January 22
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if not then, when?

Around the time Roger Goodell was making his way from the Arrowhead Stadium VIP lounge to the frigid confines of a second level sky suite on Sunday night, the NFL's world was erupting in New Orleans.

Goodell saw what nearly everyone else did in those final two minutes. A critical 3rd down play in a tie game included an extraordinarily obvious pass interference call on the Los Angeles Rams. Except it wasn't called.

And the aftermath of that officiating gaffe was brutal. It robbed the Saints of a chance to churn the clock down to next to nothing and attempt a short-range field goal that 98 of 100 times would have been successful. That kick would have sent New Orleans to the Super Bowl.

Before we get to what Roger Goodell could have done -- or perhaps, should have done -- let's also be fair and point out what the Saints could have done.

Early in the game, given two golden opportunities to find the end zone, their offense stalled. Instead of 14-0, it was 6-0.

Later, ahead 13-0, they fell asleep on a Rams fake punt and Los Angeles went on to move down the field and score their first touchdown.

On that final series, with two minutes remaining and the Saints at the L.A. 13 yard line, Sean Payton inexplicably had Drew Brees throw the ball on first down. The ensuing incompletion stopped the clock with 1:55 remaining. The next play was a run, and when the Saints couldn't pick up a yard there, the Rams called time out.

Then came the 3rd and 10 throw that will forever be remembered. When that pass was -- ahem -- "incomplete", the clock again stopped with 1:41 remaining. Will Lutz came on to boot a 31 yard field goal and the Saints were again in the lead, 23-20.

Armed with one time out, the Rams went to work, eventually moving to the New Orleans 30 yard line before Greg Zuerlein hit a 48 yarder to send the game to overtime.

The Saints had a chance to put the game on ice with a defensive stop and didn't do it. That's on them.

And let's not forget about overtime. New Orleans got the ball first with a chance to win the game. And Drew Brees threw an interception. Jared Goff didn't throw one when the Rams had their opportunity to win the game.

So a lot of what transpired during the game was of the Saints' own doing.

But what happened AFTER the game might very well be on Goodell.

The NFL rule book has a wild, broad-brush opportunity for the Commissioner to take "corrective measures" in the event -- and this is important -- "any club action, non-participant interference, or calamity occurs in an NFL game which the Commissioner deems so extraordinarily unfair or outside the accepted tactics encountered in professional football that such action has a major effect on the result of the game.”

I think we can all disagree on a lot of things: I say Born To Run was Springsteen's best album, you say it was The Rising. You contend Tom Hanks' best film was Forrest Gump, I'd go with Cast Away. You believe Nicklaus was better than Tiger, I say it's Tiger by a nose.

We can disagree on certain things. We can not, however, disagree on this: What happened on Sunday in New Orleans was "extraordinarily unfair" to the Saints.

And so, I offer this: If there was EVER an occasion for Roger Goodell to invoke Rule 17, Section 2, Article 1, Sunday was that occasion.

Rule 17, Section 2, Article 1: “The Commissioner has the sole authority to investigate and take appropriate disciplinary and/or corrective measures if any club action, non-participant interference, or calamity occurs in an NFL game which the Commissioner deems so extraordinarily unfair or outside the accepted tactics encountered in professional football that such action has a major effect on the result of the game.”

And then there's the hammer: Rule 17, Section 2, Article 3: “The Commissioner’s powers under this Section 2 include...the reversal of a game’s result or the rescheduling of a game, either from the beginning or from the point at which the extraordinary act occurred.”

Wouldn't we all agree that the non-call was "extraordinary"? It didn't happen in the second quarter. It wasn't ticky-tack. It wasn't even arguable. In fact, the offending Rams player admitted after the game it was pass interference because -- "I knew I was beat and I was just trying to save a touchdown".

But because nothing like Rule 17 has ever been used, no one probably knew how to even go about applying it. Who breaks the news to the teams? And the networks? Warm-up period? Players had likely already taken off their tape and uniforms. They'd need time to get themselves back to "game ready". What about the fans? Who lets them back in? Where do they sit? What about stadium security?

In one way, perhaps doing the whole thing the next day would have made the most sense, say at 12 noon or something. It would have been chaotic if Goodell would have authorized the use of Rule 17 right after the game.

But even the next-day scenario had its drawbacks. Super Bowl preparations begin in earnest about three months before the game. But the big moment comes immediately after the final whistle of the two championship games. Ten minutes after the Super Bowl pairing is finalized, work gets started in the host city. Banners are created, hotel rooms are booked, travel plans are made, tickets get sold and so on and so forth.

All things being equal, and noting it would have been a complete circus either way, Rule 17 would have needed to be implemented within a few minutes after the game. For those saying, "You can still invoke the rule now, the Super Bowl is 12 days away", that's simply not possible. Too much has happened in the last 36 hours in terms of preparation. The Rams* (I'll be the first one to do it, I guess) and Patriots are playing in the Super Bowl. End of story.

Roger Goodell had the authority to invoke Rule 17, Section 2 on Sunday and elected not to do so.

But Goodell most certainly could have taken corrective measures immediately after the game ended. Unprecedented? You bet. Unheard of? Well, sure, maybe. After all, I most certainly didn't know that rule existed and I'd bet none of you did, either. Unfair? I'm sure the Rams would have thought so, but that's only because they were on the good end of the short stick.

Goodell could have ordered the game to be "re-started" on the eight yard line, after the proper pass interference call was made and applied. What happened from there was on the Saints. And who knows? They could have fumbled the ball, botched the field goal snap or even missed the kick. It wasn't a 100% guarantee they were going to win there, but my gut says the probability of the Saints coming out on top would have been, oh, 95%.

But instead of being in New Orleans for the NFC game, Goodell was in Kansas City for the AFC contest. And while he could have "made the call" from a dimly lit room somewhere at Arrowhead Stadium, the whole thing was probably best done face-to-face. And you can't face someone in New Orleans when you're in Kansas City.

We haven't talked about the other issue yet: gambling. Once the game ended and people started cashing their Rams (+3) tickets, there was no turning back. Can you imagine what the folks in Las Vegas would have been faced with had Goodell waved his hand 11 minutes after the game ended and said, "We're going back out there to get this game settled the right way"?

But what's more important? Las Vegas, gamblers and the ultimate bad-beat, or having a team play in the Super Bowl who reasonably don't belong?

It's important to note that the NFL has already addressed the use (or not) of Rule 17 and why it wasn't considered on Sunday. It's saved, sources say, for "really" extraordinary things, like someone coming off the bench to make a game-saving tackle. Remember when Joe Flacco asked on the sidelines at Super Bowl 47 if someone should tackle Ted Ginn Jr. if he were to break free on that last second punt? It seems Rule 17 could have been used for something like that, and rightfully so, I think we'd all add.

But when you read the rule, it's hard to argue that Sunday's "calamity" at the end of the Saints-Rams game didn't meet the definition. Goodell wouldn't have needed to change the result. Rather, he would have just ushered the teams back out to the field to play the final 1:41.

It would have been a massive story, the kind we've never seen in our lifetime. The impact of the decision would have been argued, debated and agonized over for years and years.

But why have the rule in the book if it can't be used?

And if it couldn't have been used on Sunday, when, then, would it ever be implemented?

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give brady credit...he created it and believed it

If you heard Tom Brady speak after the Patriots' win over the Chargers in the AFC Divisional Round, he made specific mention of New England's status, saying, "I know everyone thinks we suck and, you know, we can't win any games. So, we'll see. It'll be fun."

Lots of folks around the country scoffed at Brady and his portrayal of the Patriots as an underdog of sorts.

Tom must read the internet and the newspapers. A lot. But he mixed up the nation's dislike for the Patriots with what he perceived to be a lack of respect. No one, not in the world I live in, anyway, ever thinks the New England Patriots suck. And most people with a brain know the Patriots can beat anyone, anywhere, at any time. They are, frankly, the most feared team in sports, I'd say.

But not only did Brady believe that story he concocted, he used it. He used it to his advantage on Sunday in their win over the Chiefs, and he evidently got at least one teammate to ride the wave with him.

Below is an interesting clip of Brady and wide receiver Julian Edelman in the heat of the moment after the overtime victory that sent New England to the Super Bowl.

"I'm too old" (he read and heard that plenty, I'm sure).

"You're too slow", he said to Edelman, a point he gathered from the internet and passed along to the wide receiver in the week leading up to the AFC title game.

"We got no skill players. We've got no defense. We've got nothing." Some of that is hyperbole. Some of it's simply not true. But the message is clear. People -- including this author, here -- doubted the Patriots along the way in 2018. And the truth is...they are getting old.

But boy, they have some heart up there in New England. There are two things you can't teach in sports. Speed. And the will to win.

Like him or not, you have to give Brady credit. He's still coming up with new tricks and new ways to win. We may not see another like him in our lifetime.


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the terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his fourth season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2018-19 season.

terps come up short in east lansing

Bigger, stronger, faster, and more mature. Michigan State was all of the above while dismantling the Maryland Terrapins last night by a score of 69 to 55 in East Lansing, Michigan.

Of all the superlatives I just used, the one that most separated the Terps from the Spartans is stronger. MSU physically intimidated Maryland with blocked shots and by out-muscling the Terps for loose balls. It was an ugly but revealing loss that saw the Terps fall behind by 11 at the half, and never challenge after that.

The loss showed that the Terps are not ready to physically compete on the road against a team chock full of more mature athletes.

Jalen Smith has recently had so many balls ripped from his hands that I’m beginning to think he aced an on-line class called “The Michael Crabtree School of Hands”. He just isn’t strong enough to control balls that should be his. And even when he does grab it, he struggles to get the ball above his head without someone stripping from him.

Look at the shots of his that are blocked...most are occurring way below rim level. That tells me he lacks the power in his hands to get through that initial contact. The same holds true for Smith's rebounding in traffic where he loses a ton of balls. I think the world of his skill set, but physically Jalen's completely unable bang with the beef in the NBA.

Ricky Lindo had the same issue last night, and suffered much the same fate as Smith when battling for loose balls. I love Lindo’s game and think he’ll emerge as a quality Big 10 player, but he got leaned on a bit by Michigan State's stronger lineup. In fact, all the young freshman Terps struggled with the physicality of the Spartans. It’s the main reason the five rookies only made 4 of 18 shots inside the arc.

A 3-for-12 shooting night from Anthony Cowan was just one of the reasons why Maryland couldn't hang with Michigan State last night.

College basketball is so guard-dominated that it’s almost impossible to beat a quality team without strong point guard play. Cassius Winston supplied that for MSU, Anthony Cowan did not for Maryland.

Even though the normally sharpshooting Winston was off the mark when shooting threes (1-5), he still controlled the game, controlled Cowan, and pushed the tempo. Michigan State held a massive 29-9 advantage in fast break points.

Playing solid transition defense was one of my keys of the game and the Terps failed greatly at it. Winston had a lot to do with that. His role was so important that I’d be willing to say if the two teams swapped point guards, the team that had Winston would win almost every time. Just in case we forgot, we were certainly reminded last night that the Terps can’t beat top teams without solid point guard play.

The Terps started the first half sluggishly and looked a bit rattled in the early going. MSU dominated the early boards, grabbing six offensive rebounds in the game’s first six minutes. By the 11:03 mark of the first half, Michigan State had built an 18-6 lead. Maryland couldn’t buy a shot and the MSU long balls were finding their mark. From the field, the Terps started 3-18 while MSU was hitting four of their first 7 three-point shots.

Maryland fought back behind a trio of three-point shots, two of them by Aaron Wiggins, and eventually tied it at 20 with 4:20 left in half one. The insertion of Ricky Lindo, Serrel Smith, and Wiggins was paying dividends on both ends of the court.

From the 4:20 mark until the end of the half, Maryland played about as badly as they have all season. The defense was spotty and the offense was horrendous. Bad shots, turnovers, and lackluster defense defined the final minutes of the opening 20 minutes. The Terps last 4 possessions all ended in turnovers while MSU was getting to the rim for layups.

The Spartans finished the first half on an 11-0 run. The horrible Terp play was only an appetizer for the main course of humble pie that coach Izzo’s team would serve them in the second half.

The second half started with a Michigan State possession that ended in a successful wide open three point try by Cassius Winston. The blitzing that started in the last part of the first half continued for the early portion of the second half. When the bombardment subsided, MSU had put together, over two halves, a 28-6 run and led by 22 points, 48-26. They had scored 14 points in the first 4 minutes of the half.

The Terps looked tired and defeated. We were only 10 seconds into the second half but the game was over.

The rest of the game looked to me like MSU played just hard enough to keep Maryland away but not demoralize them. Kind of like the big kid who puts his hand on the little kid’s head while the little guy keeps swinging haymakers but can’t reach his target. The Spartans toyed with the Terps.

Keep in mind that this Michigan State team is only 7 points away from being a unanimous #1 ranked team. They lost by 5 to Kansas and in overtime to Louisville. They are really good, and they played in their gym against a super young team that didn’t handle the hostile environment well.

As good as Maryland is, and can be, you just can’t go to practice and learn muscle. That takes a long time, hard work, and some proper genetics. Maryland will get better. They’ll learn how to better handle different situations, and hopefully for them, they will figure out how to overcome physically superior teams.

Last night they couldn’t.

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#dmd comments

BARay     January 22
I am still getting over the bad field goal call from the 65 Colts-Packers game!

Rich     January 22
Also, thanks for posting that Brady - Edelman video. Always like getting an inside peek like that.

Rich     January 22
I think the best point Drew makes about Rule 17 is why have it in the book and available if it's never going to be used. I agree this might have a time to CONSIDER using it given the situation.

kevin from churchville     January 22
they could have called goodell immediately if they were serious about this. any ref from anywhere on the field could have thrown the flag,it undermines the leagues and makes it wwf like when this happens again. looks like the fix is in to anyone paying attention. the refs cant be this pathetic in a 10 billion dollar league.

Insanity 2.0     January 22
Boy, oh boy is there lots of meat on the bone. Replay the game? Pick up the game after the point of the non call? Any idea of handling it this way is crazy....and harkens back to the 1972 Olympics when the Soviets got 3 tries to beat the US team in hoops. It is patently absurd. It, of course goes back to the referee problem....but the ref problem is ALL of the fault of the league and not the individual refs themselves. Believe me, there is/are shenanigans afoot.

1. The refs are now ALL hooked up to a central communications system. FOR what purpose? They have these headsets....and yet they have to huddle on every[exaggeration] play to "get it right"??? What is being said to these guys as the play is live? Is someone in NYC telling them to throw flags to keep it close? Way too much control, way too many rules/changes/interpretations of plays that have gotten even more difficult to monitor. As an example, there are several teams[Patriots are one], whose entire passing game is based on[I'll use a basketball term] MOVING PICKS...ala Bobby Knights offensive sets. Those are facts....and Offensive PI is way under called.

