorsement.

Nike could have put a commercial together overight that ran all day on The Golf Channel yesterday. I'm not a content writer by trade, but I'm sure the folks at Nike could have produced something about integrity, sportsmanship and "doing the right thing" in the midst of one of the worst moments of your golf career.

Instead, Rory got taken to the woodshed on Monday for skipping out on the media and on Bryson. It's hard to tell which of the moments he squandered more; the putts at 16 and 18 or the post-round decisions he made.

Thomas Wolfe once wrote: You Can't Go Home Again.

For Rory, the minute he jetted out of that parking lot, he couldn't undo the damage. He couldn't "go home again", so to speak. Staying there and doing his part, despite the agony of the tournament he gave away, would have been a feather in his cap that would have stayed there forever.


A lot of the talk on Monday also centered on DeChambeau and his "changed" personality. I like Bryson. But I also think there's an obvious element of showtime that's attached to him. Whether we should consider that "phony" or not isn't my call. Alas, I'd say a significant part of what DeChambeau wants is approval. And winning a U.S. Open helps him gain that approval.

But I do like DeChambeau. I like him the same way I like, say, Max Homa or Sahith Theegala. In other words, I like him because he's an exceptional golfer. The other stuff, the showtime part of him, I could take or leave.

But there is a part of DeChambeau that's hard not to like if you've ever played competitive golf. He's a dreamer. And a scientist. And he's a man who is not afraid to try anything to see if it helps make his golf better. I love that about him, actually.

We've all tinkered.

Heck, I was floating my golf balls in Epsom salts with Walt Grabowski circa 2000 at his home in Frederick, MD. DeChambeau didn't invent that trick. It's been around since Cal Ripken Jr. played for the Orioles, if not longer.

A decade ago or so, I switched to big jumbo grips on my clubs for about a month. It was great for my wedge game. But I couldn't get the driver clubface closed. I enjoyed experimenting with the grips. But they weren't for me.

Lead tape on my putter? Tried that, too.

Everyone has tinkered.

I don't think any of us have tinkered as much as DeChambeau, but, like him, we've all tried to find the holy grail and gain an edge with our equipment.

I find that part of DeChambeau both interesting and appealing. He's not afraid to do things differently.

Maybe it's my 20-year marriage with the long putter that attracts me to DeChambeau's willingness to be "different". I faced a lot of snide remarks in 2005 when I made the switch. But I knew something no one else knew, mainly because I wasn't interested in telling people the truth.

I couldn't putt with anything except a long putter.

I did putt left handed for a couple of years in 2011 and 2012 and had a little bit of success with it, but in the end, that tinkering episode failed.

So when I hear people on the radio criticize DeChambeau for tinkering too much, it makes me laugh. The man has won two U.S. Opens in the last four years. Maybe we should all tinker like that, huh?

I don't want to sound like Paul McGinley when I make this comment about what transpired on Sunday, but here goes. The shot DeChambeau hit out of the bunker was sensational. No two ways about it. But the shot was easier given what McIlroy had just done in front of him a minute earlier.

Had Rory made par at #18 and DeChambeau faced an up-and-down scenario just to get into a playoff, that bunker shot triples in difficulty.

Being able to splash it out there and make either four (for the win) or five (for the tie) was a remarkable turn of events after Rory missed the 4-footer to fall a stroke behind.

And while we're on Rory, let's put the spotlight on him in a different way than just saying, "Those two missed putts killed him."

Those two misses hurt, no two ways about it. But the data from Sunday's final round tells a different story. He ranked near the bottom of the field in several key ball striking and shots gained categories. For as good as he drove the ball all day, his inability to hit quality iron shots was a massive factor in the defeat.

The missed putts glossed over what was otherwise a very pedestrian day with the irons. His short game and putting -- at least until the 15th hole -- bailed him out time and time again.

Rory is a great, great player. If you remove major championships from the discussion, he's the best player in golf over the last 10 years and it's probably not even close.

But something happens four times a year that's hard to explain. And it's not that he plays poorly in the majors, because he most certainly does not. But at some stage, usually on the weekend, Rory's game drops off. It's not graphic, by any means. He doesn't shoot 69-66-68-79. It's not like he forgets how to play on Sunday.

But "something" happens, whether it's two missed short putts, a couple of push-block drives into the rough or iron shots that lack their normal crispness.

Rory lost on Sunday because he shoulda, coulda, woulda shot 65 or 66 but he shot 69 instead. DeChambeau was there for the taking. Rory just didn't do the taking.

I think McIlroy is too talented to finish his career with four majors. He could quietly have 7 or 8 of them under his belt right now with equal degrees of luck, putts rolling in, and the other player faltering down the stretch instead

If the golf gods have a heart at all, McIlroy will shoot 65 on the final day at Troon and race past Schauffele, Scheffler and DeChambeau to win the British Open next month.

That would be a fitting conclusion to the major season in 2024.

But until he wins another one, I think it's very hard to predict or expect a victory for McIlroy at the Masters, PGA, U.S. Open or British Open.

He can win elsewhere. And with ease. Winning golf tournaments isn't all that difficult for McIlroy.

Winning major championships, though, has become impossible for him.

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NOTES & COMMENT
George McDowell


George McDowell is #DMD's foreign correspondent. His international reports are filed from a hardened outpost just across the U.S. / North Carolina border. He writes on sports topics that interest him that he feels might also interest some segment of the wildly esoteric #DMD readership. George has been a big fan of DF and his various enterprises since the last century, and for several seasons appeared as a weekly guest on his Monday evening radio show, Maryland Golf Live, delivering commentary as The Eccentric Starter. George also donates his time and talents to the less fortunate, and currently volunteers as secretary of the Rickie Fowler Fan Club.


gifts to the future

(this article isn't sports related)

The artist James W. Voshell died of diabetic complications at University of Maryland St Joseph’s Medical Center on April 27, 2024. He was 80 years old.


This mural, titled "The Checker Players," was painted by Jim and his young collaborator Pontella Mason in1975 on the wall of a building that faced Edmondson Avenue on the western gateway to downtown Baltimore. The mural measured 46 feet wide by 23 feet tall. The building has since been razed. Jim usually painted on canvas, but the federal government program that financed this public art provided a sustaining boost to his career.

Mr. Voshell was my fifth-period art teacher at Parkville High School in my junior year in 1966. Twenty long and adventurous years later, my wife and I bought a ramshackle townhouse in Baltimore's Union Square neighborhood with intentions of renovating it while we were in graduate schools. We saw there was a bearded and long-haired man living in a warehouse across the street from us. We learned from talks with new neighbors that this was my old teacher, Mr. Voshell, who had left the teaching profession and set out on his journey as a full-time artist. Delighted at the coincidence, I go to visit him. I ring his doorbell and he answers a few minutes later. He's carrying a Winchester 73. [This was a rough neighborhood, but a repeating rifle was probably overkill.] He opens the door and waits for me to speak.

"The Defender," self portrait by James Voshell measuring 50" x 90," painted in 1990. Note Jim's beloved cat, Francoise, in the doorway. The piece was selected for exhibit in the United States National Portrait Gallery. The author is proud to have taken the photo that Jim used in painting this picture.

Me: Hello, Mr. Voshell.

Jim: No response.

Me: Don't you remember me? [Note – there is no reason he should have remembered me. I was an insecure and obscure kid wholly overwhelmed and socially paralyzed by the intoxicating beauty of the maturing girls at school, and too scared to have any original thoughts that would have piqued the slightest interest of an instructor who was a magna cum laude graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art.]

Jim: No response.

Me: Well, I really can't believe this situation. How could you possibly not remember a student you had 20 years ago in fifth-period Art who sat in the third row, four seats from the aisle?

Jim: Do you drink Carlo?

The "Carlo" to which he refers is Carlo Rossi Pink Chablis [pronounced shab – liss {accent on the first syllable}, in the non-French way]. It is Jim's drink of choice before sundown, and which retails in 1986 for $1.99 a gallon.

Jim invites me in, and over flutes and flutes of Carlo we become acquainted. Three hours later my wife rings the doorbell, and when Jim answers, she inquires if he's seen a 36-year-old white male wandering about the neighborhood.

"Got him right here," Jim says. "Come on in."

Jim offers Geraldine a flute of Carlo. She's not a teetotaler, but is highly selective in what she imbibes. "Thank you," she says, improbably accepting the glass. We talk for some more hours, warming to good company. We'll be good neighbors for the six years we live in this wild and crazy neighborhood on the fringe of Union Square. Jim would move from his studio some years later, taking up residence with the love of his life, Lynne Jones, on her farm in Parkton. My wife and I would also move away. But our friendship would continue for almost 40 years, until Jim's body finally gave out in April.

Jim was born in pre-gentrified St. Michael's. His parents were tenant farmers. His first art instruction was from the mail-order school that advertised on matchbook covers. After high school, Jim was awarded a full scholarship to the Maryland Institute College of Art.

Jacques Maroger, "Self Portrait," circa 1960. My guess is that this picture hangs in a building somewhere on the campus of Loyola University. Maroger was good friends with Mrs. Alice Warder Garrett, who built a cottage for him near her Evergreen Mansion, and which is now Loyola University Maryland property.

Here's a narrow and highly-truncated history of the Baltimore art situation from around the mid-20th century onward from one who is by no means an expert. It lays out Jim's professional heritage and progression.

Jacques Maroger was a painter and the director of the technical laboratory of the Musée du Louvre in Paris. He studied both the painting techniques of the Old Masters, and also how they mixed their paints to create extraordinarily vivid and long-lasting scenes. Maroger fled Paris in 1939 ahead of the Nazi invasion.

He emigrated to the United States and became a lecturer at the Parsons School of Design in New York. His students, some of whom became painters of note – Reginald Marsh, John Koch, Fairfield Porter and Frank Mason – adopted his Old Masters painting techniques, and taught them in turn to their own students.

In 1942, Maroger became an instructor at the Maryland Institute College of Art. There he led a group of painters that came to be known as the Baltimore Realists. The members of this group were Earl Hofmann, Thomas Rowe, Joseph Sheppard, Ann Didusch Schuler, Frank Redelius, John Bannon, Evan Keehn, and Melvin Miller. These artists also bucked the artistic community trend toward abstract and impressionistic art, which was the accepted style of the day. Essentially, these artists thought that art should be artistic, and not merely some paint slapped haphazardly on canvas and sold for huge prices to those who were friends and admirers in the upper financial class.

"Descent from the Ring." Oil on canvas by Joe Sheppard. Mr. Sheppard was a student of Jacques Maroger and a member of the Baltimore Realists.

In 1961 the Baltimore Museum of Art selected area artists for its Maryland Annual Exhibition. No picture painted by Maroger was chosen for the exhibit, nor were any painted by any of the Baltimore Realists. Supporters of Maroger and the Realists accused the BMA of institutional cowardice and alleged that its administrators were afraid to travel any course other than those already traveled by museums in New York, London, and Paris.

Led by Joe Sheppard and John Bannon, the artists organized an alternative exhibition at a gallery at 817 N. Charles St., and timed it to open at the same time as the BMA's would open. Two thousand people attended that first day of what came to be called the Six Realists Gallery. The Baltimore News American headline the next day trumpeted, "A Triumph in Every Way." The exhibition, with periodic additions and subtractions, stayed in place for three years.

Another slap was delivered to the face of the BMA by the prestigious Butler Institute of American Art. The Butler, which featured an annual exhibit of the best of American art, selected works of Baltimore Realists Joe Sheppard, Thomas Rowe, and Melvin Miller along with prominent New York realists Ben Shaun and Edward Hopper for its 1962 show. Sheppard's "Mr. Mack's Fighters Gym" won first prize.

Such was the art scene in Baltimore and the rest of the art world into which Jim Voshell stepped when he got off the Trailways bus from St. Michael's in 1961.

Some Famous Non-Realist Painters
"Ocean Greyness," Jackson Pollack
"Flag Detail," Jasper Johns
,/a>
"The Beams," Alexander Calder
"Charlene," Robert Rauschenberg

My sense is that Jim was a born realist painter. Had there been no Jacques Maroger, no Joe Sheppard, no Realist movement, he still would have painted in the style that he called photo-realism. Jim's personality required precision and clarity. His subleties lay in the details, not in the main event. No Pop Art for him.

Jim's painting took two courses. When he gave up teaching and began to paint, his subjects were the people and places of Baltimore City. These are but a few of some hundreds of examples:

The Urban Art of James W. Voshell
Blind Beggar
1973
Blind Beggar with Accordian
1978
Legless Man
1977
Balloon Vendor
1973
Baltimore City Street Arab
1980
Urban Renewal
1981
City Street
1973
Fire Truck
1977
Motor Patrol
1974
The Conversation
1971
Old Fish Joe
1971
The Entry
1979

Jim's paintings of this period chronicled the transition of The Block from the Golden Age of Burlesque personified by Blaze Starr's Two O'Clock Club down to the era of peep shows and lap dances. This piece showed an example of the completion of that transition:


"Adult Movies." 1977

The piece was selected for an exhibition to be held in the lobby of the Morris Mechanic Theater. As the exhibit was being set up, it was seen by a doyen of Baltimore, national, and international society, Hope Quackenbush. Mrs. Quackenbush, a philanthropic donor of epic scale, expressed displeasure at the inclusion of the picture. No doubt word soon reached the exhibit's curator, and the picture was quickly de-selected. In a show of solidarity, the remaining artists in the show pulled their works, and the exhibition was cancelled.

While he lived in Union Square, Jim's warehouse and our house across the street [in the process of renovation] became centers of social activity. Jim's dear friends, artists Richard Roth and Mark Adams, would gather for ping-pong tournaments in the warehouse, and the four of us were surprisingly competitive. One night's dominance was shattered by a last-place finish the next night.

Jim hosted dinners on his birthdays at the warehouse. We'd sit at long tables on church pews enjoying goose and a seafood stew prepared from recipes passed on to Jim from his parents, both descended from long lines of Eastern Shore families.

"Portrait of Geraldine." 1988

On Sunday mornings, I'd get a NY Times newspaper, and Jim and other neighbors would stop by our house and we'd cook up some breakfast and collectively work on the Sunday crossword puzzle. In summers, we'd wait until the peak crab-buying hours had passed [noon to 3:00 pm], then call crab houses to see what deals we could get on decent-sized crabs that hadn't been sold. When we had the cash to score, we'd have a feast. Jim was fastidious in his eating -- he'd place the shells of the crabs he'd eaten in a row, and fill the empty shells with the uneaten detritus. If anyone offered to collect his waste, he'd shoo them away. He needed to maintain an accurate count of his consumption, to record it in the diary he kept so all posterity would know the number.

It was during this time I worked out a deal with Jim to paint a picture of my wife in between other projects he had. I was earning minimum wage in a part-time job, but Jim was bringing in less than that. We worked out a deal where I'd pay $25 a week until the $600 cost of the piece was paid off. My wife had found a dress at a thrift shop for $3.00, and planned to wear it to the upcoming SoWeBohemian Ball at Lithuanian Hall. Jim took the photograph he'd use as a guide to paint the portrait, in the living room of our house on Hollins Street, then we all went off to a night of dining and dancing.

In 1992, Jim moved from Union Square to live with the love of his life, artist Lynne Jones, on her farm in Parkton. The change from the craziness of downtown Baltimore to the tranquility of a large farm in northern Baltimore County was jarring for Jim. Lynne said he ran around naked for two weeks after he got to the country.

Jim's focus on subject matter shifted radically. He moved from the scenes of inner-city Baltimore to those of the natural beauty in northern Baltimore County. A small percentage are linked in the table below.

The Country Art of James W. Voshell
Mushroom Plates
1996
Two Morels
2003
Indian Corn
2009
Amos Mill
2005
The Little Farm
2003
Farmhouse Porch
2001
Gift Box #2
2002
Red Hibiscus
2016

"The Audience." 1983
Permanent Collection
Baltimore Museum of Art

In early 2024, I received a long letter from Jim, his last to me. He never did warm to email, and preferred using the Post Office. He had shut down the barn studio and was painting in his home after having a couple of heart attacks and suffering the ravages of advancing diabetes. He had finished his last commission in 2023 — my wife's request for a panorama of a wall in the barn studio that symbolically illustrated Jim's life. I'll quote a paragraph from Jim's letter:

"I'm still painting a little — produce one or two smaller pieces a year. One good thing has happened — the Baltimore Museum of Art has finally, after [my] lifetime of painting, acquired a piece of my Art for their Permanent Collection. It's "The Audience," on page 144 of my book. It's presently hanging on display and looks great on their Hallowed Walls. A little recognition feels mighty good at this final stage of my career."

The book to which Jim refers is his biography, written by Bill Waters and published in 2020. Bill was a student of Jim's at Parkville High who went on to become a writer and teacher as well as his lifelong friend. The book, James W. Voshell: His Life and Art, gives a full account of Jim's life from his childhood on the Eastern Shore to his many years on the farm in Parkton. It is an exquisitely beautiful volume with over 200 full-color images of Jim's paintings. The book is available from Mycelium Press, LLC.

Jim died in April, 2024. In May, Lynne Jones, Jim's life partner, hosted a gathering at the Manor Mill in Monkton to celebrate Jim's life. Manor Mill is a 300-year-old building that began its existence as a grain mill and was several years ago renovated to serve as an art gallery and event space. More than 200 people gathered – from Baltimore City, from Parkton and Monkton, from all over the East Coast and several came from Europe – to pay tribute to this larger-than-life artist and friend.


James William Voshell
1943–2024
Rest in Peace
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Monday
June 17, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3587


what a way to lose (and win)


The debate raged on last night and will continue for a quite a while, I'm guessing.

Did Rory McIlroy lose the U.S. Open on Sunday?

Or did Bryson DeChambeau win it?

I don't have an answer.

I think they both contributed to the outcome, that's for sure.

But in our society, where we're constantly looking for that one hot take that trumps all over observations, the general theory on Sunday night was Rory choked when the pressure got too tight in the final round of the 2024 U.S. Open.

Other than "Flyers win", that word might be the worst thing you can hear in sports: choke.

Bryson DeChambeau's final hole par was enough to secure his 2nd career U.S. Open title on Sunday at Pinehurst #2.

Did Rory choke on Sunday?

I don't believe he did.

He made too many birdies to use that "c word". And hit too many great shots that required the steeliest of nerves to pull off.

He hit an incredible drive at #16 when the heat was on.

He followed that up with a magnificent bunker shot at #17 and then rolled in a dicey 4-footer slider for par that went smack-dab into the middle of the hole.

I don't think chokers do those sort of things.

But he hit a terrible putt at #16 from 2.5 feet after making 496 consecutive putts within 3 feet in 2024. You read that right. Before that miss yesterday, McIlroy was 496-for-496 on putts inside of 3 feet this season.

That one, though, was a bad miss. At the worst time.

He'd also go on to miss one from just over four feet at #18, which is the one that will haunt him the most. But that one, unlike the short miss at #16, was an acceptable miss. It had a ball-and-a-half of break, from above the hole, with the U.S. Open on the line. It wasn't easy.

But he misread that putt.

Rory didn't stick around to talk with the media and address the two misses at 16 and 18, but if he did -- and if he were being honest -- he likely would have confessed to taking the one at 16 for granted and misreading the 4-footer at 18. They are putts he'd make tomorrow and the next day and the day after that, but it wasn't to be yesterday.

DeChambeau, on the other hand, most certainly didn't have his best stuff on Sunday.

But what he did do, better than McIlroy, was gut it out and find a way to win even when things didn't go his way.

He hit 5 fairways on the day. He caved in his driver face during his warm-up session on the range prior to going out and had to put a new driver head into play. The result wasn't pretty. He couldn't find a fairway.

His putting was equal parts great and iffy.

Unlike Rory, who rolled in five birdie putts of varying lengths, Bryson made par putts he needed and missed birdie putts he could have used.

He three-putted #15 from 18 feet, missed another one inside of 25 feet at #16, then left a simple 15-footer a ball short on #17 when he knew a birdie would give him the lead with one hole to play.

But Bryson made the big one.

After a wild duck hook off the tee at #18, DeChambeau wasn't able to get the ball on the green due to tree trouble and a squirrely lie in the left rough. His bunker shot from in front of the green was from 55 yards away. He hit it about 54 yards.

And then, like Payne Stewart did back in 1999, DeChambeau rolled in a par putt, albeit from 4 feet instead of 18 like Stewart, to win his 2nd U.S. Open title.

Yes, Bryson won the golf tournament.

And yes, Rory helped.

Rory McIlroy's shocking miss of short putts at #16 and #18 on Sunday paved the way for another heartbreaking loss in a U.S. Open.

But golf -- at the major championship level -- is about the player who handles everything for 72 holes. He (or she) deals with the good, the bad, the lucky, the unlucky, the ones that just fell in and the ones that lipped out.

If you can keep your head on straight for 72 holes, you have a chance. You can't keep it on for 70 holes. Or 71 holes. It's a 72-hole tournament for a reason.

Yesterday, McIlroy couldn't get it across the finish line. He was close. Ever so close. But he couldn't seal the deal.

And in the aftermath, the obvious question loomed: Can Rory recover from that collapse down the stretch?

The answer to that one is unknown.

It's tough enough to win major championships when you don't have scars and wounds and bruises that won't go away. McIlroy has lost a lot of majors over the last decade, no doubt about that. But the one he squandered on Sunday, without question, was the most painful of them all.

How do you recover from that?

He finished 2nd last year to Wyndham Clark at L.A. Country Club, but it was one of those rounds where Rory burned the edge on a half dozen putts and it just wasn't his day on the greens. Clark won that tournament, Rory didn't necessarily lose it.

But yesterday was different. Much different.

Anyone who has ever played competitive golf at any level -- amateur, professional, high school/college, etc. -- has likely given away a tournament or two along the way.

I shot 66-74 in the U.S. Amateur qualifier in 2000 at Bonnie View and missed a putt of roughly 4 feet myself at the 35th hole that would have earned me a spot at the national event at Baltusrol. I then lost on the first playoff hole when my opponent hit an improbable shot from the right rough to make par on the 1st hole while I couldn't get up and down from the front bunker for par.

Here we are 25 years later and I haven't forgotten about it. I learned from it, I think. But I sure haven't forgotten about it.

I've given other events away as well. We all have.

But if I can't forget squandering a chance to win a spot in the U.S. Amateur in 2000, how is Rory McIlroy going to compartmentalize handing the U.S. Open to Bryson DeChambeau?

I hope he can get over it. I think Rory's one of the good guys in the sport. He deserves better.

If DeChambeau goes out and shoots 67 on Sunday and wins by three, Rory gives him a hug, says all the right things afterwards and accepts his $2-plus-million 2nd place check with a shrug and says, "I'm going to get another one of these soon enough."

It's really hard to accept losing when you had it on your racket and couldn't put it away.

DeChambeau, meanwhile, showed exactly why he's won two U.S. Open trophies with the way he played over all four days. He's obviously a great player, as is anyone who teed it up at Pinehurst #2, but the best of the best have something in their gut that others don't.

Bryson's par at 18 was the difference.

It might have only been one putt that provided the final margin of victory, but he made it from four feet and Rory missed it from four feet. Two different putts, yes. But results are results. When Rory was pressed to make a putt to stay alive, he couldn't. When DeChambeau was pressed to make a putt to win, he did.

I hope McIlroy can bounce back from that one, but I think it's going to be tough.

Greg Norman never recovered from squandering his big lead in the 1996 Masters.

We never heard from Jean Van de Velde again, did we?

Others who gave away chances to win majors (Davis Love III, Phil Mickelson quickly come to mind) did eventually rebound, but they didn't go winless for a decade and have a handful of other chances to win like Rory has since 2014.

That was great theater yesterday and the player who played the best for four days eventually wound up winning, which probably means the result was ultimately justified, even if only by a single stroke.

But McIlroy's failure to close the deal will haunt him far more than the win will embolden DeChambeau, I'm afraid.


The other side story to Sunday's instant-classic finish at the U.S. Open was the quick exit taken by Rory in the aftermath of his shocking play over the final four holes.

It's one of those "but" moments that is undeniably tough to face.

Yes, it was an awful way to lose.

Yes, he's been an outstanding steward of the game throughout his career.

Yes, he's stayed and faced the music in plenty of other instances.

Yes, what happened was there for all to see, additional commentary wasn't really necessary or warranted.

But...

Rory needed to stick around for 10 minutes and answer questions.

"How tough is this one to take?"

"Given everything that transpired, is this your toughest defeat of the last decade?"

"What happened with the short putt at #16?"

"Why not hit 3-wood at the closing hole in an effort to keep it in the fairway?"

"Did you misread the putt at 18 or shove it just a hair?"

All fair questions.

Rory should have been there to answer them. Quickly, perhaps, but answer them nonetheless.

I get it. That was an excruciating loss. One of the worst defeats we've seen in golf over the last 20 years, from anyone, at any major.

But to bolt like that right afterwards was bad form.

If McIlroy wants to face the press, go home, and then decide to withdraw from this week's TOUR event in Connecticut while he attempts to recover from the disaster at Pinehurst, that's completely understandable. Golf's a taxing sport, despite its apparent pedestrian nature.

But his quick departure on Sunday evening from Pinehurst ended the whole day on the worst note possible. He lost. In more ways than one.

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orioles week in review


Week Record: 5-2

Season Record: 47-24

AL East Standing: 2nd (2 GB NYY)

Player of the Week: Gunnar Henderson

Another week, another winning record for the Orioles. If there was any question whether the O’s are one of the elite teams in MLB they answered it emphatically this week.

The Birds completed their four game sweep (or mop if you prefer) of the division rival Tampa Bay Rays and then proceeded to take four of six from two of the best teams in the National League.

The 5-2 week actually gained the Orioles some ground on the Yankees in the AL East race. The Yanks started the week strong with three straight wins over the Royals, but they couldn’t pull off the four game sweep and then dropped two out of three to the Red Sox. That means the O’s will head into the crucial series in the Bronx just two games behind New York.

Gunnar Henderson capped his "Player of the Week" honor with a leadoff home run in Sunday's 8-3 win over Philadelphia.

Unfortunately, as great as the week was, it wasn’t all good news.

Kyle Bradish left his start on Friday early with elbow discomfort and he was later sent to the injured list with a “UCL Sprain.” For a guy who had a delayed start to his season due to treatment for the UCL, this is an ominous sign. Bradish only recently came back from a short IL stint to rest his arm.

There is a strong possibility this is the end of a promising season for the breakout ace, but for now we can all hold out hope he may be able to get away with some time off and still pitch in 2024.

