Thursday
October 29
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#2256



when will it be us?


It has become an annual fall rite of passage for me.

And for you, too, if you love baseball and the Orioles.

Every October since 1984 -- with the exception of 1994 when a player strike left us without a World Series -- I've watched another team besides the Orioles celebrate the championship.

I don't know how you handle it, but over the years I've developed a weird knack for digging deep to find a reason to be happy for the champion. Going as far back as when the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004, I can honestly say I've been happy for (nearly) every team. Maybe the 2009 Yankees are the exception to that rule...but anyway.

When the Red Sox won in 2004, I was happy for their long suffering fan base. The same for the Royals in 2015 and the Cubs in 2016. There might have been reasons to dislike the team and/players, but if you dug far enough beneath the surface, you could always find a reason to be happy for a World Series winner.

Baltimore needs one of these celebrations again!

I watched the Dodgers win Game 6 on Tuesday night in what's also going to be known historically as the "Kevin Cash Give Away Game". I don't have an axe to grind with the Dodgers. I've always been a Clayton Kershaw fan and most of the star L.A. players -- Betts, Bellinger, Seager, Turner -- seem like decent guys. It was their first title since 1988 and since they were the team impacted the most, apparently, by the Astros and their trash-can-beating ways, I found some joy in watching them celebrate on Tuesday night.

But every October since 1984, I've felt something else: jealousy.

Why can't that be us? You know, the team with the pitcher flinging his glove in the air and the catcher stuffing the ball in his back pocket after the 27th out, rushing to the mound to hug the pitcher and celebrate with the rest of the team. Just once, maybe? Not every year. Not even every five years. But once in 36 years? That seems like a reasonable request of the baseball gods.

It almost was us back in 2014, when the O's earned a date with the Kansas City Royals in the ALCS. Just four wins away from a World Series berth!

Alas, the Orioles didn't win four games in that ALCS. They didn't win one, in fact. I still have no idea how that ball Alex Gordon hit in Game 2 turned into a 240-foot bases clearing triple. But it did. And that's the closest the Birds have come to the World Series since the mid 1990's.

Think about all of the teams since 1984 that have played in the World Series.

Wait, here's a better way of putting it.

Let's look at the list of teams who haven't played in the World Series once since 1984.

Seattle, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee and, yes, Baltimore.

Four teams.

The Orioles haven't played in a World Series since beating the Phillies in 1983, but the Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies and -- gulp -- Washington Nationals have all played in one. Heck, two bottom feeder franchises, the San Diego Padres and Miami Marlins -- nee Florida Marlins -- have played in two! But in Baltimore...it's none.

Editor's note: Speaking of "none" and a fan base that deserves better, there's still only one team that hasn't ever made it to the World Series. Quick...who is it? (answer below).

I've always thought the NHL playoffs were the #1 sports post-season among the big four. The grind those guys go through to get to the point where they lift the Stanley Cup is incredible. But I'm not sure their 7-game final series beats baseball's 7-game final series. There's just something about baseball.

So as I watched the Dodgers on Tuesday night, I found joy for guys like Kershaw and Bellinger and Seager. I was especially happy for pitcher Kenley Jansen, who has been under fire throughout his time in Los Angeles due to the occasional 9th inning collapse.

But while I watched the post-game celebration and smiled, a twinge of envy set in, too. (Note: I'm sure the folks in Seattle have celebration-envy as well. The Mariners are the one current franchise who have yet to ever appear in a World Series.)

When can we here in Baltimore experience the thrill of a World Series victory again? Heck, at this point, just give me an Orioles World Series appearance and I'll roll the dice on a trophy.

I'm not greedy. If the O's make the World Series in 2022 and lose to the Braves, I'd be OK with that, mostly because I would figure we'd get back there sometime soon and potentially win the next one. Then again, I figured we'd "get back there soon" after winning in 1983 and, well, not so much.

But it feels like the Birds are on the right path, doesn't it? I know the results haven't been great in the Elias-Hyde era, but we are starting to piece together the makings of a competitive ballclub. It might not be until 2022 or 2023, but it's around the bend. At least that's what I feel, anyway.

Those high-level draft picks the O's have been scooping up over the last five years...are they going to eventually pay championship dividends? Isn't that the trade off for getting clobbered 100 times a season? You take the bad with the good and you know, someday soon, the losing will turn into winning.

I sure hope that day is coming soon in Baltimore.

I feel like we've earned it over the last 36 years.

We've watched those post-game celebrations enough to know how special they can be if you're fortunate enough to see your team out there dancing around.

36 years. The dues have been paid. Why can't it be us in 2021?

Oh, and because the internet has everything you could possibly want, here's the final out of every World Series from 1980 through 2016. The O's are in there...once.




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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.


a rivalry refreshed?


The Ravens play a regular-season game this Sunday, the first day of November, and the regular season has been great to the Ravens since the 18th day of November in 2018, when Lamar Jackson was forced into the starting quarterback role.

It’s still worth repeating after every win: Six out of seven to end 2018, 12 in a row to end 2019 (though only 11 in a row for Jackson), now five out of six to start 2020. That adds up to 25 out of 29, and only two teams have beaten the Ravens; the fact that one of them was Cleveland is still hard to believe.

On November 1, however, the Ravens under Jackson will be doing something new, for them—playing against a really good Pittsburgh Steelers team with that team’s star quarterback on the field.

Jackson’s never done that, in case you don’t remember. The Ravens and Steelers had already split their season series in 2018 before Jackson took over; in fact, it was against the Steelers almost two years ago to the exact date that Joe Flacco sustained the injury that would end his career in Baltimore.

Lamar Jackson will face Ben Roethlisberger on Sunday. It will mark the first time Jackson has opposed Big Ben since he joined the NFL in 2018.

Last year, Ben Roethlisberger was gone by the time the Ravens beat the Steelers at Heinz Field to begin that 12-game winning streak, knocking out (literally) backup Mason Rudolph in the process. Jackson didn’t even have to play in Week 17 at M&T Bank Stadium; I’m surprised he even stood out in the rain to watch Robert Griffin duel it out with Duck Hodges.

But this one is different. The quarterback of the two-time defending division champs, a role often held by Big Ben, has to show what he can do against a Steelers’ team that’s going to make it difficult for him, and for his team’s stout defensive unit too.

The Ravens are averaging about 30 points per game…and they’re probably going to need 30 to win on Sunday. The Steelers went into Nashville last week and essentially dominated the Titans, even if Stephen Gostkowski’s field goal would have sent the game to overtime. The Ravens did something similar two weeks ago in Philadelphia.

In terms of the quality of the two teams, it’s definitely the best Ravens-Steelers matchup since 2014. Thinking back even further, I’m reminded of the 2011 game between the teams on the same first Sunday of November, the night game in Pittsburgh where Flacco led his team down the field in the final minutes and found Torrey Smith for a long, game-winning touchdown pass with eight seconds left.

That one ranks among the most thrilling wins in team history. The Ravens under Jackson haven’t had (or needed) many chances to win a game in that fashion, and I wonder if Sunday won’t be an opportunity for that to happen.

After seven weeks, some of the pundits have started to rank the Steelers as the best team in the NFL, and not only because they are the only undefeated team in the NFL. Their quarterback doesn’t look like he’s 38 and coming off injury, completing nearly 70 percent of his passes, and he’s only been sacked eight times in six games. James Conner looks as good as LeVeon Bell ever did, and Pittsburgh is stopping the run as well as they are running it themselves.

As usual, Roethlisberger is making stars of wide receivers you wouldn’t expect. If Chase Claypool was so good, why wasn’t he drafted until the 49th pick?

I say it’s hard to make that declaration right now, and that the national media loves it when the Steelers are good, maybe too much. There is something to be said, however, for their performance the last two weeks after four games to start the season against teams that now have a combined record of 6-20-1. Or maybe that’s more about the Browns, who’ve been outscored 76-13 in their two losses.

The Ravens may have played pretty lousy against the other quality team on their schedule, the Chiefs, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that they’ve really been a more dominant team than the Steelers so far. In 2020, for fans in Baltimore anyway, the Ravens and Jackson have really been playing against the 2019 version of themselves. So far, they aren’t winning, but that was always going to be difficult.

John Harbaugh’s record as Ravens’ coach after the bye week? 10-2, and those byes have come at varying points in the season. Last year’s game after the bye was a big one, on Sunday night against the Patriots at M&T Bank Stadium, and Harbaugh’s team put a beatdown on Brady and company in almost every facet of the game.

So maybe the 6-0 Steelers, certainly expected to rebound as long as Big Ben was healthy, have been a bit better than advertised, while the 5-1 Ravens, the NFL’s best team in 2019, have been a little worse than advertised. And maybe we shouldn’t get too wired for Sunday’s game, since it’s only Week 8 and the teams are going to play again pretty soon, in Pittsburgh on Thanksgiving night.

Still, it’s a good one, and a really important one for the home team. Even with more than half the season left, the Ravens don’t want to fall two games behind. After the performance against Kansas City, you’d have to think Harbaugh’s team has something to prove on Sunday. They’re even allowing 4,000 fans into the stadium to watch the game, which might even mean something.

After that Thanksgiving night game, the Ravens play four completely awful teams and also visit Cleveland, where you’re not sure which team will show up. This November stretch of five games could once again propel the Ravens to a great season…but only if they can beat the Steelers at least once in that stretch.

Sunday’s game here won’t be normal, of course, since the frenzy surrounding 6-0 vs. 5-1 would be huge in a non-COVID year. But I do think it’s big for the Ravens-Steelers rivalry, which has fizzled in recent years.

By the time Flacco and Terrell Suggs left Baltimore after the 2018 season, the sense that the game was a “national” game had started to fade. The Ravens weren’t very good for three years beginning in 2015; by 2018, the Antonio Brown and Bell sagas in Pittsburgh had taken that team down the wrong path, one that seemed wracked by uncertainty when Roethlisberger was injured last season.

And then Jackson arrived in Baltimore, and soon arrived everywhere as the talk of American professional sports, yet he really wasn’t doing much of it against Pittsburgh. Watching to see if Flacco could outduel Big Ben, a much better player, was always fascinating, and occasionally he did. Watching to see if Jackson can do the same will be equally as fascinating, though Jackson has more ways to do it.

The rivalry aside, I haven’t always looked forward to those two “Steelers Weeks” each year. Often, the anticipation and the tension placed an outsized amount of importance on two games out of 16. With Jackson an established force, and Big Ben playing like he’s 10 years younger, I’m really looking forward to this one. At least until Justin Tucker knocks the opening kickoff out of the end zone…

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NOTES & COMMENT
George McDowell


George McDowell is #DMD's foreign correspondent. His international reports are filed from a hardened outpost just across the U.S. / North Carolina border. He writes on sports topics that interest him that he feels might also interest some segment of the wildly esoteric #DMD readership. George has been a big fan of DF and his various enterprises since the last century, and for several seasons appeared as a weekly guest on his Monday evening radio show, Maryland Golf Live, delivering commentary as The Eccentric Starter. George also donates his time and talents to the less fortunate, and currently volunteers as secretary of the Rickie Fowler Fan Club.

Teddy Roosevelt, president of the United States from 1901 to 1909, toured Europe in 1910, meandering his way ultimately to Oslo, where he gave his acceptance speech for the 1906 Nobel Peace Prize. While in France he delivered the speech below to the faculty and students of the University of Paris.


citizenship in a republic

Strange and impressive associations rise in the mind of a man from the New World who speaks before this august body in this ancient institution of learning. Before his eyes pass the shadows of mighty kings and war-like nobles, of great masters of law and theology; through the shining dust of the dead centuries he sees crowded figures that tell of the power and learning and splendor of times gone by; and he sees also the innumerable host of humble students to whom clerkship meant emancipation, to whom it was well-nigh the only outlet from the dark thraldom of the Middle Ages.

Theodore Roosevelt Jr. (1858-1919)
26th president of the United States

This was the most famous university of mediaeval Europe at a time when no one dreamed that there was a New World to discover. Its services to the cause of human knowledge already stretched far back into the remote past at a time when my forefathers, three centuries ago, were among the sparse bands of traders, ploughmen, wood-choppers, and fisherfolk who, in hard struggle with the iron unfriendliness of the Indian-haunted land, were laying the foundations of what has now become the giant republic of the West. To conquer a continent, to tame the shaggy roughness of wild nature, means grim warfare; and the generations engaged in it cannot keep, still less add to, the stores of garnered wisdom which where once theirs, and which are still in the hands of their brethren who dwell in the old land. To conquer the wilderness means to wrest victory from the same hostile forces with which mankind struggled on the immemorial infancy of our race. The primaeval conditions must be met by the primaeval qualities which are incompatible with the retention of much that has been painfully acquired by humanity as through the ages it has striven upward toward civilization. In conditions so primitive there can be but a primitive culture. At first only the rudest school can be established, for no others would meet the needs of the hard-driven, sinewy folk who thrust forward the frontier in the teeth of savage men and savage nature; and many years elapse before any of these schools can develop into seats of higher learning and broader culture.

The pioneer days pass; the stump-dotted clearings expand into vast stretches of fertile farm land; the stockaded clusters of log cabins change into towns; the hunters of game, the fellers of trees, the rude frontier traders and tillers of the soil, the men who wander all their lives long through the wilderness as the heralds and harbingers of an oncoming civilization, themselves vanish before the civilization for which they have prepared the way. The children of their successors and supplanters, and then their children and their children and children's children, change and develop with extraordinary rapidity. The conditions accentuate vices and virtues, energy and ruthlessness, all the good qualities and all the defects of an intense individualism, self-reliant, self-centered, far more conscious of its rights than of its duties, and blind to its own shortcomings. To the hard materialism of the frontier days succeeds the hard materialism of an industrialism even more intense and absorbing than that of the older nations; although these themselves have likewise already entered on the age of a complex and predominantly industrial civilization.

As the country grows, its people, who have won success in so many lines, turn back to try to recover the possessions of the mind and the spirit, which perforce their fathers threw aside in order better to wage the first rough battles for the continent their children inherit. The leaders of thought and of action grope their way forward to a new life, realizing, sometimes dimly, sometimes clear-sightedly, that the life of material gain, whether for a nation or an individual, is of value only as a foundation, only as there is added to it the uplift that comes from devotion to loftier ideals. The new life thus sought can in part be developed afresh from what is roundabout in the New World; but it can be developed in full only by freely drawing upon the treasure-houses of the Old World, upon the treasures stored in the ancient abodes of wisdom and learning, such as this is where I speak to-day. It is a mistake for any nation to merely copy another; but it is even a greater mistake, it is a proof of weakness in any nation, not to be anxious to learn from one another and willing and able to adapt that learning to the new national conditions and make it fruitful and productive therein. It is for us of the New World to sit at the feet of Gamaliel of the Old; then, if we have the right stuff in us, we can show that Paul in his turn can become a teacher as well as a scholar.

Today I shall speak to you on the subject of individual citizenship, the one subject of vital importance to you, my hearers, and to me and my countrymen, because you and we are great citizens of great democratic republics. A democratic republic such as ours - an effort to realize its full sense government by, of, and for the people - represents the most gigantic of all possible social experiments, the one fraught with great responsibilities alike for good and evil. The success of republics like yours and like ours means the glory, and our failure of despair, of mankind; and for you and for us the question of the quality of the individual citizen is supreme. Under other forms of government, under the rule of one man or very few men, the quality of the leaders is all-important. If, under such governments, the quality of the rulers is high enough, then the nations for generations lead a brilliant career, and add substantially to the sum of world achievement, no matter how low the quality of average citizen; because the average citizen is an almost negligible quantity in working out the final results of that type of national greatness. But with you and us the case is different. With you here, and with us in my own home, in the long run, success or failure will be conditioned upon the way in which the average man, the average women, does his or her duty, first in the ordinary, every-day affairs of life, and next in those great occasional cries which call for heroic virtues. The average citizen must be a good citizen if our republics are to succeed. The stream will not permanently rise higher than the main source; and the main source of national power and national greatness is found in the average citizenship of the nation. Therefore it behooves us to do our best to see that the standard of the average citizen is kept high; and the average cannot be kept high unless the standard of the leaders is very much higher.

It is well if a large proportion of the leaders in any republic, in any democracy, are, as a matter of course, drawn from the classes represented in this audience to-day; but only provided that those classes possess the gifts of sympathy with plain people and of devotion to great ideals. You and those like you have received special advantages; you have all of you had the opportunity for mental training; many of you have had leisure; most of you have had a chance for enjoyment of life far greater than comes to the majority of your fellows. To you and your kind much has been given, and from you much should be expected. Yet there are certain failings against which it is especially incumbent that both men of trained and cultivated intellect, and men of inherited wealth and position should especially guard themselves, because to these failings they are especially liable; and if yielded to, their – your – chances of useful service are at an end. Let the man of learning, the man of lettered leisure, beware of that queer and cheap temptation to pose to himself and to others as a cynic, as the man who has outgrown emotions and beliefs, the man to whom good and evil are as one. The poorest way to face life is to face it with a sneer. There are many men who feel a kind of twisted pride in cynicism; there are many who confine themselves to criticism of the way others do what they themselves dare not even attempt. There is no more unhealthy being, no man less worthy of respect, than he who either really holds, or feigns to hold, an attitude of sneering disbelief toward all that is great and lofty, whether in achievement or in that noble effort which, even if it fails, comes to second achievement. A cynical habit of thought and speech, a readiness to criticise work which the critic himself never tries to perform, an intellectual aloofness which will not accept contact with life's realities - all these are marks, not as the possessor would fain to think, of superiority but of weakness. They mark the men unfit to bear their part painfully in the stern strife of living, who seek, in the affection of contempt for the achievements of others, to hide from others and from themselves in their own weakness. The rôle is easy; there is none easier, save only the rôle of the man who sneers alike at both criticism and performance.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. Shame on the man of cultivated taste who permits refinement to develop into fastidiousness that unfits him for doing the rough work of a workaday world. Among the free peoples who govern themselves there is but a small field of usefulness open for the men of cloistered life who shrink from contact with their fellows. Still less room is there for those who deride or slight what is done by those who actually bear the brunt of the day; nor yet for those others who always profess that they would like to take action, if only the conditions of life were not exactly what they actually are. The man who does nothing cuts the same sordid figure in the pages of history, whether he be a cynic, or fop, or voluptuary. There is little use for the being whose tepid soul knows nothing of great and generous emotion, of the high pride, the stern belief, the lofty enthusiasm, of the men who quell the storm and ride the thunder. Well for these men if they succeed; well also, though not so well, if they fail, given only that they have nobly ventured, and have put forth all their heart and strength. It is war-worn Hotspur, spent with hard fighting, he of the many errors and valiant end, over whose memory we love to linger, not over the memory of the young lord who "but for the vile guns would have been a valiant soldier."

France has taught many lessons to other nations: surely one of the most important lesson is the lesson her whole history teaches, that a high artistic and literary development is compatible with notable leadership in arms and statecraft. The brilliant gallantry of the French soldier has for many centuries been proverbial; and during these same centuries at every court in Europe the "freemasons of fashion: have treated the French tongue as their common speech; while every artist and man of letters, and every man of science able to appreciate that marvelous instrument of precision, French prose, had turned toward France for aid and inspiration. How long the leadership in arms and letters has lasted is curiously illustrated by the fact that the earliest masterpiece in a modern tongue is the splendid French epic which tells of Roland's doom and the vengeance of Charlemagne when the lords of the Frankish hosts where stricken at Roncesvalles. Let those who have, keep, let those who have not, strive to attain, a high standard of cultivation and scholarship. Yet let us remember that these stand second to certain other things. There is need of a sound body, and even more of a sound mind. But above mind and above body stands character - the sum of those qualities which we mean when we speak of a man's force and courage, of his good faith and sense of honor. I believe in exercise for the body, always provided that we keep in mind that physical development is a means and not an end. I believe, of course, in giving to all the people a good education. But the education must contain much besides book-learning in order to be really good. We must ever remember that no keenness and subtleness of intellect, no polish, no cleverness, in any way make up for the lack of the great solid qualities. Self restraint, self mastery, common sense, the power of accepting individual responsibility and yet of acting in conjunction with others, courage and resolution - these are the qualities which mark a masterful people. Without them no people can control itself, or save itself from being controlled from the outside. I speak to brilliant assemblage; I speak in a great university which represents the flower of the highest intellectual development; I pay all homage to intellect and to elaborate and specialized training of the intellect; and yet I know I shall have the assent of all of you present when I add that more important still are the commonplace, every-day qualities and virtues.

Such ordinary, every-day qualities include the will and the power to work, to fight at need, and to have plenty of healthy children. The need that the average man shall work is so obvious as hardly to warrant insistence. There are a few people in every country so born that they can lead lives of leisure. These fill a useful function if they make it evident that leisure does not mean idleness; for some of the most valuable work needed by civilization is essentially non-remunerative in its character, and of course the people who do this work should in large part be drawn from those to whom remuneration is an object of indifference. But the average man must earn his own livelihood. He should be trained to do so, and he should be trained to feel that he occupies a contemptible position if he does not do so; that he is not an object of envy if he is idle, at whichever end of the social scale he stands, but an object of contempt, an object of derision. In the next place, the good man should be both a strong and a brave man; that is, he should be able to fight, he should be able to serve his country as a soldier, if the need arises. There are well-meaning philosophers who declaim against the unrighteousness of war. They are right only if they lay all their emphasis upon the unrighteousness. War is a dreadful thing, and unjust war is a crime against humanity. But it is such a crime because it is unjust, not because it is a war. The choice must ever be in favor of righteousness, and this is whether the alternative be peace or whether the alternative be war. The question must not be merely, Is there to be peace or war? The question must be, Is it right to prevail? Are the great laws of righteousness once more to be fulfilled? And the answer from a strong and virile people must be "Yes," whatever the cost. Every honorable effort should always be made to avoid war, just as every honorable effort should always be made by the individual in private life to keep out of a brawl, to keep out of trouble; but no self-respecting individual, no self-respecting nation, can or ought to submit to wrong.

Finally, even more important than ability to work, even more important than ability to fight at need, is it to remember that chief of blessings for any nations is that it shall leave its seed to inherit the land. It was the crown of blessings in Biblical times and it is the crown of blessings now. The greatest of all curses is the curse of sterility, and the severest of all condemnations should be that visited upon willful sterility. The first essential in any civilization is that the man and woman shall be father and mother of healthy children, so that the race shall increase and not decrease. If that is not so, if through no fault of the society there is failure to increase, it is a great misfortune. If the failure is due to the deliberate and wilful fault, then it is not merely a misfortune, it is one of those crimes of ease and self-indulgence, of shrinking from pain and effort and risk, which in the long run Nature punishes more heavily than any other. If we of the great republics, if we, the free people who claim to have emancipated ourselves from the thraldom of wrong and error, bring down on our heads the curse that comes upon the willfully barren, then it will be an idle waste of breath to prattle of our achievements, to boast of all that we have done. No refinement of life, no delicacy of taste, no material progress, no sordid heaping up riches, no sensuous development of art and literature, can in any way compensate for the loss of the great fundamental virtues; and of these great fundamental virtues the greatest is the race's power to perpetuate the race. Character must show itself in the man's performance both of the duty he owes himself and of the duty he owes the state. The man's foremost duty is owed to himself and his family; and he can do this duty only by earning money, by providing what is essential to material well-being; it is only after this has been done that he can hope to build a higher superstructure on the solid material foundation; it is only after this has been done that he can help in movements for the general well-being. He must pull his own weight first, and only after this can his surplus strength be of use to the general public. It is not good to excite that bitter laughter which expresses contempt; and contempt is what we feel for the being whose enthusiasm to benefit mankind is such that he is a burden to those nearest him; who wishes to do great things for humanity in the abstract, but who cannot keep his wife in comfort or educate his children.

Nevertheless, while laying all stress on this point, while not merely acknowledging but insisting upon the fact that there must be a basis of material well-being for the individual as for the nation, let us with equal emphasis insist that this material well-being represents nothing but the foundation, and that the foundation, though indispensable, is worthless unless upon it is raised the superstructure of a higher life. That is why I decline to recognize the mere multimillionaire, the man of mere wealth, as an asset of value to any country; and especially as not an asset to my own country. If he has earned or uses his wealth in a way that makes him a real benefit, of real use- and such is often the case- why, then he does become an asset of real worth. But it is the way in which it has been earned or used, and not the mere fact of wealth, that entitles him to the credit. There is need in business, as in most other forms of human activity, of the great guiding intelligences. Their places cannot be supplied by any number of lesser intelligences. It is a good thing that they should have ample recognition, ample reward. But we must not transfer our admiration to the reward instead of to the deed rewarded; and if what should be the reward exists without the service having been rendered, then admiration will only come from those who are mean of soul. The truth is that, after a certain measure of tangible material success or reward has been achieved, the question of increasing it becomes of constantly less importance compared to the other things that can be done in life. It is a bad thing for a nation to raise and to admire a false standard of success; and there can be no falser standard than that set by the deification of material well-being in and for itself. The man who, for any cause for which he is himself accountable, has failed to support himself and those for whom he is responsible, ought to feel that he has fallen lamentably short in his prime duty. But the man who, having far surpassed the limits of providing for the wants; both of the body and mind, of himself and of those depending upon him, then piles up a great fortune, for the acquisition or retention of which he returns no corresponding benefit to the nation as a whole, should himself be made to feel that, so far from being desirable, he is an unworthy, citizen of the community: that he is to be neither admired nor envied; that his right-thinking fellow countrymen put him low in the scale of citizenship, and leave him to be consoled by the admiration of those whose level of purpose is even lower than his own.

My position as regards the moneyed interests can be put in a few words. In every civilized society property rights must be carefully safeguarded; ordinarily, and in the great majority of cases, human rights and property rights are fundamentally and in the long run identical; but when it clearly appears that there is a real conflict between them, human rights must have the upper hand, for property belongs to man and not man to property. In fact, it is essential to good citizenship clearly to understand that there are certain qualities which we in a democracy are prone to admire in and of themselves, which ought by rights to be judged admirable or the reverse solely from the standpoint of the use made of them. Foremost among these I should include two very distinct gifts - the gift of money-making and the gift of oratory. Money-making, the money touch I have spoken of above. It is a quality which in a moderate degree is essential. It may be useful when developed to a very great degree, but only if accompanied and controlled by other qualities; and without such control the possessor tends to develop into one of the least attractive types produced by a modern industrial democracy. So it is with the orator. It is highly desirable that a leader of opinion in democracy should be able to state his views clearly and convincingly. But all that the oratory can do of value to the community is enable the man thus to explain himself; if it enables the orator to put false values on things, it merely makes him power for mischief. Some excellent public servants have not that gift at all, and must merely rely on their deeds to speak for them; and unless oratory does represent genuine conviction based on good common sense and able to be translated into efficient performance, then the better the oratory the greater the damage to the public it deceives. Indeed, it is a sign of marked political weakness in any commonwealth if the people tend to be carried away by mere oratory, if they tend to value words in and for themselves, as divorced from the deeds for which they are supposed to stand. The phrase-maker, the phrase-monger, the ready talker, however great his power, whose speech does not make for courage, sobriety, and right understanding, is simply a noxious element in the body politic, and it speaks ill for the public if he has influence over them. To admire the gift of oratory without regard to the moral quality behind the gift is to do wrong to the republic.

Of course all that I say of the orator applies with even greater force to the orator's latter-day and more influential brother, the journalist. The power of the journalist is great, but he is entitled neither to respect nor admiration because of that power unless it is used aright. He can do, and often does, great good. He can do, and he often does, infinite mischief. All journalists, all writers, for the very reason that they appreciate the vast possibilities of their profession, should bear testimony against those who deeply discredit it. Offenses against taste and morals, which are bad enough in a private citizen, are infinitely worse if made into instruments for debauching the community through a newspaper. Mendacity, slander, sensationalism, inanity, vapid triviality, all are potent factors for the debauchery of the public mind and conscience. The excuse advanced for vicious writing, that the public demands it and that demand must be supplied, can no more be admitted than if it were advanced by purveyors of food who sell poisonous adulterations. In short, the good citizen in a republic must realize that he ought to possess two sets of qualities, and that neither avails without the other. He must have those qualities which make for efficiency; and that he also must have those qualities which direct the efficiency into channels for the public good. He is useless if he is inefficient. There is nothing to be done with that type of citizen of whom all that can be said is that he is harmless. Virtue which is dependant upon a sluggish circulation is not impressive. There is little place in active life for the timid good man. The man who is saved by weakness from robust wickedness is likewise rendered immune from robuster virtues. The good citizen in a republic must first of all be able to hold his own. He is no good citizen unless he has the ability which will make him work hard and which at need will make him fight hard. The good citizen is not a good citizen unless he is an efficient citizen.

But if a man's efficiency is not guided and regulated by a moral sense, then the more efficient he is the worse he is, the more dangerous to the body politic. Courage, intellect, all the masterful qualities, serve but to make a man more evil if they are merely used for that man's own advancement, with brutal indifference to the rights of others. It speaks ill for the community if the community worships these qualities and treats their possessors as heroes regardless of whether the qualities are used rightly or wrongly. It makes no difference as to the precise way in which this sinister efficiency is shown. It makes no difference whether such a man's force and ability betray themselves in a career of money-maker or politician, soldier or orator, journalist or popular leader. If the man works for evil, then the more successful he is the more he should be despised and condemned by all upright and far-seeing men. To judge a man merely by success is an abhorrent wrong; and if the people at large habitually so judge men, if they grow to condone wickedness because the wicked man triumphs, they show their inability to understand that in the last analysis free institutions rest upon the character of citizenship, and that by such admiration of evil they prove themselves unfit for liberty. The homely virtues of the household, the ordinary workaday virtues which make the woman a good housewife and housemother, which make the man a hard worker, a good husband and father, a good soldier at need, stand at the bottom of character. But of course many other must be added thereto if a state is to be not only free but great. Good citizenship is not good citizenship if only exhibited in the home. There remains the duties of the individual in relation to the State, and these duties are none too easy under the conditions which exist where the effort is made to carry on the free government in a complex industrial civilization. Perhaps the most important thing the ordinary citizen, and, above all, the leader of ordinary citizens, has to remember in political life is that he must not be a sheer doctrinaire. The closet philosopher, the refined and cultured individual who from his library tells how men ought to be governed under ideal conditions, is of no use in actual governmental work; and the one-sided fanatic, and still more the mob-leader, and the insincere man who to achieve power promises what by no possibility can be performed, are not merely useless but noxious.

The citizen must have high ideals, and yet he must be able to achieve them in practical fashion. No permanent good comes from aspirations so lofty that they have grown fantastic and have become impossible and indeed undesirable to realize. The impractical visionary is far less often the guide and precursor than he is the embittered foe of the real reformer, of the man who, with stumblings and shortcoming, yet does in some shape, in practical fashion, give effect to the hopes and desires of those who strive for better things. Woe to the empty phrase-maker, to the empty idealist, who, instead of making ready the ground for the man of action, turns against him when he appears and hampers him when he does work! Moreover, the preacher of ideals must remember how sorry and contemptible is the figure which he will cut, how great the damage that he will do, if he does not himself, in his own life, strive measurably to realize the ideals that he preaches for others. Let him remember also that the worth of the ideal must be largely determined by the success with which it can in practice be realized. We should abhor the so-called "practical" men whose practicality assumes the shape of that peculiar baseness which finds its expression in disbelief in morality and decency, in disregard of high standards of living and conduct. Such a creature is the worst enemy of the body of politic. But only less desirable as a citizen is his nominal opponent and real ally, the man of fantastic vision who makes the impossible better forever the enemy of the possible good.

We can just as little afford to follow the doctrinaires of an extreme individualism as the doctrinaires of an extreme socialism. Individual initiative, so far from being discouraged, should be stimulated; and yet we should remember that, as society develops and grows more complex, we continually find that things which once it was desirable to leave to individual initiative can, under changed conditions, be performed with better results by common effort. It is quite impossible, and equally undesirable, to draw in theory a hard-and-fast line which shall always divide the two sets of cases. This every one who is not cursed with the pride of the closest philosopher will see, if he will only take the trouble to think about some of our commonest phenomena. For instance, when people live on isolated farms or in little hamlets, each house can be left to attend to its own drainage and water-supply; but the mere multiplication of families in a given area produces new problems which, because they differ in size, are found to differ not only in degree, but in kind from the old; and the questions of drainage and water-supply have to be considered from the common standpoint. It is not a matter for abstract dogmatizing to decide when this point is reached; it is a matter to be tested by practical experiment. Much of the discussion about socialism and individualism is entirely pointless, because of the failure to agree on terminology. It is not good to be a slave of names. I am a strong individualist by personal habit, inheritance, and conviction; but it is a mere matter of common sense to recognize that the State, the community, the citizens acting together, can do a number of things better than if they were left to individual action. The individualism which finds its expression in the abuse of physical force is checked very early in the growth of civilization, and we of to-day should in our turn strive to shackle or destroy that individualism which triumphs by greed and cunning, which exploits the weak by craft instead of ruling them by brutality. We ought to go with any man in the effort to bring about justice and the equality of opportunity, to turn the tool-user more and more into the tool-owner, to shift burdens so that they can be more equitably borne. The deadening effect on any race of the adoption of a logical and extreme socialistic system could not be overstated; it would spell sheer destruction; it would produce grosser wrong and outrage, fouler immorality, than any existing system. But this does not mean that we may not with great advantage adopt certain of the principles professed by some given set of men who happen to call themselves Socialists; to be afraid to do so would be to make a mark of weakness on our part.