2. Replays that prove nothing...or are all based on assumption. No one can say with 100 percent accuracy whether Edelman touched that punt or not....yet the call was overturned....in the EXACT opposite of the RULE. No friggin way that was "done" the right way. And the cameras had super tight shots...the head ref looking at a tablet in the bitter cold...with people screaming, the wind blowing, his eyes watering reversed a call.....while hooked up to a communication device. As the lead official shouldn't he be the sole determinate? Odd.

3. Years ago I saw Jerry Markbriet interviewed in a sports magazine. He was a straight shooter. In his lengthy interview he said the most difficult thing is to NOT feel empathy for the team losing. He told his crews to CALL it right no matter what the score. YOU have to call fouls on a team getting blown out...and not throw questionable flags on the leading team....as a way to allow the trailing team back in the game. I am paraphrasing but he basically said. "Squash your humanity for the loser and call it correctly". From what we see on a weekly basis....his legacy and thoughts on reffing are NOT happening.

But Brien again writes perhaps his stupidest take of ALL time. That the average big time coach is worse than a hardcore fan at in game situations.....HUH? Of course all of his slamming of coaches is AFTER the FACT. What a lazy, Mr. MOTO take. Zillions of fans consider themselves HARD CORE fans....most do not even know the rules. I got into it recently with a drunk guy.....who kept squawking about the RAVENS clock operator F'ing up the time clock. "That guy went out of bounds...and now the clock is running"....when I explained to him that the clock stops...and then is started again EXCEPT in the last 5 minutes of the game.....he told me that I don't know the game. And Brien does what all "think they know" guys do....he picks out one play out of 125 and makes his case.....an absurd case...as there are guys on the other side of the field doing stuff to counter your stuff. No wonder NONE of his "work" with NPR, ESPN can be found on the net. ALL of it was canned for being silly and poorly written.....and he wrote yesterday....in pretty plain terms that he is BETTER than NFL coaches at "in game'' situations.....but he never has played, coached or been involved in any game that matters....so of course his claim in unprovable....and yet laughable all the same.

What a nut....or the epitome of what Uncle Rico was all about.

That Guy     January 22
Sometimes you have to dig deep into @Brien's mad ramblings to find the one nugget. I found it, in a reply of his to @Cash King.

"We just continue along in a world where the average big time head coach is worse than your average hardcore fan at situational strategy, and that's genuinely amazing to me."

I assume you know this but if not I'll clear it up for you. The "average hardcore fan" @Brien is talking about is himself, of course. Brien believes, in his heart of hearts, that he's better at football coaching than Andy Reid.

Jason M     January 22
Nah, I don;t think this rises to the level of the commissioner invoking an obscure rule and unilaterally 'righting the wrong'. I would answer the 'if not then when' question with a definitive, 'I don't know, but Not Now'. Blown call on PI - it is part of the game. Maybe there was a blown holding call on the O line on that play too. My point is stuff like this is and should be a part of the drama of football. Ray Lewis used to counsel the younger players to never blame the refs for a loss because it was there fault for letting it be that close. DF made that point in the article as well, the Saints could have would have and should have, but they didn't.

John In Westminster     January 22
Interesting discussion with regards to rule 17. Quick counterpoints:

1) Rules are tools when enforcement isn't required.

2) As you point out, Vegas has already paid off bets. Interesting mega-billion dollar lawsuit would almost require an in-game stoppage for the commish to invoke his Dana White like powers immediately.

3) Kinda relates 1 (tools) & 2 (money), but given the "rebirth"of the NFL in one of the largest US markets, I would not be surprised if the NFL relishes the fact that a Los Angeles-based team and its fans will have a rooting interest in the Super Bowl. Especially with all those multi-million dollar ads its customers will be purchasing.

unitastoberry     January 22
Cut the chord with MASN I guess the radio and highlights will have to do this season. Not expecting much but hope things get better.

Chris in Bel Air     January 22
Blown call that likely cost the Saints a trip to the Super Bowl? Absolutely. A "club action, non-participant interference, or calamity"? I don't see the non-call PI, fitting any of those events. What should have happened is the referees immediately huddle and ensure the call was correct based on what each of them saw. After that, it is water under the bridge.

With all the chatter about whether Manny or Harper will be signed and how much they are worth, it seems a certain beloved former O's CF is also still unsigned. Any news on where he might go?

Brien Jackson     January 22

Lol, ok. Thanks for reading.

carmen     January 21
brien i watched the video. the offsides is impossible to see from the camera angle. more importantly the camera doesn't show reid's vantage point which if it was anything other than right on the line of scrimmage he wouldn't have been able to spot the offsides hand because of parallax. and if you say you can see the offsides from the video you put out here i doubt that.

Brien Jackson     January 21
In about five months I'm going to randomly bring up Marty Mornhinweg electing to kickoff in sudden death overtime and I bet that at least four commenters will insist it was a good call and"do you think you know more about coin tosses than Marty Mornhinweg."

Brien Jackson     January 21

Now that you mention it, it looks like all of the Chiefs sideline coaches were behind the offense which.... seems like a real problem. Don't you think?

Brien Jackson     January 21
@The Man

Do you actually think that's a reasonable excuse? I mean yes it's obviously possible but if that's the case then isn't that a mistake by definition?

If the Steelers beat the Ravens next year on a last minute touchdown where the Ravens have 10 guys on the field and Harbaugh comes up to the podium and says "well we didn't call a timeout because none of our coaches saw that we only had 10 guys out there" what are you going to say.

Also here's what the play looked like ahead of he snap, so you tell me how hard it was to see.


Carmen     January 21
brien where was the coach when the player lined up offsides?

Tom     January 21
@TheMan has it right. And Brien has it wrong. I know, shocking.

Reid didn't see it. Even if he did, who knows if he calls time out?

The Man     January 21
Brien, did you ever stop to think that Andy Reid didn't call a time out because not he or any other coach or staff member saw his player put his hand in the dirt five seconds before the ball was snapped?

I realize you never played sports and thus don't understand the pace of the game. But there's your answer. The reason Reid didn't call time out isn't because he didn't want to. He didn't call it because he didn't see it.

You understand that don't you? (I'm guessing you don't and you'll throw 1,000 words my way about Reid and how you know more football than he does).

Brien Jackson     January 21

I genuinely do not understand why anyone could think that's a meaningful question at all. In fact I will concede the point: In game NFL coaching is not good! Its staggering how bad even very good football coaches like Andy Reid are at situational game management. That's the whole point!

Look at it this way: You know what I do see coaches/teams do in almost literally every football game I watch? Take a timeout to avoid a delay of game penalty. I doubt I'm exaggerating when I say I've seen that at least 1,000 times over the course of every single football game I've watched at least part of in the last 25 years. I distinctly remember watching Ohio State take a timeout on 3rd down *inside their own 5 yard line* to avoid a half the distance loss once. It's so common that it's just that instinctual for quarterbacks to burn a timeout rather than lose 5 yards, no matter what point in the game it is, what the down and distance is, etc.

So to reframe, if coaches DO worry about five yards on delay of game penalties, should Reid have worried about 5 yards in that spot. Well let's stipulate at the outset that if Kansas City can stop New England on that drive they almost certainly win the game. It's not like they're 5 minutes into the third quarter or anything. Now let's compare the two situations. Last season the league wide success rate on 3rd and 10 was 24%. On 3rd and 5 it was 44%. That's a big difference! And furthermore, that's the rate on ALL 3rd downs, while this was clearly 4 down territory. Say New England decides to run against KC's terrible run defense but only gains 3 yardsm. Or one yard for that matter. Well now its's 4th and 2-4, and the average conversion rate on those situations is 50%+. And obviously the Patriots offense is better than average.

And then there's the fact that an offsides penalty let's the offense take any risk down field that presents itself safe in the knowledge that if you throw a pick it doesn't matter.

So yes, it seems obvious to me that calling a timeout to avoid the penalty was without question the right thing to do there, and not doing so drastically increased the Patriots' odds of converting a first down and by extension winning the game. And again, I will point you to the fact that over the course of 24 hours now not one single commenter has even attempted to make an affirmative argument for why not calling a timeout would be the correct strategic decision. Including you.

(Also worth noting that the"no one does that" argument is made even sillier by the fact that straight up lining up offsides is in itself a pretty rare thing. It's not like we're talking about someone who jumped on a hard count or something.)

So to square this back to the main point....most football coaches are VERY bad at managing those kind of in game strategic decisions. And I find that fascinating. You would think that they would get better, either because coaches like Andy Reid would be trying to improve at that or because teams would be trying to find coaches who didn't suck at it. But they don't! We just continue along in a world where the average big time head coach is worse than your average hardcore fan at situational strategy, and that's genuinely amazing to me.

And it's particularly amazing because Bill Belichick decidedly does not suck at it. I will bet you, at whatever wager you want to make, that Belichick knows what the difference between conversion rates on 3rd and 10 and 3rdvand 5 are. If he doesn't know it off the top of his head then he's got someone in his ear telling him those things. And the fact that Belichick is VERY good at game management and Very prepared for every situation is THE reason that the Patriots have been as dominant as they have been. Yes Brady is great, but he's not THAT much better than Rodgers or Peyton or Brees or the great quarterbacks of previous era who didn't make it to as many Super Bowls or championship games as Brady has

But Belichick IS that much better than the vast majority of the other coaches in the game. And virtually none of them seem to think that they have anything to learn from him.

It's fascinating.

The long arm     January 21
Multiple examples of Dee Ford lining up in neutral zone. None called early. Should Reid have called a TO every time? Why was Gronk in on that last playing Miami? You can nitpick Every play call or decision when they don't work. The laziest kind of analysis. Dopey

Cash Is King     January 21
@ Brien

I’ve been watching football for 35 years. In those 35 years, I have never seen a coach call a timeout because someone lined up in the neutral zone. Can you think of an example of this ever happening? And if you can’t think of an example, I guess you would have to then ask yourself this: why has this never happened?

George     January 21
The solution to the missed/blown-call problem is quite simple: Just add two goal-post cameras on each post to the already-existing three-direction facing cameras on each of the four end-zone pylons and increase the number of cameras that shoot the field from 16 to 32, or better yet, 64 and add 14 more referees to the six already on the field [making 22; one to watch each player] and however many are in the replay booth and in the NFL New York studio. Then have a 60-second pause after each play for a wireless conference among the on-field refs and those off the field and a review from every angle from the cameras, and if there’s a problem it can be rectified, and if not, play on.

Bob from Hereford     January 21
If the refs can lift a flag when they think the flag was thrown mistakenly, why can't they conference when they think a penalty should have been called. When it is obvious that a missed penalty was not flagged, it makes sense for another official to correct the the no call. Is there some rule that prohibits this?

Brien Jackson     January 21

This seems to be rather easily disproven: If a defensive back lined up on the wrong receiver in man coverage you'd expect the coaches to call a timeout, wouldn't you? Certainly we'd figure a coach wouldn't let the other team snap the ball if he only had 10 guys on the field. If the idea is supposed to be that coaches don't typically look at the defensive alignment pre-snap then that's just obviously not true.

Side Judge     January 21
Getting it right?????

The NFL is screwy. This whole ideal of getting it right is way out of control. That is not a worthwhile GOAL unless every single play is scrutinized. That every instance of holding, that every questionable grab, claw, PI[or not] or every spot[the most glaring thing that is almost wrong on every play[even if it is a micro-inch, that can cost a team the game].

There are a couple of options.......and NONE of them are even under consideration. One is to eliminate ALL replay and let the refs call the game...100 percent. Just look at that punt yesterday.....I heard people saying "how can the refs get that wrong"....even under the hi-def lenses.....the play was questionable....it could have nicked a little bit of his thumb, so small that Edelman didn't even feel it. And yet the last guy who should be determining it.....is looking at a tablet in the bitter cold...overturning a really difficult call.

I could be convinced that letting the refs....just call it is the right course.

Option two. INSTALL 20 more cameras....and have some highly trained "gamers" call out, QUICKLY, close calls and make the decisions VERY quickly.

And the ball should be inbeded with some sort of device for spotting and breaking the plane.

Yesterday was the perfect example of HOW to NOT officiate important games.

incredulous observer     January 21
@Brien cannot be this dense can he? Did I miss the part where someone actually said the coaches “should just let their guy be offside” so we can “give Brady a free play”??

Think anyone with a pulse knows the point was there’s a lot going on in a short period of time on an NFL sideline, and as a crucial play is about to be run, it’s pretty nonsensical to think a head coach, or really, any coach, not only has a clear view of one of their 5-7 fat guys lining up over an invisible line on the field of play, but has the guts to waste an uber-critical TO in time to prevent the snap cause of a penalty that may or may not be called? Cause naturally we see this all the time in the NFL, right? Or maybe there’s a coach whose only responsibility is “monitoring offsides”, and Reid hired the guy, and he failed, ergo, it’s all Reid’s fault and “proves” what a horrible game manger he is

Assume he is just messing with us on this one, right? Right?

Brien Jackson     January 21
As per usual, I am forced to note that not one person has even attempted to argue in favor of the wisdom of letting your team take a 5 yard penalty in the best case, while also giving Brady a free play late in the 4th quarter.

DR     January 21
I've spent the last two hours looking through the internet. I've read or skimmed roughly 200 articles by national sports writers and bloggers about the Chiefs game from yesterday.

To my knowledge, there is one person in the country blaming Andy Reid for not calling a time out when his player was lined up offsides yesterday.

Just one person.

Guess who that would be?

Brien Jackson     January 21

Well ok but....why not? I mean if you think it was a crucial penalty then what is the argument for letting it happen?

Rich     January 21
No @Brien. You are something else. Drew deserves a medal for letting you be part of this.

Lee in Canton     January 21
When you get a chance Brien, please forward to me your list of the other occasions in the NFL when a coach from the sidelines called a timeout to avoid one of his players being whistled for offsides. I'll wait right here by the fireplace for your astute evidence to be produced.

Chuck P     January 21
Great game but how would Chiefs have handled 21-0? Don’t forget the GOAT (and he may be) threw an interception in the end zone in 1st qtr. Mahomes is something special.

Brien Jackson     January 21
So wait: It's not that they shouldn't have called the timeout....it's that none of the Chiefs coaches could have seen their linebacker was offsides?

Well that ones going in the scrapbook. You guys really are something else!

That Guy     January 21
Of course Andy Reid should have know his player was offside on that play. Just like Belichick should have known a player from Philadelphia was going to knock the ball out of Brady's hand last year in the Super Bowl and then called a different play to avoid it happening.