On Monday, the O’s completed their four game sweep of the Rays in relatively easy fashion, highlighting two teams heading in opposite directions. Gunnar Henderson led off with his 21st homer of the season, then James McCann hit one in the 3rd and Ryan O’Hearn drove in three more. It was all the support Corbin Burnes needed as he churned out another quality start, going seven innings with two runs (both unearned) and six strikeouts for a 5-2 win.

The Birds then traveled home to welcome last year’s NL East winning Atlanta Braves to Camden Yards. They opened that series on a strong foot, with Jorge Mateo going deep for an Earl Weaver Special in the 2nd inning. Austin Hays added an RBI single in the 6th and the pitching staff did the rest. Albert Suarez was fantastic again, throwing 5.1 more scoreless innings to lower his season ERA to 1.61, which is the best ERA for AL starters with more than 40 innings pitched. The bullpen followed with 3.2 scoreless to close out a 4-0 win.

On Wednesday the Orioles extended their winning streak to six. The O’s took a 2-0 lead into the 8th inning but Matt Olson went deep off Keegan Akin to tie the game. Which only set up defensive substitute, Colton Cowser, to put them back on top with a two-run shot of his own in the bottom half of the 8th. Craig Kimbrel then pitched a flawless 9th to seal the 4-2 win.

They couldn’t quite complete the sweep of the Braves Thursday, as Atlanta got out to an early lead and pushed across four runs off Cole Irvin. Kyle Stowers hit a three run homer in the 7th to cut the lead to one, but the bullpen couldn’t keep it close and the Braves pulled away for a 6-3 win.

The weekend brought the NL leading Phillies to town, along with quite a few of their fans, for a series that had a postseason feel.

Thankfully the O’s sent the interlopers back up I-95 with a series loss. Kyle Schwarber put the Phillies out in front right away with a leadoff homer on Friday night before I even made it to my seat. Adley Rutschman doubled in Cedric Mullins in the 3rd to tie the game. Raphael Marchan homered in the 5th for the only other blemish on Kyle Bradish, despite the arm discomfort.

That led to one of the more exciting conclusions of the season. Anthony Santander continued his hot streak with a solo shot to tie it in the 8th. After the Phillies scored their ghost runner in the top of the 10th, Gunnar Henderson came to the plate with two outs and runners on 2nd and 3rd. Gunnar ran the count full, before drawing an angry walk to load the bases.

On the next pitch to Anthony Santander, Kerkering unleashed a wild pitch and Cedric Mullins sprinted home from 3rd base. Initially called out, replay showed Mullins arm just beat the tag to the plate and the call was overturned and the game was tied. Unfortunately Santander lined out to end the inning, followed by a lengthy rain delay and the Phillies scored two in the 11th to win 5-3.

The O’s bounced back on Saturday though, overturning a 2-0 early deficit for a 6-2 win. It was largely the Anthony Santander show as the outfielder went deep in the 4th to tie the game 2-2, then hit a sac fly in the 6th to give the O’s the lead, followed by another homer in the 8th that put the game out of reach.

Grayson Rodriguez was strong again, limiting the Phillies to two runs over seven innings while striking out six. Bryan Baker pitched a shutout inning in his return to the bullpen and Craig Kimbrel quieted the boos of the Philly fans with three strikeouts to close out the save.

On Sunday things got even better for the Orioles. With Corbin Burnes on the mound, the O’s didn’t need a huge offensive day but they got it anyway. Burnes picked up his second quality start of the week, conceding two runs in six innings with seven strikeouts.

Gunnar started the offensive barrage with another leadoff homer. Colton Cowser tacked on two more with a homer in the 2nd, then Adley added another with a solo shot in the 3rd. The O’s poured on four more in the 5th to put the game out of reach, led by a three-run Jordan Westburg home run. The 8-3 win put a stamp on the series win as the O’s continued to keep the pressure on the Yankees.

Another outstanding week from the team made the Player of the Week award difficult once again. Corbin Burnes was an easy candidate with two wins on quality starts, throwing thirteen innings with just two earned runs and thirteen strikeouts. His 2.14 ERA is the third best for starters in the AL.

My initial gut reaction was that this award had to go to Anthony Santander, who hit three homers in the midst of a patented hot streak, driving in six runs and coming up big multiple times in key situations.

However, Gunnar Henderson had even better numbers this week, and iced the cake with some amazing defensive plays. It’s amazing that a week where Gunnar posted a .393 OBP with two homers and four RBI was almost unremarkable for the MVP candidate. But with the solid offensive week and outstanding defense, Gunnar gets the award.


Down on the Farm –

There was good news and bad news at Norfolk this week.

First, the bad news, top prospect Jackson Holliday was sent to the injured list with a “minor” elbow injury. The team emphasized that it was nothing serious and that the young star just needed some rest.

On the other side of the injury spectrum, Coby Mayo started his rehab in single A Aberdeen and hit three homers, showing he is ready to rejoin Norfolk this coming week. Dean Kremer also threw three innings for Norfolk on Sunday and looks close to returning to the Orioles rotation.

Aside from the injuries, a few Norfolk hitters stood out this week. Heston Kjerstad continued his strong performance in AAA, batting .307 with four extra base hits this week. Utility prospect Billy Cook was on fire this week, batting .409 with three homers and six RBI. Intriguing 25 year old right handed pitcher, Brandon Young had an excellent outing on Friday, throwing five shutout innings with four strikeouts and no walks.

In AA Bowie, fellow 2022 draft picks Dylan Beavers and Jud Fabian both had hot weeks, the latter belting three homers to raise his total to 12 for the year. Fast rising 2023 pick, Matthew Etzel continued to look solid after his promotion to Bowie, picking up a hit in each one of his first five AA games and stealing four bases.


Question of the Week –

How do the Orioles match up against the Yankees this week?

In lieu of a typical question of the week, today we’ll preview the upcoming series at Yankee stadium.

As far as June series go, they don’t get any bigger than this. Despite the outstanding play from the Orioles, they have struggled to gain much ground on their AL East rivals. After the O’s dispatched the Phillies this weekend, these are arguably the two best teams in baseball.

The O’s will enter the series two games behind the Yankees, giving them a chance to take the division lead with a sweep. The Yanks hold the best winning percentage in MLB, but the O’s are tied with the Phillies for second.

New York has the best run differential in the league at +130, but the Orioles are second at +114, and no other team is really that close. The Orioles have the most wins over winning teams, with 22, but the Yankees are second in that stat, with 18 of their own.

The Orioles lead the league in home runs with 114, the Yankees are second with 110. In OPS it's the Yankees second at .767 and the Orioles third at .761.

When it comes to pitching, New York has the best team ERA at 3.02 and the Orioles are just a tick behind in second at 3.07. In WHIP the teams are 3rd and 5th with the Orioles slightly better. In Batting Average Against the Yankees lead at .215, the Orioles are fourth at .217.

You get the picture. Both of these teams are really good.

The only cause for concern for the Orioles is that the pitching matchups favor the Yankees. The Orioles are scheduled to start Albert Suarez, Cade Povich and Cole Irvin while the Yankees have Nestor Cortes, TBA, and breakout ace Luis Gil.

It seems like a very good chance the TBA is going to be ace Gerrit Cole who is close to returning from his rehab for an injury similar to Kyle Bradish.

Now, all of the O’s starters have been solid this season, but having Corbin Burnes or Grayson Rodriguez throwing would inspire a little more confidence.

In Tuesday’s matchup, Cortes has bounced back after a poor and injury-hampered 2023, posting a 3.59 ERA that is mostly supported by the underlying numbers.

He is not a fireballer, but the lefty relies mostly on his fastball and cutter, throwing them a combined 78% of the time. He is not a big strikeout or swing and miss pitcher, but he does limit the walks.

In just his third major league start, it will be quite the experience for Cade Povich to go into Yankee stadium in a high leverage game.

Povich had some issues with walks in his debut but looked filthy in his second outing. It looks like he’ll face off against Gerrit Cole, who has been arguably the best pitcher in baseball when healthy over the past few years. He won the 2023 AL Cy Young with a 2.63 ERA and 222 strikeouts in 209 innings. Hopefully if it is Cole, we get a rusty version who is not at the top of his game.

The Thursday afternoon finale features two of the surprises of the season with Cole Irvin squaring off against Luis Gil.

Irvin has been rock solid for the O’s after losing his starting rotation place last season. Gil has been a revelation for the Yankees, only making the rotation due to Cole’s injury. All he has done is post the best ERA in the AL at 2.03. The 26 year old was not a highly touted prospect before this season, but he has been dominant.

Gil’s FIP and xFIP suggest he may be due for a little regression, but it hasn’t shown up yet and his Baseball Savant page shows his success is no fluke. He has top end fastball velocity and a high strikeout percentage while limiting the barrel and hard-hit rates of opposing bats.

Gil relies mostly on a four-seam fastball, which he throws 55% of the time and he backs that up with a changeup and a slider.

The good news is that the Orioles will face righties in two of the three games which allows them to get more of their best bats in the lineup.

This series lines up to be quite the mid-June spectacle, so get your popcorn ready and let’s hope the O’s can go into the Bronx and pull closer to that top spot in the AL East.

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Sunday
June 16, 2024
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bryson's to lose


Before we break down yesterday's Orioles game -- oh, wait, some people here think a sports website dedicated in large part to the local teams shouldn't do that -- let me take a second to wish all of the fathers out there a Happy Father's Day.

If you're fortunate enough to have your Dad still alive and with you today, make sure you reach out and thank him for all that he did for you.

Those, like me, who no longer have their Dads here will simply remember the great times today. I'm lucky enough to be a Dad myself now, which is the greatest gift God ever gave me.

Happy Father's Day to all!

Yielding to the peanut gallery, we'll accept their recent admonishment and not go into detail about the 6-2 O's win over the Phillies on Saturday.

It's a shame, too. That was a nice win and a decent performance from a few guys that we're not allowed to mention. But, as they say, you win some and lose some. Yesterday the O's won one. And they have that going for them...which is nice.

We have a handful of mailbag questions to get to this morning, one of which even centers on the Orioles. I'll be careful not to break down too much stuff, though. It's a long season and all. Anyone who breaks down every game or every move is nuts, I've heard.

Before the mailbag, though, let's look at what lies ahead at today's final round of the U.S. Open at Pinehurst #2.

It's Bryson DeChambeau's tournament to lose. Plain and simple.

Sure, I doubt he's going to produce six birdies today like he did in Saturday's third round, but I also don't see any of the guys pursuing him being able to register six birdies, either.

Bryson's presence on the top of the leaderboard is certainly not a fluke. He's driving it like a madman, hitting his wedges with the same precision he did in 2020 when he won the U.S. Open at Winged Foot, and rolling in key putts along the way.

Bryson DeChambeau goes for his 2nd U.S. Open title today at Pinehurst #2. He has a 3-shot lead with 18 holes to play.

The former U.S. Amateur and NCAA champion has hit 25 drives over 330 yards this week. And remember, in order for those to be measured by the USGA, they have to be in the fairway.

It's one thing to swing for the fences and hit it 330 but be in the rough, in the woods or in someone's backyard. It's another thing entirely to pipe it 330 yards and put it in the fairway. 25 times.

Because we don't see much of him these days, we tend to forget just how talented Bryson is, with every club in the bag.

DeChambeau, remember, finished a shot out of a playoff at the PGA Championship and was in the hunt at the Masters over the weekend before eventually finishing T6 at Augusta National. That's even more impressive when you remember he's a part-time player on the LIV Tour these days.

With the PGA Tour-LIV agreement apparently reaching a successful conclusion (announced sometime this coming week), it's likely we'll be seeing more and more of DeChambeau in the U.S. in the near future. And that's a good thing for golf. Of all the guys on the TOUR who took the blood money and bolted for LIV, he's the one guy who is easy to like and good for the game.

I'm hoping he holds on and wins today. Golf wins if DeChambeau is the champion of the 2024 U.S. Open.

Saturday's 3rd round featured an early push from Collin Morikawa (66), who bolted up the leaderboard and moved past more than a dozen players along the way. His solid play showed the leaders, who went out hours later, that a good score could be had by those in pursuit.

36-hole leader Ludvig Aberg was in the mix throughout the front nine. But he, like Tony Finau 30 minutes earlier, made a complete mess of the 13th hole en route to an energy-zapping triple bogey at #13. Just as he did at Augusta on Sunday when one bad swing at #11 cost him a chance at the title, his sloppy play at #13 on Saturday probably eliminated his chances of winning today.

Patrick Cantlay plodded along like he always does and nearly forced DeChambeau and Aberg to play the final hole under temporary lighting. And had Cantlay rolled in an 18-foot birdie putt at the 18th hole, he would have played in today's final group with DeChambeau. I'm sure NBC and the USGA would have loved that. Not.

He's a supremely talented player is Cantlay. But his pace of play, which some on TOUR think is intentional, is a joke. DeChambeau's no speed demon out there, either, but Cantlay is beyond what the experts call "methodical". It takes away from his great golf, sadly.

The contrast of personalities is impossible to ignore as well. DeChambeau is a showman. Cantlay is aloof if not borderline brooding.

At his core, DeChambeau wants to entertain people and he wants them to like him. Cantlay couldn't care less what you think abou him or anything else. He's just a golfer. There's room in the sport for both of them, though.

Rory McIlroy and Matthieu Pavon finished the day at 4-under along with Cantlay. Pavon, because he finished earlier than McIlroy, will get the honor of joining DeChambeau in today's Round 4 final group. McIlroy and Cantlay will team up in the penultimate group just after 2 pm.

Pavon is a very nice, but unknown player, who is just now starting to make a name for himself on TOUR. The Frenchman started his career on the European Tour, then broke through this past January with a surprising win at Torrey Pines. I realize we have to crown a U.S. Open champion before we start talking about who might win the British Open at Troon next month, but I can tell you now so you're not surprised: Pavon will be high on my list of potential winners there.

McIlroy, of course, is the biggest name still alive on the leaderboard today. That he and Cantlay are playing together has created a lot of chatter over the last 16 hours, as it was those two who sparked a controversy at last year's Ryder Cup. The odds are nothing comes of that today, but it will be interesting to follow nonetheless.

DeChambeau is closing in on rare territory. With a win today, he'd have as many U.S. Open victories as greats like Lee Trevino, Curtis Strange, Ernie Els, Payne Stewart and Brooks Koepka. Oh, and he'd have one more Open trophy than Arnold Palmer. And two more than Greg Norman.

For all of the quirks he possesses and occasionally displays, Bryson is an extrordinarily talented player. His equipment is either really weird or impressively progressive, depending on your viewpoint.

But, golf isn't about "how". It's about "how many".

And if DeChambeau shoots 67 in the 3rd round of the U.S. Open in part because he plays with mammoth-sized grips or his 6-iron and pitching wedge are the same length or because he floats his golf balls in Espom salts to make sure they're properly balanced, more power to him.

It's probably not easy to sleep on a 3-shot lead, but this isn't an event where someone's going to throw up a 63 or 64 today and surge past the leader in a flash.

Can Rory McIlroy break through with a win today at Pinehurst #2 and claim his first major title since 2014 at the same time?

Is it possible that Bryson could miss a bunch of 5-foot par putts today and shoot 75 or 76 today? Of course. The golf course is very difficult and every player in the field gets 8 of those putts, at a minimum, over the course of 18 holes at Pinehurst #2.

DeChambeau rolled in almost every makeable putt he looked at yesterday. The odds of him doing that again this afternoon aren't high, but his key will be off the tee. If he drives it today like he did the first three days, he'll be hard to catch.

Putting has separated the leaders from the followers through 54 holes.

Bryson putted like Ben Crenshaw 2.0 on Saturday, pouring in par saves, birdie makes and looking more confident as the day went on, a hiccup at #16 notwithstanding.

Cantlay is 2nd in strokes gained: putting and has made 17 of 18 putts from the 4-8 foot range in 54 holes.

Other than a 3-putt at #6 on Saturday that included a terse moment with a group of marshals who wouldn't stop moving, McIlroy acquitted himself well with the flat stick. A miss from 10-feet above the hole at #17 (for par) was about the only putt he didn't make that he probably should have (could have) made.

On the other end of the spectrum, Scottie Scheffler ranks among the leaders in virtually every ball striking category but is dead last in shots gained: putting.

Someone on the Golf Channel reported last night that Scheffler would be trailing by just one shot if he ranked 36th in the field instead of 72nd in the field in that category.

DeChambeau, by the way, is ranked first in putts faced/made from the 4-8 foot range this week.

Four players in the top 10 after three rounds have won a major championship; DeChambeau, Matsuyama, Rory (4) and Morikawa (2). Everyoen else is still looking for their first one.

If Bryson does falter today, who is best suited to come from behind and win? That would seemingly be McIlroy, although both Cantlay and Pavon have played well enough over the first three days to potentially piece together a nice round of 67 or 68 today and snag a win out of nowhere.

Last but not least, no matter what happens today, the USGA deserves a massive round of applause.

The guess here is they might set the course up a shot or two easier today in hopes of bunching up the leaderboard for a back-nine-shootout. Perhaps they move the tee up on #10 to create more eagles/chances or maybe they play #13 from an up tee box (330 yards) to entice players to try to drive the green on that hole.

There's a lot of talk around the country about "America's home for golf". Some people think it's Pebble Beach. Bandon Dunes has drawn a lot of praise -- albeit without hosting a TOUR event -- as well. But it's actually Pinehurst by a mile. Pinehurst #2 is the best tournament course in America, for players of professional caliber, because it requires every facet of your game to be sharp and intact.

The USGA has done a masterful job this week.

They got the benefit of perfect weather for the conditions they wanted at Pinehurst, that much is true. But their set-up of the golf course has been sublime throughout the first three days.

Sure, it's been hard. There are some guys who are home watching the tournament like you and I who probably think it was "unfair" or "out of control" on Thursday and Friday.

There's a huge difference between "hard" and "unfair", though. Pinehurst #2 has never once been unfair this week.

Yes, some shots that would have stopped 12 feet from the hole on any other week have somehow wound up 10 or 15 yards off the green, but part of winning the U.S. Open is keeping your game and your head intact for 72 holes.

I don't think I'd like to watch the U.S. Open every week. And I'm sure the players wouldn't want to play one every week as well.

But once a year, I don't see anything wrong at all with having a fast, firm golf course that requires incredible precision -- and some degree of luck -- to determine who wins the national championship.

Golf, as anyone who plays knows, is as much about your head as it is your swing. Every player who made the cut this week is a great player in their own right. But a lot of them who aren't near the first page of the leaderboard caved in mentally at the frustrating challenges they were unable to overcome.

In the end, one guy will stand above the rest. He'll conquer the layout, sure. But he'll also conquer himself at the same time.

Once a year, I love to see it all unfold that way for four days.


My weekly golf show on 105.7 The Fan will air today from 4-6 pm. I'll be joined by my friend Kevin Fruman of National Lumber. I hear there's a big golf tournament going on at the same time that we'll be able to talk about.

If you have a question for the show, you can either call in (410-583-1057) or e-mail it to me: 18inarow@gmail.com


And now we'll wipe out a few questions from the bulging e-mail inbox. I apologize for not getting to more of these. It must be all of that pesky in-depth coverage of Orioles games we provide around here that overly consumes us.

Jonathan asks -- "Hi Drew, I know you wrote something a month ago about the new Orioles owner maybe making himself too much of the show at the stadium and so I'm curious what you think about him running in the hot dog race during Thursday's Orioles/Braves game? Too much or all in good fun in your opinion?"

DF says -- "To be clear, and fair, that wasn't David Rubenstein who did that. It was one of the minority partners, Michael Arougheti.

What do I think? I think it's silly. The Orioles published something on social media to the extent of: "Your owners would never do this." That made me laugh. They're right, nearly every owner in baseball would never do that.

But, while I think it's amateur-hour stuff, I do get it. These dudes ponied up a lot of money, Aurogheti far less than Rubenstein, of course. And for that money, they want something in return they couldn't otherwise receive. For Aurogheti, it's running around the field dressed as a hot dog condiment.

I don't know why.

But I'm also not a gazillionaire. I don't know exactly how those folks think.

In the end, it's obviously harmless. But it still looked weird, at least to me."


Aaron Frontak asks -- "I laughed at your tweet (or whatever we call a message sent out on X) about the umpires on Friday. Were you serious that you're in favor of robot umps? I definitely am after seeing the strikes they called on Gunnar and Westburg on Friday night. Are you?"

DF says -- "I'm not anti-umpire. Not in the least. I think they mostly do a phenomenal job of getting the calls right.

What I'm not in favor of, though, are their rabbit ears and their thin skin. They come across like petulant 12 year olds.

Umpires do a remarkable job. But they're occasionally wrong, even if they don't like hearing that. And, so, when they get an earful from a player or a manager, there are instances where that exchance between the two of them is (potentially) warranted.

I like and respect the job umpires do.

But that guy from the Nationals (?) merely glanced back at the umpire after a questionable strike 3...and he got tossed? That was #juniorvarsity stuff right there.

I'm not for robot umpires. But I am for umpires who have thicker skin."


Matt asks -- "Settle a bet between golfing friends. Here are my last five scores and the courses. Given what you see, what are the odds I would break 100 playing Pinehurst #2 just as it is right now (Saturday, 6/15)? 80 (Rocky Point), 83 (Greystone), 80 (Greystone), 82 (Bridges), 79 (Rocky Point)."

DF says -- "First off, congrats on the good golf. Those are solid scores. These kinds of things are always hard to do because I don't know why you're an 8-handicap. Do you drive it great but can't putt a lick? Or do you make everything but drive it like Stevie Wonder?

For the purposes of this debate, an 8-handicap who is an outstanding putter has a better chance of playing well at Pinehurst, but either way the numbers don't work out in your favor.

I hate to bear bad news, but the chances you'd break 100 at Pinehurst #2 are roughly 2%. Now, I'd say you have a 25% chance of breaking 100 from the white tees. But from the championship tees? Almost no chance of breaking 100.

Given what we've seen this week, a player of your caliber (8 handicap or thereabouts) would have a hard time making a par on more than 3 or 4 holes. In fact, I'd say it's more likely you only make two pars in 18 holes than six pars in 18 holes.

So, let's give you two pars just for kicks and giggles. You're 16 over. That's 86. But that's only if you made 2 pars and 16 bogeys.

Unfortunately, I'm here to tell you that you're going to make at least eight double bogeys. And a minimum of four triple bogeys.

A better bet for you might be this: Can you make more bogeys than double bogeys at Pinehurst #2? I say no. Not from the championship tees, anyway.

Could you make a birdie? Well, of course. But I doubt you would.

So let's look at the projected scorecard.

4 bogeys.

8 double bogeys.

4 triple bogeys.

2 pars.

That's 32 over par.

Your scorecard reads: 102.

And that's still not a bad round there for an 8-handicap."

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Saturday
June 15, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3585


tough one to lose


The anti-Brandon-Hyde folks were working overtime last night after the O's dropped a 5-3 decision to the Phillies in 11 innings.

I didn't think Hyde had a particularly good night, for that matter, but heaping all or even most of the blame on him was kind of silly.

The Orioles batters -- not Hyde -- left 10 runners on base.

And Baltimore hitters were a grotesque 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position.

Oh, and that fly ball to left field in the 11th inning that Austin Hays sorta-kinda over ran and didn't catch? Yeah, that was big as well. It wasn't a routine play, obviously, but it's also a ball that a major league left fielder should probably come up with.

As for Hyde, it wasn't his fault that starter Kyle Bradish left the game early -- after just 74 pitches -- with elbow discomfort. That triggered a 30-pitch outing for Keegan Akin, which means he's unavailable today at the very least.

Some of Brandon Hyde's moves were questioned after last night's 5-3 loss to Philly, a game that saw the O's go 1-for-13 at the plate with runners in scoring position.

But Hyde was the one who removed Yennier Cano in the 10th and inserted Cionel Perez to face Kyle Schwarber, who actually hits lefties really well for some odd reason. I'm guessing the O's manager knew those details but wasn't all that worried about it.

Schwarber promptly singled home the go-ahead run in the 10th inning to temporarily put Philly up, 3-2.

If Perez gets Schwarber out there, no one says a word about the gamble. But he didn't. And everyone with the internet who knows Schwarber owns left-handed pitching this year didn't understand why Hyde would roll the dice with that one.

But...it wasn't Hyde who came up in the bottom of the 10th and had a chance to put the game away with a big hit of some kind. That honor belonged to Gunnar Henderson and Anthony Santander. Neither could get the job done.

Henderson did manage to coax a walk out of his at-bat, which turned out to be important when Cedric Mullins scooted home with the tying run on a wild pitch that produced a bang-bang play at the plate. They say a walk-is-as-good-as-a-hit, but that's mostly in Little League. Last night, a Henderson rope down the right field line might have ended the game in favor of the O's.

But while Gunnar at least managed to do something halfway-productive, Santander couldn't. He made the final out of the 10th inning to push the game into the 11th and, as it turnd out, final inning. It wasn't Hyde's fault that Santander failed in that situation.

Alas, it was Hyde's fault that he elected to intentionally walk Bryce Harper in the 11th inning. That one I just didn't understand.

Sure, with the automatic runner at 2nd base, putting Harper on a first created a potential inning-ending double play (Nick Castellanos popped out to start the inning). But allowing one run to score in an extra-innings game isn't that big of a deal, as the O's proved in the 10th when they countered the Philly go-ahead run with one of their own.

When you give up two runs in an extra-inning frame, it almost always leads to a loss. Like it did last night.

Now, sure, Hyde didn't throw the pitch to Alec Bohm that he belted to left field for a 2-run double. Jacob Webb threw that pitch. But it was Hyde who put Bryce Harper on base and it was Harper who made it all the way around to score from first on Brohm's double.

All of that said, I still say Hays should have caught that ball.

And if he catches it, it's very likely the O's double off Harper at first. He was well past second base and roaring to 3rd when the ball bounced off the wall in left field.

So, sure, Brandon Hyde did some weird things last night.

But there were other big moments that weren't authored by the manager that didn't work out for the O's as well.

The Phillies, by the way, are pretty much the Orioles of the National League so far in 2024. They can hit, they can pitch and they can close out games.

In no way do I want to get the cart this far in front of the horse, but might we eventually have a 1983 rematch sometime this October?

I think there's a very good chance.


The Scottie Scheffler Invitational -- aka, the U.S. Open -- almost wound up without Scheffler for the weekend after the scorching-hot #1 player in the world came within a whisker of missing the cut on Friday.