But we should not take part in acting a lie any more than in telling a lie. We should not say that men are equal where they are not equal, nor proceed upon the assumption that there is an equality where it does not exist; but we should strive to bring about a measurable equality, at least to the extent of preventing the inequality which is due to force or fraud. Abraham Lincoln, a man of the plain people, blood of their blood, and bone of their bone, who all his life toiled and wrought and suffered for them, at the end died for them, who always strove to represent them, who would never tell an untruth to or for them, spoke of the doctrine of equality with his usual mixture of idealism and sound common sense. He said (I omit what was of merely local significance):

"I think the authors of the Declaration of Independence intended to include all men, but they did not mean to declare all men equal in all respects. They did not mean to say all men were equal in color, size, intellect, moral development or social capacity. They defined with tolerable distinctness in what they did consider all men created equal — equal in certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. This they said, and this they meant. They did not mean to assert the obvious untruth that all were actually enjoying that equality, or yet that they were about to confer it immediately upon them. They meant to set up a standard maxim for free society which should be familiar to all - constantly looked to, constantly labored for, and, even though never perfectly attained, constantly approximated, and thereby constantly spreading and deepening its influence, and augmenting the happiness and value of life to all people, everywhere."

We are bound in honor to refuse to listen to those men who would make us desist from the effort to do away with the inequality which means injustice; the inequality of right, opportunity, of privilege. We are bound in honor to strive to bring ever nearer the day when, as far is humanly possible, we shall be able to realize the ideal that each man shall have an equal opportunity to show the stuff that is in him by the way in which he renders service. There should, so far as possible, be equal of opportunity to render service; but just so long as there is inequality of service there should and must be inequality of reward. We may be sorry for the general, the painter, the artists, the worker in any profession or of any kind, whose misfortune rather than whose fault it is that he does his work ill. But the reward must go to the man who does his work well; for any other course is to create a new kind of privilege, the privilege of folly and weakness; and special privilege is injustice, whatever form it takes.

To say that the thriftless, the lazy, the vicious, the incapable, ought to have reward given to those who are far-sighted, capable, and upright, is to say what is not true and cannot be true. Let us try to level up, but let us beware of the evil of leveling down. If a man stumbles, it is a good thing to help him to his feet. Every one of us needs a helping hand now and then. But if a man lies down, it is a waste of time to try and carry him; and it is a very bad thing for every one if we make men feel that the same reward will come to those who shirk their work and those who do it. Let us, then, take into account the actual facts of life, and not be misled into following any proposal for achieving the millennium, for recreating the golden age, until we have subjected it to hardheaded examination. On the other hand, it is foolish to reject a proposal merely because it is advanced by visionaries. If a given scheme is proposed, look at it on its merits, and, in considering it, disregard formulas. It does not matter in the least who proposes it, or why. If it seems good, try it. If it proves good, accept it; otherwise reject it. There are plenty of good men calling themselves Socialists with whom, up to a certain point, it is quite possible to work. If the next step is one which both we and they wish to take, why of course take it, without any regard to the fact that our views as to the tenth step may differ. But, on the other hand, keep clearly in mind that, though it has been worth while to take one step, this does not in the least mean that it may not be highly disadvantageous to take the next. It is just as foolish to refuse all progress because people demanding it desire at some points to go to absurd extremes, as it would be to go to these absurd extremes simply because some of the measures advocated by the extremists were wise.

The good citizen will demand liberty for himself, and as a matter of pride he will see to it that others receive liberty which he thus claims as his own. Probably the best test of true love of liberty in any country in the way in which minorities are treated in that country. Not only should there be complete liberty in matters of religion and opinion, but complete liberty for each man to lead his life as he desires, provided only that in so he does not wrong his neighbor. Persecution is bad because it is persecution, and without reference to which side happens at the most to be the persecutor and which the persecuted. Class hatred is bad in just the same way, and without regard to the individual who, at a given time, substitutes loyalty to a class for loyalty to a nation, or substitutes hatred of men because they happen to come in a certain social category, for judgement awarded them according to their conduct. Remember always that the same measure of condemnation should be extended to the arrogance which would look down upon or crush any man because he is poor and to envy and hatred which would destroy a man because he is wealthy. The overbearing brutality of the man of wealth or power, and the envious and hateful malice directed against wealth or power, are really at root merely different manifestations of the same quality, merely two sides of the same shield. The man who, if born to wealth and power, exploits and ruins his less fortunate brethren is at heart the same as the greedy and violent demagogue who excites those who have not property to plunder those who have. The gravest wrong upon his country is inflicted by that man, whatever his station, who seeks to make his countrymen divide primarily in the line that separates class from class, occupation from occupation, men of more wealth from men of less wealth, instead of remembering that the only safe standard is that which judges each man on his worth as a man, whether he be rich or whether he be poor, without regard to his profession or to his station in life. Such is the only true democratic test, the only test that can with propriety be applied in a republic. There have been many republics in the past, both in what we call antiquity and in what we call the Middle Ages. They fell, and the prime factor in their fall was the fact that the parties tended to divide along the wealth that separates wealth from poverty. It made no difference which side was successful; it made no difference whether the republic fell under the rule of oligarchy or the rule of a mob. In either case, when once loyalty to a class had been substituted for loyalty to the republic, the end of the republic was at hand. There is no greater need to-day than the need to keep ever in mind the fact that the cleavage between right and wrong, between good citizenship and bad citizenship, runs at right angles to, and not parallel with, the lines of cleavage between class and class, between occupation and occupation. Ruin looks us in the face if we judge a man by his position instead of judging him by his conduct in that position.

In a republic, to be successful we must learn to combine intensity of conviction with a broad tolerance of difference of conviction. Wide differences of opinion in matters of religious, political, and social belief must exist if conscience and intellect alike are not be stunted, if there is to be room for healthy growth. Bitter internecine hatreds, based on such differences, are signs, not of earnestness of belief, but of that fanaticism which, whether religious or antireligious, democratic or antidemocratic, it itself but a manifestation of the gloomy bigotry which has been the chief factor in the downfall of so many, many nations.

Of one man in especial, beyond any one else, the citizens of a republic should beware, and that is of the man who appeals to them to support him on the ground that he is hostile to other citizens of the republic, that he will secure for those who elect him, in one shape or another, profit at the expense of other citizens of the republic. It makes no difference whether he appeals to class hatred or class interest, to religious or antireligious prejudice. The man who makes such an appeal should always be presumed to make it for the sake of furthering his own interest. The very last thing an intelligent and self-respecting member of a democratic community should do is to reward any public man because that public man says that he will get the private citizen something to which this private citizen is not entitled, or will gratify some emotion or animosity which this private citizen ought not to possess. Let me illustrate this by one anecdote from my own experience. A number of years ago I was engaged in cattle-ranching on the great plains of the western United States. There were no fences. The cattle wandered free, the ownership of each one was determined by the brand; the calves were branded with the brand of the cows they followed. If on a round-up an animal was passed by, the following year it would appear as an unbranded yearling, and was then called a maverick. By the custom of the country these mavericks were branded with the brand of the man on whose range they were found. One day I was riding the range with a newly hired cowboy, and we came upon a maverick. We roped and threw it; then we built a fire, took out a cinch-ring, heated it in the fire; and then the cowboy started to put on the brand. I said to him, "It So-and-so's brand," naming the man on whose range we happened to be. He answered: "That's all right, boss; I know my business." In another moment I said to him: "Hold on, you are putting on my brand!" To which he answered: "That's all right; I always put on the boss's brand." I answered: "Oh, very well. Now you go straight back to the ranch and get whatever is owing to you; I don't need you any longer." He jumped up and said: "Why, what's the matter? I was putting on your brand." And I answered: "Yes, my friend, and if you will steal for me then you will steal from me."

Now, the same principle which applies in private life applies also in public life. If a public man tries to get your vote by saying that he will do something wrong in your interest, you can be absolutely certain that if ever it becomes worth his while he will do something wrong against your interest. So much for the citizenship to the individual in his relations to his family, to his neighbor, to the State. There remain duties of citizenship which the State, the aggregation of all the individuals, owes in connection with other States, with other nations. Let me say at once that I am no advocate of a foolish cosmopolitanism. I believe that a man must be a good patriot before he can be, and as the only possible way of being, a good citizen of the world. Experience teaches us that the average man who protests that his international feeling swamps his national feeling, that he does not care for his country because he cares so much for mankind, in actual practice proves himself the foe of mankind; that the man who says that he does not care to be a citizen of any one country, because he is the citizen of the world, is in fact usually and exceedingly undesirable citizen of whatever corner of the world he happens at the moment to be in. In the dim future all moral needs and moral standards may change; but at present, if a man can view his own country and all others countries from the same level with tepid indifference, it is wise to distrust him, just as it is wise to distrust the man who can take the same dispassionate view of his wife and mother. However broad and deep a man's sympathies, however intense his activities, he need have no fear that they will be cramped by love of his native land.

Now, this does not mean in the least that a man should not wish to good outside of his native land. On the contrary, just as I think that the man who loves his family is more apt to be a good neighbor than the man who does not, so I think that the most useful member of the family of nations is normally a strongly patriotic nation. So far from patriotism being inconsistent with a proper regard for the rights of other nations, I hold that the true patriot, who is as jealous of the national honor as a gentleman of his own honor, will be careful to see that the nations neither inflicts nor suffers wrong, just as a gentleman scorns equally to wrong others or to suffer others to wrong him. I do not for one moment admit that a man should act deceitfully as a public servant in his dealing with other nations, any more than he should act deceitfully in his dealings as a private citizen with other private citizens. I do not for one moment admit that a nation should treat other nations in a different spirit from that in which an honorable man would treat other men.

In practically applying this principle to the two sets of cases there is, of course, a great practical difference to be taken into account. We speak of international law; but international law is something wholly different from private or municipal law, and the capital difference is that there is a sanction for the one and no sanction for the other; that there is an outside force which compels individuals to obey the one, while there is no such outside force to compel obedience as regards to the other. International law will, I believe, as the generations pass, grow stronger and stronger until in some way or other there develops the power to make it respected. But as yet it is only in the first formative period. As yet, as a rule, each nation is of necessity to judge for itself in matters of vital importance between it and its neighbors, and actions must be of necessity, where this is the case, be different from what they are where, as among private citizens, there is an outside force whose action is all-powerful and must be invoked in any crisis of importance. It is the duty of wise statesman, gifted with the power of looking ahead, to try to encourage and build up every movement which will substitute or tend to substitute some other agency for force in the settlement of international disputes. It is the duty of every honest statesman to try to guide the nation so that it shall not wrong any other nation. But as yet the great civilized peoples, if they are to be true to themselves and to the cause of humanity and civilization, must keep in mind that in the last resort they must possess both the will and the power to resent wrong-doings from others. The men who sanely believe in a lofty morality preach righteousness; but they do not preach weakness, whether among private citizens or among nations. We believe that our ideals should be so high, but not so high as to make it impossible measurably to realize them. We sincerely and earnestly believe in peace; but if peace and justice conflict, we scorn the man who would not stand for justice though the whole world came in arms against him.

And now, my hosts, a word in parting. You and I belong to the only two republics among the great powers of the world. The ancient friendship between France and the United States has been, on the whole, a sincere and disinterested friendship. A calamity to you would be a sorrow to us. But it would be more than that. In the seething turmoil of the history of humanity certain nations stand out as possessing a peculiar power or charm, some special gift of beauty or wisdom of strength, which puts them among the immortals, which makes them rank forever with the leaders of mankind. France is one of these nations. For her to sink would be a loss to all the world. There are certain lessons of brilliance and of generous gallantry that she can teach better than any of her sister nations. When the French peasantry sang of Malbrook, it was to tell how the soul of this warrior-foe took flight upward through the laurels he had won. Nearly seven centuries ago, Froissart, writing of the time of dire disaster, said that the realm of France was never so stricken that there were not left men who would valiantly fight for it. You have had a great past. I believe you will have a great future. Long may you carry yourselves proudly as citizens of a nation which bears a leading part in the teaching and uplifting of mankind.

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#dmd comments








Brian Jessup     October 29
Why would the host blast Jack? He's a citizen and has a right to endorse anyone he sees fit. It's still America although battered and bruised these past 4 years. Jack wasn't exactly brought up in a difficult environment, he's a millionaire over and over lives in Florida outside the death of a grandchild he's had a pretty good life. And wasn't always "faithful" on the road. So he has a lot in common.

Adam Porrell     October 29
Good article today about the O's and the World Series. I'm 40. I've never watched a World Series with the Orioles playing in it. I hope that changes soon.

George     October 29
"The cheering you hear is from Oriole fans. Everybody else is in muted silence. The pitch! Line drive! Ripken catches it at shortstop! And the Orioles are champions of the world!"

Jon Miller, 37 years ago.




DJ     October 29
Lots of hysteria today about a Jack Nicklaus tweet endorsing Donald J. Trump. I'm anxious to see if @DF addresses this tomorrow or will he avoid possibly having to blast a famous golfer?

Carl in Owings Mills     October 29
2023 may be the O's year, Drew. 65 or 70 wins next year, maybe a .500 season in 2022 and then who knows what 2023 might bring? If Hall continues to progress, we might have our first "ace" since Mussina.

Brian Jessup     October 29
@Butch, thank you, said this twice in the last 2 weeks. Let's see if the DMD faithful rip on you as well. 100% Butch

Butch (aka Big Fat Daddy)     October 29
President Teddy Roosevelt's speech should be required reading for all Americans.

Too bad the current politicians, newspaper and media pundits and the voters do not follow his thoughts and ideals. If all did America would be a much better country. George - thanks for sharing and DF thanks for publishing. To All - please vote - your vote does indeed matter. Just ask Jim Brochin - he lost the Baltimore County Executive Primary by only 17 votes.

Rob Really     October 29
Thanks, Guys... I had nearly forgotten about the Joe Carter home run to beat my Phillies. Next thing, you'll be bringing up Lee Evans and Billy Cundiff.

Josh     October 29
The 2008 Phillies call was pretty good.



Best team celebration: 86 Mets



Best crowd celebration: 02 Angels



Side note: The Os only had to beat Detroit to get to KC in the ALCS, only one series

David Rosenfeld     October 29
I know that some of these didn't have any broadcaster audio, but I wonder what people think about the best "call" of all these?

Personally, not sure anything can beat "touch 'em all, Joe. You'll never hit a bigger home run in your life," which was Tom Cheek on the Blue Jays' radio broadcast, not the national TV broadcast

DF     October 29
Thanks WJB!

Make it FOUR teams instead of five.

Now I feel even worse as a long suffering O's fan!

WJB     October 29
Not only has Toronto been to a World Series since 1984, they actually were back to back champions in 92 & 93.

HERMAN     October 29
There hasn't been an attorney living in a "hardened outpost" since Lincoln's log cabin.

George     October 28
President Roosevelt gave his speech titled “Citizenship in a Republic” as he toured Europe after his presidency. It does indeed contain the stirring words about the man in the arena, but the full speech, in which he contrasts in vivid terms the good and the bad citizen, should be required reading for all of us having the extraordinarily good fortune to live in this country. Especially in these times! We have to go back to President Reagan, or perhaps even as far back as President Kennedy, for a national leader who could sincerely communicate an instructive and inspirational message and do so elegantly in more than simple sentences and phrases.

I’ll find “Citizenship in a Republic” and see if Drew will re-publish it in the Dish in the next few days. I think all but the TL/DR crowd will find their spirits elevated.

Chris in Bel Air     October 28
Can't imagine what the Rays fans are thinking today. Obviously there is no way to know what would have happened had Snell stayed in the game. However, he was absolutely dealing and the Dodgers were barely sniffing contact on the ball. Despite what the plan was prior (pitch count, inning count, etc), I can't imagine watching your starter perform so superbly, in the most critical game of the season and perhaps their careers, how Cash thought my best chance at winning is to remove this guy from the game now. What the...

Jonathan     October 28
Oh the irony is rich indeed when Herman, the Dish's worst critic, offers a critical take about someone else being a critic.


Wayne Garrett     October 28
That was my first exposure to "Pittsburgh Dad". Good, wholesome humor in that video, something we've gotten away from as a nation. Thanks for sharing that. It took courage to promote something Pittsburgh on a Baltimore web site.

Frank     October 28
Of course Tomlin knew what he was doing. You could tell by the fact he was looking up at the jumbo board the whole time. I also think had he interfered with Jones and the Ravens would have lost the game that he might have been suspended for a long time. Changing the outcome of a game like that would have been a ground breaking event in NFL history.

Bill P.     October 28
Agree about Tomlin knowing what he was doing when he stepped on the field. Not sure I agree about the suspension though. Maybe one game but not rest of the season.



Agree that the Holmes Super Bowl catch was great, but don't think it was better than Tyree.



Agree that the O's loss to the Pirates in 1979 was brutal. I'm 60 and I still don't think I'm over it.

Tom     October 28
That's all Herman had to offer huh? That was his "hot take" for today?


TimD in Timonium     October 28
LOVE Pittsburgh Dad. He’d be right at home in Glen Bernie.

C.J.     October 28
Interesting thoughts about the Ravens-Steelers rivalry not being as heated as before. I haven't thought about it all that much but I would agree that this week doesn't feel like a typical Baltimore vs. Pittsburgh game. I'm not sure why that is but I agree with you that something's off.

Mark in Perry Hall     October 28
@Herman hates the web site, hates the "site owner" but still comes by every day. So odd.

Craig     October 28
The Pittsburgh Dad video was really funny. Never knew Ben had an acting career!

unitastoberry     October 28
Did not watch the exhibition season/field of dreams world series but first thing I thought was Buck Showalter too.



If I was Harbaugh I would bring in Ray,Ed, and Haloti this week to just let the young guys on defense like Queen get some inside info on Benny Boy. Its little things from vets who have played the guy for many years that might help some of our starters who have never played against the man from Findlay.

HERMAN     October 28
Irony is alive and well at DMD. Roosevelt's great quote decrying the critic, on a website devoted to a critic's commentary.

Mark Myword     October 28
Steelers plus 3.5 is a mortal lock.

Howard     October 27
Theme for Steelers week should be “and then there were none”

Hard for Ravens to screen when defenses are maintaining a 2nd line in case Lamar breaks the initial rush.

My major concern is that I don’t have access to my McNair jersey for the game. McNair was an awesome Steeler killer and I got this jersey specifically for Steeler games

Mark McGrath     October 27
Chris--Sleeping in your own bed, sticking with a simple daily routine and the waaaaaay better locker room experience can't hurt. The visitor's locker room is on the other side of the stadium, so they probably lose 5 minutes of halftime. (just enough time for Greg Roman to decide to abandon the run!)

chris K     October 27
I just have a simple question. With fans either not attending games or having a very limited amount of people attend, does being home or away really matter this year when it comes to team performance? In packed stadiums I believe crowd noise helps the home team usually. with no noise, each stadium is just a neutral site game. Im curious if anyone disagrees and why.

Jason M     October 27
Glad to see we're taking a break from the sartorial, but one last thing on Cam Newton. While we may not share his fashion sense, he's a very decent guy, who displayed said decency when spotted quietly bringing a dinner from Sullivan's steakhouse to a homeless man on the Saturday before Ravens game a couple of years ago. Cam's alright in my book - and I don't remember anyone being anything but admiring of Clyde Frazier, or Charles Oakley's always impeccable post game attire.

Mark McGrath     October 27
The best part of yesterday's golf marathon was getting Drew to tell stories from his days in the soccer business. Nothing takes the sting away from a chunked 6 iron than hearing his masterful recap of the time Billy Ronson thought he'd won the lottery.



Drew enjoys narrating them almost as much as he enjoys a power fade from the #1 tee.

HERMAN     October 27
The game will be won or lost this weekend by coaching. If the Pittsburgh coach has seen enough tape to exploit our weaknesses it's going to be a long game. They have speed on offense if they triple up to one side and can create pick plays that free up the speed we are in trouble. We are susceptible to screens, a steady diet of those and it'll also be a tough day. Their entire offense is a pick play. Figure that out, we can beat them.

Chris in Bel Air     October 27
Adding Ngakoue certainly seems to be a great addition for the defense. Obviously slowing down the opposing team improves the Ravens chances. However, the offense needs to find more consistency and Lamar has to improve his level of play. The Ravens have benefitted from playing some lousy teams the last couple of weeks. They won't be as fortunate playing at that same level over the next 5 weeks. With that said, I do believe they will look much sharper this week against Pitt. Harbs usually has the team ready to play after a bye week and I believe the Ravens will win this Sunday.

Eric     October 27
Is @Herman serious? Surely he knows the difference between golf clothes and normal clothes. Or not.

unitastoberry     October 27
I guess you can call me a doubting Thomas on this but I'm not sold on the 2020 Ravens yet. They have played one good team so far and they got beat kinda bad. They have a propensity to fold when they are losing which is not often but happens. Their big reciever Andrews has mind melts several games a year. The defense must generate confusion in big games but does not. And the offensive line is not in any type of groove yet minus Yanda and Stanley is playing hurt. They also need to pass to more than Andrews and Brown. If your not going to play the option game like last year try some more low percentage passes. Has anyone seen a Lamar toss a screen? Of course the kicker is still money in the bank and Duvernay should be back on punts not Proche. I hope I'm wrong Sunday will go a long way in telling us so.

HERMAN     October 27
When Payne Stewart was having some trouble with his golf game there were some announcers questioning him wearing the plus fours and saying he needed to pay a little more attention to his golf game than what outfit he was wearing. He wasn't backing up the flash with game. I don't recall any racial angle in the criticism. The race angle has to stop being the first narrative or we will never progress.

Rob Archibald     October 27
Great seeing you yesterday at the flag tournament and congrats to you and Brian and everyone involved for a great day. It was cool to see Free State Electric there as part of the day. When I saw their logo on the paperwork I said I know them from the Dish! The course was in great shape and the food was good. Even the drizzle and fog didn't see that bad! Thanks again Drew.

George     October 27
You run out of energy rooting for a new team when they are down by 21 points and score a touchdown to pull them within 14 and are then led in wild celebration by the QB and get a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty.



It's positively absurd to suggest this is a racial issue. Just like in golf, where journeymen like Poulter and Fowler seduce the media and public by wearing goofy clothes for the purpose of publicity, you wonder, is this competition, or is this entertainment?




kevin j     October 26
Gotta admit, when I saw the headline today I was certain Sergio Garcia had done something goofy again! Never would have guessed we needed to opine about an old washed up QB and his take on Cam Newton's fashion choices.

Not sure I get what the purpose of dancing around the obvious topic about either. The hand wringers are calling Garcia a racist, so if that's where you wanna go, then go there. I don't get it.

Ravens had a big bye week trade, its Steelers week, world series actions, lot of sports stuff going on these days.

@George has probably the best take on Cam, given his location. There were obviously reasons Cam had few takers, and none had to do with race.


Dan P.     October 26
It's weird that Garrapolo, who QB's the team in San Fran, also enters and exits the stadium nattily attired and Garcia didn't rake him over the coals. I wonder why not?

George     October 26
They figured out here in Carolina that Cam prepares more for the post-game press than he does for the games. They also learned that he's a great front-runner with good dance moves but in a tough football game he has zero heart.

HERMAN     October 26
Dog whistles. People hearing dog whistles. What does that say about the frequency they themselves are on?

delray rick     October 26
If the RAVENS lose SUNDAY, the howling on this site wil be x rated. If NEWTON doesn't look like a pimp..PHIL the thrill and MESSIAH should move on, they is DONE!! Taking up a spot for BERGER who should be in the MASTERS. The DODGERS winning the "thing" don't mean do do. 60 games !!!! So "sleepy joe" wants to beat "GEORGE BUSH", WOW!! According to AOC we have 9 years left, don't have to worry bout my 401k. If TRUMP wins SPRINGSTEEN says he's moving to CANADA with BETTE MIDLER. People who don't vote (DREW) should be ashamed ..the Men and women who died for this privilege. Don't be surprised if the 2 sons sell DEM O'S. Story made the papers in the sunshine state bout the wonderful squeegee kids in the BIG B spitting on windows if you turn them away. Best orient food was JIMMY WO'S on CHARLES ST. Broke 100 10 years ago of all places "GRAYSTONE". GET A GOOD TEACHER.

Jason M     October 26
It's Steelers week! Titans had them lined yup there with a late pick, but credit to the Steelers D for forcing a long field goal off the turnover. Worthy adversaries with their HOF bound QB looking stronger and fresher than I have seen him in a few seasons. Hopefully the Ravens will bring their A game, I don't think we've seen that much in 2020...yet!

Barker     October 26
An apology is the least Jeff Garcia should do. A suspension is in order if you ask me.

unitastoberry     October 26
"Maryland football has made lots of mistakes in recent years."



I would add to that saying in the last 45 years or since the departure of Jerry Claiborne. Bobby Ross got it back together but they messed with him too. Friedgen never had the recruits Jerry and Bobby had but he was a good head coach who also got messed around with. When the star players from Seneca Valley and Wild Lake etc go out of state for D1 your done.



Looks like the Stillers are for real. I turned it off but the Titans did come back a little too late. Oh well it always boils down to Benny Boy this is nothing new. Me makes a 500 team a 1000 team and that's why Canton already has a spot for him.

Eric     October 25
Not my fault you botched your comment.

Billy     October 25
That's some serious insight there, thanks @Eric.

Eric     October 25
Someone should probably tell Billy that last night's ending to the World Series game never happened before and will never happen again. What you saw last night was an ending "we've never seen before."

Wednesday
October 28
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2255



fact and opinion, baltimore and pittsburgh style


FACT: There's no denying the Ravens vs. Steelers is the best rivalry in Ravens history. From what I gather, the Steelers vs. Browns is more important to folks in Pittsburgh than Ravens vs. Steelers. From a "Baltimore standpoint", despite the early years where the Ravens vs. Jaguars and Ravens vs. Titans were significant rivalries, neither of those came close to matching the intensity of Ravens vs. Steelers, particularly over the last 20 years.

OPINION: The Ravens vs. Steelers rivalry hasn't been nearly as "fierce" since Ray Lewis retired. I'm not sure why it feels that way, and maybe I'm the only one that senses that, but for some reason the games just aren't as hyped or built up since #52 departed. It could just be me, but I don't "feel" the intensity of the rivalry any longer. Maybe that will change this season since the Steelers are apparently pretty good and the Ravens are coming off a 14-2 season and figure to again contend for the AFC title.


Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach, and a man who will do just about anything to beat the Ravens.

FACT: On Thanksgiving night, 2013, the Ravens beat the Steelers, 22-20. That will always be remembered as the game in which Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin stepped into the field of play during a Jacoby Jones kickoff return. The NFL would later fine Tomlin $100,000 for the incident.

OPINION: If Tomlin would have actually made contact with Jones and the Ravens would have gone on to lose that game, somehow, there might have been reason to suspend Tomlin for the remainder of the season. As it turned out, the whole situation was slightly diminished because Baltimore won the game. But had the worst case scenario played out, the league might have been forced to suspend Tomlin. He knew, without question, what he was doing when he "accidentally" stepped onto the field just as Jones raced past him. We'd post the video her for you to enjoy but the NFL doesn't allow for such things. You can search for it on YouTube and find it, though.


FACT: Joe Flacco's first career touchdown throw was in Pittsburgh on a Monday night. It was week #4 of the 2008 season, but the Ravens were 2-0 entering that game in Pittsburgh, which would wind up being a 23-20 OT loss. The man who caught Flacco's first career TD pass? My favorite Raven ever, the great #83 Dan Wilcox. The ball was caught in the closed end of Heinz Field, in case you don't remember.

OPINION: Flacco always seemed to play "up" in Pittsburgh, for some reason. Other than the 4th quarter gaffe in the AFC title game in January of 2009, Flacco was a safe bet to get the better of the Steelers in Pittsburgh. The late TD strike to Houshmandzadeh in the open end of the stadium, the last second corner-end-zone game-winner to Torrey Smith in the closed end, the playoff romp in 2015. Those were some great memories in the Steel City. Flacco might not have tortured the Steelers the way Roethlisberger has tortured the Ravens, but he had some of his best "big moment" performances against Pittsburgh.


FACT: Since the Ravens joined the NFL in 1996, they've been to two Super Bowls and the Steelers have been to three. Baltimore is 2-0 in those games and the Steelers are 2-1. Pittsburgh beat Seattle when the big throw wasn't made by Big Ben, but instead came via the arm of Antwaan Randle El. They also beat Arizona on the last minute catch by Santonio Holmes. And then they lost to Green Bay and Aaron Rodgers.

OPINION: With all due respect to David Tyree, the Holmes catch in the corner of the end zone to win the Super Bowl over Arizona is still the greatest catch I've seen. The throw was obviously spot on, but for Holmes to catch that ball and get his feet down and in bounds within a split second was just magnificent.


FACT: Baltimore and Pittsburgh have enjoyed (depending on who wins) a pretty stellar sports rivalry over the last 50 years. The Pirates beat the Orioles in the '71 and '79 World Series, as most Charm City baseball fans painfully remember. The Colts and Steelers had a healthy rivalry before Bob Irsay moved the team to Indianapolis in 1984. In case you count the heyday of Baltimore's indoor soccer franchise, the Blast did beat the Pittsburgh Spirit in the '81-82 MISL playoffs, 2-games-to-1, winning Game 3 in Pittsburgh, 4-2.

OPINION: There have been some frustrating post-season losses involving teams from Pittsburgh over the last 50 years, but I don't think any of them stung as hard and long as did the '79 World Series when the O's squandered a 3-games-to-1 lead and dropped both Game 6 and 7 in Baltimore. The Birds took a 1-0 lead in Game 7 in the third inning, but Pittsburgh responded with 2 runs in the 6th and 2 runs in the 9th to win, 4-1. Not even the 2009 AFC title game loss to the Steelers hurt as much as that '79 World Series. A 3-games-to-1 lead...losing Games 6 and 7 at home...just too much anguish to forget.


FACT: Oakmont Country Club in Pittsburgh has hosted a total of 9 men's U.S. Open golf championships, including three U.S. Opens in the last 26 years. Baltimore's "rival", if you will, would be Baltimore Country Club, which has only hosted one U.S. Open, way back in 1899. Ernie Els won the '94 U.S. Open in a playoff over Colin Montgomerie and Loren Roberts. Roberts, you might recall (or not) had a 5-foot putt to win on the 72nd hole of regulation and missed it. In 2007, Angel Cabrera shot 5 over par to win by one shot over Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk. And in 2016, Dustin Johnson won his first (and to date, only) major championship with a 3-shot victory. Shane Lowry started the final round in 2016 with a 4-shot lead but posted a final round 76.

OPINION: Something weird happened to Aaron Baddeley after he made a triple bogey on the first hole of the final round in 2007 at Oakmont. He owned a 2-shot lead after 54 holes, then promptly hit his tee shot in the right rough on hole #1 in the final round and made "7". Baddeley eventually carded a final round 80 to finish T13. While the Australian did manage to win a PGA Tour event a few years later, his career went off the rails after that final round collapse at Oakmont in 2007.


FACT: "Pittsburgh Dad" is a hilarious internet comedy skit that airs weekly, with a particularly strong emphasis on the Steelers and football season. Curt Wootton is "Dad" and he takes you through family issues with his wife Deb, neighborhood quarrels and various other slices of Pittsburgh life. You sorta-kinda have to know Pittsburgh in order to truly appreciate how silly, but completely legit, the comedy is. I've never lived in Pittsburgh, obviously, but I do have family there and I "get" the humor of Wootton.

OPINION: This one below is a pretty funny edition of Pittsburgh Dad, with a special appearance from Ben Roethlisberger.



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kevin cash to buck: "hold my beer..."


It took four years, but former O's skipper Buck Showalter is off the hook for the distinction of owning the worst managerial decision in playoff baseball history.

Kevin Cash of the Tampa Bay Rays now owns that title, thanks to the most bizarre move ever last night during Game 6 of the World Series.

If anyone in Tampa Bay cared about baseball, Kevin Cash would be getting hammered today for his Game 6 decision to lift Blake Snell.

With one out in the 6th inning, and Tampa Bay up 1-0, Snell gave up a single to light hitting Austin Barnes. It was the second hit of the night allowed by the crafty Rays left-hander. At that point, he had struck out nine Los Angeles hitters.

But Cash had seen enough, apparently.

With Snell dropping an audible f-bomb that the cameras and TV announcers picked up on, the lefty handed the ball over to his manager and stormed off the mound.