Lee in Canton     January 21
This might be Brien's finest moment. He's literally blaming Andy Reid for not seeing from across the field through 20 bodies that his player's hand was 8 to 10 inches over an imaginary line.

Brien Jackson     January 21

What exactly is the argument for letting New England snap the ball with your player lined up offsides?

DJ     January 21
"The New England Invitational" lol lol lol

Delray Rick     January 21
OK, SHOW of hands that LOST $$$$ on DREWS last 6 picks. Come on let's here it.

H     January 21
I would like to see each head coach get 3 challenges per game to be used on ANY PLAY. Otherwise, no replay would be used for anything else. If Sean Payton had used up all of his challenges prior to the missed PI/helmet to helmet, too bad.

Latin Lou     January 21
David's a Lib too? I thought Brien was the only one here who thinks people making 25 million a year are MISTREATED. Apparently NOT.

AWV2000     January 21
Thanks Drew for hosting yesterday during the games. It was fun!

More importantly thanks for posting the MLK Jr clip today. I don’t believe i’ve ever heard the “if I had sneezed” part before. I played for my children (9 and 7)- very moving and inspirational. Thanks again.

unitastoberry     January 21
Was not pulling for any team yesterday just watching on a very cold and windy day. The playoffs are usually the best football of the year and they did not disapoint. However, the NFL continues to disapoint.

The league that's worth perhaps near half a trillion maybe more moves teams at will with Mayflower vans ,and skims the top off of the cancer drive still can't figure out calls in the big games. All those ref time outs for replay just further add to insane offensive stats the result of 40 years plus of constant rule changes. Football is a tough sport to call with all the activity etc we all know this. It's nothing new either. The 65 Bmore Colts actually beat the Packers in a playoff game but the refs botched a field goal by the pack which was ruled good sending the game into OT. The next year the goal posts where raised to their current level, painted yellow ,and 2 refs positioned under each post. Some things never change. Btw way Brady is still amazing.

HERMAN     January 21
Tony Romo was just fantastic in the booth yesterday, probably the most informative announcer I've ever heard during a game. His pre-snap identification of the mis-match on the field, where Brady was going with the ball, then being confirmed absolutely correct play, after play, was insightful. His ability to read the defense the way all quarterbacks are taught to do, see what Brady clearly saw, and how New England is just exceptional at exploiting the weakness was clear indication of how they do it, how the dominate the game today.

Whether they played a heavy D line to stop the run, or a lighter D line to attack in pass rush, Romo noted where runs were going, when runs were coming, and if it was a pass, which receiver had the highest probability of getting the ball.

Nance is too much of a front-runner, and too quickly forgets the impact of a bad call as in the case of the roughing-the-passer call against KC, but he and Romo are the best in the business.

Jason M     January 21
@greeneggs - exactly - it's a game of inches. Dee Ford lines up on sides and it's Tom who this morning? I am sure Harb's was pulling for his old boss last night, who admitted after that the game left 'an ache'. The refs were on TV as much as the players, and what a party it would have been in the KC owners box with the Hunt girls, but nevertheless it was a great AFC Championship, and stood in sharp contrast to the hollow NFC game that did not live up and ended so poorly.

John L.     January 21
@Rich, I have to admit that I'm surprised Brien wrote about baseball today. I thought for sure we were getting 2,000 words on those terrible, terrible kids from Kentucky.

David Rosenfeld     January 21

It's hard to write about the football games when you send in your contribution for Monday before the games start.

Sometimes my schedule allows me to do something late on Sunday nights...sometimes it does not. In retrospect, if I would have known those games were going to be like that...

Neutral Observer     January 21
I'm willing to bet no media member in town knows golf better than Drew and no media member in town knows basketball better than Dale. Anytime those two write about their sports of passion it's must read.

GM     January 21
Brien says some crazy stuff but "Andy Reid should have called a time out when his player was offsides" is the cake topper of them all.

Rich     January 21
Biggest day of football all season and David and Brien write about..................baseball. SMH

Tom J     January 21
Even Gene Staratore said the ref missed the roughing the passer call because he was behind the play. Well how in the world do the other 8 refs not come and say look, you may want to pick up that flag?

And David, there are NO baseball players that are being "severely underpaid".........

January 21
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when the chips were down...

Not surprisingly, the Kansas City Chiefs weren't able to win what we all now affectionately call "The New England Invitational"...otherwise known to foreigners as the AFC Championship Game.

Tom Brady, Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski conspired to deal the Chiefs a heartbreaking 37-31 overtime loss on Sunday, sending the Patriots to their third consecutive Super Bowl and 9th overall in the Brady-Belichick era.

New England haters will no doubt prattle on for the next few days about how the Patriots got all the calls, all the breaks and all the bounces. They did, in fact, get a lot of those yesterday. But Bill Belichick's team didn't jump offsides with the game on the line in the final minute of the 4th quarter. That feather-in-the-cap went to K.C.'s Dee Ford.

So if you're of the mindset that a lot of these Patriot Super Bowl visits have an asterisk next to them, go ahead and add another one to their 2019 trip. This one rivals Tuck Rule*, Spygate* or Deflategate*. Just call it Offsidesgate*.

But football games and sports competitions of all kinds are won and lost by athletes making plays and athletes doing dumb things in the heat of the moment for no apparent reason. Why on earth would a defensive player who has lined up in a formation 1,000 or more times in a season pick that very moment in the biggest game of his life to line up offsides? Because he's human...

And in overtime, Brady and his cast of pass catchers were anything but human.

Brady was "only" 4-for-9 on the drive, but the throws he did make were soul-crushing to the Chiefs.

Julian Edelman, who stood to potentially be the goat (not to be confused with the G.O.A.T.) after letting a 4th quarter pass slip through his fingers and fall directly to a K.C.'s Daniel Sorenson, acquitted himself with two remarkable third down catches on the overtime drive.

And then there was rickety old Rob Gronkowski, who used to be a good player but now lugs a piano around on his back and blocks people in exchange for his $9 million salary. Throughout the game, Gronkowski was a non-factor. That is, until the Patriots' final drive in regulation and the game-winning overtime possession, when he swallowed the pill-of-youth and made two outstanding catches in traffic to help New England fend off the Chiefs.

Nine Super Bowls for Bill Belichick...and Tom Brady.

They might only have five or six high quality players, but the Patriots have something under their hood that other teams don't have -- they have a huge, beating heart. And if you don't punish them when you have the chance, they'll always figure out a way to make you pay for it.

So Brady goes to his 9th Super Bowl and Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes go home to watch it, neither of them able to overcome their equal on the other side of the field. Mahomes had a lackluster first half, but came alive in the final two quarters and was poised to deliver a knockout blow before the New England defense stiffened on the final K.C. drive in the fourth quarter.

Once it got to overtime, Brady didn't let the star-in-the-making touch the ball again. That's what the great ones do.

As for Reid, he'll get blasted for some questionable late-game management decisions, but if Dee Ford doesn't line up offsides, Belichick's watching from his couch and Reid's heading to Atlanta.

The NFL had to be thrilled with the way the New England Invitational finished up. It might -- notice that "might" is underlined -- take some of the focus off of the way the officials wrecked the end of the Rams and Saints game earlier in the day.

Last January, New Orleans was denied a spot in the NFC title game by a wacky last-ditch touchdown catch by Minnesota's Stefon Diggs. Yesterday, they were likely denied a trip to the Super Bowl by one of the worst non-calls in the history of sports. Not just football...but sports.

Sure, their field goal kicker could have missed the 25 yarder at the end of the game. The snap might have been bad. Maybe the holder fumbles the ball or something stupid like that. It's the NFL, after all. I mean, after you see a guy line up offsides with the game on the line, would anything else surprise you?

But all things being equal and expected results following their due course, New Orleans would be in Atlanta in 13 days if not for the missed pass interference call at the end of yesterday's NFC title game.

The league can't possibly gloss over that travesty. Sure, the Saints got the ball to start overtime and had the game on their racket, but that missed call will be the story...not the ensuing Drew Brees interception and the Rams' kicker driving a 57 yarder through the uprights to send the Rams to the Super Bowl.

Somehow, though, most of the media will probably spend Monday bowing at the feet of Brady instead of raking the NFL over the coals. And the league will be thankful for it.

It's also fair to note that the Saints themselves are just as much responsible for their demise yesterday as were the officials. New Orleans had two early chances to go up 14-0 but instead had to settle for field goals. Staked to a 13-0 lead at home, with the crowd making it difficult for the Rams offense to operate, Drew Brees and his New Orleans teammates couldn't put the game away.

Yes, the late-game non-call was a crusher, no doubt. But the Saints fiddled around early in the contest and kept the Rams in it.

When the chips were down yesterday, two legendary quarterbacks had a chance to reach the mountaintop, a nod perhaps to today's birthday celebration for the great Dr. Martin Luther King. One of them made it and the other didn't.

You can't possibly be surprised that Tom Brady was the one who came through with the game on the line.

"i've been to the mountaintop"

As we take time today to celebrate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, I've included the final 15 minutes of his "Mountaintop" speech from April 3, 1968.

Please give it a listen, or head to the internet and find the entire 43 minutes.

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968)

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"The Keen Eye" of David Rosenfeld

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

yesterday, today and tomorrow

This Week’s Subject: Collusion


The most amazing thing about the collusion “scandal” in baseball in the mid-1980s was just how blatant and out-in-the-open it was.

The new commissioner, Peter Ueberroth, told the owners that they were dumb for losing money no matter if it led to a World Series victory or not. He told them it was dumb to sign any player to a long-term contract.

Ueberroth didn’t tell the owners exactly what they should do about it, but they figured it out pretty quickly. It wasn’t just keeping player salaries down as much as possible; they actually drafted memos among themselves about limiting contracts for position players to three years and for pitchers to two years.

In between the 1985 and 1986 seasons, there were 33 free agents, and 29 of them returned to their previous team. Only one prominent free agent, Carlton Fisk of the White Sox, got anything resembling a decent offer from another team, the Yankees. But George Steinbrenner withdrew that offer after getting a call from his counterpart, Jerry Reinsdorf of the White Sox.

Fisk was coming off a great season, but he was 38 years old. These days, if the Yankees wanted to overpay a guy like that, the White Sox would have been somewhat thrilled. Back then, however? The owners were colluding. If Steinbrenner was going to do that, then other teams were going to feel forced to do the same. That was dumb, and bad for the game, and the owners agreed.

By the time the players and their union had won three court cases and many millions of dollars concerning collusion, Ueberroth claimed innocence in the whole thing. He never told the owners to do what they did; he just told them they should stop being so reckless with their money.

Those damages were set at nearly $300 million, essentially payments to those free agents who lost out on money that should have been theirs. Some say that the MLB expansion of the 1990s, beginning with the Rockies and Marlins in 1993, was pushed through almost entirely for the owners to raise money to pay those collusion debts.

While the 1994-95 MLB players’ strike wasn’t about collusion specifically, there certainly wasn’t a lot of trust between the players and ownership in the six or seven years between the two events. Bud Selig, who took over as acting commissioner in 1992, still hasn’t admitted 27 years later that he and his fellow owners colluded.


It’s easy to say that what’s different now when it comes to possible “collusion” is simply the amount of money involved.

Sure, like in any industry, 2019 dollars must be compared to 1988 dollars. But that doesn’t come close to adding up. Set free by the courts from the Detroit Tigers in the collusion agreement, Kirk Gibson signed a three-year, $4.5 million deal with the Dodgers in 1988. Simply by inflation, that would add up to maybe $3.2 million per year today.

Now, $25 million for Manny Machado (if that’s true) is a terribly lowball offer. It’s like a bizarro universe. It’s also a universe in which, no matter what you think of ownership, the players and their agents will always be seen as greedy simply because of the amount of money.

Angels outfielder Mike Trout currently makes $35 million a year. How much more could he make on the open market?

Pushing the money aside for a second, there are two other big differences between 2019 and 1988.

One of them has to do with competitiveness. Back then, Ueberroth told every team to stop giving out long-term deals. He told all of them that winning wasn’t as important as revenue. He wanted every team to take the same strategy.

These days, it’s different. There are only a handful of teams that care about winning, at least when it comes to paying the best baseball players to help them win. Even worse than that, the teams that have found that middle ground of mediocrity won’t budge from it, even when they could spend for good baseball players and still create lots of revenue. Then there are the “tanking” teams, who’ve stolen that strategy from the NBA.

There have always been good organizations and bad ones. Nowadays, however, it seems like there are three distinct tiers.

The second difference has to do with what San Francisco’s Evan Longoria said about the current situation, that it “seems every day now someone is making up a new analytical tool to devalue players, especially free agents.”

The analytics revolution in baseball is over, and the analytics won. Whether a player is good, or a “star,” or “deserves” to get a big free agent contract based on his career, or will bring a lot of fan interest to a team gets less important every year.

What matters is the player’s value, and how that value is determined is way more specific than it used to be. Chief among those value propositions, of course, is that the projection of a player’s career in the future is so much more important than honoring the player’s career of the past.


The current drama concerning Manny Machado and Bryce Harper aside, I really don’t see how there won’t be a players’ strike in Major League Baseball when the present collective bargaining agreement runs out in 2021.

Say what you want about possible collusion, but what’s happening is really the same thing that always happens when the union starts talking about walking out, at least in the minds of players. Ownership is finding ways to not hold up its end of the bargain.

Modern players have always operated on the assumption that they’d make up for lost time as far as their salaries were concerned; their big paydays would simply be deferred and/or delayed, not denied. That was especially the case for players like Manny Machado, who became $20 million-a-year players while they were still making close to the league minimum.

Seemingly on a dime, however, things have changed.

Teams are smart. Players like Mike Trout and José Altuve signed contracts prior to free agency that were certainly beneath their market values. Instead of hitting free agency at their original time, they’ll hit it a few years later, when their value as free agents will be significantly reduced.

I’m guessing Trout and Altuve thought everything would be fine for them, though. They were, like Machado, severely underpaid, and their new contracts gave them the money they deserved. Even if their free agency was coming a few years later, they’d still get the payday they’d be looking for.

As it stands now, that might not be the case. And while it doesn’t matter to you if Mike Trout gets $27 million per year for four years or $40 million per year for seven years, it matters a lot to him. There are other “tricks” from ownership, of course, like the manipulation of service time to delay the age at which a player can reach free agency.

If the players strike, they can win some points with fans about that: if a player can help my team win today, it’s not fair to me to keep him in the minors either.

But here’s the main thing…

MLB keeps earning more revenue every year, but in 2018 teams actually spent less on payroll than they did in 2017 in absolute terms, not just in percentage terms.

If I am a player, I’m wondering a lot about that. I’m also wondering about ways that we need to change our agreement to keep that from happening. I wonder whether there’s any way to accomplish that without going on strike.