Scheffler safely made it though, at 5 over par, after a bunch of players couldn't handle the closing holes in the blazing Friday afternoon heat at Pinehurst #2 yesterday.

Playing in his first-ever U.S. Open, Ludvig Aberg has a one-shot lead through 36 holes at Pinehurst #2.

"Miracle" might be too strong of a word, but Scheffler is going to need something very magical to happen for him if he's going to pull off a win this weekend. There are just too many players in front of him and not enough birdies to be made on the Donald Ross layout.

Among those in front of him is the 36-hole leader, Ludvig Aberg, who is playing in just his 3rd career major championship. He sits at 5-under par through two days. Aberg, in case you haven't been paying attention, is a blooming sensation on TOUR, having made last year's European Ryder Cup team despite only being a professional for the better part of three months before being added to the team by captain Luke Donald.

Aberg finished 2nd at the Masters in April, you might remember. Do not for one second think his rise to prominence over the first two days of the tournament is some kind of fluke or outlier. Win or lose this weekend at Pinehurst, this kid is going to be a beast in the world of professional golf for a long time.

Patrick Cantlay and Bryson DeChambeau are both at 4-under, one shot back, along with Belgian Thomas Detry. DeChambeau in particular seems more and more comfortable with the intracacies of #2 as the week rolls on.

Rory McIlroy, who hasn't won a major since 2014, is positioned nicely heading into the weekend at 3-under par, along with Tony Finau and Mathieu Pavon of France. Today's McIlroy's big day. If he's still within a shot or two of the lead heading into Sunday, he stands a great chance to put it all together in the final round and capture his 5th career major. Finau and Pavon are looking for their first-ever major victories.

Given the difficulty of the layout, the expected soaring temperatures, the pressure that comes with trying to win the U.S. Open, it's likely that something in the 2-under or 3-under range is going to win the tournament. It could even dip down to something around level par by the time the dust settles on Sunday.

The golf course is going to play very difficult over the last two days, that's for sure. Par, on almost every hole, is going to be a great score.

That means that anyone currently in the 1 over or 2 over range could still wind up winning if they, somehow, produce rounds of 68 or 69 on consecutive days to close out the weekend.

PGA Championship winner Xander Schauffele is at 1-under par through 36 holes. He, I'm thinking, is right where he wants to be at this point. A round of 68 today and a 70 tomorrow might very well be enough for him to hoist the trophy.

Of everyone four or five shots off the lead, I think Schauffele stands the best chance to hang in there and come from behind to win if the leaders falter.

Schauffele is one of three #DMD picks at 1-under par through 36 holes. We still love the chances of Tom Kim and Akshay Bhatia as well, but "X" has the experience where those two don't.

As we predicted all week leading up to the tournament, the golf course would wind up being the story. And that's pretty much how it's playing out now. Only the most perfectly struck shots are holding the green and staying on the putting surface. And even those, occasionally, wind up in no man's land and lead to a bogey or worse.

Luck plays a huge role in the U.S. Open, particularly when the course is as dicey as Pinehurst #2 is this week. A foot here and there makes a huge difference in a ball staying on the green, or rolling off. Donald Ross is laughing somewhere in heaven as the players try to conquer his all-time best layout.

Scottie Scheffler? He's not laughing. But he is happy to be teeing it up today with an outside -- perhaps, very outside -- chance of winning, still.

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Friday
June 14, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3584


you can do it, trust me


When I tell you why I've pretty much adopted the phrase "You Never Know" as my personal mantra, you'll probably want to borrow it for your own.

Please feel free to do so.

This entry, today, has become a bit of a ritual for me here at #DMD. Please read along if you're someone who still has a life to live and still has a goal or two you're trying to meet.

On June 14, 2021 -- three years ago today -- I qualified for the United States Senior Open golf championship.

To say I remember it like it was yesterday would be as understated as I saying, "That Corbin Burnes guy...he's a pretty good pitcher."

I remember virtually every moment, including the days prior that led up to the event itself.

I'm not here to take you through how it happened. That's golf talk stuff. And it might not interest you. In short, I played a nice round of golf, birdied 17 and 18 to get into a playoff, then, after squandering a chance or two in the playoff, made a 16-foot birdie putt on the 4th hole to stamp my ticket to the U.S. Senior Open.

There. Golf talk is over.

Now, to the good stuff. And to the stuff I remember and try to impart to my junior golfers, high school players and anyone else who wants to listen.

This also hopefully applies to you.

It probably sounds very-Jim-Valvano'ish but here it goes: Don't Ever Give Up.

Henry Ford said it once: "Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're probably right."

I always thought I could play senior golf at a high level, even with my modest abilities and athleticism. I thought I could, I tried to prove I could and I never gave up.

I had several near misses with the Senior Open early on. My first stab at it, in 2013, was a no-go. And I wasn't particularly close, shooting a 76 at a course in Delaware that left me 6 or 7 shots shy of making it.

An injury at age 51 kept me for a period of the summer that happened to coincide with the Senior Open qualifier, so I missed the 2014 attempt.

The next year was particularly painful, as I was "in" with a round of 70 with just two groups left on the course. But, because golf works this way and you're never in until every player is finished, two guys in the field that day at Applebrook shot 68 to make it ahead of me and the last player to hole out on the 9th green (right in front me, where I was watching) shot 69 to grab the last alternate spot.

Close...but no cigar. Or, in my case, no Senior Open.

A couple of other rounds in the mid 70's followed.

Then in 2019 I flirted with making it once again, shooting 70 on a very difficult layout in Pennsylvania, only to have someone snag the final available spot with a round of 69.

I was starting to worry as the years went by because I thought (incorrectly) Senior Golf was a "young man's game", meaning most of the qualifying spots went to guys just breaking into their 50's.

The 2020 U.S. Senior Open was canceled due to Covid. No qualifying.

In the weeks leading up to the 2021 qualifier at Argyle, I was playing very "meh" golf. As this story goes, that's an important side note, because it should stand to remind everyone -- including me -- that what you think is going to happen sometimes doesn't happen after all.

My friend Matt Tyner, the head baseball caoch at Towson University, likes to tell his players this: "Don't believe everything you think."

I love that.

Anyway, I was playing very average golf in the weeks leading up to the qualifier at Argyle CC. I stumbled and bumbled my way through my own member-guest at Eagle's Nest for three days prior to the qualifier. I was in no shape, golf wise, to qualify for the Senior Open on Monday, June 14.

On Sunday, the day before, I even thought about going to Eagle's Nest around 5 pm and hitting balls with the hope of "finding something" I could take with me the next day in the qualifier.

For reasons I still don't know today, something told me not to do it. I remember sitting on my couch, watching golf on TV, and this voice in my head said, "You're not going to fix anything. Just take what you have there tomorrow and do your best. Stop worrying. It's not helping you."

I stayed home and watched golf on TV instead of going to the range and practicing like a maniac for 90 minutes.

The next day, right from the very first hole, I felt different.

I split the fairway at the 1st hole, hit a wedge to 20 feet and two putted for a routine par. I made a par at the very difficult 2nd hole, playing 460 yards. My third shot on the hole was a pitch from a tight lie some 15 yards from the green. That is not a preferred shot for me. And when I pulled that one off, hitting the chip to a foot or so, something clicked.

"I might have something today."

I know that's more golf talk, but it's connected to the story.

I started gaining confidence.

And now, contrary to Coach Tyner's motto, I actually started to believe what I was thinking.

"Something feels different today."

I birdied #4, made par at #5, then made a disastrous double-bogey at #6 to slip back to one over for the round.

But I made birdie on the very next hole to get back to even par.

"I'm right back in it," I said to myself.

A couple of hours later, I birdied 17 and 18 to finish at 69. Then I waited six hours for the playoff to commence, dodging bullet after bullet as players came and went without beating my score.

I made birdie on the 4th playoff hole to advance to Omaha CC.

It sounds weird to say this: The whole thing came out of nowhere. Yet, I had been preparing for it since I turned 50 in 2013.

On that day, for sure, it came out of nowhere.

You Never Know.

If you're someone with some sort of goal in mind, be it life, business, sports or otherwise, please remember that: You actually never know what's going to happen.

You think you know.

"This business idea will never work."

"They'll never give me that position in the company."

"We'll never be able to buy that kind of house."

"I'll never be able to qualify for the U.S. Senior Open."

But the reality is, you have no idea what lies ahead.

God can take you places you never thought possible.

Even Omaha, Nebraska, for example.

So keep on keeping on, as the saying goes. Don't give up. And don't overthink it, either. Stick with your plan, work hard, take what you get and see where that eventually puts you.

The bet here is you can do it.


Day one of the U.S. Open offered very little in the way of surprises, as several top players (Cantlay, McIlroy, DeChambeau) played well and several big names (Hovland, Thomas, Zalatoris) didn't.

Scottie Scheffler, the overwhelming pre-event favorite, authored a favorable, tidy round of 71 (1 over par).

The golf course, as predicted, was a tough test for a majority of players in the field. Getting the ball in the hole wasn't all that difficult. Getting the ball on the green, though, did prove to be a tough task.

Patrick Cantlay's 5-under round on Thursday earned him a share of the lead at the U.S. Open after 18 holes.

Tiger Woods putted great for a few holes, lousy for a few holes, and never really got anything going in his round of 74. He's probably going to need something in the 70-71-72 range today to make the 36-hole cut. Tiger's capable of a lot, even now, on one leg, but I'm not sure a round of even par or one over in the U.S. Open is in his wheelhouse.

The golf course you saw yesterday and you'll see today in round two is not the golf course you're going to see over the weekend.

Pinehurst #2 is going to be a beast on Saturday and Sunday.

If Cantlay, McIlroy or someone else gets it to 8 or 9 under after two rounds this afternoon, that only stands to reinforce that a final score of 5 or 6 under will likely be enough to win.

Par is going to be a great score on virtually every hole in the final two rounds.

Every hole on the golf course has danger all over it. Even the short holes like #3, #7 and #13 will have bad spots galore if a ball is hit offline either off the tee or approaching the green.

I said before the tournament started that I thought something around 5 under par would be a potential winning score. I still see it that way now. And it wouldn't shock me at all to see the winning number be more like 3 or 4 under on Sunday evening.

Patrick Cantlay has never won a major championship. Much like Xander Schauffele prior to his win at the PGA Championship last month, much has been expected of Cantlay throughout his professional career. He's won a lot, made tons of money, but he still doesn't have that major championship.

He was pretty much flawless on Thursday in round one.

Maybe this is his week after all?

McIlroy authored a nice late run on Thursday to finish round one as the co-leader at 5 under. If you haven't heard it yet on the TV coverage, let me be the first (or the 800th) person to tell you: Rory hasn't won a major since the 2014 PGA Championship. A decade later, McIlroy remains stuck on four majors.

As for the pre-tournament favorite, Scheffler, he pieced together a nice, if somewhat shaky (for him) round on Thursday, making just two birdies on the day.

The good news for Scottie? He hit 12 of 18 greens and, per his standards, was ranked high (6th, +2.24) in the shots gained: approach, category.

The bad news? He didn't drive the ball particulary well, hitting just 6 of 14 fairways and having a two-way miss going off the tee throughout the round.

Make no mistake about it, though, it's still Scottie's tournament to lose. He just needs another decent round near par today to put himself into position for a weekend run.

"A decent round near par" is easier said than done, though.

If you're someone who likes seeing the best players in the world supremely challenged, this U.S. Open is for you. It's going to be a dogfight -- with the course -- come Saturday and Sunday.

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RANDY MORGAN
on American soccer


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


2024 euro preview


This summer features the two premier international tournaments outside of the World Cup.

As the global soccer schedule never really stops for long, just a few weeks removed from the conclusion of the European club season with Real Madrid hoisting another Champions League trophy, the first of those kicks off this weekend with the start of the 2024 European Championships (Euros for short).

The Euros occur every four years at the midpoint between World Cups and crown the best national team in Europe. In many ways it is a tougher tournament to win than the World Cup because the early rounds feature exclusively European teams, providing more head to head matchups for the elite nations.

This year’s tournament is hosted by Germany. The 24-team field is broken down into six four-team groups. The top two teams in each group will advance to the knockout rounds, along with the top four third place teams by points. From the Round of 16 on, the tournament is a single-elimination knockout competition.

Today we’ll preview the top betting favorites as well as the next group of top contenders, a few outsiders with a chance to win the trophy, and some “dark horse” candidates to make a Cinderella run.


The Favorites –

The three top favorites according to the betting odds are no surprise.

2022 World Cup Runners Up France along with the team they beat on the way there, England, have the shortest odds to win. France and England each sit at +350 to win the tournament and are heavily favored to win their groups. They are followed in the odds by the hosts, Germany, who come in at +550.

Jude Bellingham and England are top favorites in this summer's Euro 2024 championship that starts today.

France easily has the deepest talent pool in the tournament. Pretty much their entire roster plays at the most elite clubs in the world. They are led by the best international player alive in Kylian Mbappe, who has had one of the most successful starts to an international career of all time.

Though they did not win their group in last summer’s UEFA Nations League, France dominated the Euro qualifying, going undefeated with seven wins and a draw and scoring 29 goals while conceding just 3. They have a lot of consistency carrying over from their World Cup run and will be the team most expect to win.

England is once again a top favorite as they look to break their long international trophy drought. They were the runner-up in the 2020 Euros, losing to Italy on penalties in their home Wembley Stadium. England was also undefeated in qualifying, going 6-2-0 with a 22 to 4 goal differential.

They are led by three of the standout stars from this recent European club season, with Jude Bellingham, Harry Kane and Phil Foden all leading candidates for the Ballon D’Or (World Player of the Year). Similar to France, England has a deeply talented roster, however they will be tested with several key players missing with injuries.

Rounding out the top favorites are hosts Germany at +550. They don’t boast quite the talent of France or England but have enough exceptional players to make them a threat to anyone with the backing of the home crowd.

This German team is led by the rise of two exciting young attackers, Bayern Munich’s Jamal Musiala and Bayer Leverkusen’s Florian Wirtz. To balance that youthful attack, the Germans have a veteran midfield anchored around Toni Kroos and Ilkay Gundogan. One of the top storylines will be Kroos' pursuit of one final trophy after capping his club career with a Champions League victory.


Top Contenders –

Just below the top favorites come the perennial contenders from the Iberian peninsula. Both Portugal and Spain have enough danger to challenge anyone at this tournament.

Portugal enters after a perfect run in qualifying, winning ten out of ten games while scoring 36 and conceding just 2 goals. They have arguably the most talented roster outside of France or England and maybe the best starting eleven. Portugal looked strong at the Qatar World Cup before being upset by the surprising Morocco.

This will likely be the last international run for Cristiano Ronaldo, who will try to capture his second Euro trophy after winning back in 2016. However, this roster is rife with talent around the veteran striker, with Rafael Leao, Bruno Fernandes, Bernardo Silva, and Diogo Jota all potent attackers. They come off at +700 to win the trophy.

Spain is always a threat at international tournaments. They were likewise eliminated by Morocco in the World Cup but then went on to win last summer’s Nations League, defeating Croatia in penalties in the final. They are led by Manchester City star Rodri, who controls games from the base of their midfield.

Spain also has several young stars looking to break out in this tournament, including 16 year old Lamine Yamal, who is set to become the youngest player to ever play in the Euros. The main thing holding Spain back is injuries. They will be without spark plug Gavi and 2020 breakout star Pedri may not be at 100% fitness after missing most of the season for Barcelona.


Challengers –

The next group features several teams with longer odds that nonetheless are fully capable of winning the tournament. The top team in this group is Netherlands, my best value bet to win at +1600.

You may remember them for putting the US men in their place, eliminating them in the World Cup round of 16. They later pushed eventual winners Argentina to the brink, losing in penalties in the quarterfinals.

Netherlands followed up the World Cup by winning their Nations League group that contained Belgium as well, going on to lose in the semifinals to Italy. They were the highest scoring team in that competition and bring even more attacking talent to this one, with burgeoning talents Xavi Simons and Jeremie Frimpong coming off strong club seasons.

Netherlands got a tough draw in a group with France, but are nearly a lock to advance as second or one of the top third place teams. If they do advance in second, they could have a favorable setup in the knockout rounds, avoiding some of the top favorites.

Belgium comes in at the same odds as Netherlands, but on a decidedly different trajectory. With their “Golden Generation” starting to age out, Belgium is in a transition phase. Kevin De Bruyne is still around but others such as Eden Hazard have since retired. They will also be without their key man in several tournament runs, goalie Thibaut Courtois, who was left off the roster after a dispute with the coach.

Completing this tier are the always dangerous Croatia at +4000. With every new competition they seem like they should be too old, but they keep winning. After another deep run in the World Cup, Croatia won a Nations League group that included France and went on to lose in the final on penalties to Spain.

They are still led by the veteran midfield of Luka Modric, Mateo Kovacic and Marcelo Brozovic and will surely be a tough out at every stage of these Euros. Their biggest challenge is a draw into the “group of death” alongside Spain and Italy. However they should have the resolve to at least get the points they need to advance in third place.

Dark Horses –

These are teams that would shock if they won the tournament, similar to Greece in 2004. However they have the ability to upset some of the big boys and the potential to be the Cinderella team this time around.

Hungary, at +8000 to win and +900 to make the semis, is a popular dark horse team for this iteration. They finished second in their Nations League group, just one point behind Italy and ahead of Germany.

They are anchored by a rigid defense, which conceded just five goals in six games in Nations League and just seven goals in eight games in Euro qualifying, helping to win that group with an undefeated 5-3-0 record.

A pair of other off-the-radar teams that could make a run are Austria and Switzerland. Both come in at +6500 to win the tournament, with Austria +800 for the semis and the Swiss at +900. These teams are similarly loaded with veterans from the German Bundesliga and Serie A.

Austria is coached by Ralf Rangnick, famous for developing the high pressure RB Leipzig system. While Switzerland has a pair of outstanding goalkeepers with Borussia Dortmund’s Gregor Kobel and Inter Milan’s Yan Sommer. Both have difficult groups but could find themselves in the knockouts as a second or third place qualifier.

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faith in sports


As painful as it is, we're profiling a member of -- gulp -- the Pittsburgh Steelers today.

For just a little while, at least, it's OK to admire Minkah Fitzpatrick.

Today's entry in "Faith in Sports" spotlights the Pittsburgh cornerback. It's only 3 minutes long, but there's power in what Fitzpatrick tells us.

Grab your coffee, hit "play" on the video and listen to what Fitzpatrick has to say about his faith and testimony.

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


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Thursday
June 13, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3583


thursday thoughts


I really hope I'm wrong on this because I don't want the golf course and the difficulty of it to wind up being the story this weekend, but I'm afraid Pinehurst #2 is going to spend a lot of time in the spotlight over the next four days.

And probably not in a good way.

To their credit, the USGA is starting to feel a bit nervous about it, too. They gently watered the greens late Wednesday afternoon in preparation for today's first round.

But they're facing an interesting decision once Saturday rolls around and the field is cut for the final two rounds.

Tiger Woods was all smiles after a birdie at his first hole on Thursday at Pinehurst #2. Will he still be smiling on Sunday afternoon?

Do they take precaution and keep watering the greens or do they let mother nature have her way with the place and say, to the players, "whatever happens, happens"?

The golf course is playing fast and firm. Although no players like to say it publicly, the whispers around Pinehurst all week have been that of concern and worry. Competent, quality golfers have no problem playing "difficult" golf courses. It's only when the set-up becomes "unfair" that players get frustrated.

It won't be difficult to keep the ball on the green with wedge shots and anything inside of, say, 175 yards. Most TOUR players are hitting 8 irons or 9 irons from 175 these days. Those kind of shots can be lifted into greens and, with the right spin imparted, they'll be able to stay on the putting surface.

It's only when you miss the fairway or mishit your approach shot that getting the ball on the green and getting it to stay there become a challenge.

Back in 2014 at Pinehurst #2, most of the experts thought no one would break par for four days. Martin Kaymer shot 9-under after opening the event at 65-65. So much for no one breaking par over 72 holes. But the rest of the field had a tough time.

Everyone is pretty much saying the same thing this year: Even par for 72 holes would be a great score.

I don't know that even par will win. Someone always seems to have a magical week, like Kaymer did 10 years ago. I'm sticking with a predicted final score of 4 under for Scottie Scheffler. A few others will break par, too.

In the end, though, the story is going to be about the golf course. I hope I'm wrong. Things will be OK on Thursday and Friday. There will be some high scores, of course, because it's the U.S. Open and there's a variety of quality playing the first two days.

But by the weekend, unless the USGA attends to it, the golf course is going to snarl and get mean. That's when it will get really interesting.


A few people reached out to me via e-mail and a quick glance at the Comments section reveals that a significant number of folks in town are still bothered by the Orioles uniform patch that was unveiled on Tuesday night.

Glenn Clark and I talked about it yesterday on his show and he brought up an interesting by-product of the patch.

Should it be placed on the team's replica jerseys that are sold at the stadium?

And if it is on the jersey, would that impact your decision to buy and/or wear one?

Would having a T. Rowe Price patch on your replica jersey sleeve really keep you from buying one or being proud to wear it at the stadium and in the community?

Clark said it would likely cause him to think long and hard about buying one for his children.

"I don't want my kids promoting T. Rowe Price if they don't want to promote T. Rowe Price," he said. And he was quick to point out that wasn't intended to be viewed as "anti T. Rowe Price". It could be a hotel chain, mortgage company, etc.

Clark also had a novel approach to the patch on the replica jerseys.

"If they sold the jersey at a 25% discount in exchange for fans wearing the patch, I might consider it."

Carter e-mailed me and had a similar view on the patch.

"What do I get for promoting T. Rowe Price?" he asked.

Carter was referring to the story that circulated on Tuesday where the Orioles are offering to stitch the patch on your jersey for the fee of $29.99.

"Do I get anything for promoting T. Rowe Price?" Carter wondered.

The answer to that, of course, is "No."

To borrow a line from Judge Smails: "You'll get nothing and like it."

A bigger question, probably is this: Should the patch be on the replica jersey in the first place?

I guess I slip on my marketing hat to answer that question.

As of now, the T. Rowe Price patch is part of the team's uniform. It's the same thing, exactly, as the Maryland Flag patch the team has worn for the last decade or so.

You don't have to like the T. Rowe Price patch. Me? I couldn't care less. But I realize some people are put off by it.

That said, I think it should be on the replica jerseys that are sold at the stadium.

What do you get from T. Rowe Price? Zero.

When the team gives away a tee shirt or a hat at the ballpark, there's almost always a sponsor logo of some kind attached to it. You're helping promote a convenience store, a bank, an airline, etc. Is there concern there or no?

In the end, it's all eye wash. Fans lost control a long time ago. We shell out the money for whatever the club wants us to shell out the money for and that's the end of it.

You're even paying for the team's Regional Sports Network whether you watch the games or not.

I understand we still like to howl at the moon about certain things. I'm an occasional howler, myself. I get it.

But the T. Rowe Price patch story is not something worth getting agitated about, in my opinion.

You can't change it.

And if it somehow, down the road, helps keep the team competitive by infusing new revenue into the team's budget, we all wind up winning in the end anyway.

Winning, you know, is all we really care about.


If you're in the area of Pine Ridge Golf Course tonight at 5:30 pm and you have a junior golfer who would like to learn more about golf, please bring them to the driving range this evening for our monthly free FCA clinic.

We supply everything the junior golfer needs except golf clubs (and, honestly, we have a few of those too if your junior doesn't have clubs). Stop by any time between 5:30 pm and 6:30 pm. We'll wrap up by 7 pm.

This evening's monthly clinic at Pine Ridge is part of our FCA Maryland Golf program. Next Tuesday, June 18 is our first junior tournament of the year at Bulle Rock GC. We have 30 players signed up for that one.

Please join us tonight at 5:30 pm.


I'm not sure if you've paid attention to the Orioles attendance in 2024, but it's been very impressive.

Last night, they drew 24,000-plus at Camden Yards to see the Braves.

This weekend, Saturday and Sunday home games against Philadelphia are already sold out. It's likely Friday will wind up selling out as well.

But those three games are different, of course, because a significant number of people in the stands will be sporting red, not orange. Phillies fans will be everywhere, for sure.

Last night, though, was pretty much all Baltimore. Sure, a few Braves fans were scattered around, like always. But 24,000 on a Wednesday night to see a National League team is pretty daggone good.

Oh, and they also drew 24,000 on Tuesday night as well, just to prove that last night wasn't an outlier.

Yes, it's mostly about winning. If the Orioles were 30-37 instead of 45-22, they wouldn't be drawing 24,000 on a Wednesday against Atlanta.

To me, though, that's the real sign of how much things are improving with the Birds.

It's one thing to draw 35,000 or so on a Friday night or Saturday afternoon. Any team, with any record, can do that.

But if you're drawing 20,000 on a weeknight when, five years ago you were drawing 10,000 on that same evening, that's when you know things are really improving.

The beer is really cold and the team is really good. Dem O's are an easy draw these days at Camden Yards.

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Wednesday
June 12, 2024
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#3582


the g.o.a.t. looks great (just sayin')


A quick day-and-a-half trip to Pinehurst #2 provided great memories with my son, garnered us both a little sunburn in places we overlooked for sunscreen, and let him see Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and his favorite golfer, Min Woo Lee, up close and personal.

It was quite a day for us both on Tuesday at the U.S. Open.

We made it home safely last night (actually 1 am this morning) but had plenty to talk about on the ride up I-85 and I-95.

In no specific order:

The golf course is beyond spectacular. The greens, they are saying, are running at "14" on the stimpmeter. Normal green speeds for the U.S. Open are somewhere between 12 and 13.

The infrastructure of the property is beyond imagination if you have ever played the #2 course at Pinehurst on just a "normal" day. Seeing what they have done with hospitality tents, bleachers and stadium-style seating around the 18th hole is mind boggling. The USGA gets criticized sometimes for their golf course set-up at national championships, but they sure do know how to build a city.

If they don't get any rain down there -- which the forecasters say they won't -- over the next five days, the golf course is going to play very difficult by the time the weekend rolls around. It's already hard enough in normal, typical conditions. Throw in the firmness of the greens and fairways and you have the makings of something around 4 under par, perhaps, being enough to get you into contention on Sunday.

Can Tiger silence the critics one more time this week at Pinehurst #2?

Pinehurst #2 is playing exactly the way the USGA wants it to play and the course looks like a Picasso painting.

Tiger Woods also looks great. Maybe not "Picasso painting" like, but he definitely looks fit and healthy. And his golf swing looked solid on Tuesday.