Ten minutes later, it was 2-1 Dodgers, as the bullpen failed to hold the lead Snell had provided them.

To make the decision even more questionable, the next three hitters Snell was due to face -- Mookie Betts, Corey Seager and Justin Turner -- were 0-for-6 with six strikeouts against him in the game. Sure, those guys are all outstanding hitters, but Snell was throwing a gem on Tuesday night. And it wasn't like it was the bottom of the eighth inning and he was 105 pitches into the contest. Snell had thrown just 73 pitches when Cash came out to get him.

It was worse than Buck falling asleep in Toronto and leaving Ubaldo Jimenez in the game, for sure.

That was only a Wild Card game, after all. Last night's managerial blunder came in the 6th game of the World Series with Cash's team trailing, 3-games-to-2.

It's good to know Buck's finally off the hook, if nothing else.

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SUCH
a sports fan

MARK SUCHY is a lifelong Baltimore sports fan, youth basketball coach and father of three athletic sons. A former weekend sports radio host in Baltimore, "Such" offers his memories and insights on sports related topics each Wednesday here at #DMD.


It’s Steelers week here in Baltimore, even if the excitement isn’t quite the same. Of course, in 2020, nothing is quite the same anywhere we look.

Even with only 4,000 fans allowed in M&T Bank Stadium this Sunday, the game and the rivalry remains as intense as always. Players and fans of both teams still care deeply about this game.

The stakes will be especially high for early November, as Pittsburgh enters as the lone undefeated team in the NFL at 6-0. The Ravens are right behind in the AFC North at 5-1. Sunday’s victor will claim an important advantage in the divisional title chase in 2020.

It’s almost hard to believe that this is the 25th season of Ravens football. Since 1996, the Ravens and Steelers have met 52 times, with Pittsburgh holding a 28-24 overall lead. There have been 4 postseason meetings, and Pittsburgh leads there as well, 3-1. I can still see Troy Polamalu picking off Joe Flacco. Funny how the losses still sting after all the years, isn’t it?

Since 1996, the Ravens and the Steelers have dominated the AFC North, winning 17 divisional titles combined. Pittsburgh has won 11, with Baltimore capturing 6. Over that same period, both franchises have captured 2 Super Bowl championships. Neither the Cleveland Browns nor the Cincinnati Bengals have a playoff win in that same period. Talk about dominance.

Only five men have coached for the Ravens and Steelers in 25 years. In Baltimore, it’s been Ted Marchibroda, Brian Billick and John Harbaugh. Over in Pittsburgh, it’s been Bill Cowher and Mike Tomlin. The stability in head coaching has clearly been a contributing factor to both franchises’ success.

In fact, when Art Modell moved the then-Cleveland Browns to Baltimore, I argued with some friends that the model franchise to copy was the Pittsburgh Steelers. During the course of my lifetime, the Steelers only had two head coaches: Chuck Noll and Cowher. They had stability because they didn’t panic after the rare down season. Ownership placed trust and confidence in their coaching staff, and more often than not, they were rewarded.

The Ravens’ success is a direct result of the same type of stability. It would appear that, whether intentional or not, Baltimore has used the Pittsburgh blueprint to build its own foundation and reputation. I don’t think it’s a coincidence.

On the field, the teams have featured Hall of Fame players, soon-to-be Hall of Famers, villains and heroes (depending on what colors you back). Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Jonathan Ogden, Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata are revered in Baltimore and despised in the Steel City.

Has there ever been a more hated opponent in Baltimore than Hines Ward? I have no love for Joey Porter and James Harrison. Jerome Bettis was a freak of nature. While I respected Polamalu, he drove me crazy with his ability to make big plays at critical moments against the Ravens. And will the day ever come when Ben Roethlisberger is finally finished torturing Baltimore fans?

But it’s those players who have helped make this rivalry the best in the NFL, and one of the best in all of sports. They’ve created unforgettable moments and incredible games. Go back in your mind and pick one, and it’s likely that another one will pop up right behind it.

One of my particular favorites occurred on November 6th, 2011 on Sunday Night Football at Heinz Field. That was the fourth season with Harbaugh as head coach and Joe Flacco at quarterback. The Ravens had made the playoffs their first three seasons together, and as usual, the Steelers were their biggest obstacle to winning the division. Again.

The Ravens entered the contest at 6-2, with the Steelers just a half-game back at 6-3. First place in the AFC North was on the line.

The first half ended with the Ravens leading 9-6. Billy Cundiff (remember him, Ravens fans? I’ll bet you do) made 3 field goals, while Shaun Suisham made 2 for Pittsburgh. Deep in the 3rd quarter, Ray Rice punched the ball into the end zone from 4 yards out to put Baltimore ahead, 16-6.

But Big Ben did his usual thing, hitting a few big plays that led to a Rashard Mendenhall 1-yard touchdown plunge. 16-13, Baltimore.

The Ravens responded with a drive into Steelers territory, but on a 3rd and 8 from the Pittsburgh 36-yard line, Flacco was sacked and stripped of the ball by James Harrison (see, I told you he was a villain!). The Steelers recovered, and just 6 plays later, Roethlisberger hit Mike Wallace for a 25-yard touchdown pass. 20-16, Pittsburgh.

There was 4:55 left on the clock and the Ravens needed an answer. So naturally, Flacco threw 3 straight incompletions and they punted back to the Steelers with 4:30 left. Big Ben proceeded to drive Pittsburgh’s offense to the Baltimore 29-yard line, where Mike Tomlin made a curious decision. He opted against attempting a 47-yard field goal into the open end zone of Heinz Field, and instead took a delay-of-game penalty, then punted, forcing the Ravens to drive 92 yards for a game-winning touchdown.

Lo and behold, that’s exactly what Joe Flacco and the Baltimore offense did. Starting with 2:24 left, on their own 8, and out of timeouts, Flacco led them on a 13-play drive that culminated with a 26-yard touchdown pass to Torrey Smith in the back right corner of the end zone with only 8 seconds to play. Flacco hit Anquan Boldin 4 times during that drive, including on a 4th and 1 and a 3rd and 8.

It was clutch, it was epic, it was incredible, and the fact that it happened against the Pittsburgh Steelers made it a thousand times sweeter. For all of his critics in Baltimore, and there were many, it seemed, Joe Flacco had delivered under intense pressure. In his own way, so had John Harbaugh.

I watched that game from the comfort of my family room. I remember being so amped up that there was no way I was going to sleep for a few hours, so I surfed around and absorbed all of the postgame coverage I could find. I had to relive the moment as much as possible and hear from the players and coaches at the podium and in the locker room.

When John Harbaugh entered the media room at Heinz Field that night, he had an obvious cut on his chin. He must have been head-butting a player wearing a helmet in the postgame celebration. It was funny and authentic. He was clearly energized and grinning from ear to ear.

He began addressing the media by passing along what he had told his team in the locker room in the immediate aftermath. He said he told his men that it’s not the critic who counts, but the man in the arena, the one whose face is covered with blood, and sweat, and dust; who strives valiantly, who spends himself in a worthy cause. I’m paraphrasing a bit here, because I stopped listening and immediately went for my bookshelf.

Did I really hear him correctly? Was the head coach of an NFL team, our Baltimore Ravens, actually quoting a famous speech by a President of the United States to his players in the afterglow of an enormous victory? And not just some anonymous, lost to history President, but Theodore Roosevelt? That’s my guy!

I’m an avid reader. I like to find biographies and histories and the occasional fictional thriller to enjoy while I’m sitting on the porch or the beach. There’s nothing as entertaining for me as getting wrapped up in a good book. I like being told a good story.

In the summer of 2011, one of the books I most enjoyed was Mornings on Horseback, by the great American biographer, David McCullough. It’s the most extensive and personal biography of Teddy Roosevelt ever written, at least in my humble opinion. I find Roosevelt to be one of the most fascinating Americans to have ever lived. I’ve always been intrigued by his life and his legacy.

So when I heard Harbaugh quote Roosevelt, I knew what I had to do: I had to give him that book. After all, I was finished with it.

That season was the last time I worked in radio. I was doing a two-hour long Monday night show for a station in Baltimore that nobody even knew existed. I didn’t know it existed until their promotional director contacted me about hosting this show. But I love sports and I loved talking sports on-air, so I took the opportunity.

The job also came with full press privileges for the Ravens. I was actually a credentialed media member for an NFL team for one whole regular season. Maybe I’ll have that put in my obituary.

I would go to the Ravens facility on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for the press conferences. I had a press pass for the home games and would sit at the far end of the press box. Ironically, my spot was directly above Section 129, where I always sat. After games, I would go to the press conferences for both the Ravens and the visiting team and get sound to use for my show the next night.

Following the victory over Pittsburgh, I went to Harbaugh’s Monday afternoon press conference carrying Mornings on Horseback. When it was finished, I headed straight over to the Ravens’ Director of Public Relations, Kevin Byrne. I knew Kevin casually from around Hereford. He was gracious and accommodating to everyone in the media, even a one-year wonder like me.

I handed Kevin the book and explained how moved I had been to hear Coach Harbaugh quote Teddy Roosevelt. I had enclosed a brief note of introduction and explanation. I asked Kevin to please see that Coach got the book and I told him I didn’t need it back.

That Friday, the coaches held their usual noon press conference. The Ravens were headed to Seattle that weekend, so by then all the questions focused on the game plan for the Seahawks. During the middle of the question and answer session, Kevin came over to me and said, “Coach would like to meet you afterwards. He wants to thank you for the book.”

He took me over to a hallway off to the side of the room and I waited. About ten minutes after the press conference had ended and the media had cleared out, John Harbaugh walked around the corner with Kevin. He stuck out his right hand and introduced himself. “Hi Mark, John Harbaugh. It’s really nice to meet you and I wanted to thank you for lending me the book.”

We shook hands and chatted casually for about five minutes. We talked about Teddy Roosevelt, the Gilded Age, the Civil War, McCullough’s other biographies, and various other historical tidbits. He had a light in his eyes when he talked about history. It genuinely enthused him.

As we wound up our conversation, he insisted that he would get the book back to me. I told him that really wasn’t necessary, that I was done with it and really didn’t need it back, and that I understood he was probably a little busy with the matter of coaching the Baltimore Ravens. But he insisted. He thanked me and we shook hands and said goodbye.

We never talked football. I didn’t really think it was necessary to ask him anything about it at that moment. It seemed evident to me that he was relieved to talk about Roosevelt, and history, and anything other than football for a few minutes.

The Ravens went to Seattle that Sunday and lost, 22-17.

But they rebounded nicely after that, winning 6 of their final 7 games to finish 12-4 and become champions of the AFC North. The Steelers also finished 12-4, but by virtue of the Ravens sweep of their 2 games that season, they had to settle for a Wild Card playoff berth.

That season ended for the Ravens in the AFC Championship Game against the New England Patriots in Foxborough. Remember Billy Cundiff? Yeah, I thought you would…

Sports are a crazy thing. Just when you think your team is about to reach the heights, something completely unexpected happens and leaves you despondent. That was certainly the feeling for all Ravens fans following that infamous Cundiff miss.

But the next year the Ravens would become Super Bowl Champions. Their playoff run is the stuff of legend in Baltimore. Ray’s Last Ride. The Mile High Miracle. Jacoby Jones. Two Tickets to Paradise. It was truly unforgettable.

Sometime in the summer of 2013, several months after the Super Bowl win over San Francisco, I got an email from a gentleman with the Baltimore Ravens. He said he was John Harbaugh’s assistant, and that Coach wanted to send my book back to me. He had finished reading it.

A few days later, coming home from work, there was a FedEx package on my doorstep. I opened it up to find Mornings on Horseback. Enclosed with the book was a note on official Baltimore Ravens stationary that read, From The Desk of John Harbaugh.

Coach wrote, “Dear Mark – I just finished reading this book. It was great. Sorry it took so long – slow reader I guess! I was able to gain some very good takeaways from it – truly a great man and testimony of life – hope you are doing well. Always, John Harbaugh”

I have that note framed and sitting on my desk.

Last December, my son Charlie was playing in a holiday basketball tournament with his Hereford Bulls. There was a girls game being played as we entered the gym at Winters Mill High School. John Harbaugh’s daughter was playing for Bryn Mawr. Coach was sitting in the top row of the bleachers watching.

After the girls game, as Hereford took the court for warmups, I headed for the bleachers, and Coach Harbaugh and I crossed paths. We shook hands and said hello and I wished him good luck. He gave me one of those looks where you know he remembers who you are, but he just can’t place it. I just smiled and thanked him for all of his good work. I never said anything about Mornings on Horseback.

The Ravens beat the Steelers that Sunday in a downpour at M&T Bank Stadium, 28-10.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who actually does strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Theodore Roosevelt - 1910

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Tuesday
October 27
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#2254



things we've learned (thus far)


Week in and week out, new things pop up in the NFL that we either didn't previously know, or we suspected we knew but needed further confirmation.

I mean, we all knew the Jets were going to stink in 2020, but I don't think any of us realized they might go 0-16.

We figured the Chiefs and Ravens and Titans were going to be stout and they have been so far, each losing just once, all at home, coincidentally.

But here's some other stuff that has popped to the surface over the first seven weeks of the season.

I can't believe the Bears are 5-2 after that inept offensive display we saw last night in Los Angeles, but the league is filled with subpar teams and Chicago must have played just about all of them to date. How else can you explain a 5-2 record for a team that looks to be that lousy?

As expected, Josh Allen and the Bills are taking full advantage of New England's drop off, as Buffalo easily leads the AFC East at 5-2.

We've learned that Josh Allen is actually developing into a legit quarterback in Buffalo. Let's go ahead and dismiss that silly "MVP" talk right now. That's not happening, mostly because he's not even close to being the MVP of the league. But he's a decent quarterback, for sure. It also helps to have Stefon Diggs catching the ball when you throw it in his direction.

We knew Tom Brady was special. Beyond special, really. But a lot of people suspected his best days were far behind him. Well, he has the Buccaneers at 5-2 and in first place in the NFC South and even his most ardent critics are lauding him for the job he's done so far. Brady's like the golfer who no longer hits it 300 yards off the tee but still manages to get it around in 68 most rounds. He knows how to play quarterback, even if his body can only permit him to do so much these days.

It's fairly evident that Joe Burrow is going to be a legitimate professional quarterback. For all of their years of being lousy at quarterback, the Bengals have apparently landed someone who can potentially take them into the post-season down the road. They'll still need to add a bunch of offensive weapons for Burrow in the next couple of years, but his development and Cincinnati's improvement will be interesting to watch in 2021 and 2022.

Speaking of the Jets, when will they win a game in 2020? They have 9 games remaining and here they are; at Chiefs, vs. New England, at Chargers, vs. Dolphins, vs. Raiders, at Seahawks, at Rams, vs. Browns, at Patriots. OK, so somewhere in there the Jets will win at least one, maybe two games. Right? They'll beat New England or the Dolphins, 16-13, or maybe the Browns will go in there on the penultimate weekend of the season and stub their toe in a 23-20 OT loss. I'll say it here, now. And you can remind me if I'm wrong: The Jets will win at least one game.

I think we know the Ravens are good, but most of us just aren't sure how good they really are. The next five weeks will certainly tell the story. They're home vs. Pittsburgh, at Indianapolis, at New England, home vs. Tennessee and at Pittsburgh. OK, so New England will probably be a lay-up, but the other four will be challenges. It's easy to break down. If the Ravens go 5-0 or 4-1, they're in the garden spot for the rest of the season because they play nobody of concern in the final 5 weeks. If they go 3-2, that's still OK, providing that both of the losses don't come to the Steelers. But if they somehow go 2-3, that wouldn't be cool. My guess? They go 4-1.

The Eagles and Cowboys will face off this Sunday Night for a nationally televised thriller. I'm sure you're going to have friends over to watch that one, with masks on, of course. There are -- ahem -- a couple of other decent games on the schedule this Sunday, including San Francisco at Seattle and a particular game in Baltimore you might have heard about. I don't know all of the specifics about why the NFL can't flip on a dime and go from Philadelphia to Baltimore for the game this Sunday evening. Particularly given the potential for a hasty schedule reversal during the Covid-19 crisis, why can't NBC and the NFL figure out a way to move Pittsburgh-Baltimore into the Sunday Night slot? I know, I know: "It's the Cowboys." But does the potential quality of the game itself not carry any weight at all?

The two teams I can't really figure out yet: The Las Vegas Raiders (so weird to write that) and Cleveland Browns. Las Vegas is 3-3, but their wins are at Carolina and Kansas City and home vs. New Orleans. Most teams in the league wouldn't go 3-0 in those games, right? The Browns are 5-2, but their wins have come at Cincinnati, at Dallas, vs. Cincinnati, vs. Indianapolis and vs. Washington. Their two losses? They were blown out by the Ravens and Steelers, although it's fair to point out those two games were on the road. Anyway, what to make of those two teams? Are they really any good? One thing for sure: We'll see how they fare against one another this Sunday when Vegas heads to Cleveland.

I thought the Ravens were very smart in pursuing the trade with Minnesota for Yannick Ngakoue. While it might have been more "flashy" to try and pry Julio Jones from Atlanta or sign Antonio Brown, the team's biggest need in January will be the need to chase the quarterback. Sure, we're getting the cart before the horse a bit, but the Baltimore offense as it stands now is good enough to beat anyone on any given Sunday. The defense, though, can be suspect at times, particularly when they can't put pressure on the opposing quarterback. And if we can scan the horizon a bit, there's a really good chance the Ravens could face two of these three guys in January, if not all three; Roethlisberger, Tannehill, Mahomes. They can beat those teams without Julio Jones or Antonio Brown, but if they can't get to the quarterback in January, they might be in trouble.

Speaking of the Ravens and their offense. Lamar Jackson will be eligible for a contract extension/new contract after this, his third season. Jackson will be under great pressure from both the NFLPA and his fellow professionals to "break the bank". Much has been made about Lamar's mother and her role in his rookie contract, but that was checkers. This contract extension will be high level chess, and Jackson will not be "allowed" -- for lack of a better term -- to sign a deal that's not worthy of a league MVP. He will be under pressure to sign a massive contract and the Ravens, of course, will be under the gun to try and create a team-favorable deal. But if the Ravens post a 12-4 or 13-3 record (or better) and buzz through the playoffs and Jackson -- as expected -- is a major reason why, Jackson will hold the upper hand. One interesting dilemma for the Ravens will be the subject of Dak Prescott. Can or should the Ravens "use" Prescott's recent injury as a bargaining chip in the negotiations with Lamar? "Hey, you can turn down this offer if you want...but just remember it all could end with one play." Fair game? Or dirty pool?

Perhaps there's been a team with a more dynamic offense than what we see these days in Kansas City, but I surely can't remember it. It's amazing how many weapons Mahomes has at his disposal on any given play. And to think they're playing right now without Sammy Watkins and still putting up 30-plus points per-game. Watkins isn't Jerry Rice or anything like that, but he did have 21 receptions in the team's first 5 games before getting injured. Kelce, Hill, Hardman, Edwards-Helaire, Robinson...and now Le'Veon Bell. Oh, and the quarterback is pretty good, too, you might have heard. Last weekend against Denver, the Chiefs just plodded their way to a 43-16 win in the snow. Sure, one of their TD's was a pick-six, but the offense appeared to operate at about 40% efficiency all day and they still blasted the poor Broncos. I get it. Denver's pretty lousy. But the Kansas City offense looks like they can pretty much move the ball at will against almost everyone. All the more reason why the Ravens were smart in going after and acquiring Ngakoue from the Vikings. Any piece of the puzzle that helps reduce the Chiefs' offense is much needed.

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a great day had by all


74 golfers gathered from sunrise to sunset on Monday at Eagle's Nest Country Club for an enjoyable day of golf and fellowship, as we participated in the 4th annual "Flag Tournament" to benefit the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Lots of laughs, good fellowship and a few glimpses of solid golf, too!

The field was broken down into 37 two-man teams, with each team playing 45 different holes of golf. The format included 9 holes of scramble, alternate shot, better ball, par-3 and putting, with points awarded for how close you could hit your ball to the flag.

The event was sponsored by Freestate Electric, Kelly Payroll and Hirsch Electric, along with a dozen or more additional Baltimore businesses pitching in to help make the whole day a success. Our friends Dave and Lisa Smearman at Palmisano's of Baldwin donated dinner for the hungry golfers and Chick fil-A provided lunch for everyone. The morning got off to a great start with bagels and coffee from Tim Giancola and Bagel Works-Hunt Valley.

I was blessed to have three friends join me for the entire day. My buddy Mark McGrath came out to play and brought along fellow Eagle's Nest member Doug Miller, Jr. And Tom Webbert, whose uncle Chris Webbert was an outstanding soccer player at Loyola during my days in the business, also joined our group. Everyone hit some good shots, we shared some great laughs and fellowship, and once the scorecards were turned in we put to good use the famous adage: "We'll get 'em next year!"

My good friend Brian Hubbard led the charge in organizing this year's event and did an amazing job. Shaun Smithson, Steve Medinger, Devin Walsh and Andrew Gisriel made up the "committee" who put all the moving parts in order. It was truly a team effort.

I play in a lot of charity golf events each year, but our "Flag Tournament" stands out as something very unique. We'll be back next year for the 5th Annual event. We'll be looking to reach 100 golfers in 2021!

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americans abroad


This was a busy week for American players in Europe, with the Champions League season beginning midweek along with domestic matches on the weekend. Tuesday was a big day, when five US players saw action for their teams in the Champions League.

Christian Pulisic started and played 90 minutes for Chelsea against Sevilla in one of the highest profile Champions League matches of the week. He started at right wing and shifted to left wing late in the second half when Mason Mount was replaced by Hakim Ziyech. Pulisic had a few bright moments but could not impact the scoresheet as the two teams defended well en route to a 0-0 draw.

On Saturday, Pulisic again started for Chelsea in another important matchup with Manchester United. This time Pulisic was deployed as a left attacking midfielder in a 3-4-3 formation. Pulisic was involved in several half-chances but Chelsea struggled to find much offensive rhythm in another 0-0 draw.

American Christian Pulisic (left, red) continues to shine in the English Premier League.

Sergino Dest started at left back for Barcelona in their 4-1 Champions League win over Ferencvaros. Dest played the full game, switching to right back later in the game. Dest started again on Saturday in this season’s first El Clasico between Barcelona and Real Madrid. This was a momentous occasion for Dest, as this is widely considered the biggest rivalry and regular season match in European soccer. He looked more comfortable in this game, playing in his natural right back role. The game got off to a fast start with each team scoring within 10 minutes.

Dest was one of the better players on the field for Barcelona, providing a key tackle in the first half to break up a dangerous chance in the penalty box and showing his dribbling and passing skills in a few nice offensive moments. Barcelona faltered in the second half as Real Madrid took the lead with a Sergio Ramos penalty and later a Luka Modric goal to put the game out of reach at 3-1.

Gio Reyna was left out of Borussia Dortmund’s starting lineup for their Champions League match with Lazio. After struggling in the first half and trailing 2-0, Reyna was called upon as a sub at halftime. He did not waste the opportunity, providing a pinpoint cross to Erling Haaland for an assist to cut the score to 2-1. Dortmund failed to complete the comeback though, losing 3-1. The team and Reyna rebounded on the weekend with a 3-0 win over their biggest rival, Schalke.

Reyna started at attacking midfield in that game and played 70 minutes. While he failed to bolster his league-leading assist tally, he did start the passing sequence that led to Dortmund’s second goal with an accurate pass through midfield to find Haaland under heavy pressure.

Tyler Adams came on as a substitute for the last 30 minutes of RB Leipzig’s 2-0 win over Istanbul Basaksehir in the Champions League. Adams was out with an injury for Leipzig’s 2-1 win over Hertha Berlin on Saturday.

A surprise starter in the Champions League was Club Brugge’s Ethan Horvath . Horvath has been a rarely used backup for the last season, but he was called upon to start in goal when the starting keeper had a positive COVID test. Horvath was beaten by a long range blast in the first half, but bounced back and made several key saves down the stretch to keep the score tied at 1-1, enabling Brugge to find a late winning goal in injury time. Horvath started Brugge’s weekend league match as well. Perhaps some good performances will get him a little more playing time going forward.

Josh Sargent again started for Werder Bremen in their weekend match with Hoffenheim. He had a few standout moments in link up play but generally struggled to make an impact on the game as Bremen failed to generate many quality chances in a 1-1 draw.

John Brooks started and played the full game for Wolfsburg, leading their back line in a 2-1 win over Arminia Bielefeld.

Finally, in the English Premier League, Tim Ream and Antonee Robinson both started in Fulham’s 2-1 loss to Crystal Palace. Robinson did a good job overlapping and getting involved in the attack, nearly providing an assist on a shot that was denied by the post. Ream passed the ball well but was slow to react to a runner on a through ball that assisted the second Crystal Palace goal.

Next week is set to be another eventful week with a huge Champions League matchup on Wednesday between Juventus and Barcelona. Potentially featuring Weston McKennie against Sergino Dest, as well as Ronaldo versus Messi.

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Monday
October 26
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#2253



garcia setting us back 50 years...


In the world of professional sports, the only thing that really matters to most people is one word: performance.

Sure, how you go about it matters to some. The nice guys/girls get treated more fairly by the media. And there's definitely a measure of respect that comes along with being a solid teammate.

Former NFL quarterback Jeff Garcia took a different route on Sunday evening after the 49'ers were finishing off a 33-6 shellacking of the Patriots in New England. He was critical of Pats' veteran QB Cam Newton, but not for reasons you might think.

Yes, Newton wasn't very good on Sunday. He was so bad, in fact, that Bill Belichick yanked him out of the game early in the 4th quarter and replaced him with someone named Jarrett Stidham. But that wasn't the worst insult of the day for Newton.

"There's nothing good going your way," Garcia, who played for the 49'ers for part of his NFL career, said on NBC Sports Bay Area's 49ers postgame show. "So why are you dressing like that to bring more attention to yourself? I'd be trying to ask the equipment managers: Put me in your jock sock cart and sneak me in the back door and I'll show up on the field and do the best that I can."

The crew doing the show with Garcia were visibly stunned.

The woman serving as the host laughed and pointed out that perhaps Garcia was speaking from experience.

Perhaps Newton "dresses that way" because he likes to look good as he heads into work. Anyone see anything at all wrong with that? Yeah, my neither.

Garcia wasn't finished, though. "This just goes back to a couple years of just watching this guy (Newton), and seeing him at the podium, and yet, what he's doing on the field just doesn't translate to being that guy."

Come on, Jeff. You're better than that, man.

For those looking for a quick interpretation, Garcia was essentially saying that Newton dresses too flashy for a player who has mostly been unable to back it up.

Lots of NFL players dress "flashy", of course. It's part of the national TV ritual every Sunday morning to show players walking into various stadiums throughout the league in impressive attire.

How Cam Newton dresses is one thing. How he performs is another. It's a slippery slope to combine the two, though. They really have nothing to do with one another. And, inevitably, Garcia (a white man) going out of his way to bring up and criticize Newton (a black man) and his game day wardrobe will be looked upon by many people as closing in on an assessment based on race.

I'm one of those people who thinks race is brought up far too much as it is. I certainly get the importance of racial equality and all. No two ways about that. But I think over time we've tended more often than not to make issues into race that shouldn't be about race at all.

A lot of American media members and sports fans thought Garcia's comments on Sunday had racial overtones to them.

Did they?

I'm not sure. But I see where you might lean that way. It was a delicate topic to say the least.

And it would be one thing, I guess, if some goofy talking head who had never played a down in the NFL said something about Cam Newton's game day attire and how he shouldn't dress so nicely if he can't also play so nicely. But for a former NFL quarterback to say it? Weird.

I'm pretty sure Garcia will apologize today, either forced to by NBC Sports Bay Area or because his e-mail inbox got so jammed overnight he has no other choice. You can almost create Garcia's apology on your own.

"I have the utmost respect for Cam Newton. In trying to make a point about not wanting to draw attention to yourself when you're playing poorly, I mixed in a comment about Cam's game day attire and I can see now where that might lead to speculation about my motivations." And so on and so on.

Garcia will likely apology not only because it's the right thing to do, but because he probably knows deep down it was a silly thing to say.

In the meantime, Newton has his own problems to worry about. The Patriots are now 2-4 after Sunday's drubbing at home and things aren't likely going to improve anytime soon. He's not making anyone in New England forget about Tom Brady, that's for sure.

No matter how well Newton dresses, the folks in New England want wins. And Newton isn't delivering enough of those in his first season with Bill Belichick.

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"The Keen Eye" of
David Rosenfeld

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


consider this


There’s an oft-quoted line from the 2005 movie “Wedding Crashers,” during the football scene at the family estate somewhere on the Chesapeake Bay. Unless you’ve been under a rock in the 21st century, you’ve heard it…

“Yeah! Crab cakes and football. That’s what Maryland does!”

Laughs (there are many of them) from that movie aside, I’ve always thought that line was stupid. Of all the 50 states of our great Union, I’d put Maryland in the bottom half when it comes to football. Honestly, I might even put us in bottom 10. That’s not a criticism, really. Just an observation.

Yes, there are two professional football teams that play their games in Maryland, but one of them is obviously more associated with Washington, D.C. There are only two FBS college football programs in the state, and the triple-option unit in Annapolis isn’t really a Maryland program.

Maryland has as little enthusiasm about high school football as any state in the country. There are many reasons, historical and otherwise, to associate our state with “The South.” When it comes to football, however, we are very much associated with the Northeast, really the only area of the country where pro football is more popular than college and high school games.

Sure, the high school football team is a big deal out in far Western Maryland, and maybe in some places on the rural Eastern Shore. But the overwhelming majority of Marylanders live in the urban maze of Baltimore, Washington and their suburbs. Like New York City, on a somewhat smaller scale, that has lent itself to basketball prominence, not football.

I suppose you could argue that football would be a bigger deal in Maryland if the football program in College Park was a bigger deal…and not even a really big deal like Ohio State or Penn State. And there have been times that’s been more of the case, such as the Bobby Ross era in the 1980s or the beginning of the Ralph Friedgen era in the early 2000s. I can name quite a few players from those teams, and I bet you can too.

In reality, I think, we’re just too far behind. Our enthusiasm for football outside of the Ravens is not getting to the level of Pennsylvania or Ohio anytime soon. Football has about as much chance of becoming a “religion” here as Justin Tucker has of missing a 22-yard field goal. I suppose it’s humanly possible, but that’s about it.

A few years ago, local reporters asked former Annapolis resident Bill Belichick about that movie line. He’s a smart guy, and he said something really smart. “Actually, it’s crabs and lacrosse,” he said. I can’t disagree with that, even it makes my stomach swirl to agree with anything that guy says.


Continuing with Maryland football, a Saturday blurb here wasn’t the first time the marketing and promotion effort surrounding that team have been mentioned, especially as it relates to the state’s largest city.

I’m not sure that, here in 2020, the Maryland athletic department promotes the football program much differently than any other program does. They use social media to a great extent, of course. They create their own content on a variety of platforms, having long ago realized that they no longer needed traditional media to get the word out; that also allows them to control what “the word” is, to a point.

In a normal football season, aka one where people are allowed to attend games, Maryland always tries to make its in-game fan experience as good as possible. As the experience of watching a game on television has gotten better (and every game is on television now), every team and program is constantly looking for ways to make the gameday atmosphere worth seeing.

Now, we all know that what makes any competitive team worth seeing is that team being competitive. I attended Maryland’s 2017 game against Penn State in a working capacity, and thusly was outwardly dispassionate about the whole thing. Inwardly, I found it to be an embarrassment, even as a loose supporter of the program. The score was 66-3, and if I had attended the game as a fan I would not want to come back anytime soon.

There is no shame in losing, and I have no doubt every player on the roster was trying his hardest on every play. But there is something mortifying about the third-string quarterback on the PSU roster, who eventually transferred because he wasn’t playing, being a whole lot better than the starting QB on the Maryland roster. There’s something wrong with a large state university allowed 85 scholarships for football players to be that far behind another large state university playing under the same rules.

All the billboards or media “hits” or targeted marketing efforts aren’t worth much unless what you’re selling means something. All the push to get alumni to attend games more frequently doesn’t work when all the alumni can remember is the team going 4-8 every season.

Maryland football has made lots of mistakes in recent years. Randy Edsall wanted the job badly but wasn’t very good at it. D.J. Durkin was an unfortunate choice. I don’t care if people like Mike Locksley; the department should never have hired a coach, any coach, with that record of ineptitude.

I don’t think that the Terps have been making any mistakes in marketing. If they have, they pale in comparison to every other mistake that’s been made the last 10 years.


I’ve always looked at two things when it comes to Maryland football and its inability to reach the baseline level of success expected of all the programs in College Park. And by the way, the Big 10 was lucky to add a program of Maryland’s overall caliber, football team aside.