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the terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his fourth season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2018-19 season.

showdown time in east lansing for maryland

On Saturday, When Wisconsin knocked of previously undefeated Michigan, it upped the significance of this evening’s Maryland / Michigan State battle in East Lansing. Because of that loss, the Terps are now playing for a share of first place in the Big Ten conference.

To gain this tie with Michigan State, Maryland will not only need to be the first Big Ten team to defeat the Spartans in the 2018-2019 season, but become the only team to beat them on their home court.

The 16-2 Spartans (7-0 in the Big 10) have only tasted defeat at a neutral site against Kansas and on the road in the ACC/Big 10 Challenge when they lost to Louisville in overtime. They are a perfect 11-0 in the Breslin Center home.

If you wanted a quick primer on the MSU success, just read their Big 10 stats. In this case the figures don’t lie. They have the #1 scoring offense in the Big 10 with 84.7 points per game, a full 8 points ahead of Maryland. They are second in overall field goal percentage (50%) and first in 3-point field goal percentage (39.3). When they do miss a shot, they are #1 in grabbing the offensive rebound (43.7%). Their 20.6 assists per game leads the conference by an astonishing 4.5 and it’s almost 50% more than Maryland produces.

On the defensive side, they lead the league in defensive field goal percentage (36.7), blocked shots per game (5.6), and defensive rebounds per game (32). Their combined offensive and defensive play in Big 10 games has yielded a 15.3 scoring differential over seven games. They have the players to make things happen on the court.

Point guard Cassius Winston is the engine pulling this well-oiled Michigan State offensive machine. He currently ranks 5th among Big 10 scorers with 18.2 points per contest. His 45.2% 3-point shooting places him 3rd in the conference (#s 1 and 2 are also playing in this game), and his 80% free throw shooting percentage checks in as 8th best in the Big 10.

When he is not shooting, he’s handing out a league leading 7.3 assists per game. Only Michigan’s Xavier Simpson (3.3) and Minnesota’s Isaiah Washington (2.9) can top Winston’s assist to turnover ratio of 2.8. When you accumulate assists at such a high rate, that means your teammates can shoot and score too. MSU has many scoring options, including one that is injured and likely not to play.

Tom Izzo and Nick Ward will have their hands full with Maryland tonight as the Terps look to snag first place in the Big Ten with a win.

Junior big man Nick Ward is super-efficient around the basket. When MSU needs a bucket in a crucial situation, if Winston isn’t attaching the basket, then Ward is their “go to” guy. The natural left-hander is much more comfortable going to his left, but can score with the right. However, his already limited range is greatly reduced when being forced right. Overplaying him, forcing him to his weaker hand, is not a bad idea.

Ward, and all of the MSU big men, will run the court on fast breaks. Even after made baskets, the Terp defenders must look for Ward to sprint directly down the middle of the floor in an effort to grab a lead pass resulting in an easy finish. The 6’8” 245-pound junior works hard to earn his 16.6 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. Winston and Ward are clearly options 1 and 1A for the Michigan State offense.

Their third leading scorer, with 15 points per game, is out with an injury. Joshua Langford, a three-year starter, has missed the last 5 Michigan State games with a yet to be diagnosed foot injury. The Spartans not only miss his production on the offensive end (he’s a career 40% three-point shooter), but he’s also the top defender among the MSU back court players. He’s been ruled “out” for this game.

His immediate replacement, Kyle Ahrens, missed the team’s last game with a back injury. He’s listed as “questionable” for tonight. Aaron Henry, a 6’6” freshman, will get the start against Maryland. He brings athleticism on both ends and he hits 40% of his three balls too. I think Henry has a bright future in the Big 10.

Senior starter, Matt McQuaid (6’4”), adds defense to go along with his accurate 46% three-point stroke. He’s not real flashy, but he’s tenacious, strong, and a tough defender. The words strong and tough seem to define many of coach Ton Izzo’s players and his own style.

Senior Kenny Goins and his 6’7” 230-pound body will start in the four spot. He doesn’t shoot a bunch, but he collects rebounds at a rate of 9.5 per game, tops on the MSU team. He is another real tough defender and I expect him to use his bulk to push Maryland’s Jalen Smith away from the hoop.

Xavier Tillman backs up Ward and sees about 21 minutes of action each game. He is second on the team in rebounds (7.6) and he is emerging as a scoring threat inside. His 2.8 points per game average last year has grown to 8.3 this year, and almost all of the damage is done inside. He also stands at 6’8”, but he carries a hefty 260 pounds.

The Michigan State team is all about toughness. Whether it’s on defense, on the glass, or with the ball, you can expect them to play tough. They are not afraid of a fast pace, and they will take (and make) a bunch of three-point shots. They have a bevy of good shooters who compliment their inside muscle. As a group, they are active, have great pace to their offensive sets, and everyone goes to the boards. These are the reasons why they are ranked #6 in the nation and sit atop the Big 10 as the only remaining unbeaten team.

If the Terps are to contend tonight, and avoid last year’s embarrassing 30-point blowout, they have to do several things well.

Most importantly, they must defend the three-point line. In that big loss last year, MSU hit 16 of 28 shots from beyond the arc. This a great long-range shooting team, but not a fantastic one-on-one, create your own shot, type of team. They are much more likely to drive and kick it out, than drive and finish. The Terps must protect the three-point line at all costs.

Almost as important, Maryland can’t win if they get man-handled in the paint and on the backboards. As a team, they need to focus on blocking out and then going to get the ball. That means all five players on the court need to be physical and go get rebounds.

Obviously, you need to be clicking on all phases of your game to beat a team as talented and well coached as Izzo’s Spartans, but another key to Maryland’s potential success is transition defense. If Maryland fails to play aggressive transition defense, and as a result, gives up easy buckets, then they can’t win. Points should be hard to come by tonight, you can’t allow freebies.

Do Mark Turgeon’s Terps have the talent to pull of this upset? Yes, sure, they have the talent to do it. But will it happen? A lot has to go right for them.

In addition to the keys listed above, Maryland has to shoot the ball well. Eric Ayala has emerged as the top three-point shooting player in the Big 10, but he’ll need the continued assistance of Anthony Cowan, Serrel Smith, and Aaron Wiggins from long range. Bruno Fernando and Jalen Smith need to control the glass, and Cowan needs to have a game void of multiple turnovers.

The Terps arrive in East Lansing riding a ton of momentum. They have a seven-game winning streak and their freshman have shown remarkable improvement, and shoot the ball with confidence and without hesitation.

However, they are going up against a much more seasoned team who will have the home court energy to help them along. Asking a team as young as Maryland to handle this environment against a team this complete may be asking a bit much. The individual matchups mostly favor MSU. The Terps need to get awfully hot from outside to stay close to Sparty tonight.

When the line came out at 9.5 in favor of Michigan State, I really can’t say I was surprised. But, without Langford and Ahrens, MSU might find the points just a bit harder to come by than usual. The over/under is 150, it would require an 80-70 win for MSU to cover and have the points be close. I don’t think they can reach 80 points so I’m giving the Terps, +9.5, the lean.

Winston, Ward, and Goins are too tough for Maryland to overcome. In the XFINITY Center, or on a neutral court, I think the Terps might be able to hang with MSU. At the Breslin Center, Michigan State wins 78-72.

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from the desk of
brien jackson

BRIEN JACKSON's work at #DMD promises to provide some of Baltimore's best sports insight and commentary, brought to you by SECU, the official credit-union of Drew's Morning Dish. Brien has done sports-media work with ESPN, CBS, and NPR. His contributions to #DMD will focus on the Orioles, the Ravens, and national sports stories.

Who says the baseball offseason is boring? The free agent market might be cold and inactive, but a few stray comments sure heated up the comment section over the weekend, huh?

Now I get it, no one really cares how much professional athletes make. Contrary to the fever dreams of some of our commenters I really don't either. After all, if you've been paying attention, I've written somewhere in the realm of a half a dozen columns in the past year castigating the union for their role in creating the current mess in baseball.

I've certainly got no sympathy for the 32 year old free agents who are salty about not being able to find 7 year nine figure contracts or what have you.

But here's the thing: If you genuinely love baseball, you really should care about the mess the league is making now.

Because, to put it bluntly, this is not sustainable. And not just the labor situation, but the basic business model MLB is operating on at the moment. And this isn't a players vs. owners issue, it's an issue concerning the product you as a baseball fan are going to be offered in the near future.

Here's the basic problem: At the moment, making money as a baseball team simply is not tied in any meaningful way to winning games or putting out a quality product at the local level. Let's take the Marlins, who prompted so much hand-wringing over the supposedly anti-profit bent of yours truly.

Despite their stadium being less than half-filled in 2018, the Orioles -- like every other Major League team -- still managed to make big money.

How are the Marlins making their money under the Sherman-Jeter ownership group? Well they must be selling tickets, right? Um, no. As a matter of fact, the Marlins' attendance collapsed in 2018 to an almost unfathomable 10,000 or so fans per game. Seriously, that's ridiculous for a professional franchise.

We've been lamenting low attendance in Baltimore for years and last year's club lost 115 games and they STILL drew over 19,000 fans per game. The Marlins barely drew half of that.

But hey, attendance is down league wide and things are shifting to being TV based, so they must be doing well there, right? Nope. Despite the fact that local ratings league wide continue to increase, albeit at a slower rate than a few years ago, the Marlins ratings decreased by nearly 30% in 2017, before they traded away Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yellich, and Marcell Ozuna for nothing other than payroll relief.

If profit is supposed to be based on creating a quality product and selling that product to a consumer base, then the Marlins are failing miserably as a business. How are they making it work? Well, no matter how bad they are or how poorly they sell the team in their own market, they're guaranteed hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue every year as a result of MLB revenue sharing rules and their cut of central revenues like national television deals, the sale of BAMTech, the new partnership with MGM Grand, etc.

But even with those additional revenues, the simple fact of the matter is that the new owners in Miami simply could not afford to pay the people who leant them money to buy the team without burning the team's baseball operations department, to say nothing of the active roster, to the ground.

The simple truth to the situation in Miami is that the $1.2 billion price tag the new owners paid for the franchise was unrealistic.

That's not my choice of wording, by the way. That's the exact word that Dolphins' owner Stephen Ross used when he publicly bowed out of his bid to buy the team himself.

And what ought to serve as a giant red flag to baseball fans is that this simply didn't used to happen. Believe it or not, professional baseball is not some sort of capitalist paradise, and if you want to sell "your" team you don't just get to take the highest bid and pass things off with a handshake. The process is complicated, and most importantly is controlled by the league, who has to approve any sale at the end of the day.

As part of that process, the league requires prospective bidders to submit detailed plans regarding both financing and their strategy for running the team post-sale, and plenty of high bids have been rejected on the basis that the would-be owners can't actually afford to buy and run the team at that price. Five years ago even, Jeffrey Loria would have never been able to walk away with the $1.2 billion sale price he pocketed.

And that shift is genuinely worrisome in what it says about the shift in attitude of MLB's ownership groups. In the worst case, it suggests that a bunch of them are eying the exit doors themselves, and prefer getting the most money possible over the long standing practice of making sure the franchise is on solid footing under the new owners.

In the best case scenario, it tells us the MLB owners imagine that current revenue trends will continue indefinitely, and that teams like the current Marlins will reach long term sustainability through perpetual growth in television and third party related revenues.

And to be fair, maybe they will. A big chunk of the Marlins long term strategy is the assumption that they'll get a TV deal similar to the Rays' new $80 million per year agreement when their current TV rights deal ends in 2020, and at the moment there's no indication that they won't. But then....how sustainable is that, really?

The Marlins are the least popular team in baseball, and every indication is that they're only getting less popular in their local market. Can Fox Sports Network really pay them top dollar for their TV rights and plan on making money over the next 10-20 years? While that might have seemed easy to do 10 years ago, today we're starting to see some cracks in baseball's cable television model.

The most notable example of this is the Dodgers. Now don't get be wrong the Dodgers are doing great on the balance sheet, but Time Warner, well that's a different story. That's because their bet that other cable providers would pay them just under $5 per subscriber in rights fees for the Dodgers' centric television network they shelled out $8 billion for turns out to have been colossally wrong.

Years later, DirecTV and Cox continue to refuse to carry the network, Dodgers games are not available to over 50% of cable customers in their local network, and the most recent projections have Time Warner losing $100 million per year on the channel. According to one source, if the other providers caved sometime this season it would still wind up costing the company $1 billion in losses on the deal.

If a company like Time Warner is taking losses like that on a deal with the Dodgers, can a Fox regional network really continue to pay top dollar for every crappy small market team whose deal comes due? Time Warner can afford to lose $100 million annually on one contract, I suppose, but how much can Fox Sports Florida lose on Marlins games and stay above water? Especially if the Rays wind up in the exact same boat?

Will John Angelos and his brother, Lou, run the Orioles organization differently than their father did for two-plus decades?

The answer, probably, is not very long. And Major League Baseball can't count on coming up with a new nine or ten figure windfall every year either. Eventually those deals will dry up, if only because the economy is bound to retract sooner or later and MLB's corporate partners also exist to make money for themselves, not just to provide baseball with a steady stream of revenue.

And as a result of baseball's strategy of counting on local interest in franchises as a television base, if more teams follow in the footsteps of alienating local fans the way the Marlins have that's eventually going to show up in national television ratings and rights fees. And that's not even considering what happens to these teams if the RSN's they're partnered with simply go out of business themselves.

So let's go back to that worst case scenario. Because MLB's owners are certainly not stupid. They're (almost) all independently successful businessmen who are no doubt well aware that other companies can't just continue to pay them more and more money indefinitely and remain profitable in their own right.

Which is why the shift represented by the Marlins' sale should be very concerning to you as a fan: It portends the very real chance that a whole bunch of owners plan on pocketing as much money as they can from the team in the short run and then selling out for an inflated price as an exit strategy, leaving someone else holding the bag if and when the bubble pops.

And then? Well then we've got a whole bunch of teams doing exactly what the Marlins did last year....but with no end in sight. I mean, what happens if the Marlins merely double their current TV deal to $40 million per year? Well, with the debt load they're carrying that means that Sherman and Jeter probably won't be afford to create a real major league baseball operations department for over a decade.

They'll become glorified cannon fodder, perpetually trading away any decent player they have as soon as they hit arbitration, let alone free agency, while subsisting solely on what they get from the other 29 teams' collective revenues. And if the league's other owners are looking to Jeffrey Loria as a model (and why wouldn't they at this point?) that could very possibly be the fate of a dozen of the smallest market teams in baseball within a decade or so.