In general, Tiger is giving off the impression of a player to watch this week.

Everyone is saying it, including his fellow competitors.

We arrived at the course yesterday morning just before 9 am and entered through a gate adjacent to the 5th tee on the back of the property.

"Tiger's group is coming up next," a friendly marshal said to us.

10 minutes later, Woods, Min Woo Lee and Max Homa showed up and teed off right in front of us. All three of them hit booming, powerful drives on the 588 yard par 5 hole. Woods did not have the slight limp we've seen from him over the last couple of years. He looked comfortable reaching down to put the tee in the ground and showed no signs of discomfort while swinging the club.

Am I telling you to run out and place a bet on Tiger to win the U.S. Open this week?

I am not.

But if there's a course that fits Tiger-2024, it's Pinehurst. It's a flat walk, for the most part, with the only real bothersome uphill climbs coming on the aforementioned 5th hole and then again at the par 4 closing hole, #18. The rest of it is a piece of cake to walk.

The course might play 7,500 yards, but the walk isn't much more than that. Tee boxes are situated fairly close to nearly every green complex. All of that is important for Tiger.

Oh, and unlike the PGA Championship last month, Woods drew the favorable tee-time combination of early-late. He'll play just after 7:30 am tomorrow in the first round and then won't play again until 1:14 pm on Friday in round two. This is significant for virtually any player, but even bigger for Woods. He'll have more than 24 hours to recover from round one.

Is he going to win? I don't think he is.

But the G.O.A.T. sure did look good yesterday and some things about the course and the tournament are aligning well for him.

OK, wait.

Tiger at 250-1 to win the U.S. Open?

I found an old $20 in a golf jacket last weekend.

250-1 is too inviting to pass up after all.

Phil Mickelson also looks great.

Still chasing after that elusive U.S. Open win to complete the career grand slam, Phil was looking fit in his all black get-up on Tuesday and enjoyed a practice round with fellow LIV scoundrels Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson. It will be interesting to see what kind of score the 6-time major champion puts up this week.

One quick note for those of you who believe in the golf gods and "everything happens for a reason" and all that stuff.

Phil's 53 today. He turns 54 on June 16. June 16 is.......this Sunday.

I'm not suggesting you run out and put up any money on Mickelson. But I will say this: If he shoots some kind of great round on Thursday and immediately thrusts himself into the story, I'd make an investment on him on Thursday night. Stranger things have happened at Pinehurst, that's for sure.

Our friend Denny McCarthy is enjoying some solid pre-tournament publicity from folks at The Golf Channel, who cited the Silver Spring, MD native as one of their "Players to Watch" on Tuesday.

McCarthy has played in a total of 4 previous U.S. Opens, with a career-best finish of T7 in 2022 at Brookline, where he was within two shots of the lead on the back nine on Sunday afternoon. As watched him play a few holes yesterday, the golf course looked entirely manageable for him, despite his (relative) lack of distance off the tee.

He also drew a very comfortable round one/two pairing with fellow University of Virginia standouts Ben Kohles (professional) and Ben James (amateur). Pairings are very important in major championship golf, particularly in the first two rounds when players are jockeying for position and vying to make the cut.

If you would have asked McCarthy to pair himself with any two players of his choosing, he very well might have picked Kohles (with whom he played yesterday's practice round) and Ben James.

Some others we saw who stood out in various ways.

Alex Noren was struggling with his golf swing. Bad body language and some demonstrative pre-swing moves trying to get himself into a favorable impact position. And in the holes we saw him play, not a lot of good contact.

Patrick Cantlay's putter was not cooperating during his practice session on the big putting green. Everything was a pull to the left. He looked perplexed as did his caddie and others in his entourage.

Here's a name to potentially follow on Thursday and Friday to see if he gets himself into good position for the weekend: Kurt Kitayama. His golf swing looked great on Tuesday and he was hitting fairways and greens in the holes we saw him play on the front nine. Later, on the practice green, Kitayama's putting stroke looked efficient as he rolled in 10 footer after 10 footer.

Not that this will surprise you, but Xander Schauffele put on a clinic at the practice range on Tuesday. Ball flight, perfect. Trajectory, perfect. Golf swing, incredibly sound. If he's not sniffing around the lead by Sunday afternoon, I'll be very surprised.

Oh, and that guy Scottie Scheffler? Yep, we saw him.

He didn't miss a shot on the course. Four holes, three birdies, lots of smiles, and the comfort that comes with making $25 million playing golf for five months.

I think Scheffler is going to win the U.S. Open. Most everyone else does, too.

Of all of the other 10 players I listed in my #DMD U.S. Open Top 10, I think it comes down to Schauffele, Morikawa, Hoge and Bhatia.

If not Scheffler, then it's one of those other four.

But now that I've put down $20 on Tiger at 250-1, I think I know who I will be rooting for over the next four days.


The Orioles juggernaut rolled on last night with a 4-0 win over Atlanta at Camden Yards.

That victory moves the Orioles to 44-22 on the season. There were years when they didn't reach 44 wins until August.

Austin Hays had 3 hits last night in the Orioles' 4-0 shutout win over Atlanta.

Albert Suarez continues to be an amazing story for the Birds.

He pitched for the San Francisco Giants for two years: 2016 and 2017.

And he didn't return to the big leagues until this season with the Orioles.

That's 7 years, folks. 7 years out of the majors, pitching in Japan and other locations around the world.

And now look at what he's done.

He has appeared in 14 games this season, 7 as a starter, and has a 1.61 ERA and 1.05 WHIP.

Last night against the Braves he went 5.1 innings, allowed just 4 hits and struck out 4 while walking 3 batters.

Oh, and how about Austin Hays?

He went 3-for-4 at the plate to raise his average to .234. Rod Carew he's not, but unlike Cedric Mullins, Hays is starting to show small signs of turning back into a competent player.

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Tuesday
June 11, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3581


geez guys, it's just a patch


You would have thought the Orioles went into business with the New York City Department of Promotions and Development and put one of those famous "I (heart symbol) NY" symbols on their uniform jersey.

Now that, maybe, could have justifiably led to some local outrage.

But a T. Rowe Price patch?

I don't get that at all.

For those who missed it yesterday -- and if you spent any time on a social media platform, how could you have? -- the Orioles and T. Rowe Price announced a major partnership that will include a patch on the right sleeve of the team uniform.

People went crazy.

And not in a good way.

Those same folks are going to go completely ballistic in another year when the team renames the stadium and adds a corporate entity to the title, but I'll let that cat out of the bag when the time is right.

Some folks in these parts were even mad on Monday that the patch is predominantly blue.

"At least make the patch orange and black and get rid of that stupid Toronto Blue Jays color on OUR uniforms," someone wrote on Facebook.

If the Orioles and T. Rowe Price made the patch orange and black, it wouldn't stand out at all. And that wouldn't be good marketing now, would it?

I saw two semi-official predictions or thoughts from people in the industry on what it might have cost T. Rowe Price to get that patch on an O's uniform.

Both numbers I saw were realistic: $5 million. And $7 million.

It's an expensive hobby, sports marketing.

The deal raised a few eyebrows locally due to T. Rowe's struggling performance over the last couple of years. Then again, perhaps that's why they pulled the trigger on the partnership in the first place. They need to generate more business.

The Orioles, winners of four straight after Monday's 5-2 win in Tampa Bay, are a red-hot commodity, both locally and throughout the major leagues. T. Rowe Price's business model isn't connected to only Baltimore and Maryland. They'll take anyone's money, anywhere.

I'm probably the wrong guy to ever be worried about or criticize a team for any kind of sports marketing. I did that very thing for a long time during my tenure in the soccer business.

In fact, I'm not ashamed to say, we once added a uniform patch on the FRONT of our jersey and changed the team colors from red and black to blue and yellow in order to pull off a $150,000 deal with a national yogurt company.

Back in 1997, $150,000 cash for a sponsorship deal was a major coup for a team in the indoor soccer league. People weren't happy about it in Baltimore, but the yogurt company was thrilled and when the check from them cleared, I was beyond excited as well.

It's different with the Orioles, though, perception wise.

"Stop making money and start signing playes to long term deals!" someone wrote on Twitter yesterday.

I had to laugh at that one.

No team, in any sport, is going to willingly "stop making money". And raking in $5 million from T. Rowe Price might help the team in ways the average fan can't imagine.

Will that $5 million help the Orioles pony up $200 million for Adley Rutschman this off-season? It wouldn't make a dent.

But having T. Rowe Price on your side might help bring in other corporate partners who contribute large amounts of marketing money and, at some point, it all starts to add up.

In the end, the angst of the fan base matters none. The patch is on the unifoms and the team is moving forward with it.

Oh, and here's one that might agitate you: If you bring your Orioles game jersey to the stadium this week, they'll sew the patch on it for you right then and there for the small fee of $29.99.

That one, honestly, I might have a problem with.

I mean, it's up to you if you want the patch on your own replica jersey. It's not forced on you or anything like that.

But charging people $29.99 to do it?

That's kind of bogus, honestly.

That said, I couldn't really care less because I'm not taking my jersey in for "patch work".

I just think it's a bit of money grab from the fan base, that's all.

I'm not sure why fans get so up in arms about corporate sponsorships in professional sports, whether it's naming the stadium, having a patch on a jersey or any other kind of marketing connected to a local or national business.

If not for the TV advertisers, in-stadium advertisers and marketing partners at every level, these leagues simply wouldn't exist as they do today.

A uniform patch...

Who cares?

The fact that it's blue and not orange and black...

Who cares?

A winning team on the field...

Now that is worth caring about.


For maybe the 5th or 6th time since #DMD started back in August of 2014, I'm publishing today's edition from beautiful Pinehurst, NC.

I arrived here at 9:00 pm last night and will take in today's practice round of the U.S. Open with my son. We'll head back home late tonight.

We're on schedule for a quick meet-and-greet with Maryland native Denny McCarthy this morning. And I'm anxious to show my son the golf course and the 18th hole, where Payne Stewart magically sunk a par putt to win the 1999 Open on the famed #2 course.

There's something about seeing a course in person and then going home and being able to watch it unfold on TV over the weekend.

Pinehurst #2 is a remarkable piece of property. It was already a very difficult course before this edition of the U.S. Open, but they have made it extremely hard this week. There are two par 4's over 500 yards, in fact. I don't think Donald Ross imagined the best players in the world would be playing the 530 yard 16th hole as a par 4 someday, but that's what's going to take place this week.

It's a course where every part of your game is challenged. If you drive it off line, you're in trouble. If you don't hit the greens, you're in trouble. If you can't hit the greens and you're not able to chip and putt, you're in trouble.

In other words...

If you're playing this week and you show up at Pinehurst #2 without your best "A" game, you're not going to fare very well.

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#dmd's u.s. open preview


They're headed back to the famous Pinehurst #2 course for this year's U.S. Open, which will be held June 13-16.

It's the fourth U.S. Open there since 1999, with Payne Stewart ('99), Michael Campbell ('05) and Martin Kaymer ('14) winning previously.

The golf course is one of America's treasures. It's considered the best of the best of the Donald Ross designs, with small, undulating greens and run-off areas that make it difficult to keep the ball on the putting surface unless you're a sublime ball striker.

Analysts and those trying to predict the outcome and the top finishers are looking at the obvious stats: shots gained approach, shots gained tee to green, and shots gained putting. The winner will likely be highly ranked in all three of those areas.

#DMD will provide our predicted top 10 finishers here. It's really a Top 9, of course, since Scottie Scheffler is obviously on the list as a slam dunk, no brainer.

So we'll do this from the start. Scheffler is on the list. Automatically. You have to bet him. So our Top 10 won't include him, but it does include him. Get it?

It's really a Top 11 list, in that case.

Our #10 was Will Zalatoris. #9 was Russell Henley. #8 was Xander Schauffele. #7 was Matt Fitzpatrick. #6 was Rickie Fowler. #5 was Tom Kim. #4 was Tom Hoge. #3 was Akshay Bhatia. #2 was Max Homa.

A win at Pinehurst this week would move Collin Morikawa to within a Masters victory of the career grand slam.

#1 Collin Morikawa -- Remember, I'm listing my Top 10 in just a general order and not who I think is going to finish 10 through 1.

I'm still here saying/assuming that Scottie Scheffler is going to win the golf tournament. Nothing I've seen over the last two months tells me otherwise.

But if not Scheffler, then the other 10 are the guys I'll be wagering on to emerge with the trophy and/or a top finish.

And right there at the top of the list is Collin Morikawa.

If it's not Scheffler, it very well might be Morikawa, who just lost to Scheffler by a shot at The Memorial on Sunday.

Morikawa is a ball striking machine. His short game is very underrated. And while he's not a great putter by any means, putting is the one thing that sometimes gets impacted the least at a U.S. Open.

He has the length off the tee to handle #2.

His ball striking numbers support the idea that if Morikawa gets it in the fairway, he's going to contend.

And then it just becomes an issue of getting the ball into the hole more quickly than everyone else.

I think something in the 6 to 8 under range is going to be the winning score if the weather holds up and stays hot and dry like the locals down here say it will.

The course is going to play fast and firm. Morikawa gets a huge benefit there, I think, because he's one of the guys who will be able to keep the ball on the putting surfaces with his approach shots.

He knows how to win majors. He's done it twice before, remember.

And he could add a third this week at Pinehurst. If it's not Scheffler, it very well might be Collin Morikawa.

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Monday
June 10, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3580


maybe it is boring after all?


Remember 10 days ago when my friend Chris chirped to me about how the Orioles are boring and all this winning they're doing is just sort of blending in with the scenery?

I pretty much blasted him and so did a bunch of you as well.

After two decades where the team was pretty much a disgrace for all but three or four years, I'm never going to complain about the manner in which the Orioles win.

But here's the thing: Maybe Chris was right after all.

The O's are now 42-22 after Sunday's dismantling of the Rays in Tampa Bay. Including Sunday's 9-2 win, Baltimore has now lost just 4 times in their last 17 games.

It's really kind of -- can we actually say it with a straight face? -- boring.

An 8th inning grand slam from Adley Rutschman sealed the O's 9-2 win over Tampa Bay on Sunday.

I think Chris was on to something, even if I don't have the heart to admit that to him for fear he might actually believe his sports wisdom is unique.

Wait until today when the Birds close out the series sweep with a tidy 3-hitter from Corbin Burnes in a 2-0 O's win. That one today might put you to sleep faster than a Beatl --- oh, never mind. Let's just say today's game might feature more of the same old boring, great baseball we've been seeing for the better part of two seasons.

Is it possible to be both boring and worthwhile at the same time? Yesterday's game was exciting for a while because Grayson Rodriguez was starting to flirt with a perfect game after the fifth inning. Those are never boring.

But that fell apart in the 6th inning and then we suddenly had a ballgame with the Birds up by one, 3-2.

Adley Rutschman's 8th inning moon-shoot-grand-slam turned it into a laugher and the boredom returned for the final couple of innings.

I know we get a little jittery at anything that even resembles a complaint when it comes to the Orioles.

That's why I didn't bring up that Cedric Mullins had gone hitless in 25 straight at-bats before finally scratching out two hits in his final two at bats yesterday. Why complain about that when the team is 42-22 and bearing down on the Yankees in the A.L. East?

But calling the team "boring" is seemingly a cheap shot, even though it's really not.

The team itself: Not boring at all.

Being 42-22 in early June and pretty much winning 7 of every 10 games they play: That might actually be a little bit boring.

But we'll take it.

Yes, sir, we'll take it.

And even if I don't want to admit Chris was a little right, I think it's OK to say it. "I'd rather be boring and really good than exciting and really bad".

Let's keep being boring. We might not have to watch as much -- because we already know what the result will be -- but that's OK. It's summertime in Maryland. We all have places to go and people to see.

If we can just check in once or twice a night and it's always "Birds ahead, 5-1" or "O's are up 7-2", that's fine by me. I don't have to watch every pitch or every at bat as long as the winning continues.

Even if it's boring, all I care about is that the winning continues.


Scottie Scheffler definitely didn't make it boring yesterday, but he, like the Orioles, just continues to win. Scheffler held off Collin Morikawa to win The Memorial by a shot, his 5th victory of the 2024 season.

Here's a really quirky stat: The win yesterday was the 11th of his career, but the first, ever, after the month of April. All 10 of his previous TOUR wins came in February, March or April.

With his triumph on Sunday, Scheffler becomes the first player since Justin Thomas in 2016 to win five times in a season. And I'd say there's a very reasonable chance that Scheffler is going to threaten the 9-win seasons that both Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh once produced.

Scottie Scheffler picked up his 5th win of the PGA Tour season on Sunday at The Memorial.

Everyone in the golf industry expects Scheffler to win this week's U.S. Open championship. The course rewards guys who bomb it off the tee, hit their irons well and chip-and-putt like a superstar.

Check, check and check. Scheffler checks off all three of those boxes.

Oh, and he also knows how to win.

He can either put the pedal to the metal, like he did earlier this year at The Players when he turned in a final round 64 to steam past a handful of guys and claim his second straight Players title.

Or he can bunt it around like he did on Sunday and try to just hold serve throughout the final round, which is how he managed to pull off another win at a signature event. Despite shooting 74 in the final round, he made some huge putts late in the round, including a nasty 5 foot, downhill slider at the 18th hole where a miss would have likely created a playoff with Morikawa.

The books now have Scheffler at +350 for the Open.

Maybe what they want is to make Scheffler's number so uninviting that no one bets him and then, when he wins, the books collect all the money from the losing bets on the field.

I don't know.

But I do know it's crazy, in golf, to see someone at +350 to win a major championship. You're basically saying, "We're pretty certain he's going to win but we're trying to do something to coax you into a wager."

I don't know about you, but +350 won't do it for me. And I'm pretty convinced Scottie's going to win.

Yesterday's performance serves as an even bigger reminder of why Scheffler is the best player in the world by 20 lengths right now.

On any other day, with any other player, the leader would have shot 76 and lost by a shot or two. Scheffler didn't have his best stuff on Sunday and it was obvious pretty early on this wasn't going to be a walk-in-the-park.

But, like Tiger circa 2005, Scheffler pieced it together nicely. He turned 76 into 74 with a couple of great par saves, never once letting the moment overcome him. It looked very much like Tiger in his heyday.

I heard someone call into one of the shows on Sirius/XM last week and said, about Scheffler, "The only thing about him is that he's kind of a drab guy."

That's sort of like saying the Orioles are boring despite their 42-22 record.

Scheffler's drab and no one can beat him at golf.

And I'm not even so sure he's "drab". He seems like a good, funny, well rounded dude. He's always smiling. Doesn't seem to drab to me.

Then again, he's made $25 million playing golf over the last six months. I wouldn't be drab, either.

His golf is pretty much locked in right now. People are constantly asking me, "Why is Scheffler so good?" and I almost always say the same thing. "He hits right in the middle of the club face every time and he knows exactly where it's going."

Golf would be simple for you and I and everyone else that plays it if we, too, hit it right in the middle of the club face every time and knew right where it was going.

It might even get -- wait for it -- boring at times.

But it's not boring for Scheffler right now. Because he also knows if he doesn't play his best, he's not going to win. Someone will always have a hot week and be there to battle him.

The problem is, those guys aren't good enough to beat Scheffler.

Not this year, at least.

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"Randy On The O's"


Randy Morgan takes #DMD readers through the recent week in Orioles baseball as the Birds try to win a second straight A.L. East title.


orioles week in review


Week Record: 5-2

Season Record: 42-22

AL East Standing: 2nd (2.5 GB NYY)

Player of the Week: Grayson Rodriguez 12.1 IP 3ER 9H BB 10K 2W

As we head towards the heart of the summer, it's a good time to appreciate just how well this Orioles team continues to perform. The O’s churned out another ho-hum winning week, going 5-2 on the road against division rivals Toronto and Tampa.

Just over a week into June, the Orioles have the 3rd best record in all of baseball. They boast the 3rd best run differential as well, trailing the Yankees and Phillies in both stats and they still have the most wins over winning teams with 18.

A big thanks to the Dodgers, for proving the Yankees are human, taking two out of three from the Evil Empire after the Twins were pathetically swept by New York earlier in the week. That at least allowed the Orioles to gain a half game on the Yanks this week.

Grayson Rodriguez allowed just 9 hits and 3 earned runs in two starts last week.

On Monday the Birds traveled north to take on the Toronto Blue Jays. Grayson Rodriguez bookended the week with excellent starts, going 6.2 innings Monday with just one earned run, no walks and four strikeouts to set the table for the O’s 7-2 win. Anthony Santander opened the scoring with a homer in the 2nd, foreshadowing the onset of one of his patented hot streaks. The O’s tacked on two more in the fourth then Austin Hays put the game out of reach with his second homer of the game in the 7th.

Corbin Burnes remained the picture of consistency on Tuesday, throwing seven innings of one-run ball with four hits, one walk and five strikeouts to lower his season ERA to 2.26. Adley Rutschman and Ryan Mountcastle revived their ownership of Toronto’s Rogers Centre, with Mounty going deep twice and Adley driving in two runs. Connor Norby also got his first major league hit, a two-run homer in the top of the 8th to conclude the 10-1 win.

Santander got the offense rolling again on Wednesday with a 2nd inning homer, but the O’s were largely shut down after that by Jose Berrios. Albert Suarez delivered another solid start allowing two earned runs in five innings and the bullpen put the O’s in a position to win. However, the Jays got to Craig Kimbrel in the bottom of the 9th and plated the winning run on a single by Isiah Kiner-Falefa.

Thursday featured the MLB debut for top Orioles pitching prospect, lefty Cade Povich. The rookie pitched better than his end stat line would indicate, keeping the O’s in the game through the first five innings, before his walks caught up with him and the bullpen allowed several inherited runners to score. Despite only managing two hard hit balls off Povich, Toronto chased him in the sixth taking a 6-1 lead. The Birds battled back with homers from Adley and Ryan O’Hearn, but fell short for a 6-5 loss, splitting the series with the Jays.

On Friday the O’s journeyed to Tampa for a more fruitful four game series. Santander kicked things off again, with a 2nd inning homer. Mountcastle gave the Birds the lead again in the 5th with a two-run homer to make it 4-2, then a Jordan Westburg two-run shot in the 8th provided the insurance in the 6-3 win. Cole Irvin kept Tampa at bay over 5.2 innings with just two earned runs and six strikeouts, lowering his season ERA to 2.87. The bullpen pitched three nearly perfect innings to close it out, with Kimbrel getting the save.

Saturday brought the return of Kyle Bradish from an extended rest and he proved he was fine, pitching six shutout innings with just one hit and nine strikeouts. Danny Coulombe and Cionel Perez completed the shutout with three scoreless innings while O’Hearn and Gunnar sparked the offense with homers, the latter a three-run shot in the 9th that put the icing on the cake in the 5-0 win.

The week concluded with a third straight win over Tampa behind another Rodriguez start. Grayson was perfect through five innings on Sunday before conceding a couple of runs and handing it over to a flawless bullpen. It was Santander and Rutschman again leading the attack. Santander delivered a long ball in the 4th that extended the lead to 2-0 then Adley broke the game open with a grand slam in the top of the 8th en route to the 9-2 victory.

The O’s will try to complete the sweep at the Trop on Monday with Corbin Burnes on the mound.

As tends to be the case in successful weeks, picking a Player of the Week was a difficult task. There were many deserving candidates. Adley Rutschman and Anthony Santander led the offense for much of the week. Adley got on base at a .363 clip with three homers and eleven RBI. Santander had a .367 OBP with four homers and six RBI.

Gunnar Henderson was his usual fantastic self, though it says something about this team that in a season where he is among the leading candidates for AL MVP, he doesn’t easily win this award every week. Kyle Bradish also deserves mention for his phenomenal outing on Saturday that blanked the Rays.

However, this week we give the award to Grayson Rodriguez, who produced two winning starts. Rodriguez went 12.1 total innings while surrendering just three earned runs and striking out ten. He was perfect through five innings on Sunday before his pitch count ran high and he eventually allowed a few base runners that came around to score.


Down on the Farm –

It wasn’t a huge week for prospects at AAA affiliate Norfolk, with Cade Povich getting a promotion and Coby Mayo still out injured. Jackson Holliday continued to improve though, as he seems to be turning the corner a bit after his struggles following his return from the big leagues.

Holliday is generating more solid contact over the past couple weeks. This week he reached base at a .367 rate, hitting a homer and two doubles. A lesser heralded prospect also has been drawing some eyes with his play at Norfolk. 25 year old utility man Billy Cook had a strong week, with a .429 OBP and a homer.

After Povich’s promotion, Chayce McDermott is the top pitching prospect remaining at AAA and he had a solid outing. McDermott pitched six innings on Saturday, striking out eight with three hits, three walks and one earned run. McDermott now has a 3.57 ERA on the season and leads the league with 90 strikeouts in 58 IP.

AA Bowie was a little more exciting this week. 19 year old #2 overall Orioles prospect Samuel Basallo continued his strong hitting stretch, hitting safely in every game this week. Basallo posted a .444 OBP on the week with two homers, three doubles and seven RBI. He now has an .825 OPS on the season as the second youngest player in all of AA. Basallo could be on track to earn a mid-year promotion to AAA as one of the younger players in the high minors.

One rung down, 22 year old 2023 10th round pick Matthew Etzel, from Southern Miss, has really impressed since his debut last season. Etzel earned a promotion to Bowie from Aberdeen this week, boasting an .850 OPS and stealing 31 bases in just 51 games at High A.


Question of the Week –

How will the front office resolve the coming roster crunch with Jorge Mateo set to return soon?

It seems that once again there are some decisions looming for Mike Elias and Brandon Hyde. Jorge Mateo is eligible to come off the concussion IL today, though he may remain for a few more days.

It could be that Connor Norby just goes right back down and things carry on as they were before. However, Norby has looked useful at the major league level in his short stint and really doesn’t have much left to prove at AAA. So how could the front office keep Norby on the team and make room for the return of Mateo?

If someone was going to be sacrificed to make room for Mateo it would have to be one of two candidates. With Austin Hays finding some offense recently, Ramon Urias and Cedric Mullins remain the last two struggling veterans under scrutiny. Urias has picked up his contributions in the last week or so, bringing his season long OPS up to a respectable .699, but Mullins has largely continued to struggle.

Of course, no sooner than I drafted the notes for this story did Mullins see the glimpse of a turnaround, going 2-4 on Sunday with a clutch triple in the 7th with the game still in jeopardy. Mullins technically still has options to be sent down to Norfolk, but with a veteran track record and a strong defensive profile, the Orioles have given him every chance to turn it around. Even including the solid game on Sunday he has just two hits in 18 at-bats in June, playing mostly favorable matchups against right-handed pitchers.