The world was different when Maryland was very good under Bobby Ross, good enough to be considered a legitimate Top 10 team. The school’s academic standards were lower, for one—in those days, the Terps actually had the talent to come back from a 31-0 deficit against Miami and win the game. You’ll remember that the team’s backup quarterback, now-Colts coach Frank Reich, played in the NFL for 14 years.

When Ross resigned in 1988, he said that the athletic administration had made promises that they couldn’t keep. New facilities, for one, and a better understanding of the academic standards in the wake of the Len Bias tragedy. Ross was quoted in the Washington Post back then: “In my opinion, it did not appear that some things I felt I needed for the program were going to be here.” The athletic department even publicly admitted in the wake of Ross’s resignation that administrators had made promises to the coach that they wouldn’t be able to fulfill.

I don’t believe that philosophy or attitude about the football program has changed much in 30 years. The school has not been willing to do what it takes to compete with the best teams, whether that was Florida State in the ACC 20 years ago or Ohio State in the Big 10 now.

That leads into the second thing, which is that one of the worst things that ever happened to the Maryland football program was Gary Williams’ arrival in College Park in 1989.

Gary Williams was an epic force of nature. He stepped into a vacuum (one that very few coaches would have stepped into) and filled it with fire, intensity and big promises. Eventually, his us-against-them mentality meshed with the type of players who could fulfill big promises. His teams no longer fought like hell to compete with better ones; now, it was his teams that had targets on their back.

Gary became a big star, more like a football coach at Alabama. His team’s success helped push forward a new facility, which immediately became an homage to the men’s basketball program, and even the women’s basketball program a few years later.

The Maryland football program got left in that wake. Even under Ralph Friedgen, a successful coach and a unique personality, it was the basketball team that made the money. Maryland had many good basketball teams before Williams arrived, but Williams made Maryland a “basketball school.”

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Sunday
October 25
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#2252



sports, huh?


Several University of Maryland football players opted not to have their last name stitched into the back of their jersey on Saturday when the Terps opened their 2020 season at Northwestern.

They were the smart ones.

The Terps were trounced in Evanston, Illinois, 43-3. Those that decided to have a social justice message on their jersey instead of a last name were less easily identified.

Hey, at least Maryland scored. In fact, Maryland briefly led in the game, 3-0, before Northwestern rattled off 30 straight points to lead by 27 at intermission.

Mike Locksley and the Terps were hammered by Northwestern on Saturday, 43-3.

I'm certainly not going to act as if I'm an expert on Big Ten football, but is Northwestern any good? I thought they made journalists and broadcasters there, not football players.

Maryland head coach Mike Locksley is now 6-40 in his career as the top man. I'd say that's kind of shocking, but he was 3-31 when the Terps hired him a couple of years ago. It's not like they hired Bill Belichick and he somehow morphed into Adam Gase. Locksley was handed the top job in College Park in spite of no real evidence to support his qualities as a head coach.

It's not a close-kept secret that Locksley was hired more for his recruiting touch than anything else, and a coach does need a bit of time to blend all of his ingredients into a winning program.

But this wasn't the kind of start Locksley was hoping for, I'm sure.

Social media and Terps-centric websites were both calling for Locksley's head after the game. It was ugly.

"Sham of a head coach," someone wrote. "This guy has done nothing but lose his whole career. Cut him loose now or keep losing. Your choice, Maryland."

"Disgraceful is a kind way of putting it," another disappointed fan wrote. "They might not win one game."

I quickly rushed to the schedule to see when Maryland plays Rutgers. Then I saw yesterday's scoreboard where Rutgers went on the road and beat Michigan State. Yikes, maybe they won't win a game after all.

Taulia Tagovailoa -- the heralded brother of former Alabama signal caller, Tua -- was pretty lousy. His first Maryland start saw a stat line of 14-for-25 for 94 yards and 3 interceptions. NFL scouts won't be enthusiastically going through Maryland game tape this morning, that's for sure.

Perhaps this is just life in the Big Ten for Maryland football. It was always going to be an uphill climb to try and compete with any of the big boys in the conference, even though Maryland has, over the years, defeated both Michigan and Penn State.

But it's one thing to lose 43-3 to Ohio State.

And I guess anything can happen on any given Saturday. Losing 43-3 to Northwestern could be an outlier or Maryland football could really be at the bottom, with Locksley in place to rescue them.

The only question: can a coach with a career mark of 6-40 rescue any program, let alone a bottom feeder in one of the toughest football conferences in the country?


Forrest Gump became a national hero because he started running and didn't stop. Randy Arozarena became a hero last night because he started running and didn't stop, even if it was the wrong thing to do in the first place.

The final few minutes of last night's World Series Game 4 were, in a word, remarkable.

Tampa Bay trailed 7-6 with 2 outs and 2 strikes on pinch hitter Brett Phillips. Dodgers' closer Kenley Jansen hadn't been hit hard, but he had thrown 20 pitches by the time Phillips faced the 2 strike count in the bottom of the 9th. 20 pitches was supposedly Jansen's magic number. Anything after that was dangerous.

And the 21st pitch created one of the most bizarre final plays in World Series history.

Editor's note: You can find a replay of the last at-bat in plenty of places on the web. Major League Baseball doesn't look too kindly on people publishing their highlights without "express written permission", so we'll go ahead and give you the freedom of finding it.

Phillips hit the ball into center field, where Chris Taylor tried to scoop and throw in an effort to get Kevin Kiermaier at the plate. But Taylor misplayed the ball, then throwing it to the cut-off man on the infield grass. Arozarena, who started the play at first base, was flying around third base when the relay throw reached home plate. Arozarena fell down some 20 feet from home plate and was out by a mile.

Except he wasn't out...because catcher Will Smith, who thought there was going to be a play at the plate, tried a quick catch-and-sweep tag. And when the ball popped out of his glove and bounded 10 feet behind him, Arozarena got up and basically crawled home with the winning run in an 8-7 Tampa Bay victory.

Could the World Series treat the Dodgers any worse? They were one strike from a 3-1 series lead and now it's 2-2 and Tampa Bay brings their best pitcher, Tyler Glasnow, to the mound tonight. That the Dodgers counter with their best, Clayton Kershaw, is also good news for L.A., but it does make this game almost "must win" for the National League champions.

About six different things could have happened on the final play that changed the game's fate. Nearly every one of them broke the way of the Rays.

Jansen was one strike away from retiring the light-hitting Phillips and giving L.A. a 3-1 series lead. Just one pitch. One strike. One infield ground out. A foul pop out. One pitch away.

If Taylor concedes that Kiermaier was going to score from second and just plays the ball routinely, Arozarena never tries to score from first base. All Taylor had to do was catch Phillips' single cleanly, get the ball into the infield, and the score was 7-7 and L.A. was still very much in the game.

Arozarena had no intention of stopping once he reached third base. He didn't look up to see what the third base coach was telling him to do. He barreled around third and was headed for home. Out by 20 feet or more, for sure, was Arozarena, who has made a big name for himself throughout this post-season.

And if Will Smith just catches the ball and moves into position to simply tag the runner out in a "typical" fashion, the ball likely never pops out of his glove. Instead, Smith tried the difficult catch-and-sweep in one motion and the ball popped loose. Had Smith simply caught the ball and looked up, he would have had Arozarena in a rundown and the two teams would have gone to extra innings tied at 7-7.

Every "if" worked against the Dodgers, it seemed.

And now it's Tampa Bay with new life as Game 5 rolls around tonight.


I usually take a few minutes when the Ravens are on a bye week to remind everyone that this Sunday, today, is what it was like here in Baltimore from 1984 through 1995.

Everyone else was playing football on Sunday in late October and Baltimore, for those 11 years, had no team to call its own.

Today was exactly what it felt like back then.

This is what you did on Sunday in late October circa 1990 in Baltimore.

You went out and raked leaves on Sundays in the fall. Maybe you teed it up with your friends around 1 pm to take advantage of the warmer temperatures and less due on the ground. Maybe you and your family took small one-day trips to the Eastern Shore, Cumberland or up in Amish country in Southern PA.

One thing you didn't do back in those 11 years was cheer for a Baltimore football team, because we didn't have one.

If you cared about the NFL then, you watched the other teams play. Maybe you became a Redskins fan. Maybe you just picked another franchise and rooted for them just to have a semi-vested interest in some team, somewhere.

Right around 1 pm today, whatever it is you're doing is basically what you would have been doing in Baltimore during football season from 1984 through 1995.

I like reminding myself of that every year when the Ravens enjoy their bye week.

For the pain we endured last January when the Titans came to town and blew up the Ravens' championship hopes, it's still better than not having a team at all.

Nothing is worse than not having a franchise in your city.

Just remember that today. And remember that in January, too, if the Raiders come to town in January and post another shocking playoff upset of John Harbaugh's team.

Always remember...we could be St. Louis.

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Saturday
October 24
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2251



saturday stuff


The Ravens smartly passed on mercurial wide receiver Antonio Brown, who yesterday signed a one-year deal with Tom Brady -- err, I mean, Tampa Bay.

General Manager Eric DeCosta fought off some internal pressure in making the decision to pass on Brown, who was recruited, if you will, by quarterback Lamar Jackson and his cousin, wide receiver Marquise "Hollywood" Brown.

Together again, can Tom Brady and Antonio Brown help get the Buccaneers to their first Super Bowl since the 2002 season?

It's certainly not uncommon for players to campaign for an outsider and a smart front office will listen to every angle when it comes to signing a player who could potentially help the team. But the Ravens had far more to lose when it comes to bringing in Antonio Brown, who brings along a stack of baggage so deep you'd have to use the team bus to haul it all to Owings Mills.

How he does in Tampa Bay is anyone's guess, but the Buccaneers already have an issue with him and Brown hasn't yet caught a pass down there. Last season when Brown was available after his falling out in Oakland, Bucs' head coach Bruce Arians referred to Brown as a "diva" and was vehemently against bringing the wide receiver to town. Those quotes have been making the rounds for the last 24 hours, obviously.

Now, perhaps an older and wiser Antonio Brown can look past those words and that decision by the Buccaneers last season. An older and wiser Brown might even be able to say to himself -- and the media -- "I get it. I would have passed on me last season, too. I was in a bad place at that point."

But throughout his career, especially once he left Pittsburgh, the "older and wiser" version of Antonio Brown has never surfaced. It remains to be seen if he can make the move to Tampa Bay and act and conduct himself accordingly. If he can, the Bucs might get some use out of him.

The bet here is that Brown will start out fine and things will be rolling along nicely down there. I mean, if you can't play for Tom Brady, who on earth can you play for, right? But the leopard's spots never go away...they just fade a little over time. The smart wager is that Antonio Brown eventually wears out his welcome in Tampa Bay. It's a safe bet, I'd say.


So, while the Ravens were smart to avoid signing Brown, they were equally smart to trade for talented defensive end Yannick Ngakoue on Thursday.

The Ravens' offense, while a bit more pedestrian so far this season than we saw in 2019, can still very much hold its own. They're going to score 24 points in every game by hook or by crook, and for the most part, 24 points is enough to win most games in the National Football League. They didn't need Antonio Brown to help them score 24 or more points per-game. They're doing that already.

But what they do need is someone who can help them put more pressure on the quarterback. The Baltimore pass rush is very much hot and cold. When Matt Judon is "on", which is roughly half the games, the team's ability to chase the quarterback is solid. When Judon is "off", the pass rush is virtually non-existent.

Ngakoue is an All-Pro caliber defensive end. That the Ravens picked him up from Minnesota for a 3rd and 5th round draft pick says more about the price Ngakoue will command as a free agent next season and less about the Vikings giving away a gold star defensive end for next to nothing.

The Ravens won't be able to keep both Judon and Ngakoue next season. The trade with Minnesota would be a strong indicator that Judon's days in Baltimore are numbered and that Ngakoue will be the man who gets the long term deal in Charm City.

And the final piece of the puzzle with Ngakoue is the obvious one. The Ravens were hellbent on picking him up because they're on a mission to silence Patrick Mahomes in the playoffs. They won't say it publicly, of course, but one of the biggest elements of the Ngakoue trade is having another edge rusher to chase after Mahomes in January. Smart move there, as well, I say.

Oh, and at some point in January, the Ravens might very well have to dispose of Ben Roethlisberger and Ryan Tannehill, perhaps on consecutive weekends, even. Ngakoue can help the defensive unit in a number of ways, but making life miserable for talented quarterbacks is his specialty.


While the rest of the field at Sherwood Country Club torched the place for two days, it took Tiger Woods a day to get going before he fired a tidy round of 6-under 66 on Friday at the ZOZO Championship.

There were lots of smiles on Friday when Tiger Woods shot 66 to move to 2-under par through 36 holes of the ZOZO Championship.

Woods will not win ZOZO this year, as he did in 2019 when he captured his 82nd career win in Japan. He will likely not even finish in the Top 10. But Tiger continues to "talk the talk" about preparing for the Masters, which will be played in three weeks at Augusta National.

"A lot of the guys out here are trying to this place with Augusta in mind," Woods said on Friday. "You try to shape shots and hit shots that you think you'll be faced with in a few weeks. You don't get many opportunities in tournament golf to hit those kind of shots, so you have to take advantage of it when you can. I'm working on my trajectory this week, trying to get a higher ball flight and also get some more spin on the ball at the same time."

That's all fancy talk for "I can't win over the weekend so I'll try and make some use out of the last two rounds." Woods and the others in the field who have openly talked about using this event as part of their Masters prep -- Mickelson, Rahm, McIlroy -- wouldn't be "working on Augusta" if they were near or in the lead at Sherwood Country Club.

Mickelson and McIlroy are both testing new equipment this week that they both hope gives them some extra distance at Augusta National. Rahm is using a new golf ball. Sure, this is silly season golf with no cut and a guaranteed check, so why not try out new equipment and/or swing thoughts, but it still seems like the only way to really prepare for Augusta National is to actually play Augusta National.

But what do I know? I'll be sitting home watching it on TV while those guys are playing in the event.

Oh, I almost forgot: Justin Thomas (-14) leads the ZOZO, with Dylan Frittelli, Lanto Griffin (both at -13), Patrick Cantlay and Scottie Scheffler (both at -12) hot on his heels.


It's only a 2-1 series lead for the Dodgers after last night's 6-2 win over the Rays in Game 3, but this is starting to look like it might just be the Dodgers' year.

But if they do win, how will it "feel"?

Sure, they came back from 3-1 down to beat the Braves in the NLCS and there's some treasure there. It's not like they fluked their way to the World Series or anything like that. They did go 42-18 in the abbreviated 2020 MLB thing*, remember.

But if the Dodgers win it all, I really do wonder if it's the same to them?

Forget what we all think on the outside. Who cares? I mean, I've never really considered the 2020 campaign a real "season", but you might believe it to be as legitimate as the normal 162-game season. That's fine. Our mileage will vary on how we, as fans, remember and value the 2020 baseball season.

I'm wondering how the players really feel about it deep down? Will the Dodgers consider this "mission accomplished" after previous unsuccessful bids to win the title in 2017 and 2018? Or will they gather in the hotel lobby the morning after winning (if they do, which remains to be seen) and say, "Look, this was nice and all, but everyone better show up in February loaded for bear and ready to do this again and win a 'real' title."?

I don't know how you play 60 games, 7 inning doubleheaders, and then play the post-season in foreign stadiums with a smattering of fans in attendance and consider that a "real" season. But the ring and the money will be real, that's for sure. And history will note that the 2020 World Series Champions were -- the Los Angeles Dodgers. Or the Tampa Bay Rays. One of those two teams will go down in history as the 2020 champion.

I just can't help but wonder if the players feel like champions. That's all I'm asking, really.


True story: While riding in a car with a friend yesterday, I looked over at him and said, "Does Maryland football play tomorrow?"

"Yes," he said.

I had no idea.

I stumbled on it by accident after seeing a player tweet out a photo of the team plane. Maryland flew to Chicago on Friday in advance of today's game against Northwestern.

OK, look, I get it. It's a "half-a-season", basically, and Covid-19 has robbed the world of sports of anything "regular", including college football. I do understand that this fall is different than any other fall in recent memory.

And perhaps you're going to think this is more on me than on Maryland. I mean, I'm a sports-loving guy who owns and publishes a daily sports website and I didn't know the state school was playing a football game today. Maybe I'm guilty of not paying attention.

But I've been saying this for years and years and years. And yesterday again proved my point. Maryland football has to be the worst promoted sport of any "big time" program I've ever seen. I haven't seen an ad or a social media message about the Terps and I'm an active social media participant.

The school does a great job promoting Maryland basketball, even in Baltimore, where they care enough to occasionally grace us with a "home" game against Princeton or South Florida or some other bum school they beat by 25 points. But for all the promotion and marketing they do for basketball in Baltimore, they do virtually none of it with the football program.

Quick, name three players on the Maryland football team.

And, quick, name three players on the Maryland basketball team.

You scored the same as everyone else, so don't worry.

You went 0-for-3 with football names and 3-for-3 with basketball names.

I had no idea Maryland was playing football today against Northwestern. I knew the Terps and the Big Ten season were starting at some point (I think I saw that on the news somewhere) and I loosely knew (or thought) they were playing Northwestern in their opener. I think Ohio State comes to town soon for their annual 54-13 win over the Terps and I know Michigan State visits College Park this season because a good friend of mine is a "Sparty" grad.

I had no idea the Terps were playing today against Northwestern until one of their players posted a picture on Twitter.

That, I believe, tells you all you need to know about how the Maryland athletic department promotes their football program.

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Friday
October 23
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2250



it never hurts to ask...


The questions poured in all week. Most were sports related, a few had music connections and others were a mix of personal preferences and such.

The latest question came in last night at 11:36 pm from Adam. You'll see that one below, along with the rest of them.

As always, thanks for sending in your questions. If you have one for a future edition of #DMD, please e-mail it to me: 18inarow@gmail.com


Dominant in the regular season, but just OK in the playoffs. What's up with that?

Ben Groom asks -- "The whole "Clayton Kershaw is terrible in the playoffs" thing. Fact or Fiction?"

DF says -- "Well, it's mostly fiction if you phrase the question that way. He isn't terrible in the post-season. His numbers in the playoffs certainly don't match what he does in the regular season. They just don't. But the real question is "Why aren't his numbers as good in the playoffs?" And I don't really know the technical answer to that, but I will say that in the regular season, half the starts, at least, are against lousy teams. All of the starts in the playoffs are against good-to-really-good teams. There's less margin for error in the playoffs. One more earned run per nine innings is a massive shift in performance for him."


Dan Handley asks -- "If the Ravens try and sign Lamar Jackson to a new deal this off-season, should they bring up the Dak Prescott situation in Dallas or is that bad form?"

DF says -- "I assume you mean, do the Ravens say to Lamar, 'Look if you don't take this deal and blow up your ankle next season, you might really regret that someday.' If so, I see nothing wrong with using that as a negotiating tool. It's not like you're fibbing or exaggerating. Prescott's injury happened and if for some bizarre reason his career is never the same, he will have squandered a crazy amount of money by not taking the Cowboys' earlier offers. I don't see why the Ravens wouldn't at least mention it to Lamar and his reps in the off-season. I mean, his rep should probably be mentioning it to Lamar, anyway."


K.C. asks -- "Which of these three things would surprise you the most? Tiger wins 1 more major, but it's not the Masters. Spieth finishes his career with 6 majors. DeChambeau wins 4 tournaments, including 2 majors, in 2021."

DF says -- "For sure the least of those that would surprise me would be DeChambeau winning 4 events and 2 majors. That's very possible for any Top 10 player, including him. The other two are really improbable. Tiger can probably remain competitive at Augusta for another 10 years, but I really think that's the only major he can win at this point. I'm not sure Spieth can win 3 more golf tournaments, let alone 3 majors. It's kind of a toss-up, but Tiger's the best player ever and Spieth's a really good player who had a great four year run. So I'll say it's more improbable that Spieth wins 3 more majors. Woods could always catch the beneficial end of the weather draw at the British Open and somehow win over there."


Collin W. asks -- "You and I share similar musical tastes. What's your favorite song of 2020?"

DF says -- "Did anyone actually release a new album in 2020 so far? It doesn't feel like it. I do have an answer to this, actually. I've had one of those lengthy relationships with Pearl Jam, where I loved them, tolerated them, stood by them, figured they were done, and now marvel at how they've reinvented themselves again. I've always thought Eddie Vedder was a phenomenal singer. Extraordinarily underrated. Their music always stands the test of time. But the first single off of their new album (below) was one of the best pieces of music they've produced in the last 20 years. Lyrically it's awesome and musically it's both complex and catchy. It's my favorite song of 2020 so far."




Steve Trillson asks -- "You published a list yesterday (Tuesday) that had Baltimore/Washington together as a "sports city". How would you rank the two of them as separate cities instead of one?"

DF says -- "Well, DC has a team in all four major sports and several big-time college basketball programs...and Baltimore has the Orioles and Ravens, basically. I'm not saying that's how we judge the debate, but DC supports four teams, plus Georgetown, Maryland, GWU and George Mason. Baltimore supports two teams and a smattering of people go out to see UMBC, Towson, Loyola, Morgan State and Coppin State. I'm not sure that makes D.C. a better sports town than Baltimore, but we'd never be able to support four major franchises and several big-time colleges here in Charm City."


William Peat asks -- "Would you be in favor of the Ravens signing Antonio Brown?"

DF says -- "I would not. I just don't see how he could do a complete 180 and become a team-first player who doesn't create waves in the locker room when things don't go his way. Is there a small chance he could make those changes and be a productive player? Sure. But the bet has to go against him based on his career and the number of chances he's squandered along the way. I'd pass on him."


Alan Brehm asks -- "I know you made predictions for the NFL season and I'm not asking you this to make you change your mind. Right now, though, on October 20 (day of this e-mail), who do you think plays in the Super Bowl in February?"

DF says -- "I'm actually sticking with my original two teams that I predicted back in September. I say Kansas City beats Tampa Bay in the Super Bowl. I think I had Tampa Bay beating Arizona in the NFC title game. That one I might want to amend, but I'm sticking with the Chiefs vs. Buccaneers in the big game."


Pete asks -- "I broke 80 for the first time ever last week at Greystone. How long should I expect it to be before I break 70?"

DF says -- "I really can't even begin to know the answer to this. How often do you play now? How often do you practice? Did you break 80 out of nowhere or were shooting a bunch of 81's and 82's and finally got into the 70's? But I'll offer this. If you're someone who was shooting 83, 82, 83, 81, 82, 84, 85, 81 and then...79...that basically means you're about an 8 or 9 handicap. And to me, the chances of you shooting something in the 60's begins when you're a 4 handicap or better. And I would bet it takes you at least another year of golf -- but probably two -- before you're regularly shooting 76 or so. Once you can shoot somewhere around 76 regularly, you have the chance of putting together one of those rounds where you shoot 2 under on the front and 1 under on the back and -- voila! -- there's a 69! Good luck. Keep me updated!"


Bo Campbell asks -- "Heart, The Police, Styx. Overrated or Underrated?"

DF says -- "Lay-up. All three were big-time underrated. Styx got a little wonky late in their run with Paradise Theater and that stuff, but early Styx was remarkable music. Heart was amazing. Little Queen was a great album. Maybe a Top 25 album of my lifetime. And The Police were trend setters. Regatta de Blanc was almost perfect."


Roger asks -- "I know you love your bar bet questions so here's one for you. Who gets to a Super Bowl first? Baker Mayfield or Joe Burrow?"

DF says -- "You're presupposing one of them gets there! Both franchises are so far away from a Super Bowl right now it's hard to imagine them ever playing in one. But the answer to your question is Joe Burrow. He can get the Bengals to a Super Bowl before Mayfield can get the Browns to one. Wait...did I just say that? The Bengals...in the Super Bowl? Crazy talk."


Danny asks -- "And the best chinese restaurant in Baltimore would be?"

DF says -- "OK, Danny, I see what you did there. Pretty funny. But I'm glad you asked because I do have an answer! It's The Orient on Belair Road in Perry Hall. Amazing food, great service. It really is the best."


Joe Deasel asks -- "In your opinion, what is the most challenging/difficult venue in golf that's never hosted a U.S. Open?"

DF says -- "This one has me thinking. Good question, Joe. I assume you want me to say Mount Pleasant...but I won't. I think the answer here is TPC Sawgrass, which has hosted The Players, but never a U.S. Open. They could make that golf course really hard if they wanted."


Adam asks -- "Any early favorites on the new Bruce Springsteen album that was just released earlier tonight? (last night)"

DF says -- "I haven't listened to the whole thing front to back, so this could change, but the first time I heard the song below, I was hooked. You can hear a little Bob Dylan in this one, a lot of Bruce and even a small mix of Tom Petty and Johnny Cash in it as well. The Boss is indeed back."



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This is an awesome 3 and a half minutes of various athletes who are sharing their testimony about how God and faith have impacted them both personally and professionally.

Athletes using their platform to spread the gospel are critical to the development of more wide spread acceptance of faith in our country. If you can give up a little over 3 minutes today to watch this, I think you'll see a group of people who are dedicated to showing their love for God and all of His work.



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Thursday
October 22
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2249



breaking the streak


Let it be known that today I'll be doing something I've never done once in my life, even though I've had the opportunity to do it for the last 39 years.

I'm casting a vote for the President of the United States.

No, I'm not going to spend the next few minutes urging you to do the same thing. And I won't be posting one of those "I Voted!" stickers on my social media pages, either. This isn't my way of "giving in" to the countless number of celebrities, actors and athletes who have been howling at the moon about voting for the last three months.

I'm voting for one reason: I'm honoring my candidate's competitive spirit. Nothing more, nothing less. I'm not dumb. I realize my silly one vote doesn't change anything. And I'm not going to urge you to run out and vote today, either. I'm voting in honor of my candidate's competitive spirit and nothing more.

I don't see my candidate winning, if I'm being honest. But I'm voting nonetheless. I mean, stranger things have happened, right? No one thought the 2016 election would turn out the way it did. So maybe my candidate does win on November 3rd. But I'd bet you a round at your favorite golf course they don't win.

Matthew Wolff for President?

A woman approached me outside of a local eatery yesterday and, coinicidentally (or not?) asked me who I was voting for in the Presidential election. She had a clipboard and a couple of fancy looking I.D. badges on her vest. I was surprised she asked, honestly, since I assumed this state was locked up in terms of Presidential voting. Everyone knows which way Maryland votes for the President every four years.

And I also thought what she was doing was illegal. But since I've never voted for the President before, perhaps I'm not as up to speed on the rules as I should be.

"Matthew Wolff", I told her.

She looked down at her page, scribbled something, then looked up again.

"Matthew Wolff," I repeated.

I figure it like this. Our President (both current and past) always seems to enjoy the occasional round of golf while in office. How cool would it be to have a President who can also shoot 66 at the drop of a hat?

"So you're not voting for Joe Biden?" she asked.

I felt like saying, "No, I'm voting for Matthew Wolff. I just told you that."

Instead, I gave up the game. "I'm not telling you who I'm voting for, Ma'am. That would be un-American, wouldn't it? It's none of your business who I'm voting for, with all due respect."

I caught a glimpse of her clipboard and in the corner she wrote, "M. Wolf". Poor old lady couldn't even spell "Wolff" the right way.

"Can I buy you a cup of coffee?" I asked her. I didn't want to come across as a jerk with my "none of your business" remark, even though, frankly, it's none of her business at all.

The older I get, the more I realize the importance of not being a jerk. We're not here long enough to be jerks. Last Wednesday while I was working with some of my Calvert Hall golfers at the local driving range, an older man asked me if I could help him with his swing when I was wrapping up with my team members.

"I overheard you helping those young men," he said. "I just can't get off the tee any more. Do you see something in my swing?"

Truth of the matter was I had somewhere to be, but I know all about golf anguish and driving it great one day and not being able to hit a fairway the next day. So I took 15 minutes and showed him something in his set-up that was contributing to his ugly slice. He wasn't Jack Nicklaus when I left, but he was at least hitting it straight, 200 yards or so in the air. And the gleam in his smile told me that was enough for him.

"Here," he said, pulling out a wrinkled up twenty dollar bill. "Please take this."

"Give it to your church or buy yourself a nice dinner somewhere. Just make sure you root for Calvert Hall in the Turkey Bowl," I said as I walked away.

"Class of 65," he said. "Go Hall."

It dawned on me that he didn't try and use his affiliation with Calvert Hall to coax me into helping him with his bad set-up. He was just a guy trying to fix his slice and saw me as someone who might be willing to help. I liked that about him. He asked nicely and I was, indeed, willing to help. Heck, when we were done, he might have said, "Loyola-Blakefield, Class of 65." I would have still helped him the same, as it turned out.

So...I really wasn't trying to be a jerk when I told the woman it was none of her business who I was voting for. It's just.....none of her business.

A few minutes later, I returned with a cup of coffee for her while she was talking with someone else. She politely accepted it and I moved on. I thought for a second about waiting around the corner and asking the next person who was walking in to also tell her "Matthew Wolff" just to see the woman's reaction. But I had things to do.

It's none of my business who you vote for in the same way it's none of your business who I vote for. I think we all agree on that. I have friends who are ardent Biden supporters and I have friends who are staunch Trump enthusiasts. I think neither more nor less of them because of their voting convictions. Everyone has their reasons for voting for the person they vote for, me included. My reason might be "different" than others, but I'm voting, nonetheless.

I've never voted for the President before today, so this is pretty much new territory for me.

I'll watch the final debate tonight, but not because it will influence my vote. I will have already voted by then. I'll watch to see how one sided the questioning and "treatment" is from the supposed "neutral" moderator. I'll tune in to see how crazy President Trump gets when they turn off his microphone. I'll also watch to see if former Vice President Biden says, "You know, the skiing season in Colorado kind of reminds me of an old Steve Miller Band song" when they ask him about foreign policy or domestic oil prices.

If you have a fondness for a candidate, go on out and vote. If you, like I was for almost 40 years, don't see one of the three candidates as a viable choice, then you don't have to vote. And please don't let anyone tell you that you've failed your civic responsibility by not voting. You have not. It's up to the political parties to provide candidates that are worthy of your vote. If they don't provide a worthy candidate, you don't have to vote. America and all that stuff, remember?

In the meantime, I'm thinking about officially getting behind Matthew Wolff. If he wins the Masters next month, I'm definitely going to get a head start on 2024 and start printing up buttons and signs.

And "Wolff" will be spelled the right way, too.

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SUCH
a sports fan

MARK SUCHY is a lifelong Baltimore sports fan, youth basketball coach and father of three athletic sons. A former weekend sports radio host in Baltimore, "Such" offers his memories and insights on sports related topics each Wednesday here at #DMD.


a story about sailing, part 2


Editor's note: Part 1 of this story ran on Wednesday here at #DMD. You can read it by scrolling down to yesterday's edition below.

My father was not an easily discouraged man. I had skied with him in blizzards. I had sat with him in scorching sunshine at Maryland football games. I had camped with him in downpours on a trip to Nova Scotia. So a little bit of chop and some rain and some wind in our faces was not going to deter him from getting us to St. Michael’s so we could eat crabs.

There was a transistor radio on board the Dulcinea. We used to listen to ballgames on weekend sail trips, or music on whatever local radio station we could tune in. It was rather large as transistor radios went, and it had two speakers, not one, so you could hear the music or the ballgame over the sound of the wind and the water, or the engine if it was needed.

That Saturday, the Baltimore Orioles were playing their last home series of the 1979 season. That year was the birth of Orioles Magic. Everyone in Baltimore was captivated and energized by the team. There was a buzz around town that was totally unique to that team and that time. Naturally, we had the game tuned in on the radio.

As a sports-obsessed kid growing up in Baltimore, the Orioles were a mainstay of my youth. They had Hall of Fame players and a legendary manager. They were a model of consistency, known for great starting pitching and the three-run homer. They won a lot, and they were always in contention in the old American League East every year in September.

For all of their success, though, the Orioles hadn’t been to the playoffs since 1974. That was an eternity in that decade. To make matters even worse, the New York Yankees had won not just the AL East the previous 3 seasons, but the World Series in 1977 and 1978. They had Reggie Jackson, too, and fans in Baltimore had a special dislike for him after he shunned the O’s in free agency for the Big Apple after the 1976 season. The Orioles had traded Don Baylor, among others, to acquire Reggie for one season.

The Yankees’ owner, George Steinbrenner, was the first modern day owner in baseball to spend lavishly in the free agent marketplace. He was boastful and arrogant and attention-seeking. He was essentially the antithesis of everything people in Baltimore admired. The Orioles prided themselves on growing their own talent through their farm system and teaching the kids the “Oriole Way”. High-dollar free agency was seen as a shortcut to winning, at least by the Baltimore faithful. My lifelong hatred of the pinstripes was deeply rooted by 1979.

But that season was incredibly special, and dare I use the word, magical. The Orioles had started slowly that April, as they usually seemed to do under their crusty manager, Earl Weaver. They were just 3-8 after a loss to the dreaded Yankees. But they won a Sunday game in the Bronx that launched a 9-game winning streak, and as April rolled in to May, the Birds went 8-1 on a West Coast road trip. Suddenly, they were 22-11 and in 1st place in the AL East.