The league is going to be profitable, don't get me wrong, and all of the 30 (probably 32 within 3 or 4 years) ownership groups are going to make money. But you might very well have 6-12 teams who simply exist as pure cannon fodder, Major-League-in-name-only clubs who will be lucky to have one good season before they have to cut loose all of their good players to keep payroll low enough that their share of league wide revenues will keep them profitable.

Oh, and don't even bother bringing up a salary cap in the comments. At this point there's no way in hell baseball's owners would agree to the sort of payroll cap/guaranteed split of revenue with players that the NFL and NBA have.

And yes, the Orioles are very much in danger of falling into exactly this fate.

We know nothing about the Angelos sons long term interest in owning the team, but it has been assumed for years now that the passing of the torch from Peter Angelos would result in the selling of the team.

There's certainly never been anyone close to the Angelos family who has ever suggested that the kids very much wanted to run the franchise for the rest of their lives. And oh yeah, there's that pesky matter of the lawsuit over MASN rights fees to the Nationals, a dispute that the league very much wants to resolve in Washington's favor.

A promise to approve the sale of the Orioles at a massively inflated price that requires the new ownership to run the club like the Marlins for years on end is a very realistic possibility to resolve that standoff.

But at the end of the day, something has to give here. Cable networks can't just keep giving MLB more and more money every year while cord cutting continues to prove surprisingly (to me) popular. Baseball's revenues are going to stop growing as fast as they have been, even if they don't shrink, and that's going to cause a major shift in the league's business practice vis-à-vis the on field product.

And ultimately, it's not the players who are going to pay the price for that. Sure salaries might go down, but they're still going to be millionaires. It's damn sure not going to be the owners who pay the price for bad business decisions.

It's going to be the fans who get a less interesting and less entertaining product to watch who ultimately have to bear the cost.

And sorry, ticket prices aren't going down anytime soon either.

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January 20
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what would a win today do for brady's legacy?

At some point soon here at #DMD, we're going to embark on what surely will be a hotly debated endeavor. The "Mount Rushmore of American Sports".

We'll use a (roughly) 50-year period, from 1970 to now, and try to figure out what four people will make the final cut and be our Mount Rushmore.

Tom Brady might very well be a candidate for that mythical Final Four of American greatness.

Brady gets his crack at competing in a 9th Super Bowl later today when the Patriots visit Kansas City in the AFC Championship Game. Brady is 5-3 in those Super Bowls, but he'll get the chance today to do something he hasn't done since 2004 -- win a conference title on the road.

New England typically waltzes through the AFC East, wins a Divisional Round playoff game, then beats someone at Gillette Stadium to earn the right to play in the Super Bowl. That's how it's gone mostly every year over the last decade, save for a couple of Ravens wins up there and a New England loss in Denver in 2014.

Today's challenge is formidable, even for Brady and the Patriots.

And its left me wondering what a win today would do for TB12's legacy......at 41 years of age.

Replace these four faces with the top four American sports figures since 1970. Would Tom Brady be up there?

If he isn't already the greatest quarterback of all time in your mind, would a win today over Patrick Mahomes and the #1 seed Chiefs change your mind? Or would he have to win today and again in two weeks in Atlanta for ring number six?

And if you believe he's already the greatest QB we've ever seen, would a win today put him on that Mount Rushmore of American athletes we described above?

It's one thing to win a bunch of home playoff games and beat up on inferior teams along the way.

It's something else entirely to go on the road and beat the top seed with everything on the table. Oh, and it's likely going to be about 20 degrees at kick-off, if that matters in your evaluation of what it would mean for Brady if he wins today.

I've seen all the "greats" play, although I admittedly wasn't around for the heyday of Johnny Unitas. By the time I was old enough to watch Johnny U. myself, he was a benchwarmer who eventually spent a couple of years in San Diego with the Chargers.

But the rest? Seen them all. Montana, Marino, Elway, Favre, Manning, Brees, Brady. Those are likely everyone's top seven since 1980. I've seen them all. I'd take Brady over any of 'em.

So what would a win do today for Brady's legacy? I'm not sure. Getting to the Super Bowl and losing in two weeks would put Brady at 5-4 in the big game. I know, I know, quarterbacks don't really have a record in the Super Bowl. It's a team game, after all. But you also know they do have a record, just as coaches do.

I'll reserve judgment on my own legacy question until after the Super Bowl. And I'm not sure if Brady makes my Mount Rushmore of the last 50 years, win or lose today or in Atlanta. I haven't thought that one through enough to really give you an answer. But Brady would certainly be in consideration for one of those four sports, no doubt.

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join us for "open mic" at 3 pm

We kicked off our newest feature, #DMD Open Mic, last Sunday during the NFL playoff games, and with the bugs worked out and a good time had by all, we're back today for another open chat room here at Drew's Morning Dish.

We'll open the room at 3:00 pm and stick around throughout the Saints/Rams NFC title game. Who knows...we might even keep the whole thing going into the AFC game as well.

If you're interested in getting involved, just look below and you'll see the link to get in the room. There is a very brief (like, 30 seconds, brief) registration process you have to endure in order to create an ID and get in...but once you've done it, you're good to go.

1. Type your username (make one) in the "Name" block

2. Then click the icon on the right side for "Log In/ Register"

3. Put in the password (make one) for the username in the block that pops up

4. Click "Log In"

5. Once logged in, users can then post

Please make it a point to stop in the Open Mic room today. It's sorta-kinda our version of "live radio", although everyone's welcome, you're never on hold, and you don't get chased off after just one question or statement.

We have a couple of very basic rules that you'll have to follow. 1) No swearing. 2) Don't Be A Jerk.

If you can somehow comport yourself accordingly and follow those two simple rules, you'll have nothing to worry about. If you can't abide by those, you'll be dismissed like "Debo" at the end of Friday. Except we won't hit you with a brick.

Come on in this afternoon and have some fun with us!



show me the money

Well, it gets interesting to now. After a disastrous 0-4 weekend in the Divisional Round(s), I'm suddenly 3-5 in the post-season.

I still have money to burn after finishing the regular season 12 games above the break even line, but I only have three games remaining and have to hit on all three to finish in the money for the post-season.

Alas, I'm not worried. I have these two conference title games completely figured out.

Can Drew Brees get past the Rams today and earn his second trip to the Super Bowl?

LOS ANGELES AT NEW ORLEANS (-3.0) -- I wasn't overly impressed with the Saints last week at home against the Eagles. They could have easily lost that game if not for the final drive gaffe by Alshon Jeffery. Meanwhile, the Rams countered the exceptional Dallas run defense by going straight through the Cowboys with not one, but two running backs. I don't put any stock in what happened the first time these two teams played midway through the season. I just don't think that sort of stuff matters in the conference championship game. Instead, in this one, I'm looking at one thing. Well, two things, really, that work together for one thing: The quarterback and his passing weapons. The team with the better of that combination wins this game. And that means I'm taking the Saints to win and cover, as Drew Brees and his array of talent on offense outlasts the Rams in a 29-24 win.

NEW ENGLAND AT KANSAS CITY (-3.0) -- "Don't ever bet against Bill Belichick and Tom Brady." If I heard that once this week, I heard it a hundred times. I don't put a lot of stock in the fact that Kansas City finished as the #1 seed and the Patriots finished as the #2 seed. Both teams gave away games they otherwise had late in the regular season, with the Patriots inexplicably choking on a final "catch and pitch" play by the Dolphins and the Chiefs allowing Philip Rivers and the Chargers to drive the length of the field for a last minute TD and then connect on the game-winning two point conversion in week #16. But the absence of Kareem Hunt continues to be the "X Factor" for Kansas City. Can they be as dynamic offensively without him? For New England, the question about today's game revolves around the fact that it's not at home. New England wasn't all that good away from Gillette Stadium this season, you might remember, losing to Jacksonville (terrible), Detroit (terrible), Tennessee (kind of terrible), Miami (pretty much terrible) and Pittsburgh (good). And mostly because of the Patriots' sub-standard play on the road this season, I'm going with a Kansas City win and cover today, as Mahomes and the Chiefs offense do just enough to turn back B&B, 33-23.

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January 19
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saturday morning musings

Kris Bryant of the Chicago Cubs gave us all a laugh on Friday with his comments about Bryce Harper and Manny Machado and their respective lack of big money deals thus far in baseball's off-season.

There's probably not a more entitled group in the country than major league baseball players. It's comical.

"Two of the best players in the game, and they have very little interest in them, from just what I hear. It's not good. It's something that will have to change. I know a lot of the other players are pretty upset about it."

Boo. Hoo.

Maybe, just maybe, baseball owners have finally smartened up. You'd have to think the Orioles have, for example. They bit the apple in January of 2016 and forked over $161 million for Chris Davis. And it has completely backfired on them.

Poor guys...might have to eat Ramen noodles sometime soon.

Now, that's not to say you can run around sporting a payroll of $90 million and hope to win, even though the Oakland A's seem to do something like that every other year or so. You have to spend money on players in order to be good. I've always thought that and still do.

But giving a baseball player $250 million and assuming you're going to be the winner in that deal is senseless. Prediction: If you give a player $250 million, you'll be on the losing end of that arrangement four out of five times.

What's happened with Bryant and Machado is simple. They want too much money. They'll get paid, of course. Someone's going to come along in the next four weeks or so and give them $30 million, but perhaps only for six or seven years instead of ten.

And please don't be that goof that says, "Who cares what the players want? The owners have that money to spend." Try that approach with your boss the next time you want your salary tripled after a productive year or two at the company. "The company has it to spend...give some of it to me."

If you think the top baseball players should be paid $40 million annually, then you buy the team and give it to them. This is America, after all. Last I heard, we were making it great again.

And here's the funny part. If Machado and/or Harper "only" get, say, $210 million, all heck is going to break loose. People like Kris Bryant will scream "FOUL!" and chastise baseball owners for not giving those two the money they deserve.

It's worth mentioning, in closing, that the entitled attitude of baseball players is all the doing of.......yep, the owners. They're the ones that caved in throughout the various work stoppages or threats thereof and made the major league union the dictating force in the sport. The owners are now simply paying the price for their unwillingness to stick to their guns.

But I like this fight we're seeing from the owners now. And I love seeing those poor major leaguers have to squirm a little to get their $30 million a year deal. It's a "healthy" squirm, I'd say.

It brings them back to reality just a bit, which they rarely encounter, but desperately need.

Maybe this is just the inevitable mid-season swoon the Capitals were due to encounter, but they've definitely hit a rocky patch this month. Last night's 2-0 home loss to the Islanders marks four straight losses for the defending champions.

Back after missing two games with an injury, Braden Holtby's return wasn't enough last night as the Caps lost their fourth straight game.

Even more important than losing four straight is how they've lost four straight. They're not scoring goals. Hardly at all. Washington has now tallied just four goals in those four games, three of which were in D.C., a place where Alex Ovechkin and Company typically prosper.

If you'd really like to be concerned, check out this stat: In their last 15 games, the Capitals have scored more than three goals just THREE times. That's pretty weak.

To me, more than anything else, the Capitals look like they're showing their age a little bit, particularly on the offensive end. I don't see the speed and energy from them that we saw last spring when they raced through the first three rounds of the post-season and then disposed of Las Vegas in five games to win their first Stanley Cup.

And they're getting spotty play from guys like Kuznestov, Burakovsky and Smith-Pelly, three critical contributors in the latter part of 2018. If those three don't help, the Caps probably can't do much damage this spring come post-season time.

To circle back, this could all be part of the expected up-and-down nature of a post-championship run. Or it could just be the Caps are a player or two short, quality wise, and will need to win more games this season with defense rather than offense.

By no means is it time to worry yet. But those young Islanders looked pretty good last night...

Don't look now, but Maryland basketball is on the verge of really being legit. Our basketball analyst Dale Williams handles all of the heavy lifting on last night's Maryland win in his column below, but at this point it's pretty simple. If the Terps go into East Lansing and win this Monday evening, they might very well be a top 10 team in the country.

And to think they're doing all of this winning with Mark Turgeon at the helm calling the shots, right? Wonders never cease.

I'm probably getting the cart before the horse when I say this, but that's what we specialize in as sports fans, right? Someone has to make the first hot take, even if it's so red hot that it's out-of-this-world dumb, too.

Over the last four weeks, Bruno Fernando and Anthony Cowan are reminding us of two other Terps from the past -- you might remember them. Chris Wilcox and Juan Dixon.

I'm not saying it, so don't think I am. I'm not here to tell you Cowan is as good as Dixon. And I have no idea what lies ahead for Bruno. But the way those two are carrying the team this month is eerily reminiscent to the way Wilcox and Dixon lugged the Terps through the NCAA Tournament in 2002.

There are physical similarities, too. Bruno and Wilcox are both listed at 6'10", although my eye tells me Wilcox might have had 20 pounds on Fernando. Dixon was 6'3", Cowan's 6'0", and something tells me Anthony Cowan won't spend a decade in the NBA like Juan did. Maybe Cowan's just hitting his zenith now, and perhaps the rise of Fernando this season has helped take some of the heat off of him.

Whatever it is, the two of them are putting on quite a show these days. When will it stop? Or will it?

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the terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his fourth season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2018-19 season.

terps trounce ohio state with impressive outing

When the final horn sounded in last night’s Maryland-Ohio State game, there was little doubt about who was the better basketball team.

The University of Maryland outplayed and outshot Ohio State last night and as a result, claimed an impressive 75-61 road victory. Anthony Cowan led all scorers with 20 points and Bruno Fernando hauled in 11 second half rebounds to finish with 15 for the game.

The Terp shooting numbers were impressive. In a fast paced first half, Maryland hit 15 of 24 shots from the floor (62.5%). They were even better from the three-point line, where they knocked down 70% by hitting 7 of 10 tries. They also were a solid 8 of 9 from the foul line.

The second half was played at a much more relaxed pace, but the Terps still managed to find the range from the field (10-19), three-point line (4-7) and foul line (6-7). Any hopes of a Buckeye comeback were squelched by a poor shooting OSU second half, and Fernando’s dominance on the glass.

Ohio State hit just 9 of 29 second half shots, and matched their first half long range ineptitude by hitting only 3 of 13 shots from beyond the three-point arc. Most of their second half misses wound up in the hands of Fernando who ripped down 11 boards in the half.

Maryland big man Bruno Fernando hauled down a game-high 15 rebounds, to go with 13 points, in last night's 14-point Maryland victory at Ohio State.

Two runs by Maryland turned a tight and physical game into a comfortable Terp win. The first occurred at the 5:38 mark of the first half. With the score tied at 30 all, Jalen Smith knocked down a smooth triple that barely hit the net. Next, Darryl Morsell picked off a lazy pass by the Buckeyes Kyle Young and took it the distance for a two-handed slam. After a C.J. Jackson missed three, Cowan found Fernando in the lane for a traditional three-point play.