Mullins may have bought himself a little time yesterday, but he is certainly on notice as the team can’t afford to carry many .544 OPS players as they attempt to close the gap on the nearly unbeatable Yankees.

With Jackson Holliday looking like he’s figuring out AAA, Heston Kjerstad still leading the minors in hitting and Coby Mayo soon to return from injury, these roster decisions will only get more difficult as the year progresses. There will be pressure on all the veterans to continue to carry their weight as the team pushes for a second straight division title and beyond.

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They're headed back to the famous Pinehurst #2 course for this year's U.S. Open, which will be held June 13-16.

It's the fourth U.S. Open there since 1999, with Payne Stewart ('99), Michael Campbell ('05) and Martin Kaymer ('14) winning previously.

The golf course is one of America's treasures. It's considered the best of the best of the Donald Ross designs, with small, undulating greens and run-off areas that make it difficult to keep the ball on the putting surface unless you're a sublime ball striker.

Analysts and those trying to predict the outcome and the top finishers are looking at the obvious stats: shots gained approach, shots gained tee to green, and shots gained putting. The winner will likely be highly ranked in all three of those areas.

#DMD will provide our predicted top 10 finishers here. It's really a Top 9, of course, since Scottie Scheffler is obviously on the list as a slam dunk, no brainer.

So we'll do this from the start. Scheffler is on the list. Automatically. You have to bet him. So our Top 10 won't include him, but it does include him. Get it?

It's really a Top 11 list, in that case.

Our #10 was Will Zalatoris. #9 was Russell Henley. #8 was Xander Schauffele. #7 was Matt Fitzpatrick. #6 was Rickie Fowler. #5 was Tom Kim. #4 was Tom Hoge. #3 was Akshay Bhatia.

Max Homa is looking to join Xander Schauffele as a first time major winner in 2024.

#2 Max Homa -- OK, stick with me on this one. It's worth explaining.

Back in April, I was all over Xander Schauffele to win his first major at The Masters. "He's just way too good to not have a major and this is the one he's going to win," I said about "X" at Augusta National.

He didn't win the Masters. But then he fulfilled what I thought about him the following month at the PGA when he finally broke through and captured that elusive first major title.

I had Max Homa winning that PGA Championship. See where I'm going with this?

I was one tournament too early on Schauffele. So now I'm thinking I might be one tournament too early on Homa, too. I wouldn't want to miss out on him this week.

There's more about Homa, though. Keep sticking with me.

I've played Pinehurst #2 a lot. A lot of people in this area have played it. It's an easy, 6-hour drive away.

I think it's a great golf course.

I also think it's kind of boring (there's that word again).

A lot of the holes, at least to me, sorta-kinda look the same. The first two holes are straight away from the clubhouse. One is 400 and the other is 500. But they're both just bland, straight golf holes.

Several holes on the back are similar looking, too.

What's the connection to Homa, you're wondering?

His golf is kind of boring, too. He just bangs it out there 300 yards, hits it on the green to 35 feet, and tries to make a putt or two along the way.

I think Max is a great player. To me, he's one of the more underrated guys on TOUR. But I also think his golf is kind of forgettable. He doesn't do anything in a spectacular fashion. He just produces solid golf every time he plays.

That's why I love his chances this week. He'll shoot 69-67 to start the event and be four behind someone after 36 holes. No one will talk about Max Homa on Friday night.

Then he'll shoot 68 on Saturday and suddenly he'll be in the next-to-last group on Sunday. Out of nowhere, Max Homa will be a talking point at the U.S. Open.

I was high on him at the PGA and it didn't work out.

Maybe I was on him one tournament too soon.

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Sunday
June 9, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3579


sunday ramblings


#DMD reader and occasional contributor Ramey sent me an e-mail last night wondering if I was going to "blow up" the story about Caitlin Clark not being picked for the U.S. Women's Olympic basketball team.

No, I'm not, Ramey.

I mean, my opinion is it's completely crazy to not have her on the team.

But that's the extent of me "blowing up" the story that was first reported yesterday.

As I saw the reaction on social media, it became a story about who did make it (Brittney Griner) vs. who didn't make it (Clark).

Some basketball experts think Caitlin Clark is the best young American women's player in the country, but that didn't help earn her a spot on this summer's U.S. Olympic team.

I think we all know what the general tenor of those debates was and what it all centered on. And that's not really an arena I want to play in, honestly.

For what it's worth, in case you do care, Clark was apparently left off the team because she wasn't able to attend the national training camp back in March because she was still competing with Iowa in her college basketball season.

I have no idea if the Olympic folks basically said, "Pick one...college or the Olympics", but if they did, that's an all-time Top 10 #clownshoes moment of this century.

But there ends the depth of my discussion about the story. Do I think Caitlin Clark should be on the U.S. Olympic team? Very much so.

Will I watch any less of it because she isn't on the team? I will not.

Would I have watched any of it had she been picked? Most likely not.


Scottie Scheffler is prepping for the U.S. Open the way we all kind of figured he would. He has a 4-shot lead heading into the final round of today's Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village GC in Dublin, Ohio.

Scheffler leads by four despite carding a triple-bogey 7 on the par 4 9th hole yesterday. Imagine that. You make a triple halfway through your round and still own a four shot advantage at day's end.

It's turned into such a one-man show on the PGA Tour that nearly every major online gambling site now has a category that reads, "Top Finisher besides Scheffler", which is basically saying, "Pick who finishes in 2nd."

Online gambling wasn't a thing when Tiger was at his zenith, but there probably would have been a similar offering for him as well.

But in Scheffler's case right now, the books are trying so hard to keep your "win bet" interests up they've essentially said, "We know you don't want to bet Scottie at +400, so just pick who finishes second."

I guess if you're not a golfer or don't follow the sport very closely you don't understand how out of this world wacky that is, but it's crazy. Golf is the most mercurial game going. No one knows what they're going to do on the next hole, let alone the next round or next tournament.

"Scottie's going to win, we all know that," is bonkers talk. But that's what's happening these days on the PGA Tour.

Now, he does still have to hold on to that 4-shot lead today. And as he showed on Saturday, there are patches of trouble littered throughout the golf course if you hit a shot or two offline.

But failing something bizarre happening, Scottie's going to win for the 5th time this season, with three of those victories being very significant tournaments on the PGA Tour; The Players, the Masters and the Memorial.

Oh, and then he heads off to Pinehurst, NC for this week's U.S. Open. You know what's likely going to happen there, right?


Speaking of golf, my weekly radio show on 105.7 The fan airs today from 4 pm to 6 pm. I hope you can tune in.

I'll be following along with the play at Muirfield Village, previewing the U.S. Open, and talking about the Maryland Amateur final, which takes place this morning at Manor CC, with Austin Barbin (Chesapeake Bay GC) taking on Jake Roth (Lakewood CC).

Barbin advanced to the final -- which gives a spot in this year's U.S. Amateur to the winner -- by knocking off the defending champion, Kevin Grady, in the semifinals.

I hope you can tune in. If you have a question you'd like me to answer on the show, please send it along this morning: 18inarow@gmail.com


Well, any questions about Kyle Bradish and his health were put to bed yesterday in Tampa Bay, as he buzzed through the Rays lineup like a warm knife in butter.

Bradish went 6 innings, allowed just 1 hit, and struck out 9 Tampa Bay would-be hitters. The Rays didn't hit a single ball out of the infield against Bradish on Saturday.

There was some concern about the right hander after his June 1 start against the Rays in Baltimore (5 runs in 2.2 innings), but he erased any of those concerns yesterday with a stellar outing.

Gunnar Henderson broke out of a recent home run slump with a 3-run shot in the 9th inning.

Cedric Mullins? You really want to know? He went 0-for-3 and is now hitting .170 on the season. It's not getting any better, sports fans.

With the Yankees getting clipped on Saturday by the Dodgers for a second straight day, Baltimore is now back to within just 2.5 games of the A.L. East lead.

The Birds will finish up in Tampa Bay with two more games before heading home for a 3-game series with Atlanta that starts Tuesday and a 3-game weekend series with Philadelphia.


Soccer fans around the country are up-in-arms over the U.S. men's team getting shellacked by Colombia on Saturday down in Landover, 5-1.

They are called "friendly games" for a reason.

Matt Turner and the U.S. men's soccer team were roasted by Colombia on Saturday in a "friendly", 5-1.

Lean in a little more closely so you can hear me well: They DON'T count for anything.

The American side is preparing for this summer's Copa America tournament, which starts for the U.S. with a game against Bolivia on June 23.

Don't get me wrong: It was a disastrous, uninspired performance by the U.S. on Saturday. Losing 5-1 in soccer is like losing 48-10 in football or 13-2 in baseball.

It's beyond a blowout.

But it's still a game that doesn't matter at all, except to the folks who think U.S. men's coach Gregg Berhalter should be fired. To them, Saturday's fiasco is the proverbial "final straw".

Of course, those folks are never heard from when the U.S. wins a tournament or beats an otherwise superior opponent in one of these "friendly games".

But lose 5-1 and watch out.

It was an awful performance. No two ways about it. But at some point the players who actually touched the soccer ball and made (or didn't) make the plays have receive the lion's share of the scrutiny.

Following the Bolivia game on June 23, the U.S. will face Panama and Uruguay.

Oh, and speaking of Colombia, if the Americans make it to the quarterfinals of Copa America, guess who they might very well face?

Yep...rematch time.

And these upcoming games in the tournament actually do matter.

What happened on Saturday in Landover is like losing 30-10 in a pre-season football game. Who cares?

But starting on June 23, people will have a reason to gripe if the U.S. can't take care of business against Bolivia.

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#dmd's u.s. open preview


They're headed back to the famous Pinehurst #2 course for this year's U.S. Open, which will be held June 13-16.

It's the fourth U.S. Open there since 1999, with Payne Stewart ('99), Michael Campbell ('05) and Martin Kaymer ('14) winning previously.

The golf course is one of America's treasures. It's considered the best of the best of the Donald Ross designs, with small, undulating greens and run-off areas that make it difficult to keep the ball on the putting surface unless you're a sublime ball striker.

Analysts and those trying to predict the outcome and the top finishers are looking at the obvious stats: shots gained approach, shots gained tee to green, and shots gained putting. The winner will likely be highly ranked in all three of those areas.

#DMD will provide our predicted top 10 finishers here. It's really a Top 9, of course, since Scottie Scheffler is obviously on the list as a slam dunk, no brainer.

So we'll do this from the start. Scheffler is on the list. Automatically. You have to bet him. So our Top 10 won't include him, but it does include him. Get it?

It's really a Top 11 list, in that case.

Our #10 was Will Zalatoris. #9 was Russell Henley. #8 was Xander Schauffele. #7 was Matt Fitzpatrick. #6 was Rickie Fowler. #5 was Tom Kim. #4 was Tom Hoge.

Akshay Bhatia won the Valero Texas Open earlier this season and is now looking for a "major" success story at Pinehurst #2 next week.

#3, Akshay Bhatia -- Sure, he's a long shot. He's also a remarkably talented 22-year old. Don't know who he is? You're going to find out soon enough.

For starters, he's a North Carolina kid (Wake Forest) by way of Los Angeles. The U.S. Open is in Pinehurst, NC. I like that angle and storyline. And because I believe in the golf gods, I love this kid's chances next week.

But it's his golf that's bigger than his childhood.

Bhatia is a blossoming player that will someday be a U.S. Ryder Cup member, maybe even as soon as 2025. He can do it all.

If you're a believer in data telling part of the story as you evaluate who might win, he checks off a lot of boxes. Bhatia is 20th in shots gained, total, which is a very impressive ranking.

He's 13th in shots gained, approach to green. He's 40th in shots gained, putting. And he's 34th in total driving.

He's also 37th in proximity to the hole, which is a very strong number.

But here's the big one. On approach shots from 200 yards and in, he ranks 20th on TOUR in proximity. He's going to see a lot of those shots at Pinehurst #2.

We always encourage you to be smart with your golf wagers. Only one guy can win, after all. Top 10 and Top 20 money still pays.

But we think Bhatia has a very good chance of being in the hunt for the title next Sunday. He's going to be on a lot of our wagering cards next week.

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Saturday
June 8, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3578


40 -- really, 40? -- years later


June 8, 1984.

June 8, 2024.

Yep, it's been 40 years.

On this date in 1984, the Baltimore Blast won their first ever MISL, beating St. Louis, 10-3, in Game 5 at the Baltimore Arena.

That was when indoor soccer was still a big deal in this country. Well, some would say it was never a big deal, like ever, but those were the days when CBS was broadcasting games and teams in the league were putting 15,000 or more in their arenas on a regular basis.

Maybe it would be more fair to say, "That was when indoor soccer was at its zenith..."

There, I fixed it.

On that night in Baltimore, Joey Fink scored 5 goals for us, including two (or was it three?) into an empty net after St. Louis pulled their goalie midway through the fourth quarter to try to pull off a miracle comeback and send the series back to St. Louis.

Instead, the Steamers took a 7-3 game and turned it into a 10-3 clobbering, much to the delight of the sold-out crowd downtown.

I worked for the Blast (and Spirit) for 17 years. The only championship ring I ever received was from that '83-84 team. I still own it, but never break it out and wear it.

That team was filled with incredible soccer talent. Stan Stamenkovic was the king of the group, of course. We were able to win Game 5 thanks in large part to "The Magician", who scored 1:59 into OT in St. Louis two nights before to put us up 3-1 in the series.

With Stan, it really was magic. He toiled with an obscure Memphis team for a couple of years before the Blast handed over $100,000 for his services, acquiring Stamenkovic and his teammate and fellow countryman Ray Kunovac.

We didn't hide the fact we were trying to buy a championship. Our chief competition in the league at that time, San Diego and New York, both spent gobs and gobs of money buying elite players. I guess Kenny Cooper figured, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em."

So we purchased Stamenkovic and Kunovac from the cash-strapped Memphis franchise. The deal paved the way for us to win the title. It didn't help Memphis at all. They were out of the league a year later.

Kunovac, by the way, was pretty much a thrown in. He played sparingly with us that season, but we kept him around to keep Stan happy.

Stamenkovic showed up for training camp in September of 1983 pretty much looking like Fred Flintstone in indoor soccer shoes.

As we watched Stan jog around the indoor soccer facility on Route 40 ("Indoor Kicks") during his first day in town, Kenny Cooper whispered to me, "Holy hell, what did he eat over the summer?"

I deadpanned, "Everything, I think."

I remember Stan weighing in at 244 pounds and Kenny telling me to list him at 220 in the media guide.

"If the media asks, the company line is he weighed in at 220 pounds," Cooper said to me. "This is important. 220 pounds."

I'd make the quip here about a certain-someone-who-is-running-for-political-office once saying he weighed 239 pounds. Some people don't want to confront their real weight. I get it. Stan didn't want to go around telling people he was a professional soccer player who weighed almost 250 pounds.

That first month of training camp was tough. Stan wasn't just heavy. He was also grossly out of shape. But to be fair to him, the team in Memphis didn't really care what he looked like or how much he weighed, as long as he dazzled the home fans with his amazing footwork.

The problem was Stamenkovic was also an unhealthy 27 year old when he showed up in Baltimore. His weight didn't help a chronic knee condition, nor did his affection for cigarettes and beer. Stamenkovic was one of the rare athletes who actually played sports at a high level and didn't have an ACL in one of his knees, which seemed almost impossible to me, but it was true.

Editor's note: The Blast somehow actually once had two players on its roster who played soccer without the benefit of each knee having an anterior cruicate ligament. Dale Mitchell, a remarkable Canadian-born goal scorer, also tore an ACL at at early age and never had it repaired. I thought you might like knowing that sort of thing.

Stamenkovic eventually got down to the -- let's just say -- 220 range. In his first game with us in Buffalo, he recorded 4 assists in an 8-4 victory. Everything started off fine.

But as the season started to pick up and the games came fast and furious, Stamenkovic had trouble finding his way. Guys like Pat Ercoli, Dave MacWilliams, Paul Kitson and Joey Fink were having a hard time dealing with Stan's mercurial ways. Mike Stankovic was seemingly the only guy on the team who had a connection with the fellow Yugoslav.

At the midway point of the season, we were 13-11 and headed to Pittsburgh for a crucial Sunday afternoon game with Pittsburgh.

The night before the game, Cooper sat down with Stamenkovic in the Hyatt Regency bar for a heart-to-heart talk.

"I'm worried this might not work out," Cooper told Stan.

"We paid a lot of money for you and you're getting paid a huge salary. This is on you. We've done our part. You have to start producing and we have to start winning."

The next day, we pulled off a 6-5 OT win over Pittsburgh and Stamenkovic stepped up his game.

Over the next two months, that Blast team played the best indoor soccer I ever saw any team play in the league, ever. We went from 13-11 at the midway point to 34-14 at the end of the regular season, posting a 21-3 mark over the final half of the campaign.

We rolled through New York and Cleveland in the first two rounds of the Eastern Conference playoffs, earning the aforementioned championship berth with St. Louis.

Stamenkovic won Game 4 for us in OT with a thundering left-footed shot from the top of the box to send the series back to Baltimore with the Blast up 3-1. If there was a moment that season where Stan "paid for himself", that was it. It gave us the chance to clinch the title at home on Friday night.

Two nights later, we won that elusive first championship.

The next season, San Diego returned to the league after a one-year hissy fit and Stamenkovic showed up in camp in much better shape and ready to go. We had a terrific season, but lost to the Sockers in five games in the title series.

In 1985-86, the wear and tear of five seasons of soccer started to impact The Magician. He labored through an "off year" and the team did, too, barely making the playoffs before being ousted by our arch-rivals, Cleveland.

That summer, Cooper made a concerted effort to add some youth and goal-scoring punch to the roster in an effort to help Stamenkovic and remove some of the pressure that was on him each and every night.

We brought in Andy Chapman and Keith Furphy, plus feisty Englishman Paul Child as well. Cooper believed those three would team up well with Stamenkovic, particularly Child, who was a back-post-scoring-machine in Pittsburgh the year before.

In mid-July, Cooper came into my office and closed the door.

"Stamenkovic isn't coming back," he said.

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"He just called and talked to me for an hour. He was crying on the phone. He hasn't done anything all summer. He's in terrible shape. His wife doesn't want to come back. He's confused. He's going to stay over there for now and we're going to talk again around December and see how he feels."

Publicly, we told people Stamenkovic had developed a fear of flying (which was sorta-kinda true...he hated to fly) and wasn't going to start the season with us.

Privately, we knew it was likely Stan wouldn't play with us in the 1986-87 season.

And he didn't.

The team actually percolated nicely throughout the season without him and Scott Manning posted an almost unthinkable 3.47 goals against average, but the Blast fell to eventual league champion Dallas in the first round of the playoffs.

Stamenkovic did return in 1987-88 to fulfill the final year of his contract, but his game was gone by then. We finished under .500 for the season, made the playoffs on the final weekend, then lost to Minnesota 3-1 in the first playoff series.

Stan went back home to Yugoslavia in the summer of 1988 and we never saw him again in Baltimore.

Five years later, he played a few games for the Seattle team in a new league, the CISL, and I went down to the old Capital Centre to watch Stan play.

It was a sad, sad sight.

He was well over 250 pounds by then and played primarily on the power play unit. He still had his trademark footwork, but he couldn't run at all. It was a little bit like watching Jack Nicklaus tee off every April at The Masters as the honorary starter. You remember what used to be, but what you're seeing now is just sad.

Stan died at age 39 of a head injury he sustained after falling down the steps at his home in Serbia.

He was gone way too soon.

Appropriately, I'd say he provided us all with a lot of "magic moments" in Baltimore.

And on June 8, 1984, he helped the Blast bring its biggest moment ever to the indoor soccer fans of Charm City.

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#dmd's u.s. open preview


They're headed back to the famous Pinehurst #2 course for this year's U.S. Open, which will be held June 13-16.

It's the fourth U.S. Open there since 1999, with Payne Stewart ('99), Michael Campbell ('05) and Martin Kaymer ('14) winning previously.

The golf course is one of America's treasures. It's considered the best of the best of the Donald Ross designs, with small, undulating greens and run-off areas that make it difficult to keep the ball on the putting surface unless you're a sublime ball striker.

Analysts and those trying to predict the outcome and the top finishers are looking at the obvious stats: shots gained approach, shots gained tee to green, and shots gained putting. The winner will likely be highly ranked in all three of those areas.

#DMD will provide our predicted top 10 finishers here. It's really a Top 9, of course, since Scottie Scheffler is obviously on the list as a slam dunk, no brainer.

So we'll do this from the start. Scheffler is on the list. Automatically. You have to bet him. So our Top 10 won't include him, but it does include him. Get it?

It's really a Top 11 list, in that case.

Our #10 was Will Zalatoris. #9 was Russell Henley. #8 was Xander Schauffele. #7 was Matt Fitzpatrick. #6 was Rickie Fowler. #5 was Tom Kim.

Most of the ball striking stats on the PGA Tour favor Tom Hoge next week at Pinehurst #2.

#4, Tom Hoge -- Do a deep dive into the stats on the PGA Tour over the last two seasons and this guy's name sticks out like a sore thumb. You'll see Tom Hoge, Tom Hoge, Tom Hoge. Over and over.

It's not an accident or a fluke.

He's one of the best ball strikers in all of golf, particularly on shots from 200 yards and in, which will make up a huge part of what he faces next week at Pinehurst #2.

Sure, Tom Hoge hasn't won a major title in his career. And that alone makes him a longshot of sorts next week.

But Wyndham Clark hadn't won a major before last summer's romp through L.A. Country Club, remember.

We've been penciling Hoge in at this year's U.S. Open since the season started back in January. All we needed were the ball striking numbers to keep up the pace.

And that they have.

Longshot? Sure, maybe.

But he's a great player. A very underrated player, at that. And we're high on him heading into Pinehurst next week.

JERRY'S TOYOTA banner

Friday
June 7, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3577


i don't get the hyde hate


I realize the Comments section here is a small sample size.

Talk radio callers, as it were, only make up roughly 1% of the listening audience, and yet their voices and opinions are largely the ones that shape our opinion on "what the community thinks".

How many times have you said this or heard it said? "Man, they're killing (Harbaugh/Lamar etc.) on The Fan."

But a quick persual of the Comments section from Thursday's edition of #DMD showed some scathing criticisms of O's manager Brandon Hyde.

And, yes, I get it. It's the internet. People write stuff on the web they'd never, ever have the courage to say to someone in person. Likewise, folks also have a habit of turning up the volume on their various sports takes when they're cast out over the internet.

But the vitriol for Brandon Hyde? I just don't get it.

Is he the best manager in the big leagues? I think not.

Brandon Hyde's mismanagement (maybe?) of the bullpen in Wednesday's loss at Toronto left some #DMD readers fuming on Thursday.

Does he make mistakes? Sure. Every manager does.

Will he make occasional puzzling moves with his pitchers, in particular? Indeed he will.

But he doesn't stink.

And he's not "awful", either.

For sure, there's no reason at all to fire him or even consider someone else for the role.

He is what most managers are, honestly. He's decent enough to make good decisions on occasion and bad decisions on occasion, but most of those are all hindsight moves.

If he goes to Craig Kimbrel in the 9th inning on Wednesday night and Kimbrel goes 1-2-3, thank you very much, and the O's score a run in the top of the 10th to win, 3-2, everyone says "Kimbrel was great tonight." They don't say, "That Brandon Hyde, what a genius move it was bringing in Kimbrel in the 9th."

Instead, he went to Kimbrel and the inning blew up on a single, throwing error, sac fly and single. Hyde's a bum because he shouldn't have gone to Kimbrel in the first place, people were saying.

Again, if you want to question yanking Yennier Cano after a quick, 12-pitch 8th inning, I think that's more than fair. Me, personally? I think Hyde makes those kind of moves more often than he should. If nothing else, go back to Cano to start the 9th inning with a very short leash.

That said, I don't think Hyde suddenly "stinks" because he went to Kimbrel and the game went sideways.

He might have made a bad decision on Wednesday night. It happens.

He might make a good one tonight in Tampa Bay. That happens, too.

Everyone's always looking to pin the blame on someone when the team loses. And in our country, for reasons I've never figured out, the coach almost always gets the blame when the team loses but then never gets the credit when the team wins.

One other thing that's happened in this great nation of ours is this: If you're critical of someone for one thing, that must mean you hate them.

I don't think Hyde handled the bullpen well in Wednesday's loss. But I'm not a Craig Kimbrel fan. And I'm also watching on my TV in Baltimore while Hyde is there, on site, trying to balance everything in that 9th inning.

Just because I think Hyde made the wrong move on Wednesday doesn't mean I think he's a terrible manager. Had Kimbrel struck out the side and the O's won the game in the 10th inning (or later), Hyde's move would have been one of the reasons why the team won.

The O's won 101 games last season and lost 61.

They're on pace for a similar record in 2024.

Is Brandon Hyde responsible, in some way, for a large portion of the losses but not responsible, in some way, for a large portion of the wins as well?

And if the answer is "yes, he's responsible for both the wins and the losses", doesn't that, then, make him at the very least a "good" manager if not more than that?

If your train of thought is "It's the players who are winning the games for them", I might be willing to sign off on that theory as long as you're willing to say "It's the players who are losing the games for them" at the same time.

I think Brandon Hyde is a good manager. I think he's involved in wins and I think he's involved in losses.

What really matters, though, is what the players think of him.

Honestly, no one else matters but the players.

Mike Elias doesn't even matter.

Neither does David Rubenstein.

Sure, Rubenstein signs his checks and Elias is his direct boss, but if the players like Hyde and play hard for him over 162 games, what Elias and Rubenstein think of him means nothing at all.

If the team keeps on winning, Hyde stays put.

As the late, great Charley Eckman would say: "It's a very simple game."


For unknown reasons, really, I watched the first quarter of last night's NBA Finals Game 1 between Dallas and Boston.

In case you care, the Celtics won 107-89.

This could definitely be "just me", but I was ready to flip over to the Fishing Channel (I assume one exists, somewhere, it's cable TV, after all) after the first quarter.

Maybe it was just Game 1 jitters. But the whole first quarter was as sloppy as the Preakness track in Baltimore 20 days ago.

Oh, and do they not call traveling in the NBA any longer?

But I digress...

I didn't stick around long enough to see how the other three quarters played out, but the first quarter was a total snoozefest. I mean, there was a lot of scoring, but that was about it.