As the wins piled up, it seemed that every player was contributing. The team’s confidence was rising, along with the fans. The Birds were seemingly never out of a game, always finding ways to salvage victory from seeming defeat. No matter where you went around Baltimore, it seemed like everyone was talking about “Dem O’s, Hon”. It was electrifying.

Then, on Friday night, June 22nd, 1979, Oriole Magic was truly born. And I was there when it happened. Hand to God, I was.

My neighbor Todd had invited me and a few other boys to the game. His father’s company had box seats along the first base line, 30 rows or so behind the dugout. According to the official box score, there were 35,456 souls in Memorial Stadium on 33rd Street in Baltimore that night. But I’m sure you could find about a half-million people in Baltimore today who would claim to have been there.

The Orioles were playing the Detroit Tigers. After 3 innings, the Tigers led, 5-3. The game remained that way through the middle and late innings. Then, in the bottom of the 9th, with one out, Orioles right fielder Ken Singleton launched a solo home run to cut the lead to one. My favorite Oriole, Eddie Murray, singled. Memorial Stadium was roaring.

Left fielder Gary Roenicke popped out, and the Birds were down to their final out. Third baseman Doug DeCinces stepped in against the Tigers closer, Dave Tobik.

I can’t remember the count, but for as long as I live, I’ll remember the sound of DeCinces’ bat and the flight of the ball towards the left field bleachers of Memorial Stadium, and the absolute, unbridled joy along with the wave of noise that poured out of those stands at that moment. It was incredible, it was unbelievable, it was unforgettable. The Orioles had won, 6-5.

Yes, it was truly magical.

Our car ride home was a raucous affair, with everyone laughing and shouting and reliving the moment. We only got quiet when Todd’s father turned up the radio replay of DeCinces’ homer, with Chuck Thompson and Bill O’Donnell and Charlie Eckman all shouting and laughing and expressing the same amazement everyone felt. We all laughed hysterically when Eckman shouted, “Ain’t the beer cold!” I don’t know if I slept that night.

The rest of that summer of 1979 was a joy-filled ride of Orioles baseball. The team kept winning, building a lead in the division, and every fan began to dream of playoff baseball for the first time in Baltimore since 1974. The Orioles were a staple of everyday living. No matter where you were or what you were doing, you simply had to tune in to the game.

By that late September afternoon, the Birds had just about wrapped up the division title. Andy and Casey and I were doing our best to listen to the game as the Dulcinea plodded forward, very slowly, against the wind and the rain and the waves. Dad also had the engine running, trying to help push her in an effort to pick up some time.

When you’re sailing into a headwind, your only tactical choice is to tack, side to side, in an effort to move ahead. It’s undoubtedly the most difficult conditions for any sailor. It’s slow and painstaking. You have to be patient and try to sail as close to the wind as possible in order to make any progress.

Coming about with a sailboat is the busiest and most dangerous time on board. The captain has to point the boat into the wind to allow it to turn and the crew has to pull the front sail, or jib, from one side of the vessel to the other. The boom, which holds the mainsail and is positioned directly above the cockpit, swings wildly from one side to the other. You have to keep your head down and your hands and feet free and clear of the lines moving across the deck.

There was a lot of coming about on that rainy day aboard the Dulcinea. It was the only way to try and get south towards St. Michael’s. After about two hours, we still hadn’t quite reached the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, and the rain was picking up and the swells were getting bigger. It was looking bleak for our little crew.

As we came about again for what seemed like the hundredth time, my mother was sitting to my dad’s left-hand side in the cockpit. She was holding one of the lines that was attached to the jib. Somehow, some way, she let go of the line as we were coming about, and it disappeared over the side and into the water. About two seconds later, we heard the engine conk out.

I thought about that moment as I scraped the barnacles off of the propeller on Sunday morning. I had never been up close and personal with that propeller until then. You see, the line that Mom dropped overboard had managed to wrap itself around the propeller, thereby killing the engine.

But my Dad never flinched or panicked in that moment. He never yelled at my mother or blamed her. I remember him saying that we wouldn’t be making it to St. Michael’s, and we’d better figure out how we were going to get Dulcinea back into her slip at the marina. He turned off the engine, put the gears in neutral, and ordered us to come about again, this time to head home.

It’s funny how much faster and easier it is to sail downwind, especially after you’ve been trying for so long to sail into the wind. As we tacked and breezed back down the Patapsco, we listened to the Orioles game and talked about what it would feel like to watch playoff baseball. We were all excited. We were all nervous, too, about exactly how we were going to make it safely back to port.

My father was a civil engineer. He had a very analytical mind. He had an innate ability to look at a situation and begin creating a solution. I know now, from the moment we lost engine power that day, he was figuring out his plan. Whether or not we could execute it, well, that remained to be seen.

Andy and Casey and I were all athletes. We had played lots of sports together growing up, whether in the back yards of each other’s houses or on school or rec league teams. I knew Dad was factoring our abilities into his calculations. At one point he only half-jokingly suggested that if all else failed, the three of us could swim and tow Dulcinea into her slip.

We sailed towards the creek that the marina was in, and Dad laid out his plan. As we approached the docks, we would drop the front sail, or jib. Then he would try to hold Dulcinea as closely as he could to the wind and point her towards the slip. As we approached, Andy and Casey would stand at the bow (that’s the front, landlubber) and fend us off from hitting the pilings too hard. I would drop the mainsail and do my best to stop it from falling into the cockpit and onto Dad’s head. Mom would sit in the cabin with Luke and pray.

By the time we approached the marina it was dark. There was enough lighting from the buildings on shore to see the docks and the slips. The rain was picking up, but the breeze seemed to be lessening. Everyone took their stations, and on the captain’s orders, we dropped the jib. Dad guided Dulcinea into the row between the slips. He slowly began heading her towards her slip. I could see the bow pointing straight for one of the pilings. He called for me to drop the mainsail, and he yelled for Andy and Casey to fend off and to grab a line and get on the pier if possible.

I remember seeing them both standing on the dock, holding their lines and guiding Dulcinea into her slip. The deck was covered with her sails, and I turned at looked at Dad. He was grinning from ear to ear. Somebody said, “It’s Miller time!”, and we all laughed, and then someone shouted, “Ain’t the beer cold!”, and we laughed even harder.

We were back, safe and sound, not a scratch on any of us or the Dulcinea.

We went out for dinner somewhere after cleaning up the sails and battening all the hatches. I have no idea where that restaurant was or what I ate, but I know it was warm and bright and the food was delicious. We went home and spent the night at my house. Sunday was sunny and warm and breezy, a perfect day for a sail. Andy and Casey and I played football in my front yard.

The Orioles made it all the way to the 7th game of the World Series in 1979. I don’t need to go into any specifics here, other than to tell you that I still despise whistles and the song We Are Family. And my sons know that if I’m ever a grandfather, the children are not allowed to call me Pops. If you’re reading this and you don’t understand, do a little research or go ask your grandparents.

The following year I moved on to high school. My parents bought our house in Ocean City and we spent the majority of our summertime at the beach. There were fewer trips on the Dulcinea. We took a few day sails, but the long weekend trips were a thing of my childhood, and of the past.

A few weeks after my older brother died earlier this year, I got a message from Andy. It had been years since we had talked. I called him and we spoke for at least an hour, catching up on our families and our lives. He’s always so kind. He brought up that September day on the Dulcinea, of course, and we laughed at the craziness of it all. I told him that when she’s restored, he and his family have to come for a sail.

I haven’t seen Casey since he transferred to a different high school.

It took me about three hours of labor and sweat to scrape the barnacles off the hull of Dulcinea on Sunday. As I worked, I thought about my life and all the times I’ve sat still and grown stagnant. I’ve let some things become barnacles on the vessel of my soul. I need to scrape them away and let go of them so I can move more freely through the waters of this life. I’m going to remember to keep on putting forth that effort.

A few people have told me I’m crazy for putting so much time and money into this project. I’ve heard that boat stands for Break Out Another Thousand. I understand the size of the project, though. Most importantly, I understand the meaning.

Before I left the marina, I stood at the back of Dulcinea and gazed at her with a mixture of wonder and melancholy. She’s really a beautiful sailboat, I thought to myself. I walked up to her stern and reached up and placed my hands where her name is written. I said a quiet prayer of gratitude and whispered a blessing to my father and my brother. I vowed to them that I would do my very best.

I have a vision of sailing Dulcinea with my Dulcinea, on a beautiful, breezy summer afternoon, on the open waters of the Chesapeake Bay, listening to the little hissing sound that the water makes when you’re under full sail, and thinking about baseball, and my family, and my friends, and my life spent here in The Land of Pleasant Living.

There are some windmills, I think, that are worth tilting towards.


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keeping score


We like to talk about offense in the NFL these days…actually for a long time now.

Prolific passing attacks are all around, and there’s even an unusually prolific quarterback-led running unit here in Baltimore. The defensive rules, particularly surrounding pass interference, make it harder than ever to play defense without yellow flags. Generational, philosophical and financial changes have turned the tailback position into one that’s valued less than the long snapper.

This year, though? This year, offense is out of sight. Through six weeks, teams are averaging more than 25 points per game. Seven teams are scoring more than 30 points per game, and three more (including the Ravens) are about one field goal apiece shy of that mark. Only three teams are averaging fewer than 20 points per game.

For years, the average point-per-game number had been remarkably consistent, somewhere in the low 20s. If a team could somehow manage three touchdowns per game, then it had a good chance of at least being competitive. Good defensive teams probably thought that 20 points would be enough to win seven times out of 10.

Not this year. We’re talking about almost a field goal per game difference between 2020 and 2019. In one game, that doesn’t mean much. Over almost half a season, considering all 32 NFL teams (yes, even the Jets), it means a lot.

Just another one of the solid young quarterbacks to come along in the NFL. And there are more to follow, for certain.

It would be easy to take anything anomalous about the 2020 season so far and blame it on COVID-19, and there’s something to be said for that for sure. Players (like the Ravens’ Brandon Williams against the Eagles, for instance) have been out of the lineup when they otherwise would not have been. There were no preseason games, but I’m not sure why that would affect the offense and defense differently.

Maybe everyone on the field is just throwing caution to the wind, not even knowing whether there will actually be a game the following week.

I’m not sure that has so much to do with it, though. I just think that quarterback play in the NFL is better than it’s ever been before.

Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Drew Brees are all still around, amazingly. Russell Wilson might win the MVP this year for the first time at age 32, youngsters Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson already have MVPs. Veterans who’ve spent a lot of time as backups, like Carolina’s Teddy Bridgewater, Chicago’s Nick Foles and Miami’s Ryan Fitzpatrick, seem to have huge games occasionally.

How good was Dak Prescott before his season-ending injury? Maybe better than anyone in the league. I’m just getting to Deshaun Watson, who can win games by himself with no problem at all. Josh Allen looks like a different player in 2020 than he was in 2019. Fans and pundits throw a lot of criticism at Carson Wentz and Jared Goff, the first two picks in the 2016 NFL Draft, but I’d take either of them.

That’s 16 guys, the starters for half the teams in the league. And I haven’t even mentioned Matt Ryan, who plays for a bad team, and Matthew Stafford, who plays for a bad team, or Kyler Murray, who’s already becoming a star, or Derek Carr, who’s completing better than 70 percent of his passes with 11 touchdowns and just one interception this season, or the Titans’ Ryan Tannehill, with similar numbers to Carr’s.

Oh, and Jimmy Garoppolo almost won the Super Bowl last season, and Cam Newton can still play well when he’s healthy.

Quarterback competence is off the charts. It makes no difference whether these guys are white or black, in their 40s or their early 20s, “traditional” drop-back passers or hybrid athletes, former No. 1 overall picks or players who’ve spent a lot of time holding a clipboard on the sidelines. These guys are good. They can beat you even if your team is better than theirs.

At the end of this season, one might look at the Ravens’ 27-3 victory over Cincinnati in Week 5 (essentially a shutout, besides Zac Taylor’s odd choice to kick a field goal in the final minute) as the NFL’s best defensive performance of 2020. The Bengals had 30 first downs against Cleveland and 28 against Jacksonville; rookie Joe Burrow has thrown for 285 yards or more three times in six starts.

Cincinnati averaged barely more than 17 points per game a year ago; that number is 25 this year in five games against teams other than Baltimore.

And there’s going to be some bad team, probably the Jets, who gets Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence in 2021. Lawrence is the most NFL-ready college quarterback in many years, and he has been for several seasons now. And I’m not trying to “diss” the Jets’ normal starting quarterback, former first-round pick Sam Darnold, who I think can be quite successful somewhere else besides the Meadowlands.

There are other reasons behind the scoring output, although they all have to do with the quarterbacks in some way.

Coaches are being more aggressive, paying more attention to analytics, or some combination of the two, in particular when it comes to not punting on fourth down in certain areas of the field and in deciding on two-point conversion attempts. As we see from the Ravens (though more last year than this year, I suppose), the playbook gets opened up a bit more when you’re playing with four downs instead of three.

Also — as hard as this is to admit as a fan of the current Ravens — teams continue to pass more as a percentage of total plays every year. They’re doing it because they want to score as many points as possible, and that’s more important than any advantages in time of possession or hazy concepts like “momentum.” We all know there’s only one reason the Ravens are 19-3 in the regular season the last two years while passing the ball less than half the time, and it’s not Greg Roman.

As with Lamar Jackson’s success, the scoring revolution is also another example of changes in the college game having an effect at the professional level.

The NFL is not going to become the Big 12, of course; consistent scores of 57-48 are not in the offing. Besides the relatively small differences in talent between teams in the NFL, the rules are different. Professional coaches and professional players can make adjustments from week to week that college players can’t.

But the college effect is here to stay, for a while anyway. The running game doesn’t look like it did even five years ago, with read options, run-pass options and more plays from the pistol formation than you’d ever believe. Pretty soon, you might go an entire game and never see either quarterback under center until victory formation. How many “bubble” type screens did the Washington Football Team run against the Ravens a few weeks back?

There’s more. In a generation, tight ends have transitioned from mostly blockers to mostly pass catchers, and really good ones at that. In a generation, playing “hurry up” on offense has gone from something a team does when it needs to hurry to something teams do all the time.

There’s also been a more subtle change in mentality, I think. “Three-and-outs” used to be considered part of the game, for every team. Considering how often teams went to the running game on first down, they were bound to happen a lot if that first-down run went for naught.

It’s clear that’s not the case anymore. A three-and-out has become a real failure and a big opportunity lost. Considering the multiple abilities of NFL QBs, it almost feels like a turnover every time a team can’t get at least a couple first downs. You can see it on Lamar Jackson’s face every time it happens.

Numbers aside, I don’t think this NFL year, on the field, is an anomaly. The game has changed, and you better get to 30 if you want to play the game well.

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hitting a nerve


If the e-mails I've received from local football fans over the last two days are an indication of the general sports community, the Ravens have hit a nerve.

As I'm not a season ticket holder myself, I didn't get the ticket lottery news first-hand. Rather, people who did receive the e-mail and pricing information then forwarded it on to me, along with some choice words for the organization.

And, no, those words weren't Go Team!

Here's the quick version of what's going on. The Ravens are going to have somewhere around 7,000 fans in the stadium for the November 1st home game vs. Pittsburgh. That will be, obviously, the first occasion this season where there will be an opportunity for the team's loyal fan base to see a game in Baltimore, in person. Previously, only family members and staffers (250, total) were allowed in the stadium due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Along with the decision to limit the attendance to 7,000 for November 1, the Ravens also distributed ticket pricing for the game. I had to look at the e-mail three times to make sure I was understanding it correctly. Sadly, I was.

If you own a club level seat, for example, that ticket will cost you $540 for the Ravens-Steelers game. Five Hundred. And Forty. Dollars.

"Well, that's what you get for paying for a ticket through StubHub. They always gouge you." Is that what you're thinking?

Is the team's loyal fan base ready for 50% (or more) ticket price hike for the Novembe 1 home game vs. Pittsburgh?

It's not StubHub. A mark-up from $300 (normal price) to $540 actually is about what you might pay on StubHub. But no, this isn't StubHub. The Ravens are charging you $540 for your $300 seat on November 1.

You better really, really love football to pay $540 for a relatively meaningless November game against the Steelers.

I understand the whole "tiered" or "flex" pricing concept most organizations use these days. Golf courses charge more for Friday, Saturday and Sunday than they do in mid-week. In baseball, you pay more to see the Yankees and Red Sox than you do to see the Mariners and Rangers. In football, you pay more to see the Steelers and Cowboys than you do to see the Falcons and Lions. I get it. I don't particularly like it, but I do get it.

But this seems a bit extreme. This, I'm afraid, seems like it really is almost "gouging" a football starved fan base who are undoubtedly foaming at the mouth for the opportunity to watch the Ravens play a live football game. Against their arch-rivals, no less.

I understand the whole deal, trust me. The team loses upwards of $10 million in ticket revenue alone every time a Sunday rolls along where they can't have people sitting in those 70,000 seats. While that $100 million over the course of a season isn't all profit, it does go a long way towards helping the organization make a few dollars at the end of the season. And, like any business in America, the Ravens do have the right to make a profit.

But given the circumstances, a hike from $300 to $540 for a club-level seat seems somewhat outrageous. If you sit in the lower level end zone, your $100 seat will "only" run you $189 for the Steelers game. So it would appear the Ravens might even be nailing the club-level folks a little harder because, "aww, what the heck, they can afford it".

Supply and demand is a basic economic principle that most people understand. Fewer available seats makes their value increase, which means the pricing can be structured to maximize that value. And if your name gets pulled in the lottery and they offer you four seats at $540 each, you can simply say "no thanks" and they'll move on to the next customer. Eventually, they're going to find 7,000 people to buy those tickets for November 1.

And to be fair, we should also acknowledge that some folks are willing to pay whatever the going rate is for items such as sports tickets or entertainment items. It costs you roughly $600 to play Pebble Beach, for example. Is it worth $600? It is if you have $600 to spend on four and a half hours of golf, yes.

I was offered the chance to go see Bruce Springsteen on Broadway a couple of years ago. For the face value of the seat ($175), I would have hopped on a train to Penn Station in a heartbeat and seen the show with a good friend of mine from high school who lives near New York and picked up a couple of tickets from a client. But his client wanted $700 each "because the secondary market was selling that same seat for $750."

I didn't go. $700 was just too much. Period. Sure, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity, but $700 was too much to spend. So, I passed. And life went on...

But if you're out in the Monterey Penisula sometime soon and you have the chance to play Pebble Beach for $600, I'd tell you to "take advantage" of that price and go do it. So there's your moral dilemma, so to speak.

So I do understand that $540 for a club-level seat is potentially "acceptable" to one person and "outrageous" to another. Some folks spend $250 on a bottle of wine and think nothing of it. That's not my cup of tea, personally. I find much more fun in discovering an awesome $25 bottle. But if you have $250 to spend on wine, knock yourself out, I say.

All of this gets back to opportunity cost, I guess, and the Ravens are clearly seizing on their opportunity to dangle a football game in front of their starving fan base. And they got the perfect storm of sorts by having the Steelers coming to town for that first game. They probably couldn't have gone from $300 to $540 for a club-level seat if, say, Jacksonville or Cleveland were the opponent on November 1st. But Pittsburgh? Raise the rates and let's go!

There's also this thing called the pandemic that's been going around for a while. You might have heard about it. And while that has clearly damaged the NFL's revenue-generating machine, it's also damaged the people who provide a significant amount of that cash every year: the fan base. No one's life is the same, today, as it was back in early March, 2020. Everyone's been impacted, including football teams and Joe Fan.

And, yes, there's a strong chance other teams are doing exactly what the Ravens are doing. I noticed last weekend on Twitter that an Eagles fan was selling two tickets to the Philadelphia-Baltimore game for $600 each. I have no idea what part of the stadium those seats were in, but for $600 each, you better get your own uniform and a chance to call two plays from the sideline during the game.

The Ravens will sell their 7,000 seats next Sunday. You know that and so do I. Some of them might be purchased by fans who have no interest in attending the game, but will instead put them on the secondary market and sell them to anyone who wants to pay the upcharge, including -- gulp -- folks wearing Black and Yellow.

And maybe this is just howling at the moon...

But the mark up for next Sunday seems a bit much. Couldn't the organization wait a couple of weeks before crushing everyone with price hikes of 50%, 60% and even 80%? Did they have to do it right out of the gate, or was the temptation of Ravens-Steelers simply too great to pass up?

We all love the Ravens. And if we're forced to pay $600 to see the AFC Championship Game in Baltimore in late January, 2021, a lot of folks would fork that over in a heartbeat. Not just 7,000 people, either. 70,000 would probably pay that for a chance to see the game in person.

But this one particular price hike seems over the top, particularly given the circumstances in our country right now and the limited nature of ticket availability for the November 1st home game.

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SUCH
a sports fan

MARK SUCHY is a lifelong Baltimore sports fan, youth basketball coach and father of three athletic sons. A former weekend sports radio host in Baltimore, "Such" offers his memories and insights on sports related topics each Wednesday here at #DMD.


This is a story about sailing, and family, and friendships, and baseball, and 1979, and those awkward early teenage years, and barnacles. Thousands and thousands of barnacles.

Sunday morning dawned clear and cool and crisp, a pretty early Autumn day on tap. I sat on the porch and had my coffee and went through my usual morning meditation and reflection. I needed some time to relax and recharge, because there was a lot of work to be done.

I headed down to the marina in Middle River, armed with my heavy-duty, industrial strength scraper, and a new pair of work gloves. That was all the equipment I would need. The rest of it was up to me. All the job required was elbow grease and effort and patience.

The Dulcinea is a 1972 Irwin 32-foot sailboat. My parents bought her when I was about 6 years old. Throughout the summers of my youth, we would take weekend sailing trips around the Chesapeake Bay. She was berthed in Annapolis, and we would sail to St. Michael’s, or Oxford, or a little place called Dutchship Island, and we would spend the night and then sail back. I’m sure there are plenty of other locations I’m forgetting.

Some weekends we would invite friends or family along. Sometimes we would meet up with friends who had their own boats. We formed lifetime friendships with those families. I have fond memories of being on the water, under sail, on a breezy summer day on the Chesapeake Bay, or one of the many rivers that flow into it. When you see our region from a boat on the water, you can really appreciate why locals refer to Maryland as The Land of Pleasant Living.

My parents christened her Dulcinea from a song in the musical The Man of La Mancha. They loved musicals. It was a Broadway musical based on the novel Don Quixote, written by Miguel Cervantes. Don Quixote was, to be as PC as possible, slightly crazed. He traveled the Spanish countryside, imagining himself a noble knight in service of damsels in distress.

He fought imaginary enemies, usually by jousting with windmills, while his faithful sidekick, Sancho Panza, tried to talk sense into him. The phrase, “jousting with windmills”, is derived from Don Quixote and refers to fighting some kind of imaginary battle of our own creation. Don Quixote had fantastical, misguided visions of his valor.

Dulcinea was the imaginary woman whom Don Quixote pined for and created as his ultimate vision of beauty. “Her rank must be that of at least princess, since she is my queen and lady, and her beauty superhuman,” Cervantes wrote. Don Quixote had created his fictional queen from a woman he knew, a country peasant who was earthy and vulgar and, in reality, a prostitute. See, I told you he was delusional.

The word Dulcinea is from the Spanish word “Dulce”, meaning sweet, and suggests an overly elegant sweetness. To refer to a woman as one’s “Dulcinea” implies an idealistic devotion and love for her. Looking back over the course of my parents’ life together, I can fully appreciate why they named the boat Dulcinea. I can still hear my parents singing, “Dulcinea, Dulcinea, I adore you…” I guess that’s from the musical. I honestly don’t know. Musicals have never been my thing.

My parents, Bob and Ginger, were married in 1957. They had dated for 5 years before taking their vows. When I think about my life as their son, I honestly cannot ever recall them arguing. Sure, they might have had their disagreements, but they never displayed any anger towards one another. They were deeply united in friendship and devotion to their partnership. They did everything together: Sailing, skiing, camping, going to ballgames, watching musicals and plays, traveling the globe, or just sitting on the porch in Ocean City, they were always together.

I distinctly remember a friend asking my father once about the secret to his happiness with my mother. Without hesitation, he answered, “I just like her. I like being around her.” That has always resonated with me. It taught me that the most important way to genuinely love somebody is to genuinely like somebody.

Undoubtedly, Ginger was Bob’s "Dulcinea".

Over the course of the past few decades, I hadn’t had much contact with Dulcinea. My parents had handed her down to my older brother. He loved sailing, and he kept her in a marina in Sparrows Point. I think the last time he invited me for a sail was sometime around 1997. No matter, though; I was busy raising a family and doing lots of other things over those years.

A few years ago, as things were coming unraveled in his life, I asked my brother about the condition of Dulcinea. He replied that he didn’t care about sailing anymore, and that he didn’t know if the marina owner had sold her or given her away, and why did it matter to me anyway?

I was filled with an intense sadness that was tinged with anger. But it planted a seed in my mind. I had a new mission.

Last summer, on a particularly hot and humid day, I took my son Charlie on a scavenger hunt for the Dulcinea. I was determined to find her and to see her condition. There was a gnawing anxiety in my gut. I couldn’t precisely remember the location of the marina, and there are lots of them in Sparrows Point. What if we couldn’t find the right one? What if we did and she was gone? What if she was sunk?

Relying on my memory, after a few wrong turns and searching through a few wrong marinas, we drove into the lot of the Atlantis Marina, and I knew we had struck paydirt. I remembered my brother saying, only half-joking, that you had to be nuts to name a marina for a sunken lost continent. We were in the right place.

Much to my delight, Dulcinea was afloat. Charlie and I climbed aboard, and I opened the cabin door. What greeted me was the smell of years of mold and mildew and the sight of about two feet of water on the floor of the cabin. The battery was long dead, so the bilge pump had stopped working. This was going to take a lot more work than I had imagined. Charlie looked at me and told me I was nuts.

"Crazy like Don Quixote," I told him with a smile.

I thought about all of this on Sunday morning as I drove to Middle River. Since that day last summer, I’ve slowly taken steps toward my goal of restoring Dulcinea. I paid off the dues to the Atlantis Marina. My friend Chuck helped me pump the water out of the cabin. I pulled the sail bags out of the cabin, hoping they’re not damaged beyond repair. And I made arrangements to have her towed and put into dry dock in another marina that has more facilities that can assist in my efforts.

Approaching the hull, armed with only my scraper, the enormity of cleaning barnacles, by myself, off the hull of a 32-foot sailboat hit me. This was a lot bigger job than I anticipated. But it had to be done.

It occurred to me as I began that I had never seen the Dulcinea in her entirety. I had never been under her hull. She was always afloat. It gave me an appreciation of her strength and stability. For a 48-year-old vessel, she had stood the test of time rather well, all things considered.

I started scraping barnacles at the stern of the hull, on her port side. For all of you landlubbers, that’s the back-left side of the boat. My heavy-duty scraper was just the right tool for the job. The majority of the barnacles popped right off. There were some extremely hard ones that took both hands to remove, but on the whole, they fell off rather easily.

Barnacles are a type of crustacean that attach themselves to stationary objects. Around the Chesapeake Bay, it’s typical for boat owners to pull their vessels into dry dock every 2 or 3 years to remove them and re-paint the hull.

Barnacles create drag and slow a boat’s path through the water. They’re sharp and pointy little things. You don’t want to rub up against them without proper protection, especially when you’re scraping a decade’s worth of them off a sailboat’s hull. Even with proper gloves, my hands got a few nicks and cuts. They’re dastardly little fellows. And they smell awful after ten years of accumulation.

As I got down on my knees and scraped the barnacles off of the rudder and the propeller, I thought about the most memorable trip I ever took on the Dulcinea. We never made it to our port of call that day.

It was a Saturday in late September of 1979. My parents had planned for us to take an overnight sail to St. Michael’s, Maryland. St. Michael’s was a favorite destination of ours. They had a city dock that you could rent a slip in for the night. There’s a famous crabhouse at the end of the city pier with fresh seafood and all-you-can-eat crabs. The town is full of quaint little shops that women love to browse in (not my thing, really, but hey…). We had taken numerous trips across the bay to St. Michael’s. It’s as picturesque an Eastern Shore town as you can imagine.

I invited my friends Andy and Casey to join us. They had both been sailing on Dulcinea numerous times before. We were in 8th grade, 13 years old, at that strange point in life where high school is looming, puberty is hitting, and you’re not quite a man and not quite a child. Those are uncharted waters for everyone. But we had all been good friends since 1st grade, and they were capable hands on board. My Dad always enjoyed teaching them the finer points of sailing and navigating the Dulcinea.

Our crew for the weekend was my parents, Andy and Casey, and my little brother Luke, who wasn’t quite 4 years old. He wouldn’t be much help with the work of sailing, but no matter where we went or what we did, we did it as a family. Plus, Luke was tons of fun and always loved being around my friends. And he always wore his life preserver.

We were loaded up with coolers of drinks and sandwiches, sleeping bags, and some light suitcases for the night. Everything else was already aboard, including rain gear, which was not usually needed. Until that afternoon.

As we motored out of White Rocks Marina and began heading south down the Patapsco River towards the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, the skies darkened and the waves picked up and the wind began to blow directly from the south, into our faces. I had sailed on Dulcinea in all different kinds of weather, so I wasn’t overly concerned. But knowing that we were sailing into the wind meant that a usual 4 or 5 hour sail to St. Michael’s would probably take 7 to 8 hours now.

Part 2 will run tomorrow here at #DMD

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Tuesday
October 20
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2247



top ten time


#DMD reader Mark Norris sent me this last Friday and I enjoyed doing it so much I decided to make it a feature today.

He gave me a list of four sports "things" and asked me to rank them 1 to 10.

I hope you enjoy it. Feel free to do your own Top 10 rankings in the comments below.


Top 10 Best Orioles Ever

1. Jim Palmer (211 complete games. Not wins. Complete games. Enough said. Dude was a warrior.)

2. Eddie Murray (He could do it all. To borrow a familiar phrase, he was "the straw that stirred the drink.")

Even in the short time he was here, Manny Machado did enough to get himself on #DMD's Top 10 Orioles list.

3. Frank Robinson (I suppose there's some bias against him because he wasn't an original Oriole. He was an amazing player, for sure.)

4. Brooks Robinson (If he would have been a better hitter, he would have wound up being one of the greatest players of all-time instead of the greatest third baseman of all-time.)

5. Cal Ripken Jr. (The streak aside, Junior was still an outstanding player for a long time.)

6. Mike Mussina

7. Boog Powell

8. Paul Blair

9. Manny Machado

10. Rafael Palmeiro


Top 10 Best Sports Cities in the U.S.

1. Chicago (I never hear of these people being obnoxious. They just go to the games, support their favorite teams and that's it.)

2. New York (Their "obnoxious level" has decreased over the years as Boston's has increased.)

3. Boston (The Patriots ruined these folks. The Red Sox didn't help.)

4. Dallas (Probably the most underrated sports city in the country).

5. Detroit (It's amazing they still have the sports enthusiasm they do with no winning teams over the last decade.)

6. Philadelphia

7. Baltimore/Washington D.C.

8. Minneapolis/St. Paul

9. Pittsburgh

10. Kansas City


Top 10 "Must See" Sports Facilities in the U.S.

1. Madison Square Garden (Everyone's #1 choice, of course.)

2. Fenway Park (You have to see a game there at least once. End of story.)

While it still only seats just under 40,000 fans, Fenway Park has undergone a series of improvements over the last 50 years.

3. Cameron Indoor Stadium (Too much history in the building to not include this, even though it's Duke.)

4. Wrigley Field (Adding lights both helped and hurt the stadium's legacy, but it's still an amazing place to watch a ballgame.)

5. Notre Dame Stadium (Whether you're Catholic or not, you have to see this place and the campus in person. You just have to see it.)

6. Chavez Ravine (Dodger Stadium)

7. The Palestra

8. New Orleans Superdome

9. Petco Park

10. Lambeau Field


Top 10 Best Coaches Of The Last 25 Years

1. Phil Jackson (He won with Michael and without Michael. He was more important than the players...a rare thing for a coach in sports.)

2. Bill Belichick (Sure, the quarterback was very good, but year in and year out, the Patriots were almost always the class of the league.)

3. Nick Saban (He deals with new players every year and still figures out a way to dominate in the toughest conference in all of college sports.)

4. Geno Auriemma (Like Saban, his best players leave every four years and his playing roster changes every year, don't forget.)

5. Gregg Popovich (Perhaps the most "player friendly" coach of the last 25 years. Everyone loves playing for "Pop".)

6. Andy Reid

7. Jay Wright

8. Pete Carroll

9. Joe Torre

10. Coach K

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americans abroad


It was another active weekend for American players in Europe as leagues resumed play after a week off for international games. The top highlight for the Americans was the return of Christian Pulisic to the starting lineup for Chelsea. Pulisic started and played 87 minutes in the match against Southampton. He was deployed at right wing in Chelsea’s 4-2-3-1 formation and quickly shook off any rust, making a nice dribble to set up a good chance for Chelsea in the opening minutes of the game.