Very quickly, a tight, tied game was an eight-point Terrapin lead. They would go into the locker room with a 7-point advantage, 45-38.

Maryland's hot shooting helped them overcome the 7 OSU offensive rebounds and a dozen Buckeye second chance points. In one of Maryland’s most balanced offensive halves of basketball, 6 players posted 5 or more points including three (Fernando, Morsell, and Smith) with 8.

I’m quite certain that Mark Turgeon wanted more rebounding from his defense than what he saw in the first half, but many of those OSU offensive rebounds came with Bruno Fernando and Jalen Smith on the bench. Ricky Lindo and Ivan Bender were overwhelmed in the paint.

While Ohio State got a surprising 17-point first half lift from their bench, their star Kaleb Wesson only had one field goal on just three shots.

The second half started with three buckets by Ohio State off of three consecutive turnovers by Cowan. In only 1:33, the Terp 7-point lead was down to one lonely point. This is where the second, and most important Terrapin run occurred. The entire game changed after Turgeon used a very wise timeout to settle down his team.

Immediately after the 30 second breather, Morsell hit a three assisted by a sweet kick-out from Fernando. That 3 was a huge momentum changer, and in my mind the most important shot of the game.

Instead of a one-point lead, the Terps were now ahead by four. After a few misses by each team, Cowan was fouled in the act of shooting. He connected on both foul shots and then went down court and deflected a jumper by OSU’s Luther Muhammed. That led to five consecutive points by Bruno Fernando and it finished off a Maryland 10 -0 run. The Terps now had an eleven-point advantage with 14:56 remaining.

Despite having ample time to stage a rally, the Buckeyes looked a bit tired after the Terp run and never really challenged again. The rest of the half was played, intentionally by Maryland, at a much more relaxed pace. The Terps would continue to hit shots and Fernando would continue to haul in Buckeye misses. For much of the remainder of the contest, the Terrapin lead would be double digits.

Ohio State never attempted to put Maryland on the foul line in hopes of an unlikely late game comeback. The final score was 75-61.

Yesterday, I stated that I didn’t fear the Ohio State guards. They did nothing last night to change my mind. The starting trio of Jackson, Keyshawn Woods, and Muhammad shot just 10 for 30, 1 for 6 from the three-point line, and had as many assists as they did turnovers (5). Their Terp counterparts got the best of the backcourt matchup.

I will, however, give props to the freshman guard Duane Washington. I described him as having a “more developed offensive repertoire” and he showed it with his 14-point performance in only 21 minutes off of the bench.

The hot Terrapin shooting did mask two areas of concern for Maryland. The most troubling was the return of the turnover bug. For the game, they handed the ball back to OSU 19 times, including a whopping 13 miscues in the second half. That number becomes even more distressing when you factor in the slower pace of that half.

The second area of concern was the shocking number of offensive rebounds that Maryland allowed. They did manage to cut the number down from 7 in the first half to just 3 in the second half, but it seemed like every one of those rebounds led to an easy put-back. Getting beat on the defensive glass is something unusual for Maryland. The turnover issue has been a common theme.

Bruno Fernando showed some NBA potential last night. His 13-point, 15 rebound performance included some slick midrange jumpers and a few gentle runners. He also looked extremely smooth knocking down all 3 of his foul shots and did some nice blue-collar work on OSU’s Kaleb Wesson. Wesson finished with just 11 points and 6 rebounds.

Returning to College Park and not entering last year’s NBA draft was a wise decision for the Terp sophomore. I would expect him to be a top 15 pick in the 2019 NBA draft.

Maryland has elevated themselves into the top echelon of the Big 10. Only the two Michigan teams stand between the Terps and first place in the conference. A big showdown with Michigan State in East Lansing awaits the Terps on Monday night at 6:30. FS1 will again handle the TV broadcast.


"open mic" returns tomorrow for football talk

We kicked off our newest feature, #DMD Open Mic, last Sunday during the NFL playoff games, and with the bugs worked out and a good time had by all, we're coming back tomorrow for another open chat room here at Drew's Morning Dish.

We'll open the room at 3:00 pm and stick around throughout the Saints/Rams NFC title game. Who knows...we might even keep the whole thing going into the AFC game as well.

If you're interested in getting involved, check back here tomorrow, where you'll see the link to get in the room. There is a very brief (like, 30 seconds, brief) registration process you have to endure in order to create an ID and get in...but once you've done it, you're good to go.

Please make it a point to stop in the Open Mic room tomorrow. It's sorta-kinda our version of "live radio", although everyone's welcome, you're never on hold, and you don't get chased off after just one question or statement.

Come on in tomorrow and have some fun with us!

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January 18
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it's called "play" a sport for a reason

Many moons ago when I was tinkering with the idea of trying to play professional golf, I was fortunate enough to learn a valuable lesson from an instructor in Florida.

He dumped a bucket of balls at my feet and issued a series of commands.

"Hit me a low hook," he ordered. That was an easy shot for me. At that point in my golfing life -- circa 1993 -- I was prone to hitting hooks anyway. For the uninitiated, a "hook" is a right-to-left ball flight for a right handed player. Except a hook is sort of an out-of-control, maddening shot that doesn't seem to stop rolling until it finds trouble on the left side of the course.

I immediately produced several low screamers that darted left quickly and bounded out beyond sight, almost.

"Good," he said. "Now hit me a low cut." The cut, as you can probably imagine, is the opposite of the hook, in that it goes from left-to-right for a righthanded golfer. Because of my (then) flattish-hockey style swing, I was able to move the clubface around quite easily. For that particular shot he wanted, I simply opened my body and the clubface, slightly, swung hard, and the ball sort of naturally skipped out low, squealing wildly from left to right.

I hit three of them in a row, the next one more wild than the previous attempt, and he put his foot in front of my club. "Well, you have that shot, too," he said. "Nicely done."

I was wondering why he had me doing these things. Isn't golf about hitting the ball straight? I kept that thought to myself.

"Hit me a high hook now," he said.

That one, too, wasn't at all problematic for me. Honestly, I didn't really have much golf "technique" back then, even though I became a decent player quite quickly. The first tournament I ever played in, three years after picking up a club in a 1986, I shot 79-77 at a spring event at Mount Pleasant. In the beginning, I was an excellent putter and had a knack for chipping and getting the ball up and down around the greens. (Editor's note: Boy, how times have changed. I'll get to that some other day.)

Bryson DeChambeau's scientific, methodical approach to the golf swing had some skeptics early on, but four wins in 2018 quieted most of the critics.

By the time I was in Florida seeking out this wisdom I'm remembering today, I was routinely shooting par or better. I definitely wouldn't say I was a "natural", because I most certainly wasn't. But when it came to tournament golf, I got good rather quickly, for whatever reason.

Anyway, back to sunny Florida: I produced three or four high hooks by doing what came naturally to me...moving the ball up in my stance and swinging harder. The shots weren't "sky high" or anything like that, but they got high enough in the air that I passed that portion of the test.

"Last one," the instructor said. "Hit me a few high cuts now. Slice it out there for me."

I raked a ball over, thought about the process for a second, and tried to produce a high, left to right ball flight. The ball mysteriously sort of wobbled off the clubface, getting to medium-height before carrying about 125 yards out into the practice range. I was using a 5-iron. The ball probably should have been carrying more like 160 yards back then.

"Try it again," he demanded.

Another ball popped off the clubface, again without much spin, and, looking a lot like the first "high cut" I attempted moments earlier, just bounded out into the grass field some 125 yards away.

"Again," he said.

I hit another one. Same result. Nothing "high" about it. And nothing "cutting" or "slicing" about it, either.

I moved another ball over. I moved it a little more forward. And swung even harder. This one was a topped shot, that came to rest about 50 yards away.

"Keep going," I heard him say.

Attempts four, five and six were of a similar result. So were seven and eight.

Finally, like a good referee in a boxing match, he stopped the fight and stepped in front of me.

"The most important shot in golf for a right handed player is the high cut," he explained.

"If you can't hit that shot, every single time you need to hit it, you're not ready to even think about playing professional golf," he stated.

"All of those other shots you hit for me were executed the right way, but no one who makes a living playing the game goes around hitting a bunch of screaming low shots or wild hooks. But nearly everyone who plays it for a living and wins golf tournaments can hit a big, beautiful fade on command. Come back and see me when you can hit that shot."

I never did make it back to see him. I never forgot that lesson, either, and spent the next couple of years fiddling with my mechanics and incorporating various swing thoughts and concepts to try and learn the high fade. I've since learned to hit it, but back then, all it produced for me was frustration. And high scores...in the upper 70's instead of low 70's.

That brings me around to a South Korean golfer named Hosung Choi. We briefly profiled him here last year when his golf swing caught the attention of people all over the world. Let's just say it looks odd...to say the least.

Next month when the PGA Tour makes it way to Pebble Beach for the annual event on the Monterrey Peninsula, Choi will be in the field, having received a sponsor's exemption in order to make his TOUR debut. It will be a significant step up in class for the 45 year old. While the Asian Tour, on which he currently plays, contains a number of outstanding professional players, its overall level of quality is two or three rungs lower than the PGA Tour. Think of a horse trained to run six furlongs who suddenly gets thrust into a race that covers a mile-and-a-quarter.

Below you'll see a two minute video of Hosung Choi. At the end, you'll see a few clips of another interesting professional golfer, American Bryson DeChambeau. Those who have been around #DMD for the last few years will likely remember I've been touting DeChambeau throughout that time, dating back to 2015 when he won the NCAA individual title and U.S. Amateur within three months of one another.

Last year, he was one of the top 5 players on the entire TOUR and went into the final round of the season -- at the Tour Championship -- with a very real chance of capturing the FedEx Cup.

I bring DeChambeau up -- and show him in the video -- to allow you to examine two completely different golf swings and mindsets. One, Choi's, is, as you'll see, wildly amateur-looking. The other, from one of the top players in the world, is a picture of precision. And mechanics. And science.

I'm here to tell you they're both beautiful golf swings. One just "looks better" than the other.

As I remind my Calvert Hall golfers every year, the term isn't "let's go swing golf today". The term you hear is..."let's go play golf today".

Nearly all of us equate the word "play" to the word "fun". "Let's go outside and play" was never meant to sound arduous or difficult or not fun.

Once or twice a season, I tell my team to pick four clubs out of their bag and head out on the course for nine holes. "Take any four clubs you want that will help you shoot the lowest score you can," is the only demand I make of them.

They spend a few minutes thinking about it, chiding one another for their club selection, and bragging about how their four clubs are more apt to yield success than anyone else's choice.

And off they go...

They're forced to hit 100 yard 5-irons. Or 160 yard 3-woods. They figure out how to make a 10-foot putt with the flange of their sand wedge if they didn't bring a putter (which, by the way, you should never bring with you in a 4-club event...).

What they wind up doing for nine holes is "playing" golf. Guess what else they wind up doing? Having more fun.

Oh, and here's the important part, the nature of unintended consequences, if you will. Their scores roughly match what they might have shot had they had their full bag for the nine hole trek. Last year, in fact, one of my Calvert Hall players shot +2 for nine holes with four clubs. He might have produced an even par score for nine holes with his full bag...or not. But there most certainly wasn't a huge difference between his full-bag score and his 4-club score.

Hosung Choi and Bryson DeChambeau "play" golf. They have different approaches to the golf swing, for sure, but because both of them go at the process with a "different" mindset, they stand out like a sore thumb.

Choi, at 45, probably isn't going to take the golf world by storm anytime soon. DeChambeau, however, at age 25, might very well be the next big thing.

When you watch Choi's swing in the video below, and the antics that follow, you'll initially wonder how on earth he makes contact with the ball, let alone shoot under par rounds and make money playing the game. The answer is easy: The golf ball just sits there. It has no idea at all what your backswing looks like, where your club is at the top, or what your feet do at impact and beyond. The golf ball just waits to get struck by the clubface. And if the clubface is square at the moment it's struck, the ball will go on its intended route.

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the terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his fourth season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2018-19 season.

terps visit ohio state for friday night showdown

With the University of Maryland men’s hoop team traveling to the Value City Arena in Columbus Ohio tonight to take on the formerly #13 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes, my initial reaction is that this is a tough spot for the extremely young Terrapin team.

I hadn’t seen OSU that much, but I trusted the national respect they were given while climbing to #13 in the country just two weeks ago. After reviewing each of their last three Big 10 games, losses to Michigan State, Rutgers, and Iowa, I have a much better idea of who this team is and what they do well.

I also see their deficiencies. And if Maryland can exploit the OSU weaknesses, then the Terps stand a great chance of moving their Big 10 record to 7-1 this evening.

Let me get right to the point. First, I don’t fear the Ohio State guards. Second, I think the early OSU high ranking was based on an easy schedule and some leftover love for last year’s team. Last year’s star, Keita Bates-Diop, is now in the NBA and Jae’Sean Tate is playing pro ball overseas. Their replacements, to me, are not of the same caliber.

C.J Jackson does most of the ball handling duties and is the guard who scores the most. All of his stats from this year are amazingly consistent with his numbers last year. The only slight difference is in his 3-point shooting, where he has improved from 38% to 41%. In fact, his 3-point percentage is a fraction better than his overall shooting percentage (41.3 vs 40.8). He is a good Big 10 quality athlete, but I’m not going to grade Jackson as a plus defender and his ability to get to, and finish at, the rim is nothing special.

Freshman guard Luther Muhammad also hits 41% from being the line, but he’s not a solid ball handler and as a result, his drive-and-dish game is not a factor. He’ll split time with another freshman guard, Duane Washington Jr. Washington has a much more developed offensive repertoire, but is still developing as a complete player on both ends of the court. Keyshawn Woods will play a third guard position and he’s good for 7.4 points per game.

Maryland needs another big game from Bruno Fernando tonight when they travel to Ohio State for a 6:30 pm contest. Fernando will match-up with Buckeyes' big man Kaleb Wesson.

If OSU coach Chris Holtmann decides to go with a bigger lineup, you can look for Kyle Young to get the start. Young, a 6’8” sophomore forward, might be called on to guard Maryland’s Jalen Smith. Other than him, only the 6’6” Andre Wesson has remotely enough size to check the Terrapin freshman, Smith. This could be a real matchup problem for the Buckeyes.

The matchup problem for the Terps will come when trying to guard Kaleb Wesson, Andre’s brother. Despite being younger, Kaleb is bigger than Andre. As in, much bigger. The younger Wesson has 3 inches and at least 50 pounds on his older sibling. Kaleb is a real load on the interior. He posts up with his wide body and uses his shoulders to create space with which to get off his short-range shots. This guy is very effective with the ball (53% from the floor) and hits 73% from the foul line.