The Celtics built a 37-20 lead after one quarter of play, which was either an indication that Boston was great or Dallas was really lousy. By my vantage point, the Mavericks sorta-kinda didn't even try.

Boston, I'd later find out, led by 21 at the intermission and then by 20 after three quarters. It was so energy-zapped that cruise control called the Celtics and asked them to make it interesting in the 4th quarter.

I don't watch much NBA these days.

I did check out a couple of games in an earlier round between Boston and Indiana and I was intrigued by what Minnesota tried to do this season (play defense).

But all in all, I didn't watch much NBA.

Last night reaffirmed why I don't watch it all that often.

It's boring.

Maybe the series will tighten up from here. Perhaps there won't be any other blowouts. Who knows, Dallas might bounce back and win two or three straight to build a nice lead in the series.

I realize the series is far from over.

But last night was as exciting as reading the TV Guide, front to back.

At least the first quarter was, that is.


#DMD reader Tony Roseletti checks in with a question today that we thought we'd answer.

"Drew, I enjoyed listening to your segment on Glenn Clark's show that you posted today (yesterday). I have to admit I've never listened to Glenn's show until now and it was very entertaining. How much of what you to do is scripted and how much is off the cuff? The two of you have an incredible synergy. Thanks, just wondering."

DF says -- "I don't know what you mean by "scripted"?? If you're asking if I know what we're going to be talking about when I get there every Wednesday, the answer to that is definitely "I do not".

In that way, 100% of what we do is "off the cuff".

Glenn is very good at sports talk. If his life was in a different spot right now (i.e, single and able to move around in the industry) there's no doubt in my mind he'd be doing sports radio in a significant market in this country. Alas, he's married to a Baltimore girl with two children and his home is here.

He still really cares about what goes on in the world of sports. I still care about "some things" in sports. If you want to talk radio and do it the right way, you have to really care and you have to be really invested in it. When I was on the air for 12 years, I think I was very, very invested in sports. If you aren't, you don't last very long.

I enjoy going in with him when I can. I do think one thing that has happened in sports and sports radio over the last decade or so is perhaps it's taken a little too seriously. On one hand, you have me saying "you have to be really invested in it", but then you also have me saying, "don't take it so seriously". I know that's a little confusing.

But I feel like over the last 10 years or so we've lost our way a bit with the importance of sports in our world. There are other things far more important.

So I, now, tend to lean a little more towards the "entertainment" angle of sports talk and a little less in the direction of "what I say about sports is very important."

But there are guys like Glenn who keep up the "important" angle and that's also very necessary. So, yes, I'd agree we have a good synergy, particularly because of the different styles we now have."

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#dmd's u.s. open preview


They're headed back to the famous Pinehurst #2 course for this year's U.S. Open, which will be held June 13-16.

It's the fourth U.S. Open there since 1999, with Payne Stewart ('99), Michael Campbell ('05) and Martin Kaymer ('14) winning previously.

The golf course is one of America's treasures. It's considered the best of the best of the Donald Ross designs, with small, undulating greens and run-off areas that make it difficult to keep the ball on the putting surface unless you're a sublime ball striker.

Analysts and those trying to predict the outcome and the top finishers are looking at the obvious stats: shots gained approach, shots gained tee to green, and shots gained putting. The winner will likely be highly ranked in all three of those areas.

#DMD will provide our predicted top 10 finishers here. It's really a Top 9, of course, since Scottie Scheffler is obviously on the list as a slam dunk, no brainer.

So we'll do this from the start. Scheffler is on the list. Automatically. You have to bet him. So our Top 10 won't include him, but it does include him. Get it?

It's really a Top 11 list, in that case.

Our #10 was Will Zalatoris. #9 was Russell Henley. #8 was Xander Schauffele. #7 was Matt Fitzpatrick. #6 was Rickie Fowler.

Tom Kim is quickly starting to rise to the top of the "best player without a major" category on the PGA Tour.

#5 Tom Kim -- We are super bullish on Tom Kim. Not just bullish. SUPER bullish.

He's a complete player.

Kim drives it straight, hits his irons great, is a fearless putter, and makes birdies in droves when he's hitting on all cylinders.

And he's been a threat in majors for a while now, starting with last year's T-8 finish at L.A. Country Club in the U.S. Open and then his runner-up spot in the British Open last July.

He'll make his 3rd career U.S. Open start next week, but he's 2-for-2 in cuts made.

And this season, despite not having a win yet, he's once again showing the kind of form that should hold up well for him next week at Pinehurst #2.

His biggest attribute? He drives it straight and hits a lot of greens. He's 19th on the TOUR in driving accuracy, hitting 69% of the fairways. He also hits 66% of the greens. He doesn't do anything "great" (as in top 10 on TOUR) but he also doesn't do anything "terrible", either.

This is a player to watch.

We're thinking his time might come at Pinehurst next week.

JERRY'S TOYOTA banner

faith in sports


I have what I consider a "greatest hits" of the series "I Am Second".

This video, today, is right there as one of my all-time top favorites of the series, which features athletes, musicians, actors and celebrities talking on film about their faith testimony and journey into Christianity.

I had the pleasure of meeting Tony Dungy once, on radio row at the Super Bowl. He's one of the most engaging people I've ever met.

This 9 minute video of Dungy on "I Am Second" is an incredible short documentary on his faith and how God has helped pull him through times of trouble in his life.

In the time it takes you to go to the Keurig machine, make yourself a coffee, add the cream and sugar, sit down and drink it --- you can also watch this video from Dungy.

Please take 9 minutes out of your life today to be impacted by one of the best men the NFL has ever produced.



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Thursday
June 6, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3576


here's what's really wrong


I wouldn't even go as far as saying "the bad Craig Kimbrel" showed up last night in Toronto.

Sure, he was the pitcher of record in the 3-2 defeat and it was his throwing error in the 9th inning that helped lead to a rare O's loss to the Blue Jays.

But the pick-off attempt of Cavan Biggio was actually the right thing to do and Biggio was dead-red-out -- except Kimbrel's throw was off the mark and Biggio scurried down to second base with no one out.

A sac fly and a single followed and that was that.

You might complain about that one. Have at it, as Brian Billick used to say.

Me?

Another 0-for-3 night in Toronto on Wednesday dropped Cedric Mullins' batting average to .178 on the season.

Eh, the team is 39-21 at the 60-game mark. You're gonna win 5 in weird fashion (remember the "runner's interference" debacle in Chicago two weeks ago?) and lose 5 in weird fashion is the way I see it. Last night was one of those "weird 5" that don't go your way.

Sure, I know Kimbrel sorta-kinda looks like the goat in the whole thing, but the O's offense has to take a little bit of heat for what happened last night. They produced what we all know as an "REO Speedwagon" in the big leagues: 5 hits in rapid-fire succession (over three innings) and then pretty much nothing else the rest of the way.

The O's only managed one base hit after the 3rd inning last night. Kimbrel did his part, sure, but the offense was a contributor to the defeat.

Cedric Mullins?

Oh, and he didn't help, but I'm sure you're not surprised by that.

Anyone have a new, thicker baseball bat we can use to beat this dead horse? The one we've been using is as thin as a toothpick now.

Mullins went 0-for-3 at the plate, but did, somehow, manage to coax a walk in one of his plate appearances. I don't know what's worse these days, giving up a hit to Mullins (.178) or walking him instead.

Alas, the days are dwindling down for Mike Elias to do something with the once-talented centerfielder.

Glenn Clark and I got into a small beef about Mullins yesterday during my weekly visit on Glenn's outstanding show.

Clark thinks defense and speed count for something. He thinks Mullins' struggles at the plate need to be considered, but they should be weighed against his glove and quickness on the bases.

I think it's almost always offense first, by a lot, in baseball. You simply can't have a "regular" player hitting .180, I don't care if he fields his position like Brooks Robinson.

I do agree with Clark that defense matters. I'm old school like that. But .180 isn't cutting it. You can accept a dude hitting .225, maybe, if his defensive abilities are out-of-this-world good. But .180? Can't play him.

Earlier in the week I suggested this 8-game road trip to Toronto and Tampa Bay would decide -- if it were up to me, that is -- Mullins' fate with the big league club. We're 3 games into the 8 and nothing has changed for the better.

Let's end this on a good note. Make that a really good note.

Albert Suarez is very much helping his cause for sticking in the rotation and, maybe, easing the pain of a potential Kyle Bradish injury that the club is being very hush-jush about.

Cade Povich will get the start today in his big league debut in Toronto, so something is definitely going on with Bradish and the starting rotation.

But Suarez looks like a "keeper" in the rotation as long as he continues to post the kind of numbers he's produced in 2024. Last night he was once again semi-spectacular, allowing 2 earned runs and 5 hits in 5 innings of work. He struck out 4 and walked just 1 batter.

Look, he's not Felix Hernandez or Greg Maddux, but he's actually been one of the better surprises of this 2024 season to date.

And, to me, at least, Suarez has done enough to stay in the rotation while things get cleaned up with Bradish.

Povich, of course, gets his day in the sun today to prove he's worth considering as well.

I'm still not sure Kimbrel's the closer. And I'm fairly certain Brandon Hyde doesn't think he is, either.

But there he was last night, in the bottom of the 9th of a 2-2 game, trying to keep the contest intact for the O's to pull off an extra innings win.

It didn't happen.

Let's be clear though: I'll take 39-21 any day of the week.


On my (mostly) weekly visits to Glenn Clark's show, we engage in a funny, but serious, segment called "That's what's wrong with our country."

Because I'm older and more jaded than Clark about most things, I usually have more material at my disposal for my weekly rant.

Yesterday was no different. But then something happened in this area last night that trumped anything I could have brought forward during the segment earlier in the day.

If you want to hear it for yourself, yesterday's show and that segment is in the archives at: glennclarkradio.com

It takes place right around 10:30 am for those who find it and want to hear the segment.

Essentially, what happened is this: Dave Marr III, a noted golf historian and contributor on The Golf Channel and Sirius/XM, was heard on a promotional commercial for next week's U.S. Open at Pinehurst where he said this:

"And in 1999, Payne Stewart's 15 foot birdie putt at the 72nd hole gave him the U.S. Open title over Phil Mickelson."

I almost drove off the road.

Dave Marr III knows more about the history of golf than almost anyone alive. His father, the great Dave Marr Jr., was an accomplished player and broadcaster.

I like to think I know quite a bit about golf history, particularly anything from 1985 on, let's say. I would lose a "golf trivia contest" to Marr III, though. I'm a book. He's an encyclopedia.

Alas, Marr screwed up in that commercial.

Payne Stewart didn't make a birdie to beat Mickelson. He made a par. The "15 foot putt" was actually 18 feet. And it was for a title-winning par, not birdie.

So during yesterday's show, I launched into a tirade about Marr's faux pas. It might be the only mistake he makes in 2024, I'll give you that. We all make mistakes. That's for sure.

But it was radio. And I was making a point. If you want to hear how I connected Marr's mistake with "what's wrong with our country", I urge you to listen to the segment on Clark's website.

Last night in our area, though, a real life "this is what's wrong with our country" took place. Right here in good old Balwmer and Maryland.

During the horrific five hour stretch of tornado activity in Maryland, WBAL made a decision to simulcast their TV coverage of the weather on the AM radio station, which was supposed to be airing the Orioles-Blue Jays game.

And.....somehow.....people got mad about that.

Social media lit up with lunatics complaining.

The phone lines at WBAL lit up with lunatics complaining.

People were actually upset with WBAL for putting the safety of their listening community first and an early June baseball game second.

"I want to listen to the baseball game. I don't care about anyone else or the danger they might be in right now. I want baseball."

And that, of course, is what's wrong with our country.

Tornadoes are popping up all over Maryland but you want to listen to a baseball game. Never mind that the game is on TV anyway. You tuned your radio to hear baseball, not tornado coverage.

We're not allowed to use it here much because adults get their feelings hurt, but it applies today: #CLOWNSHOES

People are trapped. People are hurt. People might even be dying.

And you're going to go on social media and blast WBAL because they aren't broadcasting the baseball game on the radio for a couple of hours?

Even worse, you're going to call the station and jam the phone lines with your petty complaint while others are trying to call in with tornado-related information that might help save lives if WBAL can get those details out to the masses, quickly?

As Mr. Hand famously said in Fast Times At Ridgemont High, "What are you people, on dope?"

This is so much what's wrong with our country it's not even funny.

"I want to listen to baseball. I don't care what anyone else wants. I don't even care if the entire community wants to hear tornado coverage. I want to listen to baseball. And if I don't get that privilege, I'm going to stir the pot and, maybe, cost someone their life along the way."

People, man. You're nuts.

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#dmd's u.s. open preview


They're headed back to the famous Pinehurst #2 course for this year's U.S. Open, which will be held June 13-16.

It's the fourth U.S. Open there since 1999, with Payne Stewart ('99), Michael Campbell ('05) and Martin Kaymer ('14) winning previously.

The golf course is one of America's treasures. It's considered the best of the best of the Donald Ross designs, with small, undulating greens and run-off areas that make it difficult to keep the ball on the putting surface unless you're a sublime ball striker.

Analysts and those trying to predict the outcome and the top finishers are looking at the obvious stats: shots gained approach, shots gained tee to green, and shots gained putting. The winner will likely be highly ranked in all three of those areas.

#DMD will provide our predicted top 10 finishers here. It's really a Top 9, of course, since Scottie Scheffler is obviously on the list as a slam dunk, no brainer.

So we'll do this from the start. Scheffler is on the list. Automatically. You have to bet him. So our Top 10 won't include him, but it does include him. Get it?

It's really a Top 11 list, in that case.

Our #10 was Will Zalatoris. #9 was Russell Henley. #8 was Xander Schauffele. #7 was Matt Fitzpatrick.

The last time Rickie Fowler played a major at Pinehurst #2 was in the 2014 U.S. Open and he finishesd T2.

#6 Rickie Fowler -- Yes, Rickie Fowler. Yes, that Rickie Fowler. You know, the one who doesn't have a major championship in his career. That same Rickie Fowler.

Maybe this is his year.

Nothing about his 2024 campaign suggests he's ready to finally win a major.

He's made 9 of his last 10 cuts, which is good. But his best finish since mid-February is a T30 at the Masters.

None of that means anything next week, though.

Fowler is due. Sure, he's been "due" for about 8 years now. But something about next week feels like a guy we aren't expecting to win is going to win if Scottie Scheffler doesn't win.

And I'm thinking it might be Fowler. He finished T2 at Pinehurst 10 years ago when Martin Kaymer won. And he was very much in the hunt last year at LACC before losing out to Wyndham Clark on Sunday.

Say what you will about Fowler over the last five years or so, but he hasn't missed a U.S. Open cut since 2016 at Oakmont CC.

His game fits nicely with what the USGA wants. Straight hitters who can chip and putt and make a lot of pars on demanding holes. That's Fowler.

This is most definitely a "sentimental" pick, but it's also made with logic involved. I love the golf game of Denny McCarthy, for example, and he'd be a massive "sentimental" pick for me, but I think the course isn't a great fit for him.

I think Fowler has the game to contend at Pinehurst and potentially even win.

And if you believe at all in the golf gods, then Fowler makes a whole lot of sense.

JERRY'S TOYOTA banner

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Friday
May 31, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3570


12 people all agree?


I was skeptical from the start.

There was simply no way 12 people would agree, particularly when they're all human beings of various ages, shapes and colors.

But agree they did.

I guess it was all on the up and up. There's never any way to find out, unless one or more of them writes a book about it. And these 12 don't seem like the book-writing type.

I can't say I was shocked at the actual decision, but I was definitely shocked to find out all 12 of them agreed on their answer to the question at hand.

Do you know how hard it is to pick 12 random people and get them to all agree on something these days?

That's why I was skeptical from the start.

And I kind of still am, frankly.

Their names aren't important, but in case you're the kind of person who needs identity to help you validate the outcome, here they are: Dana, Richard, Carl, Elizabeth, Francesca, Sarah, Tobias, Walter, Steve, (another) Steve, Alyssa and Eric.

7 men and 5 women. In case you're wondering, Dana is a female. There are "men" named Dana, too. Dana White, for example, the leader of the UFC.

Anyway, they're the 7 and 5 who all agreed yesterday.

It was as random as random gets.

I was in the Wegman's in Hunt Valley and walked up to them, individually, and asked:

Is Bruce Springsteen better than the Beatles?

All 12 said "yes".

I was shocked. Not because Springsteen isn't better than the Beatles. He is, of course. I just couldn't believe I found 12 people who could agree on anything these days, especially when you just pick them at random, basically.

I figured at least one or two of them would hold out and argue in favor of the Beatles. Maybe it wound up 10-2 or 11-1 in favor of Bruce.

Instead, it was 12-for-12.

Were you pleased with that verdict? It was unanimous, after all.

Bruuuuuuuucccceeee.


Pre-tournament favorite Nelly Korda made a "10" on a hole yesterday in the U.S. Women's Open that most likely zapped her chances of winning the event at Lancaster Country Club.

Had that "10" come on a par 5, it wouldn't have been quite as damaging.

It came, however, on a par 3.

One swing of the club and a 3-minute disaster around the 12th green might have cost Nelly Korda a chance at winning this week's U.S. Women's Open in Lancaster, PA.

And that's not good.

Korda finished her round with a very respectable score of +8 for the day, which puts her in 137th place. Flyers fans do not need to rush for their calculators for this one. I got ya.

She played 17 holes in 1 over par and 1 hole in 7 over par. In other words, take away that one hole and she's right there in the mix, with the leader of the event sitting at 2-under after day one.

But you play 18 holes, not 17 holes.

Dismissing what happened on #17 is like that old, dry joke: "Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?"

"Other than that catastrophic 10 on a par 3, how was your round?"

I've been fortunate to play Lancaster CC in the past. The 12th hole there is very demanding, even from 160 yards, which is roughly the distance the girls played from on Thursday.

Oddly, one of the other favorites in the event, Rose Zhang, lost to Korda by a shot on Thursday. She shot 81 and didn't make a 10, which probably means Korda thoroughly outplayed Zhang except for, you know, that one fiasco on her 3rd hole of the day.

I once played the Maryland Open at Hillendale CC and saw an esteemed, high quality local PGA professional play the 10th hole in 2 shots the first day (that's an eagle) and 9 shots the second day.

On day one, he drove the ball around the corner, up the hill and into the fringe by the green and promptly rolled in a 40-foot putt for a "2" on the par 4 hole.

The next day he tried the same thing and, well, they're still looking for the first three tee-shots he hit. He pulled the first one out of bounds. Re-loaded and hit that one OB. Re-loaded again and hit that one so far out of bounds it might have ended up on Dulaney Valley Road somewhere.

He was hitting 7 off the tee now. Knocked that one into the fairway. Hit his next approach to 5 feet. And made the putt for 9.

In one of the funniest things I've ever heard on the golf course, he walked up to the tee and said, "I could have putted the ball off the tee the whole way up the hole and not made a 9."

And I think that was probably true.

If you're trying to hit the ball a decent distance with your putter, you can. The face is mostly loft-less. If you put the ball on a tee, you can hit a putter, easily, over 100 yards. If it happens to stay in the fairway, you can hit the next one another 75 yards or more.

That 10th hole at Hillendale is (was) only 320 yards or so.

I'm betting he could have made a 7 with his putter. Maybe, maybe, even a 6.

Nelly Korda didn't have the putter option yesterday. It was her chipping that let her down, as she knocked three balls in the water on that 12th hole.

The bet here is she does something crazy today like a hole-in-one or a holed out sand shot for "2"...just 24 hours after she made a 10.

Golf. It's like an onion, they say. Sometimes it makes you cry.


A few e-mail questions to get to today on this last day of May.

Sorry they've piled up. I'll get to more of them over the weekend, I promise.

Derek asks -- "Hey DF, just wondering what you think about the new "Stadium Concepts" the Orioles have released and which would you would vote for. Thanks!"

DF says -- "I saw them all. I don't know that I'd vote for any of them because all they are, as we know, are opportunities for the baseball franchise to bilk more money out of people for overpriced food and drink items.

They're essentially "specialty areas" that the club will improve/build in the ballpark to make your "enchance your game day experience" when, in the end, all they're really doing is getting you to spend $150 or more on "upgraded" food and beverage options.

I get it. It's the way sports is moving these days. The Ravens just unveiled a section of seats that are practically on the field and they're going to run $500 each.

Frankly, I think that's a better investment, as a one time thing, then sitting in an air conditioned "premium box" and getting to drink a $20 glass of Joel Gott from a bottle that costs $24 at Total Wine.

So, I'll hold off on voting for any of those four options I saw. But thanks for asking."


Craig asks -- "If you're Mike Elias and the Rays, Blue Jays or Red Sox are willing to make a deadline deal with you but it involves someone like Kjerstad or Cowser, are you doing it?"

DF says -- "It's interesting you bring that up, because that could certainly be something that's in the back of his mind.

It is probably different now that you're not playing the A.L. East teams 18 or 19 times a season, but what you're asking, obviously, is "Are you willing to take the gamble that you might be helping a team you're competing with year after year?"

I'm not so sure I'd trade Kjerstad or Cowser within the division.

Obviously, what I get in return would make the decision easier or harder. Am I getting someone I have control over for a couple of years? Or just a rental?

If I'm getting a rental, I'm probably not sending one of those "marquee" prospect-types to a division rival. If I can get two or three years out of a player I'm acquiring, I might think about it differently.

It's an interesting question. Thanks."

Katie asks -- "Hi Drew, it's Katie again. You've helped my husband and I with music recommendations each of the last two summers and we're back again. We're going to Alaska in late June and want to compile some tunes for the long trip. We thought it would be fun to give you names of bands and artists and ask you to pick out the best song they have for a dream mix tape we're going to make! Thanks and have a great summer.

The bands are: U2, Pearl Jam, Queen (my husband's favorite, give us 2!), Oasis, The Goo Goo Dolls, Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin, REM, Neil Young (my brother's favorite, he and his wife are going with us on the trip), Van Morrison and my favorite, Talking Heads.

Thanks Drew. Oh and throw in one or two random surprise songs for us!"

DF says -- "Lots of great, legendary musicians and bands there. Here's one confession that I know my friend Pat Marshall from Calvert Hall will chide me about. I don't know one Grateful Dead song to pass along to you. I'm sure they have some great ones, but I'm just not a Dead fan, so I have nothing for you there. The others, I can help with."

U2: Trip Through Your Wires

Pearl Jam: Rearview Mirror

Oasis: Morning Glory

Queen: Don't Stop Me Now and You're My Best Friend.

Goo Goo Dolls: What Do You Need?

Led Zeppelin: The Rover

REM: The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight

Neil Young: Old Man

Van Morrison: Real Real Gone

Talking Heads: Lifetime Piling Up

Bonus...

ELO: Mr. Blue Sky (hope you have lots of that in Alaska!)

Young The Giant: Mind Over Matter

Brad: The Day Brings



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faith in sports


Occasionally here on Friday at #DMD, we'll bring back one of the classics since, hopefully, there are new people jumping on here all the time who might not have seen it the first time or two.

This one is a classic.

It's George Foreman, talking about the night he met Jesus.

Please take 7 minutes this morning to watch this. It chronicles his boxing career, a monumental loss, and how his entire life changed thereafter.

"You're gonna die. You're gonna die," Foreman says in the video.

This is an amazing revelation from one of our greatest athletes ever.

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



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Thursday
May 30, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3569


mays, griffey, trout.....gunnar?


This seems almost too good to be true.

Like, this is so good something's going to go wrong to spoil it all.

For anyone who suffered through the embarrassment that was Orioles baseball from 1998 through 2011 -- and again for a few years circa 2017 -- this most definitely classifies as one of those "no way this is happening to us" moments.

The Baltimore Orioles might actually have the new, best, everyone-is-jealous-of-him player in ALL of baseball.

I'm not dissing Shohei Ohtani, either. We'll get to him in a little bit.

Out of every player in the league, American and National, the new generational superstar is in Baltimore of all places.

His name is Gunnar Henderson.

The best player in all of baseball, right here in Charm City? Our own Gunnar? Maybe!

For more than a decade now, we've watched 1,000-tool-player Mike Trout perform in Los Angeles. Because he's west and we're east, the greatness of Trout is probably a tad underappreciated in these parts, but if you're a fan of the game and even remotely interested in those trendy, nerdy statistics baseball has created in the last 20 years, you know just how great he's been.

Gunnar is potentially going to be better.

Can you imagine this in 20 years when folks start to look back at the last 100 years of baseball and talk about the true iconic greats of the sport?

Willie Mays in his generation.

Ken Griffey Jr. in his generation.

Mike Trout in his generation.

And Gunnar Henderson, the BALTIMORE Oriole, in his generation.

Now, yes, it's fair to point out that Henderson's batting average of .256 is far off of Mays and his .302 average and even Griffey's .282 average.

But batting average is just one small part of the equation when it comes to measuring greatness.

Henderson can do it all, but it's his ability to drive the ball that's starting to stand out more than anything else. His grand slam in the second inning last night gave him 18 home runs for the season. And we haven't yet reached June. 50 dingers might be a bit ambitious in 2024, but 40 is certainly well within reach.

Then again, what do you expect from a guy who homered in his first Major League game in Cleveland?

If defense matters in the way we compare him to guys like Mays, Griffey Jr. and Trout, that's going to be hard to do because Gunnar plays the infield. But there's a stat nerd out there somewhere who will take what Gunnar does with his glove and what those guys did with their gloves and he or she might figure out that Henderson is as good or better than those three.

Maybe he winds up being a .265 career hitter, but averages 40 HR and 100 RBI on his way to 3,000 hits and a Hall of Fame spot.

That would be plenty good enough for me, and you, I assume.

But if Gunnar's average at the plate just upticks a couple of notches into that .285 range (what, four more hits per-month or something?), we might have ourselves baseball's undeniable "best player" in the mold of what we've thought of Mike Trout in L.A.

And, no, I'm not overlooking Shohei Ohtani on purpose.

I definitely see his greatness.

It's just that I don't even know "what" to consider him at this point and, honestly, he's so much better than everyone else I guess I just put him in his own category and start ranking everyone else from there.

When the dust settles on Ohtani's career, he might wind up being, both statistically and historically, the best baseball player we have ever seen, period. He won't be a generational talent, in other words. He'll be better than Babe Ruth. Better than Hank Aaron. Better than everyone.

But Gunnar is #2, or #1* with an asterisk, since we don't know what Ohtani is at this point.