Pulisic was less effective on the right side than in his normal left wing position, but he still managed to make a key pass to set up the goal that gave Chelsea a 3-2 lead in the second half. However, Chelsea squandered the lead in the last minutes of the game and only managed a 3-3 draw. Chelsea have a big game coming on Tuesday, as they open their Champions League campaign against Sevilla.

Elsewhere in the English Premier League, both Tim Ream and Antonee Robinson were in the starting lineup for Fulham against Sheffield United. Both players had solid games helping Fulham to earn their first point of the season with a 1-1 draw.

American Tyler Adams continues to shine for RB Leipzig, who will also play in the first round of this week's Champions League tournament in Europe.

In Spain’s La Liga, Sergino Dest got his first start for Barcelona. Dest started at left back in place of the injured Jordi Alba. Dest, a natural right back, struggled a bit playing on his weaker left side. Several of his crosses left a bit to be desired. However, he did set up an early chance with a pass to Leo Messi at the top of the box which was struck well but denied by the post. Dest did not look out of place for one of the top clubs in the world and will only improve as he builds rapport with his teammates. He should get another chance to start in Barcelona’s Tuesday Champions League matchup with Hungary’s Ferencvaros.

The rest of the American highlights from the weekend came in the German Bundesliga. Tyler Adams started at center midfield for RB Leipzig and provided solid defensive midfield play to help keep a clean sheet in a 2-0 win that keeps Leipzig top of the table. Adams and Leipzig play Istanbul Basaksehir in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Gio Reyna started again for Borussia Dortmund, going the distance in a tough 1-0 win over Hoffenheim. Reyna nearly had a goal in the first half, when he picked up the ball near midfield, dribbled all the way down to the goal box and beat the keeper only to be denied by an outstretched defender clearing his shot off the goal line. He later won a flicked on header that set up the game’s only goal. It was a promising sign for the youngster when Dortmund subbed off stars Jadon Sancho and Julian Brandt but kept Reyna on to try to win the game. Dortmund also open their Champions League campaign on Tuesday with a tough match against Lazio.

Josh Sargent started for Werder Bremen as part of a center forward pair and helped earn a 1-1 draw with Freiburg. Sargent’s aggressive pressing helped force the turnover that led to Bremen’s only goal. It's good to see him giving a high level of effort despite not getting a ton of great service to create goal scoring chances.

John Brooks started at center back and helped lead the defensive line for Wolfburg in a 1-1 draw with Borussia Moenchengladbach.

Chris Richards was left out of the Bayern Munich squad for their 4-1 win due to an injury. Weston McKennie also missed out on Juventus’s 1-1 draw after testing positive for COVID-19.

Many of these players have a busy week coming up with the Champions League beginning its new season on Tuesday and Wednesday.


champions league preview


The new Champions League season begins on Tuesday with the first round of group stage games. Two teams will advance from each group after the round robin of games. Here is a preview of the favorites in each group and the Americans to watch.

Group A has two clear heavyweights with the reigning champions Bayern Munich and Spanish giant Atletico Madrid. FC Salzburg, coached by American Jesse Marsch, is always competitive, but they will have a tall task to advance from this group. If they pull the upset and advance, they will have 19 year old American, Brenden Aaronsen, joining them in January for the group stage. 20 year old Chris Richards is on the roster for Bayern Munich and could see some time at right back or center back for the champions.

Spanish champions Real Madrid are the favorites to win group B. Inter Milan should be the second team to advance from this group, but Borussia Moenchengladbach have a talented and well coached team that will make this group very competitive.

U.S. National team goalkeeper Zack Steffen is the backup for Manchester City but could see action in the upcoming Champions League tournament.

In group C, Manchester City are the powerhouse, with Portuguese champions Porto the other club likely to advance. The US starting goalie, Zack Steffen, will be the backup for Manchester City. It's possible he could get to start a game or two if they run away with the group.

Group D features English champions Liverpool as the favorite to come out on top. There will be a battle for the second spot in this group between Atalanta and Ajax. However, Atalanta has been one of the hottest teams in Europe since the restart of last season and will be favored to advance over a rebuilding Ajax team replacing several key players. There are no current US players in this group, but defensive midfielder for Midtjylland, Jens Cajuste, is a dual national who is considering a switch to the US team from Sweden.

Christian Pulisic and Chelsea headline group E and will be favored to advance along with reigning Europa League champions, Sevilla. Pulisic will be one of the most important players for a Chelsea team that added several elite players in the offseason. Another player to watch in this group is 17 year old Eduardo Camavinga of Rennes. Camavinga is one of the top young talents in the world and will surely be playing for one of the European super clubs in the near future.

Group F features the exciting Borussia Dortmund and their assortment of talented young players, including Gio Reyna of the US. Reyna has yet to make his national team debut, mostly due to the lack of international games in the last year, but his play has quickly vaulted him into the conversation for a starting spot. Lazio are the other team likely to advance from this group, coming off a strong season in Italy’s Serie A. Club Brugge have a US player, Ethan Horvath, as their backup goalkeeper, but he has seen limited time over the last season.

Group G drew the most attention when the Champions League draw was announced. The group features Barcelona and Juventus and this of course had everyone excited for a showdown between US internationals Weston McKennie and Sergino Dest(or maybe it was the Messi-Ronaldo showdown). It would be a massive upset if either of these European giants featuring Americans were eliminated in this group stage. October 28th is the day to circle on the calendar, when the teams will meet for the first time in Turin, possibly with Americans starting for both Juventus and Barcelona.

The final group features last season’s runners up, Paris St. Germain, along with semifinalists RB Leipzig and English giants Manchester United. The smart money would be on PSG and RB Leipzig to advance from this group. Manchester United have the name recognition, but Leipzig have been much more consistent this season, with one of the top young coaches in all of Europe. American midfielder Tyler Adams will feature for Leipzig. He will see a lot of playing time early this season as Leipzig are missing several key players with injuries.

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

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Monday
October 19
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2246



a win doesn't always feel like a win...


Talk about a wacky game, huh?

The Ravens beat the Eagles, 30-28, yesterday to improve 5-1 on the season.

That's the good news.

In fact, that's really the only news that matters. The Ravens played, they won, and they're now 5-1.

But it's not going to be filed away quite that easily here in Balwmer. Not by a longshot. This one had plenty of shoulda, coulda, woulda attached to it.

Greg Roman and the Baltimore offense looked a bit more "normal" on Sunday as the Ravens again hit the 30-point mark in a two point win over the Eagles.

The Ravens nearly coughed up a seemingly insurmountable 30-14 fourth quarter lead. If not for the Eagles running into one another on the final two point conversion attempt of the afternoon, there's no telling what might have happened.

Now, the Eagles wouldn't have ever been in that position in the first place if not for a DeShon Elliott drop of a game-clinching interception and a highly questionable pass interference call on Marcus Peters where Peters and the Philadelphia wide receiver were both clearly creating mutual contact on the play. If either of those moments work in favor of the Ravens, there's likely no Philly touchdown or fouled up 2-point conversion to make it 30-28.

But the penalties and the defensive blunders were part of the narrative on Sunday, as were several dropped throws by the Eagles in the first half that helped the Ravens maintain a 17-0 lead at intermission. Truth of the matter: the Ravens were ahead 24-6 in the third quarter and it felt like 44-6. It was, for 45 minutes, the men against the boys.

Those folks who have been crying about Lamar throwing too much got what they wanted on Sunday. He went to the air just 27 times. Those who have been wanting to see Jackson run more with the ball himself also watched the game in delight. Jackson ran for 108 yards, serving as the team's leading rusher for the day. In general, the offense looked a more like the one the Ravens employed a season ago when they were virtually unstoppable.

That 4th quarter, though...

If you're one of those realists who watches the entire 60 minutes and tries to take things from each series and play -- the way coaches do, actually -- you have a lot to reflect on from the final 15 minutes of Sunday's game in Philly. The Baltimore offense stalled twice when a touchdown would have salted the game away. The defense started falling apart at the seams, although it's fair to note that on at least two occasions Eagles' QB Carson Wentz was a half-second away from getting sacked before getting the ball out in an unconventional manner and completing the pass, no less.

While the 30 point offensive output was (again) impressive, the defensive play in the second half left a lot to be desired. And even the offense looked sluggish in the opening 30 minutes, despite the 17-0 lead.

I made an appearance on Glenn Clark Radio after yesterday's game and I remarked in my opening comments that the Ravens are a "blemished" 5-1. That's not to say they don't deserve to be 5-1. They most certainly do. But it's a 5-1 record with flaws in several areas, including wide receiver, pass rush and offensive line.

As I also noted on Glenn's show yesterday and will repeat here: It would be next to impossible for both Lamar and the team to replicate what they did in 2019. Everything went their way in the regular season and Jackson was a man amongst boys for 16 regular season weeks. To expect both the quarterback and team to continue on the same trajectory as they did a season ago was just too ambitious of a thought. There's a certain amount of market correction from year to year and the Ravens and Lamar are experiencing some of that now -- and yet the team is still 5-1!

Where they go from here is anyone's guess, but we know for sure the next five weeks will determine if the team goes 11-5 or 13-3. After the bye next Sunday, the Ravens host Pittsburgh, travel to Indianapolis and New England, host Tennessee, and play at Pittsburgh on Thanksgiving night to close out the 5-game slate. The Ravens go from playing in the MEAC to the SEC over the next five games. And then they'll play the MEAC again to close out the regular season.

It wasn't the greatest win on Sunday in Philadelphia, but a road victory in the NFL is hard to dismiss as anything except "success". There aren't style points on the road like there might be at home. Away from home, you win by any means necessary.

The only question still lingering is which Ravens team that we saw on Sunday is the "real" version of the 2020 squad? Are they the team that went ahead 24-6 and had the game in cruise control through three quarters? Or, are they the team that nearly squandered a 30-14 lead in the game's four minutes?

It all depends on how you view things...

Either way, you might be right.

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elsewhere


It will be the Dodgers vs. the Rays in the World Series after Los Angeles came back from an early 2-0 deficit and then pieced together solo home runs late in the game to turn back the Braves in Game 7 last night, 4-3.

Cody Bellinger (right) celebrates his 7th inning homer in Game 7 on Sunday night that gave the Dodgers a 4-3 win over Atlanta.

The October/November classic should be a good one. You have a team (Los Angeles) looking for their first World Series win in 32 years and another (Tampa Bay) trying to win their first-ever World Series.

And 2020 might be quite the year for the folks in Tampa Bay, huh? Their hockey team already won the Stanley Cup, their baseball team could win the world baseball championship and their football team is pretty good this season as well. Oh, and the Super Bowl is in........you guessed it, Tampa Bay.

As for the Dodgers, they're making their 3rd appearance in the World Series in the last 4 years. And not that he's been any great shakes in the post-season or anything, but if Clayton Kershaw's healthy, L.A. should have him for at least two starts in the upcoming series with the Rays.

I'm not big on giving baseball players $30 or $35 million a year, but I must say that Mookie Betts is worth (almost) every nickel they gave him in Los Angeles. That kid is a heckuva player.


Jason Kokrak finally broke through with his first PGA Tour win yesterday, as he captured the CJ Cup in Las Vegas. Kokrak, who a decade ago toiled on the long drive circuit, turned back Xander Schauffele and Russell Henley to earn the win.

Schauffele probably wakes up this morning with the most regret. He was 7-under through 13 holes and roared up the leader board to catch Kokrak, but then the San Diego native with the silky smooth swing couldn't close the deal, something he has a smidgen of trouble with in the early stages of his career. While he does have four wins already, Schauffele is also developing a small case of "can't close on the back nine". He's still a legit contender for next month's Masters, though. Few guys on TOUR hit their irons and putt as well as "X" does.

Henley won't get the same luxury as Schauffele next month, as he did not make the 2020 Masters field. The former University of Georgia graduate has won 3 times on TOUR already, but wasn't able to get himself into last April's Masters, which was moved to November 12-15 due to Covid-19. When Augusta Nationals officials decided to simply keep the original field of 96 players intact for the November event, Henely was one of the odd guys out, despite having a terrific summer of 2019 on TOUR.


You just know that "firing the coach" almost always gets an immediate response. It worked a couple of weeks ago in Houston, where the Texans earned their first win of the season after an 0-4 start and the firing of head coach Bill O'Brien. And it worked again yesterday for the Falcons, who last week fired head coach Dan Quinn after an 0-5 start, then promptly went into Minnesota and hammered the Vikings, 40-23. The league, as I always say, is completely crazy.

The Bengals jumped out to a quick 21-0 lead yesterday in Indianapolis. Then could only muster two more field goals the rest of the way while falling to the Colts, 31-27. Joe Burrow went 25/39 for 313 yards, as the #1 pick continues to pile up some impressive throwing numbers in games not involving the Ravens. Speaking of piling up big numbers -- Philip Rivers went 29/44 for 344 yards on Sunday. The Colts are 4-2. Go figure...

And the Broncos went to New England on Sunday and beat the Patriots, 18-12, as Brandon McManus kicked six field goals for Denver. That's something you don't see often.

The NFL is crazy...

Anyone who seriously bets on the National Football League is more nuts than the league itself. From week-to-week there's simply no telling what's going to happen.

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"The Keen Eye" of
David Rosenfeld

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


consider this


Somebody “asked Drew” this past week about the biggest sports story of 2020. He said the Chiefs’ fourth-quarter comeback to win the Super Bowl, which wasn’t a bad answer. I think there’s a more obvious one, and I’m sorry to say it has to do with COVID-19.

They had to cancel the NCAA tournament, for god sakes. The whole thing, from the “First Four” to the Final Four. And they were forced to do so less than a week before it was set to begin.

The NBA and NHL figured it out the best they could, and even got lauded for their “bubbles” that limited outside contact and any virus spread. Those leagues crowned real champions, whether anyone was there to watch or not.

Mark Turgeon and the Terps were poised for a deep NCAA tournament run last March before the Covid-19 arrival ended all college basketball for the '19-20 season.

Baseball was able to do something, though it’s hardly been satisfying even with some good playoff games. Football had enough time to make a plan, even if it hasn’t gone exactly as planned. Golf always made sense to play without fans.

It was a shame that things like college lacrosse got suspended, but those seasons hadn’t really hit their stride yet anyway. Interscholastic sports were always going to be dependent on whether or not schools could open to any normal extent.

But the NCAA tournament just disappeared. Poof. Gone. The best sporting “event” in the United States, one that would take up CBS’s (and a few cable networks) entire television schedule for four consecutive days the following weekend, had to be replaced.

On a Sunday, Maryland finished its season by blitzing Michigan at Xfinity Center. The Terps weren’t scheduled to play in the Big Ten Tournament until the following Friday at 9 p.m., so they never even got on the plane to Indianapolis. Mark Turgeon’s team tied for the conference title, and was certainly good enough to make a long tournament run if the breaks went their way.

They never got any resolution, of course. There was no resolution for any team that had already qualified for the tournament, or for the teams that were certain to get there even without automatic qualification. There wasn’t even any resolution for those teams (somewhere around five, usually) that had a real chance but were destined to be snubbed on Selection Sunday.

Hofstra plays in Towson’s conference, the Colonial Athletic Association; the Pride won the CAA tournament. Unfortunately, Joe Mihalich’s team didn’t even get two hours in the limelight, and there’s no guarantee that anyone on last year’s team will ever get the chance to play in the NCAA tournament again.

I don’t think it matters whether you care about college basketball or never watch a game, whether you believe the Terps would have made a long run or would have lost in the first round. Something was big enough to take all those empty brackets and get them tossed in waste bins all over America.


The Tennessee Titans visit M&T Bank Stadium in Week 11. Perhaps there will be 7,000 fans in attendance. If the Ravens win, it will not make up for the result of January’s AFC Divisional Playoff game between the two teams.

A bigger subject, I think, is whether Titans’ quarterback Ryan Tannehill will still be in the MVP conversation in a month. Or, putting it another way, did Tannehill become a good player all of the sudden at age 31?

I shouldn’t criticize Tannehill too much. Of all the AFC East quarterbacks to take on Tom Brady twice a year during Brady’s last 10 years or so in New England, Tannehill was probably the best. After 105 starts, his teams have won more games than they’ve lost, which isn’t as easy to do as it sounds.

And it’s possible that I was simply biased by Tannehill’s performances against the Ravens while the quarterback in Miami. He seemed to spend much of his time running for his life, having been sacked 15 times in four games and hurried a whole bunch more. And his team, in all phases, simply couldn’t compete against John Harbaugh’s teams. His only win against the Ravens as the Miami starter came in 2015, when Matt Schaub was filling in for Joe Flacco. In that game, Tannehill was terrible, finishing with less than 90 yards passing.

Considering the current state of the New York Jets, there are some that want to say that Tannehill’s newfound success has come from getting away from Adam Gase, the offensive “genius” who was his head coach in Miami for three years. That’s possible, but Tannehill also had other head coaches and coordinators before Gase.

Fate works in interesting ways, of course. When Tannehill was traded to Tennessee after the 2018 season, he didn’t go to Nashville as the starting quarterback. The Titans would give one more chance in 2019 to their 2015 No. 1 draft pick, Marcus Mariota, a chance on which Mariota couldn’t capitalize. Tannehill took over in Week 6 last season and hasn’t looked back.

Last year’s Titans’ playoff run led by running back Derrick Henry didn’t have much to do with Tannehill, of course. In both of Tennessee’s upset victories, in Foxboro and Baltimore, he threw for less than 100 yards. But he certainly did a lot to get the Titans to the playoffs, and has done even more to help his team to a perfect 5-0 start in 2020.

Interestingly, playoffs aside, Tannehill has been a winning quarterback in September and October and a below .500 quarterback in November and December during his career. He’s yet to put together an entire season of high-level play, whether because of performance or injury. The jury is still out as to whether 2020 will be that season.


The Ravens somehow almost lost yesterday to the Eagles. I don’t know what to say except for the fact that it was nearly an epic choke, for whatever reasons it happened. But more on that later in the week probably…

Are the Ravens going to play as aggressively on defense against the Steelers in two weeks as they did on Sunday in Philadelphia? I hope not. Big Ben and his offense might put up 50, and not by dinking the ball down the field with short passes and trap plays.

Wink Martindale’s defense seemed willing to give up long plays against the Eagles. A couple of them actually happened, one of them a long run by Miles Sanders and another a long pass from Carson Wentz to John Hightower. Philadelphia should have had two more big plays, one of them a touchdown to Sanders, but dropped perfectly fine passes both times.

Marlon Humphrey covers well. I’m glad he’s studied Charles “Peanut” Tillman’s punchouts, at which he’s become spectacular. But Humphrey is going to lose one-on-one battles with good receivers almost every time. He’s not as fast as they are, and he gets caught looking in the backfield. He seems to play cornerback in a way that almost dares the other team to make a big gain instead of protecting against that big gain. It’s why he’s good, and it’s also why he’s vulnerable.

As for the offense, this columnist proved clairvoyant (isn’t he often, though?) when he suggested that Lamar Jackson could make another big play up the middle of the field. This time, it was a 37-yard touchdown run after a “read” option fake to J.K. Dobbins. I’ll have to go back to the videotape, as Warner Wolf used to say, but I believe it was the exact same play as his 50-yard touchdown run in Landover, only with Dobbins lined up on Jackson’s right instead of his left.

Again, the Ravens tailback trio of Dobbins, Mark Ingram (who got injured) and Gus Edwards weren’t particularly effective. Ingram has lost more than a step, it seems. The Eagles did play quite aggressively against the run, perhaps daring Jackson to make a big play with his arm, something that’s been there before but wasn’t there on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Ravens committed 12 penalties, including a silly roughing the passer flag and even sillier illegal formation fouls. John Harbaugh’s reaction to the illegal formation penalties seemed to indicate that his team was getting called out for formations at Lincoln Financial Field that it hadn’t been in its first five games.

The Ravens are 5-1 heading into a bye week that’s happening one week earlier than originally scheduled. It’s true that Washington stinks, Cincinnati isn’t quite there yet and most of Philadelphia’s half-decent players are injured. It’s also true that none of that matters, and you can only play the teams that are on your schedule—though this year that might not be exactly when you thought you would.

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#DMD GAME DAY
Week 6


Sunday— October 18, 2020

Philadelphia Eagles

1:00 PM EDT

Lincoln Financial Field
Philadelphia, PA

Spread: Ravens (-9.5)



harbs usually wins these kind of games


OK, so this seems like one of those weird games where everything favors the Ravens and somehow the Eagles stick around and pull off a upset.

You know those kind of games. The refs get involved, a bunch of "odd" calls are made at the worst time, a turnover here, a turnover there, and suddenly the home team produces a surprising result.

"Greg, did you listen to sports talk radio this week? They were saying we don't know what we're doing!"

Have no fear, friends.

John Harbaugh doesn't lose these kind of games very often.

And this is one of those days where the Ravens will follow through and handle their business.

That's how I see it, anyway.

I know the Eagles were able to score some points against the Steelers a week ago, but Pittsburgh's offense pretty much did whatever they wanted against the Philadelphia defense. Unless Greg Roman loses his mind today, the Ravens should pile up the yards and points in the city of Brotherly Love.

I'm sure you snickered when you read those words above: Unless Greg Roman loses his mind today.

You snickered because you know Roman is capable of doing some weird stuff this afternoon. Will Lamar heave the ball 30-35 times? Will Roman eschew the wisdom of putting the game in the capable legs of the team's three-headed running back group? Perhaps he will, yes.

But even Greg Roman can't keep the Ravens from winning this one today.

Harbs has always been really good in these kind of games. I don't think you'll be sweating this one.

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by the percentages


0% chance the Ravens throw the ball 35 or more times today -- I'm sure Greg Roman and John Harbaugh had a quick cup of coffee last Monday and I'm also sure Harbaugh said to him, "What the heck are you doing throwing the ball so much, bro?" They won't be throwing it that much today.

10% chance the Eagles score over 24 points. I just can't see Philadelphia putting up a lot of points with the injuries they have on the offensive side of the ball. They might get to 20, but 24 seems a bit much.

20% chance the Ravens win by 17 or more points. This one could be a blowout if Baltimore jumps out early and Lamar and the offense get to employ the tempo of their choosing. If things go extra favorably for the Ravens, we could be looking at a 35-17 kind of result.

It figures to be another impressive day for Mark Andrews in Philadelphia this afternoon.

30% chance the Eagles lead at the end of the first quarter. I could see Philadelphia being up early, say, 7-3 or 7-6 at the end of the first quarter. It might take the Ravens 15 minutes to get into high gear.

40% chance the Ravens rush for 150 yards...at least. Philly's defense against the run isn't terrible. The Ravens won't run for 225 yards or anything like that. It might take them into the 4th quarter to pile up the yards, but they're eventually going to surpass the 150 mark.

50% chance Lamar and Mark Andrews team up for two touchdowns this afternoon. Some things are a given. Lamar looking for Andrews in the red zone is a given. Don't be surprised in the least if the two of them connect twice in the end zone this afternoon.

60% chance the Ravens cover the 9.5 point spread today. If the Ravens were at home, they'd be at least 12.5 point favorites. And they'd cover that easily. So it seems like 9.5 points on the road shouldn't be much of a problem, either.

70% chance the Eagles don't score more than 10 points in any one quarter today. Easy enough, right? The Eagles scoring line per quarter might look something like this 7-3-0-10 (20), but it's highly unlikely they'll score more than 10 points in any one quarter. The Ravens defense won't allow it.

80% chance Marlon Humphrey forces a fumble this afternoon with his famous "punch out" move. 80% might seem pretty high, but you just know Humphrey will be sniffing for the punch out all day. It's become his specialty.

90% chance the Ravens win the game. It would be a fairly significant upset if the Eagles win today. 9 times out of 10, the Ravens win this one. We're just hoping today isn't "the one". It won't be.

100% chance the Ravens sack Carson Wentz at least four times. Expect the Baltimore defense to feast on a beleaguered Philadelphia offensive line.

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how drew sees today's game


The Ravens start rolling right away, moving 75 yards on their opening offensive series, with Lamar hitting Hollywood Brown for a 14-yard TD throw just 4:30 into the game.

The Eagles respond with a decent drive of their own, but it stalls out on the Baltimore 22 yard line and a 39-yard field goal makes it 7-3.

Drew sees the Ravens taking a quarter to get rolling, then producing a fairly "routine" road win in Philadelphia.

Near the end of the first quarter, Matthew Judon forces a fumble after a sack of Carson Wentz and Calais Campbell falls on it deep in Eagles' territory. Three plays later, Lamar finds Mark Andrews in the end zone from 8 yards out and it's 14-3 Ravens.

The lead expands to 21-3 in the second quarter after a lengthy run by J.K. Dobbins and a 30-yard over the top strike to Hollywood Brown. Gus Edwards runs it in from 7 yards out and the rout is on.

Just prior to halftime, the Eagles get on the board with Carson Wentz scampering into the end zone on a 9 yard run on 4th and 1 and it's 21-10 at the intermission.

After a Lamar interception early in the 3rd quarter, the Eagles kick a 38 yard field goal to make it a one-score game at 21-13.

But on the next series, the Ravens rush for 63 yards and Jackson again finds Andrews in the end zone to make it 28-13.

Marlon Humphrey creates yet another turnover with a punch out near midfield and a Justin Tucker 49 yard field goal just before the end of the third quarter makes it 31-13.

The Eagles score a touchdown with 35 seconds remaining in the game that irks Wink Martindale, but the Ravens improve to 5-1 with a convincing 31-20 victory in Philadelphia.

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around the league in 30 seconds


Game of the Day -- Let's see if the Browns (4-1) are, indeed, "for real" today when they take on the Steelers in Pittsburgh. And we get to the do the same with the Steelers (4-0), who have played a JV schedule to date and finally tee it up with someone capable of beating them. Cleveland's offense against Pittsburgh's defense seems to be the storyline of the day in this one. Can Baker go into Pittsburgh and beat Big Ben? Hmmmmm...this one is well worth watching.

Can Baker Mayfield go into Pittsburgh and help the Browns improve to 5-1 this afternoon?

Dud of the Day -- Washington (1-4) is at the Giants (0-5) today in a game that could set modern football back 25 years. You wanna know the worst thing about this collossal dud of a game? They have to do it again later on this season. The Giants are fortunate no fans are allowed in the stands yet...because no one might show up for this one anyway.

Most to Prove -- Tom Brady probably hasn't played a game of this importance so early in the season in.....well.....maybe forever. The Bucs are 3-2 and at home to the 4-0 Packers and it's a big one for Tampa Bay as they look to prove they're a legit contender in the NFC. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers have those pesky Bears to contend with in the NFC North, otherwise, all they're trying to do is stockpile wins and hope they have enough at season's end to own home field advantage over Seattle. This is a big game for Brady and the Bucs today.

Lock of the Day -- Minnesota only giving Atlanta 4 points at home? Huh? I know the Vikings (1-4) aren't all that great, but the Falcons are horrible. They're 0-5, just fired their coach and GM, and seem to be in complete disarray. Which means...Atlanta somehow covers today and might even win, which is probably far more important to them. The "play hard for the new coach" syndrome aids Atlanta today as they cover and pull off the upset, 24-21.

AFC North Predictions -- In addition to the Ravens 31-20 win, Pittsburgh beats Cleveland, 33-30 on a last second field goal and Indianapolis buries poor Joe Burrow and the Bengals, 27-10.

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Saturday
October 17
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2244



you ask, i'll answer


Frank asks: "Given all the issues with sports in 2020, what's the biggest story so far in your opinion?"

DF says: "Good question. I guess it would have to be the Chiefs coming back in the 4th quarter to win the Super Bowl. And I'm not saying that because it was a pre-Covid thing. That was a monumental win for their franchise. It got their longtime coach a guaranteed trip to the Hall of Fame and it might be the first of several Super Bowl titles for K.C.'s talented quarterback."


Dave Rammage asks: "A couple of weeks ago someone asked you what player you would want to see at the plate if your team needed a single to win the game. What pitcher from 1990 and beyond would you start if you needed to win one game?

DF says: "If you allow me to pigeonhole a starter's best few years and say "Give me that guy", it would absolutely be Pedro Martinez of the early 2000's. He had one of those Koufax-type runs, where he was almost unhittable."


Chris asks: "Name a "best of" album that's vastly underrated."

DF says: "Great question!! This one took me a few minutes. I have an easy answer, though, once I thought it through: Warren Zevon's Greatest Hits. Every song was really good."


Aaron Rodgers...the NFL's most under-valued QB of the last 25 years?

Steve in Hunt Valley asks: "I know underrated is a term with several different connotations sports wise, so in a future Q and A, could you answer this one: Who is the most undervalued QB of the last 25 years in the NFL? Thanks!"

DF says: "100% it's Aaron Rodgers. Year after year the Packers draft anyone they can in the first round that WON'T help him, yet all he does is figure out a way to get the Packers into the playoffs again. It's remarkable how many years of greatness Green Bay has wasted by not giving Rodgers three or four legitimate weapons on offense. They might have won three or four Super Bowls. I mean, Rodgers is still going to the Hall of Fame on the first ballot, but the way the Packers have avoided helping him is amazing."


P.G. asks: "What's harder to do in baseball, hit 50 home runs or steal 100 bases?"

DF says: "I have no idea. Wow, good question. They're both difficult to do, but I'd say over the next five years you'll see several players hit 50 homers and no one will steal 100 bases. So...your answer is: steal 100 bases, right?


Tim: "Finish this sentence, please. The most overrated athlete in professional sports today is ________________."

DF says: "Matt Ryan. I probably wouldn't have said this five years ago, but it's definitely true now. Incredibly overrated."


PLB asks: "Bar bet between golf friends. You settle it. What was a "bigger" win for Tiger? The 2008 U.S. Open when he won at Torrey on a broken leg or major #15 at the Masters in 2019?"

DF says: "No doubt about it, the Masters in 2019. He hadn't won a major in almost 11 years, remember. There was a certain degree of luck involved in the '08 U.S. Open win. He made two crazy eagles on Saturday - one was a chip in after a terrible 2nd shot and the other was from like 80 feet or more...and then he made that wonky putt on the 72nd hole of regulation that barely eeked in. And then they played the first hole of sudden death on Monday on the dogleg right 7th hole that didn't set up well for Mediate. I'm not saying Tiger didn't deserve to win that year but a lot of things played out favorably for him that weekend. In 2019 at Augusta, luck wasn't involved. He played the best golf of anyone on Sunday, particularly on the back nine. And to finally win another major after 11 years of having people say "he's done" was really important for his career."


Aaron Cromwell asks: "I know you're a huge Bruce Springsteen fan. Maybe you don't have three "least favorite" songs but if you do, what are they?"

DF says: "Blasphemy! Three least favorite Bruce songs? Never! Actually, I do have three. Dancing in the Dark, Glory Days (ironically on the same album, next to one another) and Spare Parts. Don't know why, just never cared for any of those three."


Pete G. asks: "Best pizza in Baltimore is........????"

DF says: "Pasta Mista on Dulaney Valley Road across from the mall. It's incredible!"


C.J. asks: "If the NFL folded tomorrow and re-started next month and every player was a free agent and the Ravens had the first pick, who would you take if you were the GM?"

DF says: "I feel like this is a trick question. Are you setting me up with this one? I mean, the obvious answer is Patrick Mahomes. Unless it's a trick question."


Tom J. asks: "Hypothetical question here but just wondering what you think. If Governor Hogan outlawed tailgating on Sundays from September through January, how many people would go to Ravens home games on average?"

DF says: "Interesting question. 50,000? That seems about right. I'm guessing 20,000 people would just say, "Forget it...I'll stay home and watch it on TV if I can't drink and play cornhole with my friends before the game."


To have your question answered next week, just e-mail Drew: 18inarow@gmail.com

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faith in sports


For this week's Faith in Sports segment, we have an incredibly important 2 minutes from Nick Foles from his days in Jacksonville. If you can spare just two minutes today, you'll love the message Foles delivers in the wake of a shoulder injury he suffered in the first week of the 2019 season.

Our Faith in Sports segment is brought to you each week by our friends at Freestate Electric.




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Friday
October 16
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2243



friday points to ponder


Does Ravens defensive coordinator "Wink" Martindale know he's in the NFL? Sounds like a dumb question, I know.

Martindale was apparently peeved at the Cincinnati Bengals for kicking a field goal with 32 seconds left last Sunday. The score at the time was 27-0 in favor of the Ravens, in case you don't remember.

I know what you're thinking because I thought the same thing when the story surfaced yesterday.

Ravens defensive coordinator Wink Martindale.

Is Martindale nuts?

The Bengals had two options with 32 seconds remaining. They could have run a play, allowed the clock to run out, and lost 27-0. Or they could have attempted a 38-yard field goal with hopes of making the score 27-3.