Kaleb is the clear leader on the court. He averages 16.2 points and 7 rebounds per game, Both tops on this Ohio State team. However, he does have an issue staying on the floor. He tends to pick up some cheap fouls and has accumulated 4 or more fouls in each of his last 6 games. For OSU to hang with Maryland, he must remain on the court as he and C.J Jackson are the only Buckeyes who average ten or more points per contest.

Ohio State is a very physical basketball team that has one go-to scorer and six other players who contribute offensively but can’t be counted on to carry the team. They will scrap and run when the opportunity presents itself.

With only one interior defender to bother them, Maryland should dominate inside. Even with Kaleb Wesson in the paint, OSU doesn’t have a true shot-blocker on the team. Andre Wesson leads them with less than 1 per game. Terp buckets around the basket can be had.

Down low, Bruno Fernando will have to work hard to score on Kaleb Wesson, but Wesson doesn’t jump well. This makes Fernando’s jump hooks practically unstoppable. I have no idea, other than a zone, how OSU plans to check Jalen Smith down on the low blocks. Unless Ohio State doubles down, leaving the open 3, Smith will be free to operate. It’s a serious dilemma for the Buckeyes.

I really feel that Maryland has the better talent tonight. However, Ohio State has capable athletes and a monster on the low blocks. OSU also is more rested than the Terps, having last played on Saturday, compared to Monday for Maryland. It’s a home game for the Buckeyes, so the Terps lose a bit of time for travel.

The Friday night crowd should be lively, as Ohio State has the largest average attendance in the Big 10. They’ve lost three in a row, and are looking to stop this losing streak before they take on Purdue at home, then Nebraska and Michigan on the road. Tonight is a "must game" for Ohio State.

Maryland has won five in a row and could possibly be looking ahead to their showdown with Michigan State in East Lansing on Monday. It’s a tough spot for the Terps, and even the odds makers think OSU has a slight advantage here. The early line has the Buckeyes being 1.5 point favorites and to be honest, I’ve been back and forth on this one.

Maryland has superior talent and Fernando instills fire in his mates. I’ll take the fire and the points. But I’ll hedge a bit with this: I’d NEVER place a short-term investment on a game like this.

When you have a top 20 team as a road dog to an unranked team, the unranked team covers far too often. I’m just counting on Fernando to fire this team up, and the Terp freshman to continue their impressive play.

Jalen Smith get 16 or more points tonight, and he and his teammates not only dominate the glass, but they clean up their issues defending the three-point line. Terps win a close one, 68-66. The action starts at 6:30 and can be seen on FS1.


January 17
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blaming the media is a funny angle

As you'll see below, Brien Jackson handles the heavy lifting with all the details on the Manny Machado (and Bryce Harper) contract happenings. Brien's more inclined than I am to do a deep-dive on these subjects.

But that won't stop me from laughing at Machado's agent, Dan Lozano, who yesterday published a rather scathing note that not only named two national baseball writers, but went as far as to blame the media for "tampering" with his client's potential livelihood.

Pardon me for a second while I get a Kleenex and cry for poor Dan Lozano.

OK, I'm back.

Sports agents. What a crew.

The only way they could all be easier to dislike would be if they were wearing Flyers jerseys. But I'll give them credit for staying on brand 24x7 and trying to convince the world that they're upstanding folk and their clients are without flaw.

I worked with -- well, mostly against -- a bunch of agents when I was running the indoor soccer team circa 1992. They're a real treat to deal with, let me tell you.

"Now, Drew, you're telling me that we have a deal at $45,000 per-year?" one friendly chap told me when I was trying to sign a free agent who played in St. Louis the previous year.

"Yes," I replied. "We'll fax everything to you right now. We have a deal."

"OK, send it over and we'll get it signed and sent back," the agent confirmed.

Two hours later: "We have an offer from St. Louis at $48,000. Can you go to $52,000? If you can, we can wrap this up."

So, we didn't actually have a deal after all.

Instead, he just went back to St. Louis and got three more grand per-season from them. Fair enough...that's how the game works.

Interestingly enough, I would have probably paid $52,000 for the kid if not for the fact I'd been lied to by the agent. I looked at that situation like it revealed a character flaw on....the player...not the agent. If you're willing to lock arms with a devious agent, I'm not sure I can trust you.

The whole thing was a wonderful lesson for me in the summer of 1993.

Don't trust ANYTHING you hear an agent say. Fast forward to 2019 and I'd tell you that's still a great piece of advice for anyone in the sports world, including the media.

Do not trust a sports agent. Do not pass go. And do NOT give them $200.

Look, I wouldn't know Dan Lozano if he knocked at my door today, but I can say with great certainty I don't trust anything he says or writes.

Whining about the media "manipulating" your client and his chances for a big payday? That's funny. You weren't whining about those same reporters two years when you leaked a story that stood to benefit one of your clients. I don't know for certain that Lozano ever "used" either Bob Nightengale or Buster Olney to help get his narrative or agenda out to the general public, but I'd bet two chinese lunches he has at some point.

Perhaps Manny Machado didn't help himself last October when he informed other teams -- via the press -- he wasn't "Johnny Hustle".

In other words: It's OK when I need you to help me. But it's not OK when you're not helping me. I think we call that a double standard or something. It's sort of like hustling when the team is 15 games above .500 but not hustling when the team is 15 games below .500.

It's a shame Lozano gets all of the venom here today at #DMD (from me, anyway) but he's the only one who crafted a nasty statement about the media yesterday because he hasn't been able to convince a team in major league baseball to overpay for Manny Machado.

I'm sure he's embarrassed beyond belief that reports are circulating that the White Sox have offered Machado "only" (try not to spit out your Royal Farms coffee here) $175 million for 7 years. And, needing to strike out at someone, who are you going to choose? Two reporters who are trying to dig at the story? Or the teams who are laughing at your $10 year, $400 million proposal?

Right...you have a go at the media, remembering that you don't want to bite the hands that feeds you and all that jazz.

Collusion? Eh, maybe. I've come to almost despise that word, as it's the easiest "go-to" a player and his agent can come up with. Or maybe, instead of collusion, teams watched Machado run down the baseline with all the energy of Aunt Bee from The Andy Griffith Show and decided they didn't want to fork over $35 million a year to a guy who doesn't break a sweat.

I've said for several years now I wouldn't give Machado anywhere near that kind of money if I ran a team. Get a couple of glasses of cabernet in Buck Showalter and ask him how many meetings and "morning coffees" he had with Machado in 2016 and 2017 to try and get him to get with the program.

But that's neither here nor there, 'cuz I don't run a team and I'm not the one "only" offering Machado $175 million.

I believe one thing about Lozano's published statement. I believe he's angry with the media for reporting (unconfirmed) salary information about his client. I might be too if I were doing the math and computing the difference between 3.5% of $175 million and 3.5% of $250 million. In other words, Lozano himself stands to potentially lose close to $3 million himself. (I have some Kleenex you can borrow.)

But that doesn't mean I believe anything else Lozano says, including his outright refuting of the offer made by White Sox.

For all we know, the only team that has actually made an offer might be the White Sox. And they might have said to Lozano, "It's $175 million for 7 years and that's it. Take it or leave it by January 10."

I have no way of knowing.

And if it did indeed happen that way, well, poor Dan and his client would be outraged because.....well.....because they deserve the $300 or $400 million they want. Don't you know that's how negotiating works? Try it with your boss sometime when you want a raise and see how it goes.

I don't know what's the truth and what's not the truth in this situation because I don't trust any of the main characters.

But I do know this much: Dan Lozano -- and any sports agent for that matter -- has perfected the art of illusion, which is to say they've become masters at making you and I feel sorry for their client and his $175 million guaranteed contract.

Here's the truth: Lean in so I can whisper it and not be overheard...Nearly everyone wishes his client would only get $150 million.

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"The Keen Eye" of David Rosenfeld

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

snow days

I grew up on Talman Road, 21208. Google Maps can show you where it is, but it can’t show you how perfect it was for playing sports in the snow.

The street climbed a gentle hill from either side leading to a flat area directly in front of our house, so it wasn’t perfect for sledding. For anything else, especially hockey, it was great.

The backyard was flat and generally free of rocks, ruts and big dips. I’m sure it isn’t as big as it seemed to me then, but it worked well for two-on-two or three-on-three football.

I’m pretty sure we had the only driveway on the street with a basketball hoop at the end of it, which always surprised me. It became a mecca for a few of the neighbors. In the snow, it even had some real advantages.

If you will, allow me a short trip down snow memory lane.


There have been a few great “Snow Bowls” in the history of the NFL. Just last season, the Bills and Colts played a game during an incredible lake effect storm in Orchard Park. Here in Baltimore, the Ravens and Vikings played a game in 2013 that, for the first quarter or so, was played in close to zero visibility. Having been there, sitting in the upper deck, I can attest to that.

Back on Talman Road, we played plenty of football in the snow. As usual, the quality of the games depended on the number of players we could find; even in the 1980s, not every parent was that willing to let his or her kids out of the house.

Then again, we played plenty of football all the time. And when the big storms came, actual football was sort of out of the question. It’s not easy to run a 12-yard buttonhook in snow up to your knees. On those days, we had to improvise. The game changed to something called “Blindside.” As the youngest, I took most of the punishment.

On a normal day, wearing a t-shirt or sweatshirt, on a lawn that was either rock hard or muddy, I never would have agreed to it. But these were not normal days. I was wearing three or four layers, and the ground was hidden under a pillowy blanket.

I was the quarterback, and I dropped back to pass. I had no teammates, except in my mind. There was only one defender, usually Gary, and he always blew right by the imaginary left tackle. His favorite player was Lawrence Taylor; with his #56 Giants jersey on beneath his jacket, Gary would hit me as hard as he could. I was still staring at my receiver when it happened, and I would collapse to the ground. For what it’s worth, I never once fumbled the football when Gary blindsided me, though it was probably a Nerf football. And I don’t remember exactly why Gary had so much stored aggression. I’ve asked him that question at the Bat Mitzvah of each of his three daughters, and he doesn’t remember either.


Talman Road wasn’t a main street. I’d say it was more like a side street off another side street off a relatively main street. This made it perfect for snow hockey.

"Those were the days..."

If a plow came by at 10:30 in the morning, it wasn’t coming again until much later. The plow would always seem to leave a nice coating on the street, and we had almost the whole day to ourselves.

Using some of the snow that the plow had pushed to the side, we created goals on either side of the street, which couldn’t have been more than 25 feet apart. We even etched goal creases and a center circle. We made sure that we had purchased the proper street hockey ball from the sporting goods store, the one that said it was designed for cold weather.

And then we played. There was no traffic. The surface wasn’t ice, but sometimes it would smooth out enough that the ball would actually roll relatively well. There were some epic battles.

At a certain point, somebody bought two of those portable goals, the real ones, and I suppose we placed them in the middle of street to create a bigger playing area. Eventually, my brother and his friends played in an organized street hockey league, using the outdoor blacktop courts at local schools. Some of the teams in that league featured actual youth hockey players, which we were not.

That was fine, but that was something you could do year-round, even in shorts and t-shirts. The snow games were moments in time; by the next day, bare pavement was showing itself, the makeshift goals were melting and school was back in session. Unlike for hockey fans up north, there were no frozen ponds or snow-filled streets to get us through the winter.


Sure, dribbling a basketball is impossible in the deep snow, but I was never much of a ballhandler anyway. If the game was played in the snow, my shooting abilities would have been much more prized. Eventually, when the snow stopped, we’d clear the driveway like everyone else. There were times during my early teens when I spent at least two hours every day on that driveway; the fact that there were mounds of snow on all sides wouldn’t have made a difference.

In the case of our house, that actually made the game better.

Unlike the street in front of the house, the driveway wasn’t flat. It sloped downward from the street, and immediately behind the basket sloped downward even more to the backyard. If a ball got loose under the basket, or the occasional “airball” was thrown, it could roll 40 or 50 or 100 feet down the hill. You could spend more time chasing the ball than playing.

Then there were our neighbors, in particular Mr. Kaplan. He loved his lawn, but he didn’t love the brown spots we made on it when the ball and the game inevitably ended up there. And he had a dog that was often on a leash in his backyard. If the ball did make its way down the hill, there was a chance you had to deal with a prickly pooch.

The snow solved these problems, of course. If it was deep enough, it stopped the ball from rolling down the hill, like a designated rebounder who did everything besides throw the ball back to you. It protected both Mr. Rosenfeld’s and Mr. Kaplan’s lawn for a few days at least.

I like to think all that outdoor basketball toughened me up, with the cold weather and the questionable “indoor-outdoor” ball and having to chase balls down the hill. The truth is that I would have been better off on an indoor court working on my ballhandling, but the driveway out in the snow was a lot more fun.


from the desk of
brien jackson

BRIEN JACKSON's work at #DMD promises to provide some of Baltimore's best sports insight and commentary, brought to you by SECU, the official credit-union of Drew's Morning Dish. Brien has done sports-media work with ESPN, CBS, and NPR. His contributions to #DMD will focus on the Orioles, the Ravens, and national sports stories.

Two major developments happened in the MLB hot stove on Wednesday.

First, Buster Olney reported that the Chicago White Sox current offer for Manny Machado is a surprisingly meager $175 over 7 years. That's well below what Machado figured to command this winter even using more conservative projection models. Heck, it's smaller than the 8 year $180 contract that Mark Teixeira got from the Yankees a decade ago this offseason. The report certainly raised some eyebrows, to say the least.

The second major development was that Machado's agent went nuclear over the report.

OK, "nuclear" might be exaggerating, but not by much. While Dan Lozanno acknowledged the work that MLB's national beat writers and affirmed his respect for them, he absolutely blasted the entire cottage industry of rumor mill reporting. More importantly, he accused their sources of "blatantly violating the collective bargaining agreement by intentionally misleading [reporters]to try and affect negotiations through the public."

That's a hefty charge with a lot of potential implications going forward. The growing prevalence of reporting about negotiations has always operated in somewhat dubious legal territory; it's simply not at all clear why teams could workaround rules against colluding with one another by sharing information through the press rather than with one another directly, and it's gotten even murkier since MLB, like the other sports leagues, got into the media business themselves with in house reporters.

A few years ago union leader Tony Clark made some noise about the impropriety of it all when the qualifying offer system left Stephen Drew and Kyle Lohse jobless past Opening Day, but that was mostly dismissed as empty chest-puffing from someone looking to distract from criticism over his own poor job performance.

But for an agent of Lozanno's stature to echo those sentiments takes things to another level, and to do so in language that walks right to the brink of outright accusing the teams of illegally colluding to rig the sport's labor market adds a little more kindling to an increasingly combustible relationship between the players and owners.

The prospect of collusion was bandied about by some last year, mostly in ways that seemed silly. An underwhelming class of free agents mostly ended up with contracts that seemed commensurate with their standing, and then for the most part said free agents turned in disappointing seasons in 2018.