Funny story here, but back in my radio days when I was pressuring the Orioles to put "Baltimore" back on their road jerseys, a friend of the show somehow got his hands on an authentic, new Orioles gray road top and had the old Baltimore script on it just like the team eventually started wearing again.

At that time, for reasons I don't remember, I told the guy to please put the number "2" on the back of my jersey. Maybe it was a subliminal gesture in the direction of Derek Jeter. I'm kidding. I think. But I don't recall exactly why I asked for #2 on the jersey, but a few weeks later he delivered it to the radio station. A gray Orioles road jersey with the cursive Baltimore script and #2 on the back.

I'm looking pretty daggone smart right about now, aren't I?

The back of the shirt has "DF" instead of "Henderson", but I have my very own #2 Orioles shirt.

There's a lot of those floating around Baltimore, by the way. Not the #2 "DF" jersey...the one with "Henderson, #2" on the back.

I know the white elephant in the room. And so do you. There's no way to avoid thinking about it.

But there's certainly a chance Henderson does his obligatory six years of service in Baltimore and then darts off somewhere to scoop up $500 million or more when he becomes a free agent.

That would be heartbreaking, but a World Series or two over the next few years would help ease the pain of Henderson talking to the media about how "I dreamed of playing in Yankee Stadium as a kid" or "growing up, I had posters of Chipper Jones all over my room and always hoped I would be an Atlanta Brave."

The hope here, of course, is that David Rubenstein doesn't allow that to happen.

Henderson will always have the upper hand, obviously. He'll pretty much tell the Orioles how much they're paying him, not the other way around.

But Rubenstein doesn't have millions. He has billions. And he'll be able to figure out a way to scrape together a few extra bucks, sell a beach house or three, and keep Henderson in Baltimore.

At least that's the hope, right?

In the meantime, we have baseball's newest-best-player right here in Charm City.

Imagine 20 years from now when people start talking about greats of the sport and "Gunnar" is mentioned in the same breath as Griffey Jr., A-Rod, Mays, Ichiro, Mantle, Trout and even Shohei.

It's happening right now.

The chase is on.

And we're all here to see it.

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Wednesday
May 29, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3568


ty cobb is now...in 2nd place?


Grayson Rodriguez better be careful.

There's this pothole outside of Camden Yards, in the parking lot somewhere.

You know...

I'm kidding, of course. The only way Rodriguez loses his spot in the rotation is if the Orioles intentionally give him a two-week break like they did earlier this season when that always aggravating "shoulder inflammation" reared its ugly head.

Grayson Rodriguez struck out 10 last night, but gave up four early runs to the Red Sox and picked up the loss in an 8-3 defeat.

The pothole trick was used in the Buck Showalter era when the team didn't want to outright cut then-struggling pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez, so they created an "ankle sprain" and moved him off the active roster in that way.

Rodriguez is one of the best young pitchers in baseball, even if he got dinged up early and often in last night's 8-3 loss to the Red Sox.

It's just that he hasn't been all that great since coming back from that "injury".

The O's rotation is eventually going to need some added juice. You don't have to be a Rhodes scholar to figure that one out.

Right now, it's Burnes, G-Rod, Irvin and Bradish. Those four are solid. Really solid, in fact, if the Bradish we saw over the weekend in Chicago is the Bradish we're going to get through the rest of 2024.

The rotation depends, a little bit, on what happens with John Means and Dean Kremer. Will either or both of them return? When? And if they do, what will their quality resemble once they're healthy again?

It's also worth pointing out that 2025 will likely require at least one new starting pitcher, either from the team's minor league system or via trade at the upcoming deadline or through free agency/trade in the off-season.

It's highly likely Corbin Burnes is going to the highest bidder this winter and that bidder won't be the Orioles.

And, yes, we're not even halfway through the 2024 campaign yet, so why worry about 2025? Well, because you strike while the iron's hot, so to speak, and you can even do that with a quick glance to the future. If you can get a quality starter this June or July who extends into 2025 and/or 2026, isn't that a win-win, as they call it?

Rodriguez's last couple of spotty starts aren't overly concerning, but the American League is eventually going to be won by someone with pitching, pitching, pitching. Last season's Rangers' lineup that tore through everyone in the post-season was a bit of an outlier. Most years, pitching is going to win you the trophy in October.

The O's have good pitching now. Some weeks, it's even great.

But Mike Elias needs to pull out most of the stops he has to make sure he adds some arm depth in June or July, particularly if Means isn't returning in 2024.

That might mean someone like Heston Kjerstad or Connor Norby has to go. If so, that's the way things fall when you're trying to win a championship. You can't have all of the great players, remember. If you did, everyone wouldn't get a chance to play.

Oh, and don't look now, but Cedric Mullins still hasn't reached the .200 mark in batting average and Memorial Day has come and gone.

He did have a 2-hit game last week and a triple against the Red Sox on Monday. So he has that going for him.......which is nice.

But this is quickly becoming almost Chris Davis-like with Mullins, except Davis at least walked two or three times every ten at-bats. Mullins' on base percentage is a robust .238, or roughly 100 points higher than your Uncle Ned's OBP would have been if he ever got that elusive shot in the majors he talked about at the family picnic every summer.

Austin Hays isn't much better, mind you.

Actually, he's worse. His batting average is .164 and his OBP is .225. Oh, and he was an All-Star last year. Talk about going from the penthouse to the outhouse. Wow.

And while we're at it, let's mention a name no one wants to talk about at parties. Anthony Santander. It's not pretty. If Santander doesn't homer, he makes almost no contribution at the plate.

He's now dipped to .203/.288/.423. He would giggle at Mullins and Hays, but it wouldn't be very genuine given what he's done at the plate this season.

Pitching, pitching and pitching.

And a remedy for the Mullins-Hays-Santander fiasco at the plate.

Mike Elias has no time to rest.

I'm sure he's very aware of the work that lies ahead.


This one is very touchy indeed, because the Negro Leagues have long been overlooked by baseball historians and, well, Major League Baseball itself.

But yesterday, MLB announced they were officially recognizing Negro Leagues statistics and records and incorporating them into Major League records effective immediately.

That means, among other things, that Josh Gibson is now the all-time leader in career batting average in Major League Baseball at .372, surpassing the old mark of .367 set by Ty Cobb.

Gibson also became the career leader in slugging percentage (.718) and OPS (1.177), moving ahead of Babe Ruth (.690 and 1.164).

In an odd twist, it was actually the Covid-truncated 2020 season that led MLB authorities to evaluate where the Negro Leagues should rank in the overall history of baseball.

"The condensed 60-game season for the 2020 calendar year for the National League and American League prompted us to think that maybe the shortened Negro League seasons could come under the MLB umbrella, after all," MLB historian John Thorn said.

And so, now, historians like Thorn have gone back and researched Negro Leagues records to reflect "what might have been" had those games taken place under the umbrella of MLB.

Josh Gibson, not Ty Cobb, is the new all-time batting average leader.

I'm not a fan of Ty Cobb, per se. And I'm acknowledging the slippery slope that is adding records for players who didn't actually play in the same league as others they're being compared to. And then there's the overall poor treatment of Negro Leagues players back in those days, too.

It's touchy.

And as someone who has twice been to the Negro Leagues museum in Kansas City, I can tell you there should be a place for all of those players in some form or fashion within the historical walls of Major League Baseball.

I just don't know how you take Josh Gibson's statistical career and marry it with someone like Cobb or Babe Ruth, that's all.

But that's why I'm not a baseball historian.


The Canadian Open takes place this week on the PGA Tour, and there's almost no way the event can duplicate the excitement of last year's outcome, when native son Nick Taylor rolled in a 60-foot putt to win his national championship.

But might we see a similar sort of winner, at least?

Two players jump out at us right away this week.

We're bullish on both Corey Conners at +2200 and Mackenzie Hughes at +4000 to pull off the "Canadian double" and win their country's biggest golf event of the year.

Is Cameron Young ready to finally break through with that first win on the PGA Tour?

At some point, soon, we think, Cameron Young has to break through and win. Young, like Conners, is +2200. He hasn't been playing great in 2024, but everything is still there in his golf game. He just needs a breakout week. And he needs to win, once, to get things rolling in the right direction. This might be his week.

We've been bullish on Alex Noren for a month or so now and it's not time to jump off just yet. We love his chances this week at +2500. We liked him at the PGA and we're probably going to favor him in a couple of weeks at Pinehurst, too. He's one of the most underrated players on TOUR.

Hamilton Golf Club in Ontario is tight off the tee. Look at some of the results from courses where driving accuracy matters and you keep seeing the name Sahith Theegala. He's our man this week, even at +2000. We don't like to necessarily pick one player to win these things, because the real money is made in how many Top 10's and Top 20's you can produce, but we're going to sprinkle win money on all of the names above plus Theegala, who is quickly becoming a dependable player week in and week out.

Last but not least, if you're looking for a semi-longshot who could produce some great golf in Ontario, how about Maverick McNealy at +3000? That number might be a smidgen low for a guy still trying to make a name for himself on TOUR, but we feel like a big moment for him is right around the corner. Maybe it's on a Canadian corner this week.

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Tuesday
May 28, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3567


and summer.......is here


I'm sure it's my increasing age that spikes the excitement in me around this time every year, but here we are, the Tuesday after Memorial Day, and I can't help feel a little bit giddy.

Melancholy I'm definitely not.

Bring on the summer.

As I noted here over the holiday weekend, part of what happens to all of us in these parts is the whole "Land of Pleasant Living" theme that us old heads heard over and over back in the 1970's and 1980's.

I remember visiting with Mark Suchy in Ocean City a few years back, sitting on his back deck with the ocean waves bouncing inland some 75 yards to our right and laughing with him about that phrase: "Land of Pleasant Living".

"Could someone have invented a more precise phrase to encapsulate what Maryland is all about?" Mark asked as we caught up on old times.

I don't think so.

Sure, we get those raging 6 pm thunderstorms like we got in Baltimore last night. Those come and go all summer long. A few, as we know, might even be a bit scary at times.

Jordan Westburg and the Orioles promise to give us lots of great "Summer of '24" memories over the next four months.

We'll go 27 straight days without any kind of rain at some point this summer and temperatures will reach "baking point" by 10 am or thereabouts for two straight weeks.

There will be nights where the low is 82. You'll go out to walk the dog at 6:30 am and come back in sweating like a burglar.

But it's still pleasant. Very pleasant, indeed.

If you're born and raised around here, you know it's coming, this summer wave, and you're all good with it. As I say anytime someone at the golf course complains about the heat: "You don't have to shovel it."

It's also worth mentioning that a lot of us first heard the phrase, "Land of Pleasant Living", while listening to Orioles baseball and hearing Chuck Thompson read beer ads during radio broadcasts.

Maybe it was different for you, but that's certainly where I first heard those words. And back then, it was pretty much your only connection to the Orioles: the radio and Chuck Thompson.

A game on television back in the 1970's was a true treat. It was the radio that brought us all together during baseball season.

Even though I'm not a huge fan of today's set of radio broadcasters, I still find myself wanting to catch some of the game on the radio just for old times sake.

I drove back from a golf outing yesterday afternoon and worked hard to find a station in Pennsylvania carrying the O's thrashing of the Red Sox. Nothing feels like the 1970's these days, but riding in the car and hearing Orioles baseball on the radio comes close.

The summer, to me, at least, also means U.S. Open golf, which comes up in a few weeks in Pinehurst, NC.

As Roy McAvoy said in the movie, "Tin Cup", it's the most democratic golf tournament ever invented. All you need is a real sub-2 handicap and the $175 entry fee and you, too, can try and tee it up in the national golf championship.

Someone "off the streets" will never win the U.S. Open, of course. That title is reserved for the greats of the game who make a living playing on the PGA Tour or elsewhere. But the tournament at Pinehurst (June 13-16) will give plenty of qualifiers the chance to dream a little bit, which sometimes turns out to better than the real thing.

When I finally qualified for the U.S. Senior Open in 2021 after seven previous failed attempts, I was overcome with excitement and joy on the day I actually secured a spot in the field at Argyle Country Club in Silver Spring. But as the days passed and the tournament loomed closer, I started to focus more on playing well, posting a score and, hopefully, acquitting myself well on the biggest stage in senior golf.

I went from being thrilled to be there to being panicked about being there. It was weird. But it was also something I'm sure most first timers experience. It's part of golf.

So, in a few weeks at Pinehurst, someone who qualified for the event in his hometown will be on center stage and playing in the biggest golf tournament in the world. Those are the guys I'll watch. Their summer of 2024 will never be forgotten.

Like a lot of you, I assume, my family will head to Ocean City (in July) for a week at the beach.

It's always been important to me for my two children to experience a week of beach living. And now that they're both teenagers, I can share some (not all...) stories about my youthful days in Ocean City. My wife and I didn't know each other when I was a high schooler patrolling Coastal Highway, but every year we're down there, now, I'll rekindle a memory or two that she will enjoy hearing.

We are very blessed in this area to have Ocean City at our disposal.

It's a remarkable getaway. In some ways, it's how the whole world should work: Bust your hump for four or five months, take it easy the remainder of the time.

Business owners down there (it's actually "over there", I think) put in a lot of honest work. And while they're certainly in it to make a living and support themselves and their families, there's also something about serving their community that rings true as well.

Summers in Maryland wouldn't be the same without the Orioles.

Or Ocean City.

These days, with the O's flying high in the A.L. East, the summer connects to the fall in a much more streamlined way. 20 years ago when the baseball team couldn't get out of its own way, we merged from baseball to football around Labor Day and that's how we signaled the end of summer around here.

Now, summer continues well into September and even October because the Orioles are among the best teams in all of baseball.

It's hard to explain unless you suffered through 2004 and you're here, still, in 2024, taking it all in.

We truly do live in the Land of Pleasant Living, just as Mark and I laughed about a few years ago on a warm summer evening in Ocean City.

Enjoy these days, my friends. You never know what's to come in the months ahead.

I hope all of you have a great summer of 2024.

Go O's!

The beer is as cold as it can possibly get.

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Monday
May 27, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3566


happy memorial day


Much to the chagrin of some of you, who think #DMD has to be 100% devoted entirely to sports every single day of the year, we'll spend some (important) time on other stuff today, in addition to covering the Orioles and their 4-game sweep of the hapless White Sox.

It's Memorial Day in this country, which generally ushers in the official beginning of summer. In some places in the south and the west, where warm weather hangs around 12 months out of the year, perhaps Memorial Day doesn't take on anything extra. In Florida, it was warm yesterday, it's warm today and it will be warm tomorrow.

But here, in The Land of Pleasant Living, Memorial Day has always meant that summer is here, Ocean City is open for another season of business, and we don't have to worry about seeing our breath when we exhale for at least 5 full months.

Memorial Day is not only symbolically important here, but it's also the most important national, non-religious holiday we celebrate in my opinion.

It's the day we remember those who died while serving and protecting our country.

We should be thankful beyond measure for those we honor today.

Perhaps it's the Memorial Day holiday that has me so disappointed about the death of PGA Tour player Grayson Murray on Saturday. Whatever it is, I can't shake it.

And while it's not specifically because he's a professional golfer, there is something about Murray reaching the pinnacle of his profession and then taking his own life that leaves me shaking my head in sadness.

When I was 27 years old, a dear, close friend of mine shot himself and died. You remember certain days and moments in your life and I remember where I was the day a mutual friend, Rob, called me at the Blast offices. We had moved from the Arena over to a new building on South Clinton Street owned by then Blast owner Ed Hale.

I remember my office. My view. My desk. And I remember picking up the phone when the office secretary buzzed in and said, "Rob Carter is on line for you."

I picked up the phone and greeted him and there was silence. Then a muffled sniffle or two.

"Drew? Did you hear?" he asked.

Another sniffle. More silence.

"Jack killed himself this morning."

They say there are always warning signs -- if you look deeply enough -- when someone is contemplating suicide. There were certainly plenty of those connected to Grayson Murray, even if his closest friends said he was "doing better" over the last year.

With Jack, there weren't any signs at all. At least none that I saw during our 10-year friendship dating all the way back to high school.

I never did find out what was going on in his life that led him to make that fateful decision. He had joined the military right out of high school and that didn't work out, for reasons I don't recall. I believe they were physical, but I don't remember the details.

He tried his hand at a couple of different businesses that didn't work out as well, but none of them were life changing or caused him financial ruin.

He loved the Blast. He loved golf. He was a great friend.

Then I got that call from Rob and I never saw Jack again.

Someone got that call about Grayson Murray on Saturday. Maybe they weren't surprised, maybe they were shocked. But they got the call nonetheless.

There are thousands of young, (and not so young, too) aspiring professional golfers who would give anything to rise to the level of play once produced by Grayson Murray. Murray not only made a living playing professional golf, he won two times on the PGA Tour and several times on the Korn Ferry Tour and other developmental tours.

Other than winning a major championship, Grayson Murray had everything in golf you could possibly want.

And yet, somehow, that still wasn't enough.

My friend Jack had friends that cared about him and his entire life ahead of him. Somehow, that wasn't enough for him, either.

But we should always make it a point to be aware of what's going on in people's lives that could be troubling them. We might be the one voice or one phone call that makes a difference to them.

And on this Memorial Day weekend, let's remember those who heard a voice of a different kind that resonated with them. The voice that said, "Go and serve your country."

It's vitally important we never forget those men and women. We're here today, enjoying this first official day of summer in Maryland, in large part because of their sacrifices.

All we can say is "thank you."

And we should say it every day, not just on the last Monday in May every year.

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NOTES & COMMENT
George McDowell


George McDowell is #DMD's foreign correspondent. His international reports are filed from a hardened outpost just across the U.S. / North Carolina border. He writes on sports topics that interest him that he feels might also interest some segment of the wildly esoteric #DMD readership. George has been a big fan of DF and his various enterprises since the last century, and for several seasons appeared as a weekly guest on his Monday evening radio show, Maryland Golf Live, delivering commentary as The Eccentric Starter. George also donates his time and talents to the less fortunate, and currently volunteers as secretary of the Rickie Fowler Fan Club.


IN FLANDERS FIELD


Flanders Field American Cemetery and Memorial is a World War I cemetery in the city of Waregem, Belgium. Originally a temporary battlefield burial ground, Flanders Field American Cemetery became the only permanent American World War I cemetery in Belgium. The cemetery commemorates 411 service members of the United States Armed Forces lost in action. There are 368 soldiers interred there. The poppies blow beneath the crosses [and eight Stars of David], row on row, that mark their places. The Walls of the Missing inside the chapel venerates 43 service members who are missing in action.


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The government of Belgium granted to the United States its use as a permanent burial ground in perpetuity without charge or taxation. At the center of the cemetery is the small memorial chapel of white stone. Above its bronze entrance door is engraved:

greet them ever with grateful hearts


Charles Lindbergh, after a 3,500-mile, 33-hour flight over the Atlantic, landed the Spirit of St. Louis at Le Bourget Aerodrome just outside of Paris on May 21, 1927.


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In sharp contrast to the political liability and social embarrassment he would become in later years, Lindbergh was hailed as the darling of the Roaring Twenties. He was lauded and celebrated for his historic non-stop flight from North America to Europe. Invitations poured in asking Lucky Lindy to visit state leaders and national capitols all over Europe.

Lindbergh accepted an invitation from King Albert of Belgium to visit him in Brussels, nine days after Lindbergh landed at Le Bourget, and on what was Memorial Day in the United States. At the conclusion of the visit, Lindbergh flew his now world-famous aircraft to Waregem, Belgium, to the newly opened Flanders Fields American Cemetery. Bringing the Spirit in low over the graves and monuments, Lindbergh opened a window, dropped a wreath of flowers on the graves of his fellow Americans, and then continued back to Le Bourget. Thus began the tradition of flyovers of Memorial Day ceremonies.


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Unlike Veterans Day, which honors all veterans, Memorial Day is a holiday for the purpose of honoring and mourning those who have died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. I'll honor my uncle – my father's brother – who parachuted into Italy – four years before I was born – just prior to the invasion of the peninsula in World War II, and who was never seen again. I'll remember and honor my cousin, a second lieutenant killed in a firefight in Boa An Dong, Quang Nam province, Vietnam on February 9, 1968.

I'll ask you to join me in honoring a category of veterans who have historically been — not much discussed, those who have died by their own hands. According to the Veterans Administration, the rate of all veteran suicides is 50% higher than the general U. S. population, and for women veterans, the rate is 150% higher. It's beyond me to write anything worthwhile on causes and treatments and the like, I'm just asking you to find it in your heart to heart to honor service and sacrifice.

For holidays, we're used to wishing one another, for examples, "Happy Halloween," "Happy Fourth of July," and "Happy Hanukkah." But wishing someone a "Happy" Memorial Day is clearly inappropriate. Happiness isn't a feeling to be wished for another on this day with its specific purpose. I suggest more meaningful would be a wish derived from the engraving above the entrance door to the memorial chapel in the Flanders Field American Cemetery — Greet Them Ever With Grateful Hearts. Let's wish others a Grateful Memorial Day.


In Flanders Fields


In Flanders Fields, the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.


We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.


Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

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"Randy On The O's"


Randy Morgan takes #DMD readers through the recent week in Orioles baseball as the Birds try to win a second straight A.L. East title.


orioles week in review


Week Record: 4-3

Season Record: 33-18

AL East Standing: 2nd (2 GB NYY)

Player of the Week: Kyle Bradish 12IP 4H 1R 5BB 17K

It was sweeps week for the Orioles this week. The team’s impressive sweepless streak finally came to an end in a weird series in St. Louis, but the O’s rebounded to take care of business with a four game sweep of the AAAA Chicago White Sox.

Unfortunately for the Birds, the Yankees kept winning as well, also going 4-3 on the week in series with the Mariners and Padres, to maintain their two game lead in the AL East.

The Orioles traveled to St. Louis to start the week, opening that series with a 6-3 loss behind a rough start for Dean Kremer. It was later announced that Kremer felt some arm soreness that forced him out of the game and landed him on the injured list.

John Means is questionable to return in 2024 after feeling discomfort in his elbow last week in St. Louis.

The Cardinals jumped out to a 5-0 lead in a big fourth inning. Gunnar Henderson closed the gap with a three-run homer but that was as close as the O’s would get.

On Tuesday Kyle Bradish delivered a strong start that was cut short by rain which ultimately postponed the conclusion to the next day. Bradish left with the game tied 1-1 after five innings, giving up one run on four hits with six strikeouts.

When the game resumed on Wednesday, Jacob Webb and Keegan Akin promptly combined to yield two runs on a Nolan Gorman homer and the O’s couldn’t touch the Cards bullpen, falling 3-1.

With the streak in jeopardy, John Means got off to a good start in the regularly scheduled Wednesday game, throwing three scoreless innings. However, that game too saw a significant rain delay, forcing Means out of the game.

He was also later revealed to have a forearm issue that would have cut his start short either way and seems quite ominous given his injury history. Means will head to the IL with Kremer, and might not be back for a while.

Cole Irvin took over after the rain delay but squandered a three run lead, surrendering five runs in just over three innings. Kyle Stowers nearly evened the score in the 9th with a liner to the gap, but Cards right fielder Lars Nootbar made a great catch and proceeded the pick off Cedric Mullins to end the O’s threat as they fell 5-4.

The good news is the team managed to regroup in Chicago against one of the worst teams in the league. The O’s jumped out to a large lead on Thursday with homers from Santander and Mateo as well as three RBI from Adley Rutschman. That paired with a decent start from Grayson Rodriguez, five innings, two runs, seven strikeouts, led to an 8-6 win.

On Friday Corbin Burnes maintained his astonishing consistency, holding the White Sox to three runs in six innings with six strikeouts. Though it wasn’t his best work, it was enough to keep the O’s in the game, along with Gunnar’s 17th homer of the season. That set up Adley for a clutch two-run single in the 8th inning that sealed the 6-4 win.

Albert Suarez came up with his own clutch performance on Saturday, going four scoreless innings in a spot start to save a suddenly depleted staff and give the team a chance to win. Keegin Akin struggled again when he relieved Suarez and gave up three runs on a triple from Baltimore native Gavin Sheets.

However, the O’s fought back in a huge 8th inning, where they put up three homers from O’Hearn, Santander, and Westburg to turn the tide. Dillon Tate pitched a spotless 2.1 innings in his return from Norfolk, striking out four and setting up a Cionel Perez save in a 5-3 win.

Kyle Bradish delivered the performance of the week on Sunday with a magnificent seven inning, no-hit effort. Bradish struck out eleven while shutting out the White Sox as the O’s built a lead on homers from Adley and Cowser en route to a 4-1 win to seal the four game sweep.

There was some decent competition for Player of the Week heading into Sunday, but Bradish’s outing left no doubt about it. Bradish finished the week with seventeen strikeouts in twelve innings across his two starts, allowing just one run.

He was absolutely filthy on Sunday and looks every bit of his 2023 ace level, lowering his ERA to 1.75 after his first five starts this year. There may be questions in other parts of the rotation, but with a healthy Kyle Bradish, the O’s could have one of the best 1-2-3 starters in the majors.


Down on the Farm –

In Norfolk this week, Heston Kjerstad continued his dominance of AAA pitching. The lefty slugger put up a .615 on base percentage in the six games against the Worcester Red Sox, with four doubles, a homer and five RBI. Kjerstad boasts the best OPS at any level of the minor leagues. It's safe to say he probably belongs on a big league roster somewhere.

Connor Norby also had a strong week at Norfolk, batting over .300 to raise his season OPS to an elite .902. Jackson Holliday had a slightly improved week as well, with a .413 OBP and a homer. Though he did strike out eight times and had a costly error at second base.

Top O’s pitching prospect, Cade Povich, had a decent but not dominant start. Povich struggled in the first inning, throwing a few bad pitches that were punished for three runs, but he settled down after that and held the “Woo Sox” scoreless for the next five innings, finishing with six innings pitched, five hits, three runs, two walks and six strikeouts. Perhaps this was his last start in Norfolk before his MLB debut?

In AA Bowie, #2 overall prospect Samuel Basallo started to heat up. The 19-year old catching prospect got a hit in every game this week, batting .400 with two home runs, two walks, and six RBI.

Teammate Dylan Beavers also had a decent week, hitting two homers himself and driving in four to raise his season OPS to .899.


Question of the Week –

How will the O’s patch up the starting rotation?

The week started with Mike Elias and Brandon Hyde discussing a shift to a six-man starting rotation given the wealth of effective starters the team had after the successful returns of Kyle Bradish, John Means and Grayson Rodriguez from the injured list. That narrative was quickly turned on its head when both Means and Dean Kremer were forced to the IL with arm injuries.