Martindale seemingly believes it was incumbent upon the Bengals to just lay down and accept a shutout. Can you imagine if the Ravens were losing 27-0 in Pittsburgh and they had a chance to kick a field goal and avert a shutout but instead opted to just run a play and lose 27-0?

By all accounts, Martindale is an excellent defensive coordinator. There are rumors he'll again be a hot commodity this off-season when a handful of teams have head coaching openings.

But if he thinks for one second the Bengals were wrong for kicking a field goal last Sunday, maybe he's not head coaching material after all.

This is the NFL, not the CYO. In the NFL, big boys play. And if someone can avoid a shutout with 32 seconds left, they're well within their "rights" to try and score to avoid the shutout.

I can't even believe we're having this discussion, honestly. It feels like something they'd be arguing about on Pluto.

Willingly take a shutout or try and score at the end of the game and avoid being shutout?

You tell me which one you'd choose.

I assume you're smart enough to try and score at the end of the game.


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Someone tried to stir up a story in yesterday's comments about Calvert Hall football and their hope of developing a "national program" under new head coach Josh Ward. Somehow I got thrown into the mix.

Despite my obvious connection to Calvert Hall, I know nothing at all about the plans Coach Ward has for the program. I met him for the first time about six weeks ago and had a 15 second conversation with him.

New Calvert Hall head football coach Josh Ward (right) has been joined by his brother on the Cardinals' coaching staff.

"Welcome to Calvert Hall," I said. "I hope you have a great career here."

That was the extent of my conversation with the new coach. I'm sure over time we'll talk more, but on that day and that occasion, that's all the time we had for one another.

I have no idea what his plans are for Calvert Hall, but I assume, like all of us who coach there, Coach Ward hopes to create a program that's the envy of others both locally and nationally.

I can say without question that I'd love to create a "national program" with Calvert Hall golf, but the definition of "national program" probably differs from coach to coach and school to school. I have no clue what Coach Ward means when he says he wants Calvert Hall to be a "national program."

I would love to take my golf team around the country and compete against other top high schools teams. That's my idea of a "national program". If we could do that, I'd be all for it. Alas, that's likely not in the cards for us. But in the meantime, we'll try and be the best high school golf team in the MIAA and if others around the mid-Atlantic want to play us, we'd entertain those options, too.

As for St. Frances Academy and the program Biff Poggi has built there, I've been on record in several different forums -- including here at #DMD and on Glenn Clark Radio -- supporting Coach Poggi's efforts to provide his student-athletes with the best opportunities he can give them, providing those young men are attending school and graduating. I'm also on record saying that I understand the position of MIAA schools who felt like playing St. Frances was potentially putting their players in harm's way.

I saw both sides of the story two years ago and still do, today. Calvert Hall and the other schools did what they felt was best for their student-athletes and so, too, did Coach Poggi.

I'm 100% certain that Coach Ward will do what's best for his team and his student-athletes at Calvert Hall. As his program takes shape, we can all watch it and opine on it, if necessary. In the meantime, I suggest we allow the coach and his new staff the opportunity to put their plan in place and start working on their goal of upgrading the football program at Calvert Hall.

I think everyone would agree that it's probably fair to give a new coach more than three months before piling on and commenting on something that's mostly out of your scope of knowledge.


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Alabama Coach Nick Saban is likely going to miss this Saturday's game with Georgia after he tested positive for Covid-19 on Wednesday. You would think the word "likely" isn't necessary in that sentence above, except Saban is already trying to figure out a way to coach on Saturday.

Will Nick Saban coach on Saturday when Alabama hosts Georgia?

Saban needs three negative tests, including two within a 24-hour period, in order to be cleared for participation. As it stands now, not only could Saban not be at the stadium on Saturday, he couldn't have any in-game communication at all. In other words, Saban would totally and completely miss Saturday's game in Tuscaloosa unless he passes those three coronavirus tests.

I'm sure we're all thinking the same thing here. Somehow, Nick Saban is going to coach on Saturday. The University won't publish whether Saban tested negative on Thursday, but if he did, he would simply need one more negative test on Friday morning and another on Saturday morning in order to potentially be cleared to coach the game.

Maybe I'm wrong here, but I can't imagine Nick Saban thinks the Covid-19 rules apply to him.

And it's not like Alabama is playing The Citadel or Wake Forest. They're at home against the #3 team in the country, a massively important game for the Crimson Tide even with the unsteady nature of the 2020 campaign still at hand.

If I'm wrong, come back in and remind me on Saturday evening, but I don't see Coach Saban missing Saturday's game just because of that pesky coronavirus. He has a game to coach. Throw a couple of extra masks around his mouth and nose and give him six feet of distance, right?

Saban being on the sidelines might be the difference in Alabama winning or losing on Saturday. He's that important to the cause. So with that in mind, we'll leave you with the only two words that matter when it comes to Coach Saban and Covid-19: Roll Tide.


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In his Thursday piece here at #DMD, David Rosenfeld brought up an interesting point about Ravens QB Lamar Jackson. David basically said, in so many words: Let Lamar run!

As I pointed out earlier this week, something doesn't seem right with Lamar in 2020. David might have zeroed in on that with is "Let Lamar run" column. Maybe it's not what Jackson is doing that seems so "off", but what he's not doing is what's standing out through five weeks of the season.

Will Lamar and the Ravens return to a more balance run/pass offense this Sunday in Philadelphia?

Of course, Jackson can only do what the coaching staff and offensive coordinator Greg Roman are allowing him to do. If Roman calls for a pass play, Jackson's likely calling a pass play. If Roman calls for a hand off to Mark Ingram, Jackson's probably handing the ball off to Ingram.

While the Baltimore offense has sparkled at times thus far, they've been more pedestrian and "safe" than I remember in 2019. Last season, they were in your face, pedal to the metal, go, go, go. This season, they're far more methodical, far more pass happy and, oddly, far more predictable, despite the fact that they're not running the ball and following a predictable game plan.

One idea that I floated earlier this week during an appearance on Glenn Clark Radio is that Greg Roman could be producing an in-season coaching audtion of sorts. Long known for his ability to craft outstanding rushing offenses, perhaps Roman is trying to prove that he can also create an offense that can throw the ball with the best of them.

I have no idea what happened to Roman in the off-season when he interviewed for vacant NFL head coach positions, but if an owner or GM said to him, "We'd love to hire you, but your history of being a run-first coordinator just doesn't fit well with what we're trying to do here", you could see where Roman would want to ramp up the passing attack in Baltimore and "prove himself" to those who passed on him in the 2020 off-season.

That might be too much of a conspiracy theory for some folks, but I don't think it's all that far fetched. There's no doubt Roman has built his coordinator legacy on rushing statistics. His offenses are always among the most productive running groups in the league. All he needs to make himself a fully attractive head coach candidate is to get his offenses into the upper echelon of passing statistics.

And so, maybe, that's why we're seeing Lamar do less running and more throwing in 2020. Maybe...just maybe.

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Thursday
October 15
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2242



hold the door open for others


Jeff needed to stop at the local pharmacy before heading home. His medication refill was there, waiting for pick-up.

He checked in with his wife, Becky, and asked her to text him a list of things she needed. A few minutes later, the text came through and Becky had come up with five things for Jeff to grab while he was at the pharmacy.

As Jeff pulled in, he noticed the flashing sign located next to the street, advertising several things. Toilet paper - $6.00 for a pack of 6! "Good price, but not on the list," Jeff said to himself.

Pepsi products, 99 cents each! "You know they're making a lot of money if they can sell it for 99 cents and still make a profit off it," Jeff muttered.

We sell Lotto tickets!, the sign flashed. Jeff didn't know the exact amount of the current Lotto grand prize but he thought he heard $140 million earlier in the week.

Jeff pulled into a parking spot and eased out of the car, hoping to avoid throwing his door into the side of the car parked next to his.

He moved quickly towards the front door of the pharmacy. Coming at him was a female -- mid 40's or so, Jeff thought -- who was staring at her phone as she approached the entrance.

For a second, Jeff thought about quickly jumping into the pharmacy and allowing the woman to follow him in. She was doing something on her phone, after all, and Jeff considered just going in and allowing the woman to fend for herself.

But he stopped. And he held the door open for the lady.

She looked up and saw Jeff holding the door. "Well aren't you nice?" she said with a smile. "Thank you so much."

"My pleasure," Jeff responded. "Have a good evening."

The woman walked in and made an immediate right to the front counter. "Can I still get lotto tickets?" she asked. The counter clerk looked up at the clock and said, "Yes, you can. The drawing is at 7 o'clock."

Jeff looked at the clock behind the counter. It was the digital kind. The numbers read 6:56.

"Oh, let me get a ticket!" the woman said. "I made it just in time."

Instead of moving on to do his shopping, Jeff moved in quickly behind the woman he had just allowed in ahead of him moments earlier. The woman turned back and smiled. "Make sure he gets a ticket, too," she said to the woman behind the counter. "He was so nice and let me in first."

Within a minute, the woman in front of Jeff was gone, her ticket in hand. He looked at the clock on the wall. It now read: 6:58.

He threw a dollar bill down on the counter. "I'll take a Lotto ticket," he said to the woman. "I think this is my first time playing in like five years."

"You got here in the nick of time," she said, as the machine rattled and hummed and churned out a ticket for Jeff.

Jeff shoved the ticket in his pocket but in his haste to move out of line, it fell onto the floor. Jeff looked at it briefly as he put it back in his pocket. The first three numbers were 18-11-14.

The next morning, Jeff poured himself a cup of coffee and looked through several e-mails that had come in overnight. In the background, the morning radio team told stories of an overnight fire downtown, a local men's clothing store going out of business after 45 years, and then, just after the weather, one of the radio voices read off the Lotto numbers.

"If you're the one with the winning ticket, you're going to have a lot of new friends," the DJ said with a laugh. "There was one winner last night. Here are the winning numbers: 18-11-14-38-37-9."

Jeff remembered the first number on the ticket was 18. He wasn't sure about the rest of them, but he vaguely recalled 11 being the second number.

He went into the bedroom and pulled the ticket out of his pants pocket. He looked down and saw the numbers --- 18-11-14-38-37-9.

Having not paid much attention earlier, Jeff wasn't sure that all of his numbers were the matching numbers of the winning Lotto ticket.

"There's no way," he said to himself. "I know they said 18, 11 and 14, but I don't remember the other numbers."

He went to the internet. A quick search showed the numbers, in black and white.

18-11-14-38-37-9. Jeff had the winning ticket.

$140 million...

The woman ahead of him in line?

Her numbers didn't match.

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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.


making another run at it


Don’t know about you, but I enjoy watching Lamar Jackson as a passer. In general, he doesn’t get to throw the ball as much as most NFL starters, but he sure takes advantage of his opportunities. You may recall that the Ravens had the fewest passing attempts in the NFL in 2019, yet Jackson led the league with 36 touchdown passes. Pretty cool.

Jackson has a stronger arm than was suggested when he came out of Louisville. He has an innate ability to throw from different arm angles, which he displays several times each game. As mentioned in this space before, he is light years ahead of two years ago when it comes to “looking off” defensive backs and linebackers before hitting open receivers. All of it is fun to watch, and hopefully will be for a while.

So it’s true…Lamar Jackson the passer, only 23 years old, would be a fine starting quarterback for any team in the NFL. At this point, I trust him in the two-minute space as I would Brady or Rodgers. I say that both physically and also as a leader who can push his teammates, and even his coaches when necessary.

DMD's David Rosenfeld says the Ravens should keep running the ball...and that Lamar Jackson should be heavily featured in the team's running game moving forward.

But let’s talk about this Ravens team, right now. This team cannot have a great season without Lamar Jackson running the ball like 22-year-old Lamar Jackson.

Everyone at home wants the Ravens to run the ball more than they do. But handing the ball off more to Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards and J.K. Dobbins isn’t going to be the spark that makes the Ravens’ offense explode. What we really want is for Lamar Jackson to run the ball, right? And why wouldn’t we?

Lamar Jackson set a single-season rushing record for quarterbacks in 2019 with 1,206 yards. 1,206!

Lamar Jackson’s 1,206 rushing yards ranked sixth in the NFL in 2019. Sixth!

Lamar Jackson averaged almost seven (!) yards per carry in 2019, by far the best in the NFL.

Of course we don’t want that to stop. There were many reasons the Ravens finished 14-2 last season, but the primary one might be defined as however you’d combine those three exclamations. The Ravens are not going to be as good as they could be if Jackson is not that player.

Now…we’re not the only ones that know that. The Browns, Bengals and Steelers surely know it. The Eagles, Sunday’s opponent, are certainly aware. Even the four teams in the NFC West, who won’t face the Ravens again until 2023, have marked it down.

From an admittedly untrained eye, things have already changed when it comes to defending Jackson as a runner. Jackson, you might be aware, is really fast. Like most faster runners, he makes his biggest plays outside the tackles. In Lamar’s case, that usually comes off a read option, or at least what looks like a read option.

Something is different about those outside plays in 2020. Defenses are protecting against them, and that’s probably leading to play calling that shies away. Maybe those defenses simply believe that even good inside running by Edwards and Ingram isn’t nearly as much of a problem as what they’ve decided to stop. Maybe they even guessed correctly that Ingram wouldn’t look like he did in 2019.

It’s no surprise that Lamar’s biggest run of the year so far, the longest of his NFL career actually, came on more of an “up-the-middle” read option against Washington. For some reason, the unblocked rusher, Ryan Anderson, ran past Jackson, probably thinking that he’d run to his left after faking a handoff to J.K. Dobbins on his right. He didn’t do that, of course. Instead, Jackson ran directly through the largest hole I’ve ever seen, and 50 yards later the Ravens led 14-0.

On Sunday against the Bengals, Jackson again ran for a big gain on a similar play, only to have the play called back because offensive lineman Ben Powers was holding a defender while blocking in front of Jackson.

So, anecdotally, a vacated middle of the field might be the place where Jackson makes his big plays in 2020. As he showed in Landover, that isn’t exactly a perfect strategy for a defense. Unlike most, Jackson can take a certain 15-yard run and turn it into 50 yards and a score.

Jackson, of course, says that he doesn’t want to run the ball very much. I can appreciate why he says that, but I wish he wouldn’t say it. He has to recognize that his team doesn’t function at its best when he doesn’t.

He must realize that his passing is also quite efficient when his running is spectacular. He also doesn’t get to call the plays, though I’m sure he has input into them. If he wants too many of them where he isn’t a threat to run, Greg Roman and John Harbaugh should probably tell him that. Their job is to help the team win, not to help Lamar prove something.

Whenever any offense struggles to live up to its potential, there will always be a call for more “weapons.” There are loud calls from fans for players that seem like potential “weapons,” like the rookie Devin Duvernay, to see the field more often and be used on more plays. There’s a lot of wondering why players who’ve already become bona fide “weapons,” like Marquise Brown, can’t become even more lethal.

For Ravens’ fans, there always seems to be some guy in Pittsburgh that we wish we had, whether the Steelers are having a good season or not.

Alas, the Ravens have designed their offense around one very lethal weapon. They’ve even kept a backup quarterback around for a few years because, at one point in his career, he was somewhat of a match to Jackson. At the very least, Robert Griffin can mimic Lamar to the point where a defense has to be concerned about him as a runner.

Willie Snead is not a weapon. He knows it, his coaches know it, and the other team knows it. He’s on the team because he does other things well besides catching passes, especially blocking downfield. If the Ravens really wanted to become a prolific passing offense, then Willie Snead wouldn’t be on the roster.

The Ravens had Mark Andrews, Hayden Hurst and Nick Boyle on the roster as tight ends last year. If they wanted to become a better passing offense, then Hurst, who has some of the best hands I’ve ever seen on a tight end, wouldn’t be in Atlanta right now. Instead, the team held on to the guy, Boyle, who’s a machine when he’s blocking out in front of a runner.

Gus Edwards, as I said last week, ought to get a higher percentage of carries. He’s more than just a bruiser. That being said, his role on the Ravens is very much tied to Jackson being the runner that he’s capable of being.

What does it all mean? Any team should, of course, try to get as many quality players as it can, whether that comes mostly from the draft, trades or free agency. But the Ravens, right now, are choosing their weapons wisely.

For now, at least, they need to remember that their success on offense is tied to their quarterback being an unusually gifted runner.

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October 14
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#2241



it still feels weird


I thought of something last night as I clicked over from the witch hunt against Judge Barrett and started checking out the array of sports at our disposal on a Tuesday night in mid-October: this feels really weird, still.

I guess it's the simple notion that sports are being played in our country and the stands aren't full. Sure, there are now people scattered around in the seats at various venues, but it's nothing at all like it would be on a normal sports night. It's our 2020 "normal", I suppose.

Let me stop for a second and applaud the NBA in particular for the way they handled their re-start, playoffs and "bubble" in general. The NHL did a good job as well, but they basically took over two facilties in Toronto and Edmonton and played hockey there for the better part of 10 weeks. The NBA made their Orlando-based project look and feel like something unique, even if the fans sitting at home cheering on their favorite team via ZOOM might have appeared cheesy in nature.

Basketball is different in that it's the one sport where you pretty much see every player front and center. No helmets, hats, masks, etc. They just throw on a pair of shorts and a shirt and there they are, playing basketball right in front of you. So given the "natural" setting they play in normally, perhaps it was always assumed the NBA would do the best job at making their new surroundings look the most normal and typical of all the leagues.

But it's all still very weird...

If you think this looks weird, imagine how it feels to the players.

And I have to wonder if that's why it feels like people around the country still aren't fully engaged with sports? Maybe we just weren't ready for "TV only" fandom. Maybe having people in the stadium lends an authenticity to sports that we had otherwise dismissed over the years.

Golf has been the one sport that seemingly didn't miss a step going from pre-Covid to Covid-rules, but that's largely because there aren't home teams to cheer for or regular Saturday afternoon matches to attend. Golf is a traveling circus of sorts, in Jacksonville this week, Atlanta next week, Memphis the week after that and Dallas the following week. If you live in one of those cities and want to attend a tournament, that's great. But you're not loyal (as Mark Suchy notes below) to any one "team" when you're watching golf in person.

Watching baseball games with no people in the seats was really bizarre. Go ahead and insert your "Tuesday night in July at Camden Yards" joke here, if you like, but the truth is baseball is meant to be played with people in the stadium watching it live. The game doesn't need 45,000 there every night, mind you, but 5,000, 10,000 or 15,000 people sitting there watching is imperative to give the whole thing the authenticity it deserves.

My hat goes off to the players in these leagues who have performed over the last three months without fans in the seats to watch. At every level they've played since middle school, people have come out to watch them play football, basketball, baseball and hockey. In some cases, college athletes experience a bigger weekly fan base than the professional organization they might play for one day. How these football players go out every Sunday and perform without people in the stadium is beyond me. I think we owe them a nod of appreciation, frankly.

But as I watch sports now, I'm having a hard time latching on. I'm far from a political activist, but I found last night's laborious effort to rattle Judge Barrett far more interesting than the Titans-Bills game. Granted, I probably wouldn't have felt that way if I were living in Nashville or Buffalo, but as someone who loves sports and watches meaningless (to me) games all the time, I thought last night's TV viewing schedule in my household told me something about the way the sports landscape has changed over the last eight months.

You might be totally different, of course. Perhaps you watched as much of the baseball playoffs as you could yesterday. I did get into the Braves-Dodgers game around the 5th inning and the back half of that game was very compelling, even without the stands being filled to the brim. But I also did click over to The Golf Channel at one point during the 7th inning to see what Martin Hall could teach me about right wrist angle at impact and how it helps create a better descending blow with your irons.

This could all be me, by the way. I could very well be in the minority on this subject. Maybe you and the rest of your sports loving friends are still glued to the NFL Network every Sunday morning over coffee, bacon and hangover medicine. Maybe you don't move from the man cave from 1 pm to 12 midnight on Sunday. You might be watching every playoff baseball, basketball and hockey game that you can, no matter the time, teams, etc. I'm surely willing to admit that it could be me that's the outlier in this particular situation.

It's just been very difficult to watch the games with a full level of enthusiasm. I mean, I still watch the Ravens and still want them to win and certainly hope they have a great season. There could be some personal resentment that I've yet to fully uncover regarding the impact of Covid-19 on my business. I had been planning on the 2020 NFL season for two years at least, with Ravens road trips slated for D.C., Philadelphia, Foxborough, Pittsburgh and a combination client golf trip/Ravens game in Houston. So maybe I've yet to come to grips with the fact that I'm sort of secretly lamenting that loss of business in a way I haven't yet really detected on my own.

But for the most part, I think sports is meant to be played in front of people. It's always been that way. Lots of kickers can make a 44 yard field goal in an empty stadium on a college campus. But put 85,000 fans in that stadium and know that your community's mental health rides with this kick going through the uprights and then tell me how it makes you feel. Anyone can hit a 3-pointer in an empty gym, but put 20,000 people in there who are living and breathing with that shot you're about to put up against Duke and tell me what that's like.

Athletes are the greatest "actors" of our lifetime. Not because they play sports. But because it's not scripted. If Tom Cruise messed up a line in the taping of A Few Good Men, they simply went back and did it again. When A.J. Pollack grounded out to third to squelch the Dodgers' 9th inning rally last night and give Atlanta the 8-7 win, there was no opportunity for a do-over. Pollack had his chance and didn't come through. The pressure of those moments is far more real than perhaps we realize.

And without people there watching it unfold, it all seems hollow. I'm still watching, mostly, but I'm finding myself more and more yearning for the opportunity to get back into the stadium(s) myself. Mark Suchy wrote about the discovery of loyalty in his piece below. I'm discovering that going to the games and being there to watch the moments unfold is far more important than I realized prior to March, 2020.

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SUCH
a sports fan

MARK SUCHY is a lifelong Baltimore sports fan, youth basketball coach and father of three athletic sons. A former weekend sports radio host in Baltimore, "Such" offers his memories and insights on sports related topics each Wednesday here at #DMD.


This past weekend was chock full of sports goodness. There were compelling and dramatic games across various leagues. Whether it was the NBA Finals, the baseball playoffs, college and NFL football, even golf and the French Open tennis finals, there was an absolute smorgasboard of viewing options for the sports junkie to gorge on.

At one point Saturday morning, Charlie and I even managed to catch some rugby from something called the Gallagher Premiership. Man, talk about confusing but wildly entertaining action. Wasps defeated Bristol Rugby, 47-24, in case you were wondering.

Sometime late Sunday afternoon, we were watching the Cleveland Browns play the Indianapolis Colts (yes, it’s still strange for me to type that name). Charlie mentioned that we needed the Colts to win, so that the Ravens could move a little further ahead of the Browns in the AFC North. While I understood the importance of a Colts victory, and I always take delight in seeing Baker Mayfield lose, I just couldn’t bring myself to care enough to openly root for the Colts. I just…couldn’t…do…that.

36 years after the midnight flight to Indy, it’s safe to say I’ve been through every one of the seven steps of grief associated with the loss of my childhood football team.

While I can sit there on a random October Sunday evening and watch them play and feel basically indifferent, there’s still a small corner of my heart that will never forgive Robert Irsay for the move. I know, I know, forgiveness of others and turning the other cheek and all those other things I’ve been taught that are the keys to moving on with our lives and becoming better people.

To some in Baltimore, seeing this uniform still brings back memories of the Colts, even though they've been gone nearly 40 years now.

But I told Charlie that I wasn’t capable of it. It’s just wired into my DNA now. Call me stubborn or selfish or just plain grumpy, but it’s not inside of me to ever root for that team to have success. No matter the fact that when I see that uniform, I still can’t help but believe it’s the best uniform in all of sports. I suppose that some wounds just never completely heal, that the scars never fully close.

All of this got me thinking about the concept of loyalty. To be more specific, my loyalty as a sports fan, and as a coach and a father of three sons who are all still active athletes. Where does my loyalty come from, and where does it lie, and how has it changed over the course of my life? And why?

Webster’s Dictionary defines loyalty as “a strong feeling of support or allegiance.” Synonyms for loyalty are faithfulness, fidelity, obedience, fealty and adherence. These are rather accurate descriptions of my journey as a sports fan.

I believe our sports loyalties are deeply rooted in our experiences, especially those shared with our parents or grandparents or other senior members of our families. Now that I’m a senior member, I can better understand and appreciate what was handed down to me as a young man. It laid the foundation for my lifetime of loyalty.

My earliest sporting love is Maryland Terrapins basketball. My father was a Maryland alumnus and a member of the M Club, comprised of graduates who lettered in a sport at UM. He had season tickets for Maryland football, basketball and lacrosse games. Some of my fondest memories are of the trips taken with my dad to College Park to watch anything that was in season.

I was fortunate to grow up during the John Lucas, Len Elmore and Tom McMillen era of Terps basketball. My loyalty and love towards Terrapins basketball is deeply rooted.

Sometime in the late 1990’s, I was having a discussion about local sports with an old friend. He threw out what was, at the time, a hypothetical question: What would be more meaningful, a Ravens Super Bowl win, the Orioles winning the World Series, or the Maryland Terps winning the national championship in men’s basketball? Without hesitating, I answered the Terps. Probably because it had never happened, and I had seen the Orioles win the World Series in 1983, and the Ravens were still in the process of earning my loyalty.

Neither of us could imagine that in just a few short years, both the Terps and the Ravens would capture championships. As amazing and wonderful as the Ravens run to glory in Super Bowl XXXV was, for me, nothing will ever compare to seeing the Maryland Terrapins win a title. My lifetime of support and allegiance to that program was fulfilled.

That’s a big part of our loyalties as fans, I think; the memories of the heartaches and disappointments over the years. Sometimes it’s easier to recall the devastating, gut punch losses than to remember the joy of thrilling victories.

To cite the most recent examples here in Baltimore, the playoff losses to the Titans and Chargers hover over the Ravens and somehow seem to temper our enthusiasm for all of the team’s dominance and success during the regular season.

Perhaps that’s just part of our nature; we can’t fully experience the highs if we haven’t been in the lows. The steeper the climb, the greater the view, a wise man once told me.

Baltimore is a unique town when it comes to sports loyalty. Ever since March 28, 1984, Baltimore fans have been hardened to the reality that loving a professional sports team, and remaining loyal to it, is a one-way affair. Your loyalty may be noticed, but it is not necessarily reciprocated. Ownership has its privileges, and the reality is that as loyal as you may be in your fandom, it’s just not your team. It’s theirs.

Cynical? Perhaps. But as a 17-year-old on that fateful morning, it quickly occurred to me that my loyalty was just that: My loyalty. So, I realized that I was free to pledge my loyalty to whatever team I chose, just as any owner could pledge the team to whatever town he chose. It only seemed fair. That realization has served me well over the years, especially when it comes to professional sports.

Take the Orioles as an example. Am I a loyal fan of the franchise? To my definition, most certainly. But the team has done a lot of things wrong over the course of the past quarter century to alienate loyal fans. Their failure to even attempt to field competitive teams from 1998 through 2010 had a definite impact on my interest. If I attended even 3 games a year over that time, that was a lot.

I may pledge my allegiance to the team, but I won’t bow down in fealty when they don’t even try. When you field forgettable teams, well, there’s a high likelihood that as a fan I’ll tend to forget about the team.

I always tell my sons that the best thing in all of sports is having a baseball team in a pennant chase. There’s nothing more exciting than having games that matter being played every day for 6 months. Baseball offers us the chance, as fans, to be completely engaged in the daily drama of sports unlike any other game. Being fortunate enough to grow up in Baltimore in the 1970’s, with the Orioles always in the hunt for the AL East Division title, cemented my loyalties to the team for life.

But passing down that loyalty to my sons wasn’t very easy. My oldest son, Thomas, was 14 years old before the Orioles ever made the playoffs. It’s hard to earn anyone’s sports loyalty when you never win. I think that over the course of the past 8 years or so, the boys have become loyal Orioles fans, but their depth of loyalty is less than mine. I guess I was just lucky enough to grow up watching greatness every year.

Nothing ever tested our collective loyalty in Baltimore as much as the Browns moving here. Knowing better than most fans the pain of losing a beloved and storied franchise put people here in an unwinnable position.

But I never quite understood the civic angst about the team coming here. That’s because my 17-year-old self continued to guide my attitude about the move. It was Art Modell’s team, not Cleveland’s. Changing the name and the colors and beginning an entirely new chapter in Baltimore helped ease the collective guilt, I think.

25 years later, it barely registers to me that they were the Cleveland Browns. The Ravens have been extremely successful and have earned my loyalty through their obvious commitment to winning championships.

I can appreciate and sympathize with the fans in Cleveland who have never gotten over the move, though. I know exactly how they feel. Maybe we’d all be better off if we directed our anger at the league that allows these moves to happen, rather than the owners of the teams.

A funny thing has happened to my loyalties as the years have flown by, though. Over the past 15 years or so, they’ve been given to my sons’ teams and schools. Being actively involved and watching them grow and play has given me so many wonderful memories that I can’t help but be loyal to the coaches and organizations and schools that have helped them.

I thought about this last weekend as Charlie played his final AAU basketball tournament for the York Ballers. The people involved with that organization have been so good to my sons over the past 5 years that I will always be loyal to the Ballers. That’s what happens when loyalty is truly a two-way street. Those coaches and families have demonstrated their loyalty to us by their actions and their assistance over that time. They helped shape the course of my sons’ lives, and I’ll be forever grateful for that.

There’s Hereford High School, and the Hereford travel sports programs, as well. All the boys went there and played sports for the Bulls. The teachers and the coaches there have given selflessly to develop not just my sons, but so many other kids over the years, that I will be forever loyal to the school for what it’s meant to us as a family. They helped prepare my boys for college, and for college athletics.

Today, I’m loyal to Westminster College soccer, where Thomas plays. And to Franklin & Marshall basketball, where Mark plays. And next year, I can add Lebanon Valley College basketball to the list, as Charlie will spend his collegiate years there. Those schools all get my money, so obviously I’m loyal. Is there any other choice? But I think you get my drift.

My closet and dresser are full of different sweatshirts and tee shirts and hats with Ravens, Terps and Orioles logos on them. I like wearing those items. It shows people that I identify with those teams, that I’m a fan, that I’m loyal. I’ve always been proud to associate myself with those teams.

But as I’m growing older, I’d much rather wear my York Ballers gear, or my Hereford Basketball sweatshirt, or my Westminster College Soccer tee shirt, or my Franklin & Marshall Basketball sweatshirt, or my brand new Fighting Dutchmen Basketball long-sleeve tee shirt (that’s the Lebanon Valley College nickname, for the uninitiated). My loyalties today are deeper with those people than any other organizations. That’s because I’ve learned that loyalty, like all the best qualities people have, is shared.

The Roman statesman and scholar Cicero wrote, “Nothing is more noble, nothing more venerable, than loyalty.” As a fan, as a father, as a friend, there’s nothing more valuable that I can give than my loyalty.

I’m learning that I don’t need my loyalty to be recognized or constantly returned by others in order for it to matter to me. I don’t need to justify it or apologize for it or explain it. Knowing that I’m loyal keeps me faithful to the most important fan I know: Myself.

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Tuesday
October 13
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#2240



nuggets


LeBron James and the Lakers won the NBA title on Sunday night. You probably know that by now based on the extraordinary amount of coverage provided to that accomplishment over the last 36 hours.

That it happened in the Orlando bubble doesn't seem to make much difference right now. They played most of the 2019-2020 NBA schedule in full, with a Covid-19 interruption, of course, and the playoffs were just as good with no fans in the seats as they might have been with people in the building watching the action live.

But the title has predictably kick started the conversation of LeBron vs. Jordan...again. Bored with it yet? Yeah, me too.

How much closer is LeBron to Jordan now that he's won his 4th title and 4th Finals MVP award?

I say this all the time whenever someone wants to debate "the greatest" in any sport: "Are we debating who had the better career or who was the better player?"

They are, of course, two totally different subjects, particularly when one player (Jordan) played in a different era than the other (James).

Is LeBron better than Michael?

Is Ovechkin better than Gretzky?

Is Tiger better than Jack?

The only sort of current debate that's relevant is in tennis, where three men are active and still trying to outdo one another. Federer, Nadal and Djokovic are all still playing high level tennis, although Federer's low fuel light is on and Nadal's only real impression on the sport these days comes at the French Open, where he won for the 13th time this past Sunday to earn his 20th career grand slam singles title. Djokovic has 17 career majors and should, within two or three years, pass both Feds and Nadal on the all-time list.

The argument about which of those three is better seems to be pretty simple at this point. Most tennis folks say Djokovic is the better player of the three but Federer, at this point, has had the best career. But once Djokovic gets to 25 and, perhaps, even closer to 30 grand slam singles crowns, he'll likely own the distinction of "best career" as well.

Nadal has largely built his career off of success at Roland Garros. Why he's been so good on the clay courts there is something tennis experts can detail far better than I can, but the fact remains 13 of his 20 singles titles have come at the French Open. I'm not trying to negate what he's done, but at the same time, I do think it's fair to take into account that he was out-of-this-world good on one surface and just really good on the other surfaces. Or, at least, that's what his record indicates.