Once thought to perhaps reel in as much as $400 million through free agency, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado have yet to sign with a team for 2019 and beyond.

It seemed much more likely that teams were finally getting smart about handling non-elite free agents and avoiding paying gigantic dollars to someone like Alex Cobb simply because he was the 3rd or 4th best starting pitcher on a give year's market. This year? This year something seems downright fishy.

There are two important things to keep in mind about the free agency of Machado and Bryce Harper. The first is that these are once in a generation free agents. In addition to being perennial All-Stars and MVP caliber talents, they're reaching free agency in their mid-20's, with 6 or 7 years of their physical primes left. That means that the "out year" risk on a long term deal is significantly smaller than the deals that Albert Pujols and Robinson Cano got. And most of all, this just doesn't happen very often. It's been nearly 20 years since a player as good as Machado or Harper reached free agency at their age.

The second factor is that Major League Baseball and all 30 of its franchises are absolutely swimming in cash right now. In fact, it was just several days ago that the league reported all time high revenues eclipsing the $10 billion mark. Digital media properties, new cable television deals, and a variety of corporate sponsorships have rapidly filled the league's coffers to the point that for most franchises cash flow has almost certainly never been higher.

And the simple fact is that this should be creating higher payrolls and higher salaries as a result. That's Economics 101: If supply and demand stay constant while the money supply expands, prices go up. And that's just not happening right now.

Quite the opposite, in fact. League wide, payroll as a share of revenue is the lowest it's been in decades.

The Yankees, long derided as the sports equivalent of a drunken sailor, actually have a lower payroll right now than they did ten years ago by about $25 million. Teams that figure as fringe contenders and have plenty of payroll space compared to their historical norms, to say nothing of cash on hand, aren't even being discussed in connection with any significant free agent players in this year's market.

Heck, most of them aren't even pretending to. The Marlins are overtly being run as a rent-seeking operation by its ownership group, with stripped down payroll and other baseball operations allowing the undercapitalized ownership to skim off revenues to pay off the excessive debt they accrued buying the team. Not that they're skimping on their own salaries, of course.

This is not a situation that can go on for long, and there's no way this ends well.

There are two possible explanations for what's going on with baseball right now (well, assuming that the reports are true and that Harper doesn't sign a $350 million contract next week, I guess). The first is that the teams really are colluding against the players. That might still be unlikely, but it's certainly not implausible. There are still members of the club who were around the last time MLB owners did that in the 1980's, so it's not as though their ethical standards would get in the way. Furthermore, collusion is difficult to prove, so it's not at all hard to imagine the owners thinking they could get away with it.

The other possibility is that a whole bunch of teams just aren't trying to win, or aren't trying that hard. There's plenty of evidence for this point, starting with the rather bizarre spectacle of the Indians spending the winter trying tirelessly to trade away their best starting pitcher for no obvious reason beyond dumping salary.

Big market teams like the Yankees who have cash to spend and a good argument for doing so simply aren't, ostensibly wanting to stay under the luxury tax threshold or maintain "payroll flexibility." Lower revenue teams like the Rays that are fringe playoff contenders aren't making any efforts to upgrade their rosters and catch up to the teams in front of them, even while a stagnant free agent market gives them a chance to find some bargains and MVP's various side ventures have provided them with plenty of cash to use.

Add in that advances in scouting, analytics, and player development have made young players as valuable as ever and you have a recipe for a couple of dozen teams who simply aren't interested in any free agents no matter the price.

And this just can't go on indefinitely. The idea of a player like Cobb possibly getting $80-90 million might have been silly, but it was also baked into the cake of the basic agreement between players and owners.

Bloated contracts to middling free agents was simply the other side of the coin of a system that paid them well below what they could be making as free agents for the first 6 or 7 years of their big league careers, in addition to their years in the minor leagues. And in addition to seeing the economic foundation of their industry shift under their feet, the situation involving Machado and Harper is providing some real reason to believe that everything is not on the up and up on the other side of the table.

In short, if this offseason plays out as it looks like it's going to, after the way last year's offseason played out, and if that continues to be the case next year, baseball is heading straight for a major labor stoppage.

And considering that baseball players have guaranteed salaries and that the owners have diversified their revenues considerably, it might be a very prolonged one that both sides feel good about their ability to ride out. I honestly wouldn't be surprised if the entire 2022 season never happens.

And far from cooler heads prevailing, comments like the ones Lazanno drafted and released on Wednesday merely enforce that the situation is steadily escalating.

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January 16
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about that harbaugh extension...

I'm hearing and reading growing concern around town about the silence coming out of Owings Mills with regard to the contract extension for John Harbaugh.

I wouldn't be worried in the least.

There are a lot of moving parts in this one, but none of them point to a snag in the discussions to extend Harbaugh's contract past the 2019 season. The only thing I'd even remotely consider as a hold-up would be the obvious -- a significant difference in money over the length of the deal.

And even that seems unlikely given Bisciotti's and the organization's fondness for John and the job he's done in Baltimore.

It's fair to note there has been some league-wide chatter about the NFL issuing a warning of sorts to teams who are entering into long term coaching deals. The league is advising owners and clubs to incorporate some standard language to protect themselves in the event of a work stoppage in 2021. While hammering out those details might take some time ("It's not the coach's fault the players might go on strike," Harbaugh's agent might say), there's no reason to think Steve Bisciotti and John Harbaugh will let that get in the way of an extension for the 11-year head coach.

I've heard some discontent from the radio talking heads in town about Harbaugh not having a "season ending press conference". League rules stipulate that someone in the executive chain (Owner, President, General Manager or Head Coach) must be made available within one week after the season ends. A source tells me the Ravens asked for an extension (ironic, I guess) on that while Eric DeCosta gets settled in and the team finishes the contract talks with Harbaugh.

Given those two circumstances, I suspect the league obliged that request. And at some point soon, Harbaugh -- perhaps with DeCosta in tow -- will meet with the media to discuss the 2018 campaign and his plans moving forward.

Let's be honest: Until Harbaugh's contract extension is finished and announced, there's no reason at all for the media to meet with him. There's nothing he could say right now about the 2019 season if he doesn't know for sure what his future holds in Baltimore. And he most certainly wouldn't discuss what happened in 2018 if he wasn't going to be around in 2019 and beyond.

Some are speculating there's a money issue between Bisciotti and Harbaugh. I doubt that. Harbaugh doesn't set the bar for his salary. Jon Gruden and the Raiders did that for him when they agreed on a $10 million per-year deal early in 2018. Bisciotti might not have to cough up that insane amount to keed Harbaugh, but he's going to have to fork over something in the $50 million range for five or six years.

Don't worry...Steve has it to spend.

And as I wrote here last week at #DMD, you can disregard any water-cooler-talk you hear about DeCosta and Harbaugh not getting along. Think of it like you would a team of folks in the sales department and a team of folks in the marketing department. They're bound to butt heads at some point. "We'd sell more if they'd market the product better," says the sales team. "If you'd sell more, our marketing budget would grow and we'd have the funds to do some great stuff," counters the marketing group.

In other words, clash is inevitable, and I'm guessing Harbs and Eric will have their fair share of those moments. But in no way is DeCosta "chasing Harbaugh out", as I heard one Baltimore media member opine on Monday.

I don't see anything right now that tells me to throw up a warning flag with regard to Harbaugh and his future in Baltimore. He let Marty Morhninweg go, promoted Greg Roman, moved Bobby Engram into a new position and has probably done one or two others things within the coaching department that we've yet to hear about. In other words, everything points to all systems go.

The relationship between Harbaugh and Bisciotti is just too strong for one of the two guys to "stick it" to the other.

In closing, let me throw one last log on the fire. With these cold temps coming to town over the weekend, you'll need something to keep you warm.

There's one college job -- just one -- that Harbaugh would leap at if given the opening and opportunity. That school is in South Bend, Indiana. Keep your eye on the Brian Kelly situation at Notre Dame. I wouldn't be at all shocked to learn that the head coach had an out clause in his deal that allowed him to leave the Ravens for the Notre Dame job. Not that we'd ever been able to find that out...but I wouldn't be surprised if we did learn of it.

I don't think John Harbaugh sees himself as anything but a professional football coach in the NFL. When all that goofy talk started about the USC job and Harbaugh, I poo poo'd that right away with the claim that Harbaugh would NEVER take a job like Southern California.

But Notre Dame isn't just a college football job. It would dovetail perfectly with John's devotion to his faith, for starters. Plus, his daughter will start school there in 2020. And, well, in case you didn't notice, Notre Dame is kind of a big deal every Saturday in the Fall.

Harbaugh's a big deal too. That Notre Dame situation is about the only I could see coming up in the future -- perhaps -- that would lure John away from Baltimore.

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the drew vs. george golf duel

I was on the Gary Woodland horse one week too late, as it were.

One week after Woodland lost by a shot in the Tournament of Champions out in Hawaii, I had him as my projected winner at the Sony Open -- also in Hawaii. While my guy made the cut and George's (Brian Harman) missed it, I only got one point out of Woodland when he was "cut" after Saturday's third round and basically finished in last place.

And I already have a problem for this week's event out in La Quinta, California. My selection, Kevin Chappell, is not in the field this week. So I'm forced to use one of my four changes that we're allowed in this first 17-week portion of the season. If I had a more sizeable lead on George, I might just sit this one out and use Chappell anyway, but I can't afford for my pal down in North Carolina to stumble onto a winning horse (Sam Saunders) and jump ahead of me.

Drew's pick for this week's PGA Tour event: Scott Piercy

I guess Geo is going for the family-tree-pick this week. Nothing about Saunders except the fact his grandfather was The King tells me he's ready for the birdie-fest he'll encounter out west.

I'm switching to Scott Piercy this week. He has a good record out at The Desert Classic, including a T6 last year. He lives in Las Vegas, so "desert golf" isn't foreign to him in the least. He's strong off the tee and hits a lot of greens. If his putter behaves, he's a threat.

Now, we'll hear from George, who I'm sure will get a dig in on Rickie Fowler at some point.


Well, we had a slugfest out in Honolulu this weekend, didn't we? Harman got me no points with his CUT, and your boy Woodland rewarded you with one point with his MDF and second-to-last finish. Mayhaps we could get a dart-throwing monkey in here to put some pressure on us.

Anyway, congrats on your smashing victory in this second week. But remember, it's not a sprint, it's a marathon. There are no pictures on our scorecards. And The other guy tries, too. Of course you shoulda kept your head down. And the early bird gets the worm.

This week looks interesting, if our guys play. I really like Sam Saunders. I see you're already panicking and changing your lineup. Scott Piercy seems like a really good pick. I wish I would have heard about him before now. Anyway...may the better man win!

tournament/championship drew's picks points earned
this week/
running total
points earned
this week/
running total
george's picks
Tournament of Champions Jon Rahm (T8) 25 / 25 9 / 9 Brooks Koepka (24)
Sony Open Gary Woodland (MDF) 1 / 26 0 / 9 Brian Harman (CUT)
Desert Classic Scott Piercy (T56)
(Chg. #1, from Chappell)
17 / 43 0 / 9 Sam Saunders (CUT)
Farmers Insurance Open Billy Horschel Tony Finau
Phoenix Open 🤣  ! Rickie Fowler !   🤣 Daniel Berger
Pebble Beach Pro-Am Graeme McDowell Jimmy Walker
Genesis Open Jason Day Xander Schauffele
Puerto Rico Open Denny McCarthy Peter Uihlein
WGC - Mexico Championship Dustin Johnson Justin Thomas
Honda Classic Aaron Wise Tommy Fleetwood
Arnold Palmer Invitational Tiger Woods Bryson DeChambeau
Players Championship Rafa Cabrera-Bello Tiger Woods
Valspar Championship Beau Hossler Justin Rose
WGC- Match Play Jon Rahm K. Barnrat
Corales Puntacana Championship Chris Kirk Denny McCarthy
Texas Open Ryan Palmer Joaquin Niemann
The Masters Bryson DeChambeau Xander Schauffele
(Chg. # 1, from Spieth)
RBC Heritage
Zurich Classic
Wells Fargo Championship
Byron Nelson Classic
PGA Championship
Charles Schwab Challenge
Memorial Tournament
Canadian Open
U.S. Open
Travelers Championship
Rocket Mortgage Classic
3M Open
John Deere Classic
Barbasol Championship
British Open
WGC Invitational
Wyndham Championship
Northern Trust Open
BMW Championship
Tour Championship


we have nine winners in our "final four" contest

I said it couldn't be done.

And nine of you did it! Not one...nine!!

Before the NFL playoffs started, I issued #DMD readers a challenge. Pick the NFL's Final Four. I made the challenge to show just how crazy the league is from week-to-week. Forget about a 64-team NCAA hoops bracket. I was willing to bet $250 of Glory Days gift certificates that you couldn't nail a 12-team NFL playoff bracket. At least down to the Final Four, that is.

Over 700 people entered the contest. 400+ of you had the Ravens in your Final Four, so you were all out right away.

The other 300'ish had other variations. There were A LOT of people on the Chargers from the outset. I'd say at least half the 300 people had the Chargers in their Final Four.

But when the dust settled on Sunday night and the Saints had disposed of the Eagles, nine of you were left standing.

BTW, had the Eagles won that game on Sunday, Noah Cluster would have been the ONLY person out of 700+ entries to get all four teams right! Alas, the Eagles didn't win.

So the drawing will be held today to determine a winner. I'd rather not give out e-mail addresses here at #DMD, but I'll do my best to identify the nine finalists based on names and/or ID's they used in their entry.

The nine finalists, each of whom picked the Patriots, Chiefs, Saints and Rams are:

Andrew Skalski, Mark Barnes, Dave Kowalewski Jr., Helene W, Jason Randall, Chris Paff, GSP21091, Damon Alsinger and Peter McKenny.

Good luck to all of you!! We'll do the random drawing later today and tweet out the winner and have it here for your tomorrow as well.

Send Flowers at 1-800-FLORALS

breakfast bytes

NBA: Klay Thompson ties league mark with 10 straight 3-pointers as Warriors drub Lakers in L.A., 130-111.

Rockets' Harden scores 30 points in 20th consecutive game but Sixers wallop Houston in Philly, 121-93.

Australian Open: #14 seed Tsitsipas advances to men's semifinals with four-set win.

Baseball trade: Yankees deal RHP Sonny Gray to Reds for two prospects.

CAPS GOALS: Carlson 2 (8), Niskanen (6), Orlov (3), Orpik (2)

GOALTENDER: Holtby/Copley

RECORD/PLACE: 27-16-5 (2nd, Metropolitan)

NEXT GAME: January 22 vs. San Jose

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