Dean Kremer went to the IL with a right triceps strain, the hope is that his will only be a short stint similar to Grayson Rodriguez.

Means, on the other hand, had reduced velocity for his three inning start on Wednesday and was reported to have the dreaded forearm strain and is seeking a second opinion on his elbow. Given his struggles with arm injuries, it does not look promising for him to return any time soon, if at all this season.

It had seemed that the starting rotation was now a strength and all the Orioles front office had to do was figure out how to bolster the bullpen. Now it looks like the rotation could also use some reinforcements.

Albert Suarez filled in admirably on short rest on Saturday, just as he did earlier in the season. In the short term the solution may just be to make him and Cole Irvin the fourth and fifth starters and hope Kremer can return after fifteen days.

However, Suarez seems like more of an asset as a long reliever or power arm in the bullpen. His effectiveness had started to wane in his last few starts earlier in the season. So if Kremer can’t return immediately, where could the Orioles turn?

The top internal option may be the prospect mentioned in the section above. Cade Povich has clearly made a jump this season at AAA Norfolk, demonstrating fairly consistent dominance at the highest minor league level.

Povich doesn’t overwhelm with his velocity or his stuff, but seems to have figured out how to miss bats nonetheless, posting one of the top strikeout rates for a AAA starter. With a crunch in the starting rotation and Povich due for his turn in Norfolk late this week, it may just be the perfect opportunity to see what he can do at the big league level.

If it’s not Povich or Suarez, the O’s could look for the return of Tyler Wells. He has reportedly started throwing to rehab from his early season injury, but there is no real indication on timeline yet.

Also at Norfolk, Chayce McDermott could be another option. The righty looked like the better prospect between he and Povich last season, but got off to a rocky start in 2024. He seems to have righted the ship over his recent outings and could be ready for a major league test.

The last option would be to look to the trade market for another starter. This would likely be a last resort, only if Kremer (or someone else) has to go on the injured list for an extended time. Elias and company have proven they are willing to go out and get starting pitching, doing so last season at the deadline and in the offseason.

The team certainly has the prospect depth to deal from, so if the situation appears dire, there’s no reason to think they couldn’t trade a Kjerstad, Norby, Stowers, etc for a veteran starter.

At the end of the day, all teams are dealing with injuries, many to key starting pitchers. Atlanta has already lost their best pitcher (Strider) and position player (Acuna) for the season.

The Orioles rotation remains strong with Burnes, Rodriguez, and Bradish leading the way, so it isn’t a complete panic, but it's a little uncomfortable if the team has to rely on Cole Irvin and Albert Suarez to hold up as effective starters for the remainder of the season.

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Sunday
May 26, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3565


sunday ramblings


PGA Tour player Grayson Murray died on Saturday at the age of 30.

The two-time TOUR winner -- including a victory earlier in the 2024 campaign -- withdrew from this week's event in Fort Worth, Texas late in Friday's second round due to illness.

While no official cause of death has been released, the widespread speculation within the PGA Tour is that Murray took his own life. He had been battling a very public alcohol issue over the last couple of years and was open to discussing his mental health challenges with anyone who would listen.

This is a terrible story on so many levels.

Murray was seemingly on track to recover from his issues and revive his PGA Tour career at the same time. His win earlier this year in Hawaii was a triumph that excited a lot of people in the world of golf.

Sadly, despite an outward appearance that things were going well, Murray was wearing a well-designed disguise. His playing partner earlier this week, Peter Malnati, said Murray seemed OK, just a little "distant", as they tried to navigate their way around Colonial Country Club.

"I just thought he wasn't feeling well," Malnati said. "You know, we all travel an incredible amount. It's really easy to pick up a stomach bug or a virus. I just figured he was run down with something."

This story, of course, percolates far past the PGA Tour and the golf course. It touches practically every town, every neighborhood and every school.

If you know someone who has been battling depression or has challenges with their mental health, please stay vigilant with them as they battle through their issues.

Grayson Murray "appeared" to be back on track. But it appears as if he wasn't healthy, after all.

If you're suffering from mental health challenges, please seek professional help.

And if you're the friend or family member of someone battling depression or a dependency illness, stay with them through thick and thin, please.


It looked like the Orioles were actually going to drop a game to the lowly White Sox yesterday.

Baltimore trailed 3-0 after Gavin Sheets tripled in three runs in the bottom of the 5th inning. It wasn't looking good.

Then, it happened.

"It" was . . . three home runs in the top of the 8th inning.

First, it was Ryan O'Hearn with a 2-run shot to close the gap to 3-2.

Anthony Santander then hit his own 2-run dinger to put the Birds up 4-3.

And then it was Jordan Westburg to finish things off with a solo shot to finalize the scoring at 5-3.

Beating the White Sox in fairly dramatic fashion wasn't the only O's related news on Saturday.

Mike Elias picked up a veteran relief pitcher as well, trading for recently DFA'd Thyago Vieira of the Milwaukee Brewers.

The 31-year-old had made 16 appearances with the Brewers in 2024, running up a 5.64 ERA along the way. He was cut by Milwaukee this past Monday.

Baltimore gave up minor league right-handed pitcher Garrett Stallings to get Vieira.


I hope everyone who visits #DMD today takes a meaningful moment to remember those of the armed services who gave their lives in defense of our country.

It's important to remember their service and sacrifice every day, not just this weekend, but we celebrate Memorial Day to particularly honor those who gave their last full measure.

Thank you for honoring America's deceased veterans.







Saturday
May 25, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3564


give that fan......a contract


We've never awarded a #DMD contributor with the honor of "Best Comment of the Year", but if we started doing that in 2024, Paul from Towson would most certainly be the clubhouse leader with his published comment from yesterday's edition.

And as Forrest Gump once famously said -- That's all I'm going to say about that.

There are a lot of things wrong with this country and a lot of things right with this country, too. Because we live in a society where the bad gets spotlighted and the good gets moved to the backburner (watch any nightly newscast, on any channel), what's wrong draws most of the attention.

Paul's comment from Friday's edition of #DMD is what's right with this country. Namely, someone who makes an argument about a topic or presents their side or contrary opinion and does it without spewing hate or ignorance or causing a disruption in other people's daily lives.

We've lost the ability to do that in this country, somehow.

Look no further than the college protests this month where students organized disrespectful and unlawful gatherings in an effort to prove a point that was, if we're being honest, above their paygrade and probably foreign to them and their senses.

I wouldn't go as far as to say Paul's comment from Friday was a "work of art", but we've lost our way in this country when it comes to the art of conversation and disagreement.

This isn't news to all of you, of course. If you've been paying attention over the last 20 years, you've seen it all unfold in high definition.

And, so, when a sports figure like Harrison Butker offers his opinion that women should follow their God-given calling of, first, staying true to their birth gender and, second, bearing children within a family structure, those comments are somehow considered to be offensive, disrespectful and off-putting?

Paul from Towson handled it better than any of us could.

He made a great argument and did it the right way.

As the great Rex Barney was fond of saying --- "Give that fan......a contract."


On a somewhat related note, Scott K. from Hampstead sent an e-mail to me that was a bit of a personal attack but also highlighted another thing "wrong with this country."

"Drew, please help me understand how a good, decent conservative Christian like you can endorse and support far left commies like Bruce Springsteen, Dave Matthews and Eddie Vedder. It just doesn't add up."

There was more to Scott's e-mail. He threw in Phil Mickelson and Gregg Popovich, too. I like Mickelson's coffee, yes. But I don't like the fact that he jumped to LIV Golf. I don't know much about his politics and couldn't care less, either.

Should Gregg Popovich's political leanings connect in any way how he's judged as a basketball coach?

Popovich? Great coach. Truly great. His politics don't matter to me. He's not running for office. He's a basketball coach.

But to address Scott's main point, I don't care what Springsteen, Matthews or Vedder thinks about the government or politics.

They're musicians. I respect them for their music talents. Their respective efforts in song writing and singing are the only things I consider "important" about them.

In fact, the fact that the three of them will occasionally pontificate about politics during their concerts is a turn-off to me. I'd rather hear Springsteen sing Thunder Road. Or Matthews sing "Granny". Or Vedder sing "Jeremy".

I already know what the three of them think about Donald Trump. I knew it when I bought the concert ticket. I don't care what you think about him, for starters, and I don't need you to remind me of where you stand on the subject.

That said, I can balance my disdain for their public bellyaching with the fact that I have an incredible admiration for their musical skill set(s).

Perhaps some of you can't do that. If not, no worries. But I don't have to align with Springsteen politically to value him as a musician.

Oh, and Scott, don't look now, but a huge part of Springsteen's catalog has religious imagery framed within the lyrics he writes. The same with Eddie Vedder.

There are things about the church that Springsteen disagrees with and he isn't afraid to make those known.

He has a platform that 50 years in the music business have afforded him and he chooses to use them to his liking.

I'm no Bruce Springsteen, of course, but I have a (very) small platform that I've created and I use mine in whatever way I choose, too.

Whether you read my opinions and align with them or read my opinions and disagree with them is the game we play, but I'm not ever entering into a discussion here with the hope of changing the world. I tell you what I think and what I believe in and that's sorta-kinda where it all ends.

You're smart enough to figure out what you like or don't like without being influenced by me, in the same way I'm smart enough to isten to a Bruce Springsteen song or album and not be influenced by him if I so choose.

Athletes have been trying to get us to buy sneakers, rental cars, mortgages and soft drinks for a long, long time. They take 30 seconds or 1 minute telling you how great Nike is and they urge you to rush out and see for yourself by purchasing a pair of their tennis shoes.

Some of you do that. Some of you don't.

It's up to you if you're influenced enough by someone you admire to do as they ask of you.

When I hear a musician tell me who to vote for or who not to vote for, my general (unsaid) response to them is: What on earth makes you think I care what you think about the President, Governor and so on?

Just because I bought a ticket to your concert?

I just want to hear you play the guitar and sing a little bit. Give me two and a half hours of entertainment and I'll be on my way. Happy.

I hope that answered your question, Scott.

It was a fair one, I suppose, even though I think the answer was really pretty simple.


The Orioles scratched out a 6-4 win in Chicago last night, but it was, let's say, an "uncomfortable" victory.

The Birds produced a workmanlike 4-0 lead and were in great shape with Corbin Burnes on the mound, but then he started to fizzle in the bottom of the 5th, allowing Chicago to score three times and trim the lead to a single run.

Burnes got through the 6th inning unscathed and then turned things over to Yennier Cano in the 7th, but he promptly gave up a home run to tie the score at 4-4.

Dean Kremer found his way to the 15-day injured list on Friday with a triceps strain.

An Adley Rutschman two-run single in the 8th inning proved to be the difference in the 6-4 win.

The good Craig Kimbrel showed up in the bottom of the 9th and retired the side in order to preserve the O's second straight win in Chicago.

One night after collecting two hits, Cedric Mullins reverted back to being Cedric Mullins, going 0-for-3 to lower his batting average to .195.

Not to be outdone, Austin Hays also went 0-for-3 to see his average fall to .167.

Two of the team's three starting outfielders aren't hitting .200. That's.....not.....good.

Oh, and speaking of "not good", Dean Kremer went on the injured list yesterday with a triceps strain.

That's not good.

Now, let's point out that perhaps Kremer is suffering from a "triceps strain". If you know what I mean.

Either way, the Birds will shelve him for a couple of weeks.

And so, now, that's Means out (elbow) and Kremer out, too. Burnes, Bradish and Gray-Rod are the team's etched-in-stone starters and Cole Irvin can be brought into the rotation if necessary.

If the Means and Kremer injuries are serious, does Elias start doing some trade-deadline shopping-for-pitching now instead of waiting until July?

The Birds will almost assuredly go after a 2nd baseman or significant utility infielder in July, too. But with Mullins continuing to scuffle at the plate and Jackson Holliday still struggling to find his offensive groove in Norfolk, a veteran 2nd baseman at the deadine would help free up a temporary shift to centerfield for Jorge Mateo.

Will Elias get a jump start on the deadline stuff with a June trade? Or will the trades he engineers come in the traditional manner like July 20, July 25, etc.?

I'm all for adding quality newcomers now, in case you care.

45 additional, "extra" games with an upgraded roster?

Yes, sign me up for that, please.

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Friday
May 24, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3563


friday nuggets


The Orioles almost were thoroughly embarrassed last night in Chicago.

The Louisville police were thoroughly embarrassed on Thursday. No "almost" about it.

And Larry Harmison was trying to embarrass me, I think, but really wound up embarrassing himself in the long run.

The ballgame in the Windy City went the O's way last night, but it got scary in the 9th inning, where the lowly White Sox reeled off four runs, down 8-2, and looked like they might pull off an improbable comeback before Craig Kimbrel produced a weird, wacky game ending double play to finalize things at 8-6.

Craig Kimbrel got the O's out of a tight spot in the bottom of the 9th inning last night in Chicago.

Things were on cruise control heading into the 9th, with the Birds ahead by six runs despite stranding what felt like 30 guys on base earlier in the contest.

But then the whole thing turned into a fiasco. Jonathan Heasley tried to put the game away in the 9th but couldn't do it. Yennier Cano came in to get things settled down and he, too, failed. Gavin Sheets knocked in two runs with a single and there were runners on first and second with no outs. It wasn't looking good at that point.

Cano managed to get a strike out on the board and then in came Kimbrel to either sew things up or give up a 3-run homer to end one of the more heartbreaking losses of the Brandon Hyde (regular season) era.

Alas, the good Kimbrel -- somehow -- showed up, getting a game-ending double play on a bizarre fly out/runner's interference combo that likely hasn't ever happened before in the history of Major League Baseball.

It was one of those plays that you love when it goes your way and you're howling at the moon if it doesn't.

By rule, Andrew Vaughn was guilty of runner's interference. That said, his interference had zero to do with the actual ball hit in the air.

O's faithful were overjoyed at the ump show getting it right. O's faithful would have gone ballistic had that been Jordan Westburg called out for runner's interference to end the game. What's the old saying? To the victors go the spoils.

But that one would have left a bruise had it gone south on Kimbrel's watch, that's for sure.

A win's a win, even one that made you sweat like that at the end.

Grayson Rodriguez wasn't exceedingly sharp but improved to 5-1 by picking up the win. He had no command at all, walking 5 guys -- including Sheets three times -- in 5 innings, but struck out 7 and allowed just two earned runs along the way.

Danny Coulombe (perfect inning with 3 K's) and Jacob Webb (one hit in one inning) were excellent.

But Heasley and Cano were lousy, mandating the use of Kimbrel on a night when Brandon Hyde probably thought he wouldn't have to run through three pitchers in the final two frames of a blowout.

The good news? It's the White Sox. The O's might not have to worry about any of the three remaining games of the series on the South Side.

Then again, this hasn't been the best (recent) two weeks for the Orioles. If Chicago wins one of the next three, that's fine. Two of the next three, not cool.


Several videos of last Friday's arrest of Scottie Scheffler surfaced on Thursday and in the one that shows the entire incident, it's fairly clear -- based on what was seen on that clip -- that the arresting officer fabricated a significant part of the police report he filed in the aftermath of the incident in Louisville.

In perhaps the biggest fib, the officer was not dragged 10 yards by Scheffler's vehicle. He was never in contact with the ground. He didn't suffer bruises to his legs as a result of the incident.

The video that surfaced showed Scheffler gently easing his way around a parked bus when the officer, Bryan Gillis, runs up alongside of Scheffler's vehicle and smacks the windshield with some sort of instrument in an effort to force Scheffler to bring the car to a stop.

Once Scheffler stopped the vehicle, the officer went into arrest mode and the rest is history.

Scottie Scheffler is due in court early next month despite video surfacing on Thursday that shows the incident at the PGA Championship was nothing like it was entered on the initial police report.

That the Louisville police department haven't yet dropped these silly, baseless charges is a complete joke. That the arresting officer has a personnel file littered with misconduct and other related charges that would make Antonio Brown blush is also a source of (hopeful) embarrassment for them.

Gillis is one of the rare law enforcement officials who apparently picks and chooses when to take his task seriously.

It's not easy for police officers to admit they went over-the-line, particularly in this day and age when plenty of police officers who do their job well and the right way still fall under unfair scrutiny.

But in this case, officer Gillis, who was officially reprimanded for not engaging his body camera during the arrest, deserves intense scrutiny for the arrest and the false report he filed afterwards.

Scheffler has taken the embarrassing situation in stride, although it's fair to point out the whole thing could have cost him a chance to win last week's PGA Championship at Valhalla.

Why the folks in Louisville haven't just manned up and taken "the L" on this one is the ultra-weird part of the story now. It's obvious the arrest was bogus. It's very clear the officer pulled a Barney Fife and made the whole thing out to be a much bigger deal than it ever was.

With each passing day that the Louisville police department doubles down on this, they look more and more bush league.


Our #DMD Comments buddy Larry Harmison surfaced with an e-mail on Thursday that I have included below because Larry pulled the old, tired routine: "I know you won't publish this".

Earlier this week, I offered a short commentary on the Harrison Butker situation, essentially saying I didn't see any reason to comment on what he said at the college graduation.

I explained, clearly, I thought, that there were things about Butker's speech I agreed with and things I didn't agree with. But I defended his right to state his opinion, particularly in light of the fact that the college in question invited him to be their graduation speaker.

In other words: They asked for him to speak. And he did.

Larry sent me the following e-mail:

"I know you're a devout, practicing, extra loud Catholic, so it isn't a surprise you refused to be critical of Harrison Butker with all of his Catholic favoritism. I also know you won't publish this, but do us all a favor and just admit that you're afraid to be critical of Butker because it might offend your friends at IHM church and other Catholics who read the website. You and I both know that your personal views are a lot closer to Butker's than you're willing to admit. Don't dodge it. Admit to it."

I don't even know where to start.

Yep, I'm a devout, practicing Catholic. I'm not sure what "extra loud" is supposed to mean, but I assume that's a dig of some sort. All good there.

I don't see any reason to be "critical" of what Butker said because he was simply passing along the virtues he believes in. Some of the things he touched on -- gender-by-birth in particular -- I agreed with him on. Some of the other context -- women belong mainly in the home -- is probably not something I align with.

I believe Butker has the right to his opinion. I, like you, have the right to opine on his opining if I so choose. If I vehemently disagreed with all of it, I'd say (write) that. I agreed with some of what he authored. And I disagreed with some of it, too.

I know how the (in this case, liberal) media works in this country. They take a 25-minute speech and carve out the 4-6 minutes of it they can use for their agenda.

The 4-6 minutes of Butker's speech painted him into the picture the (liberal) media wants to portray him. Everyone knows that.

If you watch the entirety of his speech, it's not nearly as combustible as the 4-6 minutes the media carved out for scrutiny.

But, again, there were parts of the speech I agreed with and parts of it I didn't. But I agree, for sure, that Butker was allowed to give his opinion because that's what the school asked of him.

No one's dodging anything.

And I don't see where anyone has anything to admit to, either.

Like most everything else in our country, the media created a "gotcha" moment with his speech because that's what gets them clicks, readers and viewers.

It was a massive overreaction. The guy was asked to speak. He spoke. Nothing burger.

Thanks, I guess, to Larry, for pushing me to opine more on a subject I thought wasn't in need of further examination.

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faith in sports


One of the best things about my work at FCA is that high school student-athletes who are just starting to forge their faith journey can take that passion on with them to college.

We've had numerous FCA athletes at Calvert Hall go on to lead "huddles" in college, including several who actually started their huddle at school.

The University of Arkansas has a vibrant FCA membership both within the school itself and within the various athletic programs.

The video below is only 2:30 but it's a really strong representation of what FCA is all about.

If your son or daughter is heading off to school later this summer, ask him or her if FCA has a huddle there. If not, reach out to the school's student affairs department and ask how one can be organized. We'd love to have FCA in every college across the country.

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



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Thursday
May 23, 2024
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#3562


swept away in st. louis


Even though the streak actually ended last October when the Birds were summarily dismissed by the Rangers in the ALDS, the record keepers say it ended yesterday in St. Louis.

For the first time in 107 series' of two games or more, the O's were swept by the Cardinals when they dropped a 5-4 decision on Wednesday afternoon.

Nothing lasts forever. And a 106-series run of not being swept is pretty daggone good, even if it doesn't really mean anything at all in the long run.

There's a gazillion baseball games left in the 2024 campaign, but the O's are now 3 games behind the New York Yankees in the A.L. East. Baltimore has played four fewer games than the Yankees, too, I might add.

What does the elbow injury to John Means do to the O's pitching concerns for the rest of the 2024 campaign?

The Orioles have also played 27 home games to date and only 20 road contests. Not a big deal, either, but just giving you the facts of how things are starting to take shape.

The Birds are off to Chicago to face the White Sox in a 4-game holiday weekend series that should net three or four wins over the beleaguered pale hose. I hope my buddy Gavin Sheets for 10-for-20 in the 4-games but the White Sox lose all four. Sorry, Gavin.

As I wrote here recently at #DMD, I assume the Yankees will soon face their annual quandary with the injured list once guys like Judge, Stanton get their hamstring strain, toe fracture or some other ailment that routinely plagues each of them. But for now, at least, the Yankees are looking like the real deal.

The O's, you might have heard, made a small trade on Wednesday, sending embattled relief pitcher Mike Baumann and minor league catcher Michael Perez to Seattle for minor league catcher Blake Hunt.

I have no idea what that means.

Baumman, of course, is eye wash in the deal. He had recently been designated for assignment and was slowly start to ease his way out of the team's 2024 plans.

Perez was just a guy playing catcher in the minors. He wasn't going to be graduating to Camden Yards someday soon.

So why Blake Hunt? What does his addition mean?

The guess here is Mike Elias simply wanted to get "something" for Baumann if he could. And the Mariners needed bullpen help. And Hunt was the guy they offered. Perhaps Elias flips him elsewhere sometime in '24 or '25. Maybe he's insurance in the event something happens to James McCann this season.

The O's have some flaws that need to be addressed, of course, and the deal with the Mariners shouldn't be looked at as anything other than getting a piece (Hunt) for a piece (Baumann). But it shows, at least, that Elias is paying attention to every department of the on field product.

Baumann, as anyone who has followed the team knows, is very hot and cold. He had a decent 2023 campaign with a 10-1 record and 3.76 ERA, but that earned run average was (is) a half-of-a-run-per-inning too high for a relief pitcher. And this year, he had 16 strikeouts and 9 walks in 18.1 innings of work.

His departure to Seattle is a nothing burger, respectfully.

But with the news from Wednesday that John Means is struggling with elbow discomfort, the wheels are likely really starting to turn for Mike Elias.

For now, Cole Irvin simply slides back in as a starter and off they go. No big deal.

But that move depletes a bullpen that (now) loses Irvin and the jettisoned Baumann. So where do the O's go from here?

There's almost no question Elias is going to start chasing after pitching help sometime soon. Who he gives up to get it is anyone's guess, but you have at least two minor leaguers (Kjerstad and Norby) who could draw legitimate interest. Coby Mayo (currently injured) would also probably be an attractive trade piece this summer.

It's inevitable that one, two or all three of those guys might have to eventually be shipped elsewhere. The guess here is Norby is the one most readily available, followed by Mayo and then Kjerstad. That said, Kjerstad is the one most potential trade partners are going to press for given his power and minor league hitting numbers.

The sweep in St. Louis might wind up being a good thing at the end of the day.

It ends "the streak", for starters, which is probably best for everyone involved, even though it was fun while it lasted. More importantly, though, it serves as a gentle reminder to Elias and Brandon Hyde that this team can, in fact, lose three straight games.

Oh, and speaking of Hyde.

The series in St. Louis wasn't his best work by a long shot.

Yesterday, in particular, he handled the suspended game and the "regular" game with the touch of a blacksmith.

In the opener, he removed Jacob Webb for Keegan Akin in the 6th inning despite the fact that lefties hit .148 against Webb. Akin, of course, immediately gave up a 2-run homer to...yes...a left handed hitter, Nolan Gorman.

But those pitching decisions he made that didn't work are all hindsight now. It's easy to beat him up for what transpired once you see none of them really worked.

That said, Hyde is becoming the master at attempting to get three (or less) outs with multiple pitchers. It's not "maddening" yet, but it's closing in on that.

The Means news isn't season-breaking or anything of that nature, but it certainly means Irvin slides back into a spot of importance in the rotation and also puts more emphasis on the quality the club will need from Akin and Cionel Perez.

It's far from panic time.

But these days matter just as much as the ones that come in August and September when the end of the season is just around the corner.

Our faith in Mike Elias is unwavering.

Our faith in Brandon Hyde...not quite as emphatic.

But the bet here is Elias starts making moves sometime next month in an effort to get a jump on the deadline and, hopefully, acquire pieces he really wants rather than pieces that were available because those were the crumbs left to snag.


A quick note of thanks to four of you who stepped up yesterday, plus another last night, to help make our first FCA Maryland Golf junior clinic a success on Wednesday at Pine Ridge.

Scott Manning (not the ex-Blast goalkeeper, "the better looking Scott Manning" he likes to say), Mark McGrath (no, not the lead singer of "Sugar Ray", the "better looking Mark McGrath"), longtime #DMD supporter Mike Mohler and James Chenowith all contributed $50 to help defray our expenses last night.

We had 15 juniors come out for the clinic and they spent 75 minutes learning the basics of the golf swing; grip, stance and posture, plus tips on compressing the ball with irons and getting the ball in the air with the driver.

And then, last night, Mike Gentry reached out to say he'll match any $50 donation we receive for the June clinic. So we're excited to put that together for next month's clinic. Yesterday, here, I mentioned our June clinic was going to be held on June 12, but that's actually not going to work.

I'll be back soon with the date of the June clinic.

Our first FCA junior tournament of the year is set for Tuesday, June 18 at Bulle Rock. If you have a junior golfer who plays tournament golf, this event is a great way to start their competitive summer. Please e-mail me (drewfcamdgolf@gmail.com) to get more information.

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breakfast bytes


Yankees get solid start from Cole, beat Rays in New York, 6-1.

NFL: Ravens sign former Bears safety Eddie Jackson to one-year deal.

Soccer: U.S. men's star Tyler Adams has back surgery, expected out at least 3 months.

Horse racing: Churchill Downs lifts suspension of longtime trainer Bob Baffert.



O's SCOREBOARD
Friday, July 19
Orioles
9
Rangers
1
WP: C. Burnes (10-4)

LP: N. Eovaldi (6-4)

HR: Santander 2 (25, 26), Rutschman (17), Cowser (13), N. Lowe (7)

RECORD / PLACE: 59-38, 1st