It's not as easy to break down other sports.

Tiger won more golf tournaments than Jack did. Jack won more majors than Woods. Tiger won his first 14 majors far quicker than Jack won his first 14. Some diehard golf enthusiasts also point to Tiger's record in junior USGA events (he won 3 U.S. Amateur titles and three U.S. Junior titles) when measuring him against Jack. But that's "career" stuff we're talking about.

The discussion about which of the two was actually a better golfer is so complicated it's almost not worth doing. Jack drove it a lot better, Tiger hit his irons better, Tiger's short game was much better and Nicklaus might have been a slightly better putter than Woods if you take into account the entirety of their respective careers. They were both incredibly strong mentally. When Nicklaus or Woods got ahead of you, it was pretty much over. It all adds up to a coin toss on which player was, technically, better at playing golf.

Nicklaus backers will lament about the equipment changes of the last 25 years while Tiger supporters will throw 7,500 yard golf courses out there. It's all pretty much the same. A well struck 7-iron is a well struck 7 iron. A birdie on a 400 yard hole in 1975 is like a birdie on a 450 yard hole in 2020. The hole has always been the same size for Woods and Nicklaus. Take your pick on which one was better but at least agree on this: They are 1 and 2, in any order you choose, and the distance between 2 and 3 is cavernous.

As for LeBron and Michael...

Jordan has 6 rings and never lost in the Finals. James has 4 rings in 10 appearances in the Finals. Jordan won all six of his with one team, the Bulls. James won titles with three different organizations.

If you put any stock in MVP awards and such, go ahead and make your argument for either of the two you support. But most of that stuff is just "fluff". The legacy of Jordan and James has little to do with "awards" and such. We know all about their greatness.

But the G.O.A.T. argument rages on between those two because of how dominant both of them were throughout their careers. Others probably belong in the same argument; Russell, Wilt and maybe even Oscar Robertson. There are lots of championships, awards and talent among those three. But Jordan and LeBron are at the top because they played in the "TV era", which then became the "Internet Era". We haven't all seen and witnessed what Russell, Wilt and the Big O did with our own eyes, but we've seen MJ and LeBron up close and personal.

Me? I'm not going there. I think Jordan was a remarkable player and a fierce, stubbon, productive leader. James has been much of the same, but in his own way, I suppose. If you want to make an argument for either of them, feel free. I think they both deserve support for the title of "best ever". You argue, I'll officiate.


It's been interesting the last couple of days to hear and read the small tremor of debate about Lamar Jackson and his uneven play in the five games the Ravens have played thus far in the 2020 NFL campaign.

This was, naturally, always going to happen at some point. Jackson was eventually going to see a dip in his play and performance, albeit even a minor one, which is really what's happened this season. He hasn't been awful by any means. But he's definitely missed some throws and reads and, probably most importantly, laid an egg against the Chiefs on national TV back in week three. People don't forget that stuff very easily. Not in Baltimore, anyway.

How much Lamar is hampered by a knee injury is unknown. The Ravens are obviously going to downplay it as much as possible for competitive reasons and Lamar, himself, is likely unwilling to talk much about it for fear of people thinking he's making an excuse for his spotty play.

Despite the Ravens being 4-1, local talk radio has been hot the last couple of days with talk about Lamar Jackson's spotty play in 2020.

But the main issue is this: quarterbacks always get far too much credit when the offense does well and they get far too much blame when the offense sputters. If you can enter into a discussion about Lamar Jackson with that template as part of your argument, you'll have a much better chance of making a valid point about his performance in 2020.

If the Ravens were running the ball 35 times for 200 yards per-game and clobbering people like they were a year ago, there wouldn't be much need to critique Jackson's play. How hard is it, after all, to get the ball from the center and hand it off to Mark Ingram or Gus Edwards?

But coming off of his MVP performance a season ago and having a healthy Hollywood Brown at his disposal meant Jackson should soar to even greater heights in 2020. Or that's what everyone thought.

So far, he's not doing much soaring, despite a schedule that has featured early season games against the Texans, Washington and Bengals. Is Jackson being figured out? Is he hurt? Is Greg Roman impacting the offense by dialing up passing play after passing play?

My guess is it's bits and pieces of all three, plus the other natural "thing" that happens whenever someone skyrockets to the top in a short amount of time. They tend to have a flattening period where things settle more towards "normal". I mean, how much better could Lamar be in 2020 than he was in 2019? I know he says all the right things about improving, getting better with each game, upside and all that stuff, but the reality is, he probably can't get a whole lot better than he was a season ago.

Is Aaron Rodgers really any better now than he was, say, in 2014? Russell Wilson is great and all, but I think he's been pretty great for four or five years now. His team might be better and his offensive line might be better but is Wilson himself really all that much better now than he was in 2018?

This isn't meant to suggest that players -- in any sport -- don't get better with experience. They certainly do. The issue is this: How much better can they get? In Lamar's case, it seems almost impossible for him to dominate the league any more than he did a year ago. That's how good he was in 2019.

Lamar Jackson is an extraordinary athlete. He also happens to be good quarterback. He could, eventually, be a great quarterback. That jury is still out on that word -- "great" -- and won't return a verdict for a long time. But one thing for certain. Jackson is going to have ups and downs, even though we didn't see many downs from him in 2018 and 2019. The mistakes and losses are inevitable, as much as we like to believe he might be able to avoid them.

Along the way, people are allowed to observe, praise and criticize. That's the way sports works. And it's also part and parcel of becoming the league MVP in your first full season in the league. You created those expectations when you won the MVP award. Now it's up to you to build on that play and improve on it.

And therein lies the rub. The quarterback gets too much credit when the offense plays well and he gets too much blame when the offense is sluggish. Lamar got nearly all of the credit last season and now he's starting to see a shift in momentum as people start to blame him for the lackluster offense we've seen over the last three weeks. There are lots of moving parts to the evaluation of the Baltimore offense and only one of those parts is, in fact, Lamar Jackson.

In the end, Lamar 2024 is going to be pretty much the same Lamar you see in 2020. He'll have the same basic style, I assume, and there will be weeks when no one can stop him and other weeks where the opposing coaching staff throws a new wrinkle at him that changes the tide. Jackson is a special player, no doubt.

But if anyone thought he was going to throw a perfect game every time he stepped on the mound, you must not follow the NFL very closely.

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a new #dmd podcast is here!


If you're a golfer, this is a podcast you MUST listen to with attention. I had the pleasure of sitting down with Matt Decker of Five Iron Golf and we covered the world of club-fitting from A to Z. If you're a golfer who takes your game seriously, having your clubs fit properly is, in all reality, at least 50% of the game. If you've never had your clubs fitted for you, this podcast could change your golf game!

As you'll hear, I had Matt and Five Iron Golf go through an entire fitting session with me. I'll get my new irons shortly and will report back here with the findings. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the 35-minute podcast with Matt.



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Monday
October 12
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#2239



4-1 is 4-1, but.....


This one will require a disclaimer, because I know how people around Baltimore get into a tizzy when someone hands out criticism of the Ravens.

So I will give out disclaimers, plural, before I get to the negativity.

Disclaimers...

I'm thrilled with the Ravens' 4-1 record. It's better than 3-2, 2-3, 1-4 or 0-5.

As most of you know, I'm not really all that big on the final score. If you win 33-10 or 13-10, it's basically the same thing. One might look and feel different than the other, but it's a win no matter the final tally.

Yesterday's game against the Bengals was definitely a snoozer. But it was what it was because the Bengals are lousy and the Ravens smothered them defensively. The game was basically over by the end of the first quarter. The Ravens knew it, the Bengals knew it and anyone with a brain watching the game knew it.

Lamar 2020 hasn't been nearly as high flying as Lamar 2019, but the Ravens are still off to a fine 4-1 start.

I'm not sure it's all that easy to play to your full array of strengths -- individually and as a team -- when you're winning 17-0 at the half and you don't need a towel to wipe your brow in the locker room at halftime.

It's easy for us to sit on the couch and implore that the players bust their tails whether it's 17-14 or 30-0, but the reality is the players play to the level that the moment requires of them. The Baltimore defense had something on the line yesterday as the game went on, which is why they were all over the field for 60 minutes. The offense knew -- based in part on what the defense was doing -- that once they put up 17 points the game was in the books.

I see no reason to think anything about the AFC North that's different than what I thought back in late August. The Ravens are still the cream of the division despite these last two uneven performances against Washington and Cincinnati. Pittsburgh's 4-0 but let's be honest here: based on who they've played, the Steelers should be 4-0. Their wins have come against the Giants, Texans, Broncos and Eagles. Combined...they have three wins. Total. For the season. Three wins. I know the adage about "you can only play who they put up against you" and that's very true. But it's also true the Steelers have played a Division III schedule thus far.

Cleveland's 4-1 and appear to be a stock worth buying at this point, but let's remember this: The Browns haven't won an important game since George W. Bush was the President. When they win a game that really matters, they can be taken seriously. Until then, the prevailing thought will be -- they'll eventually do something "Browns" again this season and things will fall apart.

Pre-season might have mattered. I'm not sure that's as much a disclaimer as it is a fact. The players bellyache about four games in August and there might be an argument that two would be better, but one thing for certain: not playing any pre-season games doesn't do anything to help the players prepare for the real thing.

I don't know if the Ravens' sputtering offensive play of the last two weeks is connected to the lack of a pre-season schedule, but I assume there's some connection, even if only slight in nature.

OK, now let's dig in a little and start the criticizing.

Lamar 2020 doesn't look like Lamar 2019. That's not to say he's been terrible or anything like that. But his play, overall, just isn't as sharp this season as it was a year ago.

Throws he made a year ago he's not making in 2020. Reads he was making in 2020 he's not making in 2020. As a former Raven mentioned to me yesterday, the speed of the game Lamar played at last year is "off" in 2020. He doesn't *look* the same.

Yesterday's bizarre playcalling notwithstanding, Jackson and the entire offense don't look like they're clicking. Is Marshal Yanda really missed that much? Is the playbook on Jackson fully written now? Not enough weapons for Lamar? The answer might be: all three.

The Baltimore running game and Greg Roman's playcalling continue to be the hot button topic for Ravens fans. Oddly enough, Roman's career has been built on running the football and rushing numbers that are almost always in the league's Top 5. But for whatever reason, the Ravens -- despite setting NFL rushing records a year ago -- don't run the ball nearly as much as most folks expected they would in 2020.

It could be, as we noted above, a combination of three things. Perhaps Yanda's play really did matter that much. Replacing a Hall of Famer isn't the easiest thing to do, obviously. Maybe two seasons of Lamar have given teams enough to game plan on and he's a smidgen less dangerous running the ball as he was in '18 and '19. And because the Ravens don't have enough weapons to throw to, teams are able to stack the box more, which then prods Roman into throwing it in excess.

If it's not one, two or three of those things, then it might be that Jackson isn't growing as a quarterback. And I'm not sure I agree with that idea. But the team's uneven offensive play has to be credited in some way to the quarterback.

Defensively, nothing seems "off", even if the team's pass rush prior to the Cincinnati game was still very much a question mark. There's no doubt that one area of the defense that needs constant attention is the defensive edge and chasing the quarterback, but on any given Sunday, the front seven can create havoc with the best of them.

The secondary is remarkably consistent. Sure, Mahomes and Company were able to exploit them a bit, but other than that, no one has really done anything of note offensively against Wink Martindale and his defense. Much like the offense that shines the brightest when armed with a lead, the defense is similar in nature. Their gambling, agressive style plays the best when the other team is pressing and trying to battle back from a deficit.

The Ravens are great front runners. And that's not meant to negate the importance of having a lead. If you can lead from start to finish, you win. You can lead for 55 minutes and then lose in the last 5 minutes and those first 55 minutes didn't matter all.

One thing we've seen from Lamar and the entire team since the midway point of the 2018 campaign: When the Ravens get ahead of you, they're going to follow through and win the game.

And when they fall behind, they're likely going to lose.

Reasons for that are varied, but it's the one constant we've seen in the Jackson era. We've never seen him do what Russell Wilson did last night in the final two minutes of the game because he mostly hasn't been put in that position in the last three seasons.

Mark Andrews is quite a puzzle. He's a great tight end. Other than Kelce and Kittle, there's probably no other tight end as dangerous as Andrews. He and Lamar have quickly built a Flacco-Pitta type of relationship. Lamar finds him, Andrews catches it. Every time.

Well, almost every time.

In a handful of the team's biggest games over the last three seasons, Andrews has disappeared. 90% of the time he's a pass catching machine. Probably more like 95% of the time, actually. But that 5% seems to come at the worst time, like last January against the Titans and a few weeks ago against the Chiefs. On those nights, Andrews looked tight. Out of sorts. Almost -- should we say it? -- like the moment got the best of him.

And it's that play from Andrews and the lack of any legit wide receiver other than Hollywood Brown that should keep the Ravens busy at the trade deadline. They need another quality receiver to support Andrews and Hollywood. Boykin's not doing it, Duvernay doesn't get much of a look as a pass catcher, and Willie Snead disappears more than David Copperfield on Broadway.

Here's the deal: Lamar needs additional weapons. Duvernay could become a good slot guy someday and James Proche could also develop into a contributing pass catcher, but neither of those things will likely happen in 2020. For this season, right now, the Ravens need another veteran who can get open and catch the football.

4-1 is 4-1 and all, but it's not entirely a comfortable 4-1 if you ask me. We're seeing cracks and small fractures in this team that we didn't see a season ago or expected to see in 2020.

And what do you think? Share it in the comments section below.

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a new #dmd podcast is here!


If you're a golfer, this is a podcast you MUST listen to with attention. I had the pleasure of sitting down with Matt Decker of Five Iron Golf and we covered the world of club-fitting from A to Z. If you're a golfer who takes your game seriously, having your clubs fit properly is, in all reality, at least 50% of the game. If you've never had your clubs fitted for you, this podcast could change your golf game!

As you'll hear, I had Matt and Five Iron Golf go through an entire fitting session with me. I'll get my new irons shortly and will report back here with the findings. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the 35-minute podcast with Matt.



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"The Keen Eye" of
David Rosenfeld

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


consider this


On Saturday, 21st-ranked Texas A&M kicked a field goal at the buzzer to beat Florida, 31-28. This qualified as an upset, with Florida ranked No. 4 at kickoff, though hardly the greatest of all time.

Afterwards, Florida head coach Dan Mullen said something about having to reevaluate his team’s defensive schemes. But he spent much of his time after the game talking about something outside his realm of expertise.

Mullen called on Florida athletic administrators to allow for full attendance at Florida Field, “The Swamp,” next weekend against LSU. He said he “absolutely” wants to have a sellout crowd in Gainesville when the Tigers come to town.

From personal experience, after a game is often the worst time to talk to a player or coach, win or lose, because of the emotion involved in the result. And Mullen thought that the listed attendance of about 25,000 at Texas A&M, one quarter of Kyle Field’s capacity, was enough to make a difference. The 25,000 included an enthusiastic and large group of the Corps of Cadets, the famous student military organization at A&M.

And that was enough for Mullen to spout off. Give me 90,000 on Saturday, he said. We need the same home field advantage them Aggies* had today, he insisted. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis recently lifted restrictions throughout the state, so the only thing to do is take him up on that decision, he figured.

*Mullen is from Philadelphia. He doesn’t actually talk like that. Poetic license…

I’m with Mullen on one thing. The result of a football game aside, it’s frustrating that one state says one thing and another state says something else, and those directives then get to be interpreted separately by institutions. And certainly Mullen means no harm here; he just wants some of the enthusiasm that makes you want to play (or coach) at Florida in the first place.

I’m with the experts on the main thing, though. Bringing a crowd of 90,000 into the stadium on Saturday would be an historic abandonment of responsibility by the school and the athletic administration.

As for Mullen, maybe it was just frustration. Or maybe it’s a real lack of maturity for a 48-year-old man charged with leading a team. Mullen makes $6 million a year, gets tested for COVID-19 all the time and depends on a schedule of testing of his players and staff in order to do his job. At any moment this year, the whole thing could be shut down. It’s all hanging on a string.

I don’t think the 90,000 he wants in The Swamp on Saturday have the same luxuries he has. I do think that too many of them are going to get sick if they’re allowed to be there. But there are more important things, I guess. Mullen just wants to win a football game, after all.


The Ravens and Bengals played a forgettable game yesterday at M&T Bank Stadium.

I shouldn’t be so dismissive of the Baltimore defense, I guess. Like Ravens’ defenses always have, Wink Martindale’s group made it extremely difficult on a rookie quarterback, this time Joe Burrow. While doing so, the defensive unit also held an excellent tailback, Joe Mixon, to just 59 yards on 24 carries. Then there was Marlon Humphrey doing what he does, again, and this time it led to a touchdown by Patrick Queen. Well done.

Otherwise, the Bengals were never a threat at any point in the game. Their best player was their punter, Kevin Huber. The sight of Burrow and his offense matriculating the ball down the field in the final minutes of the game by handing the ball off, and then kicking a field goal with 32 seconds left to avoid a shutout, was almost tragic and definitely sad.

Meanwhile, the Ravens played poorly on offense. I’m not really sure why, though I have a hard time believing that Lamar Jackson’s 37 passing attempts and only two designed rushing attempts didn’t have something to do with the knee injury that held him out of practice on consecutive days this past week. Also it rained a little in the second half, and I’m not sure either team really wanted to be there anymore. Like I said, forgettable.

But hey, 27-3 is still a blowout, another one in a string of blowouts the past two seasons. The Ravens’ four wins this season have come by 32, 17, 14 and 24 points, respectively. At +73 through five games, John Harbaugh’s team is still a dominant group. The Ravens still ran for more than 160 yards yesterday, about their season average.

In general, though? I think the feeling is that the Ravens have to start playing better if they want their season to be a great one. In fact, if they want to win the AFC North for the third straight year, they’ll have to play better to beat the Steelers once in the month of November, let alone twice.

Next week brings a trip to Philadelphia, assuming no COVID shenanigans for either team. A game against the same Eagles team that needed a touchdown in the final 30 seconds of regulation to tie the Bengals, having allowed Burrow to complete 31 passes for more than 300 yards in the process. A second game this season against the lousy NFC East, though the Cowboys are much more talented than their record would suggest.

With a bye week following the game, I think Harbaugh ought to tell his team that they really need to dominate a game like they can, and not just because the opponent is awful.


News came this week that Wichita State University is conducting an internal investigation into the conduct and behavior of its men’s basketball coach, Gregg Marshall.

I won’t repeat the reporting on this investigation, or some of the things Marshall has been alleged of doing or saying. I will repeat what Marshall said about the investigation, though his agent:

“My coaching style isn’t for everyone. What I am not is demeaning or abusive. I have deep respect for all my players. I believe unequivocally in their value as athletes, students and people. Any portrayal of me to the contrary is wrong.”

Here’s the problem. Without knowing individual incidents from hundreds of programs, Marshall’s coaching style isn’t much different than other coaches of his generation. He’s 57 years old, by the way. He makes it difficult for players in about 100 ways, because that’s the way he was coached.

Yes, he’s been “stuck” at Wichita, maybe because he’s a little rough around the edges. Go check out a video of him going berserk on the referees on a preseason exhibition trip to Canada a few years back. But at $3.5 million a year, he’s still one of the country’s highest-paid coaches.

I’m quite sure that, these allegations aside, Marshall spends a lot of time demeaning his players. If he doesn’t do it to their faces, he does it a lot to his assistant coaches. I hope that he isn’t physically abusive, to his players or to anyone else, but I’m quite positive he is verbally abusive. I’ve seen it too often to question whether it’s true or not.

Marshall is not the worst person to ever walk the Earth. That being said, I doubt he truly values the people who play for him, work for him and work alongside him. His relationships with them are transactional, and the transaction is mostly other people doing what he wants them to do. In his mind, he’s earned the right to act that way because of his success. I’ve seen it too often to question whether it’s true or not.

I think the portrayal of Marshall, the one he dismisses, is completely correct. He is everything people say he is, and he’s not the only one. I know I keep saying it, but I’ve seen it too often to question it.

What’s going to happen to Gregg Marshall? The problem now is that lots of his players are transferring, and that may lead to less success on the court, otherwise known as a convenient excuse to let a coach go. There is sure to be some “he said, he said” around all this, and the typical excuses of “misunderstood” and a “learning experience.”

But let’s not make Marshall into something unique. Maybe coaches in their 30s and 40s have changed, but guys like him ain’t ever changin’.

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#DMD GAME DAY
Week 5


Sunday— October 11, 2020

Cincinnati Bengals

1:00 PM EDT

M&T Bank Stadium
Baltimore, MD

Spread: Ravens (-12.0)



let's see whatcha got, mr. #1 draft pick


In the days before Covid-19, today would have been the day we really learned something about Joe Burrow, the highly touted rookie quarterback of the Cincinnati Bengals.

A raucous crowd of 60-some thousand would have been on hand in Baltimore, rain or not, and Burrow would have been stepping up in class in a big way for his first ever appearance in Charm City.

It would have been interesting to see how the kid would have handled it all.

Alas, it's still going to be interesting, but the scene won't be nearly as intimidating today, unless Burrow has a thing for cardboard cutouts the way some people get skittish around clowns or balloons.

Joe Burrow makes his first-ever appearance in Baltimore today when the Bengals take on the Ravens.

The Bengals are in town and it's a new era of football in Cincinnati. The long term projections look favorable, for sure. Burrow has been impressive in his first four starts as a professional and even pioneered Cincy to a win over Jacksonville last Sunday. Yes, yes, I'm aware the Jaguars aren't very good. But a win's a win's in the NFL.

But beating Jacksonville in your own building is significantly different than coming into Baltimore and leaving with a win. Joe Burrow would have to beat Lamar Jackson today, in Jackson's own building no less. The NFL is built on the "any given Sunday" theme, but it seems unlikely the rookie QB leaves BWI Airport with a smile on his face around 6 pm tonight.

For the Ravens, today's game represents an opportunity to get back on track after a pair of uneven outings in succession. They were blown out at home by Kansas City 13 days ago, then turned in one of those "we did enough to win the game" sort of performances last Sunday in a road victory over the Washington team. Not that the Ravens played poorly last Sunday. They didn't, in fact. But they weren't efficient for four quarters, either.

The weather could turn out to be a factor as well. The forecast has fluctuated a bit over the last 24 hours. Heavy rain was supposed to be in the area overnight, then it was moved to mid-morning, and now the hourly forecast says the heavy stuff might not come around until just after kick-off, in the 1:30 pm range. Unless something really strange happens, though, the game will be played in rain today in Baltimore. How that impacts both teams remains to be seen, but it would stand to reason that both team's quarterbacks will throw the ball less than usual.

The Bengals are "down" these days, but there's clearly hope that Burrow is the guy to help take them back to a contender in the AFC North.

The Ravens have won two straight AFC North titles, boast the league's reigning MVP, and, despite that loss to Kansas City two weeks ago, are still a favorite to win the division again and work through the playoffs to a possible match-up with the Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game.

These are, for the time being at least, two teams headed in opposite directions in the AFC North.


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keys to the game


No comfort for Burrow -- It's easy to say this, of course, but the Ravens' defense has to make things challenging for the rookie quarterback today. It would be particularly helpful to rattle Burrow right from the start. Allowing him to get into any kind of throwing rythm and gain confidence along the way could be a bad thing. Sometimes a rookie doesn't know enough to be nervous. The Ravens have to make Burrow uncomfortable right from the first whistle.

Gus Edwards could get some work today as the Ravens figure to run the ball extensively if the weather is as messy as forecasters say it will be.

Ground and pound -- If there was ever a day for the Ravens to run it 40 times and throw it 20 times, today's the day. Get Ingram (20 carries), Dobbins (10) and Edwards (5) some work and Lamar can even run it five times if that works. Today's the day to run the ball, shorten the clock, and play to your strengths. Unless the Ravens fall behind, somehow, 21-3, in the second quarter, there's no reason at all to air it out. Just do what you do best: run the football.

No offensive turnovers -- This one is important every Sunday, but even more so with the expected bad weather playing a part in today's game. It's important for the Ravens to maintain possession of the ball and not turn it over to the Bengals. For the most part, this has been a hallmark of Lamar's career thus far. The Ravens don't turn the ball over much, in general. But today, of all days, it's critical to limit the fumbles and interceptions.

Nothing fancy, please -- With the weather and the potential for slippery conditions, the main order of business today is to win the game. It would be nice to win a laugher, 34-10, but 17-16 would be just fine as well. Here's hoping the Ravens play this one smartly and without gambles, chances and trick plays that could lead to turnovers, etc. This is one of those Sundays where you buckle up the chinstrap and just get out of Dodge with a win. End of story.

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how drew sees today's game


We're going with the anticipated weather forecast of heavy rain throughout the game when we look into our crystal ball on this one.

The Ravens get the opening kick off and march down the field, mixing the run and the pass, although a Lamar Jackson 16-yard scamper on 3rd and 4 is the big play of the opening drive. The opening points of the game are a 33 yard field goal from Justin Tucker and it's 3-0, Baltimore.

Burrow looks good on his opening series, going 3-for-3 to move the Bengals into Baltimore territory. But his fourth throw of the game is batted into the air by Calais Campbell and picked off by Patrick Queen. The Ravens then move sharply down the field and Jackson finds Hollywood Brown for a 19 yard touchdown throw late in the first quarter and it's 10-0, Ravens.

The two teams slog their way through a listless second quarter, but Burrow does get Cincinnati down to the Baltimore 9-yard line before the drive stalls and the Bengals kick a field goal to make it 10-3.

The crystal ball shows the Ravens at 4-1 following today's game vs. Cincinnati.

Lamar and the Ravens move down field quickly in the last 1:44 of the half and Tucker hits from 40 yards as the first half expires, giving the Ravens a 13-3 lead at intermission.

Cincy opens the second half with a field goal on their first possession to cut it to 13-6, then the Bengals force a Mark Ingram fumble at midfield on the next possession. Again, though, the Baltimore defense stiffens and a third Cincinnati field goal makes it 13-9, Ravens.

The Baltimore offense comes to life with a quick 10-play drive that culminates with a Lamar-to-Andrews TD throw from 11 yards out and the Ravens go up 19-9 after Tucker misses the extra point.

Early in the fourth quarter, Jimmy Smith intercepts a Burrow pass and takes it back to the Bengals' 24-yard line. Two plays later, Jackson slices and dices his way down to the Cincinnati three. Gus Edwards runs it in for a touchdown on the next play and it's 26-9.

The Bengals get a nice kick return and Burrow moves the offense down the field with relative ease this time, finally getting into the end zone on a 21 yard TD strike to Tyler Boyd. It's 26-16 with four minutes left.

A Baltimore drive stalls on the Cincy 14 yard line and with 44 seconds remaining, Tucker hits another field to put the Ravens up 29-16 and that's how it ends, as the Ravens improve to 4-1 with a "professional" 29-16 win that was never really in doubt.

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around the league in 30 seconds


Game of the Day -- I can't even believe I'm typing this: Are the Colts and Browns the best game on today's schedule? There's no way, right? But they are both 3-1 on the year and a Cleveland win today coupled with losses by Pittsburgh and Baltimore would put Cleveland on top of the AFC North. And what about Philip Rivers and Indianapolis? Are they for real? Maybe this is a testament to poor scheduling more than anything else, but Indy vs. Cleveland is the best game on today's docket. So weird...

Will it be this kind of day for Jared Goff in D.C., or are the Rams poised to improve to 4-1 this afternoon?

Dud of the Day -- Jacksonville (1-3) at Houston (0-4) should be a doozy, huh? The obvious storyline in this one is Romeo Crennel's first game as Houston's interim head coach. Will the Texans show up this afternoon to show Bill O'Brien was the problem after all? Or does Jacksonville extend Houston's misery and get themselves back on track? Either way, this game figures to be awful.

Most to Prove -- There's no telling if the Rams are really any good or not, but today's trip to DC poses a couple of specific challenges. First, they're playing at 10:00 a.m., body-clock wise, and second, they're likely going to play today's game in a downpour. But if the Rams (3-1) are really any good, they're leaving D.C. with a win. If they're not all that good, the Redskins nip them with a late field goal.

Lock of the Day -- We're liking the Eagles getting 7 points in Pittsburgh today, for some reason. Sure, the Steelers are well rested after a week off due to the Covid-19 situation in Nashville and the Eagles played on Monday night in San Fran, but we liked what we saw from Philly on Monday and the thought here is they keep it close and cover the 7 points in a 27-23 Pittsburgh victory.

AFC North Predictions -- In addition to the Ravens 29-16 victory, we like the Steelers to beat Philly 27-23 and the Colts to nip the Browns in Cleveland, 30-27.

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Saturday
October 10
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2237



"no skill? no skill? are you insane?"


For anyone who thinks, for some weird reason, that professional golfers are more intelligent than any other athlete, English professional Matthew Fitzpatrick put an end to that thought on Friday after his round at a European Tour event in England.

Fitzpatrick spent part of his post-round press conference -- he shares the 36-hole lead at the tournament in England, by the way -- breaking down how Bryson DeChambeau is impacting the sport and went as far as to say the current U.S. Open champion is "making a mockery of the game".

But that wasn't the dumbest thing Fitzpatrick said. Not by a longshot.

“It’s not a skill to hit the ball a long way, in my opinion," Fitzpatrick told reporters. "I could put on 40 pounds. I could go and see a bio-mechanist and I could gain 40 yards; that’s actually a fact. I could put another two inches on my driver. I could gain that, but the skill in my opinion is to hit the ball straight. That’s the skill. He’s just taking the skill out of it, in my opinion. I’m sure lots will disagree. It’s just daft."

Matthew Fitzpatrick stirred the golf world on Friday when he claimed there's no skill involved in Bryson DeChameau's new found length off the tee.

Now that was the dumbest thing Fitzpatrick said. By a longshot.

It's not a skill to hit a golf ball 360 yards? What about the guys on the long drive circuit, like Crofton's Kyle Berkshire, who routinely hits drives of 400 yards or more? Granted, the long drive guys are definitely hit-or-miss. They might hit 2 out of 10 straight enough to count, but half of their other misses would still be playable in "real" golf.

Was Rick Berry shooting free throws underhanded a "skill"? No one else did it that way. Freak show or skill? I once saw a visiting player for a CAA school (sorry, forget which one) shoot foul shots before the game by bouncing the ball off the floor and into the net. He made at least six or seven in a row. I remember watching him in warm-ups and thinking "Is that legal? If so, that's a great way to shoot free throws!"

What if a NFL kicker comes along someday who can kick 80 yard field goals? That would be a game-changer, too, right? I mean, right now, most kickers are great inside of 40, really good inside of 50, and just sorta-kinda good outside of 50. If a guy came along who could hit 60 and 70 yarders with ease and could even make 80 yarders on occasion, that would certainly give his team an advantage, wouldn't it? Wouldn't that be a great "skill" to have?

If a baseball pitcher ever comes along throwing 110 miles per-hour, it's game-set-match, right? I mean, 100 miles per-hour right now is almost unhittable. Some guys can still catch up to 100, but they wouldn't catch up to 110. Freak of nature or skill?

Back to DeChambeau and Fitzpatrick's asinine comment.

If anyone should know anything about the "skill" of hitting a golf ball 360 yards it would be......another professional golfer. I could see one of the goofy talking heads like Skip Bayless or Shannon Sharpe poo-poo'ing DeChambeau's new-found distance and saying, "That's not a skill." They have no idea what they're talking about when it comes to golf. But for a professional - a Ryder Cupper, no less - to say it is mind boggling.

Now, if you want to opine that a player coming along and hitting a ball 360 yards off the tee is going to "change the game", you can make that argument, I suppose.

Tiger Woods turned the golf world upside down in 1996 when he showed up on TOUR. He kick-started an entire generation of young golfers who worked out, ate better, trained harder and, in general, took golf much more seriously. By the time 2000 rolled around, you didn't see many XL golf shirts on TOUR any longer. Woods forced everyone to get leaner and meaner.

The powers-that-be at Augusta National took such great exception with Woods winning in the style that he did in 1997 -- you might have your own opinion on why it bothered them so much -- that they lengthened the golf course in an effort to combat his prodigious driving distance. But eventually they ran out of property to extend and players were still hitting all the par 5's in two shots and throwing wedges into 440 yard holes.

The USGA tried to get it right this year at Winged Foot, and for the most part, they did. Only one player -- DeChambeau at 6-under -- broke par for 72 holes and 7-over par was the 36-hole cut. They wanted to make the course play more difficult and they did, for sure, but DeChambeau's length was the one factor they probably didn't consider along the way.

DeChambeau now says he's going to show up at Augusta National with a 48 inch driver, which, if he hits that well, could add another 20 yards or so to his already crazy driving stats. If you think hitting a 45 inch driver straight is hard, you should try putting a 48 inch driver in your hand. It's impossible to hit. Unless, of course, you're a PGA Tour player who is in great shape and can make his body do the things it needs to do to deliver the clubface back to square at impact while swinging at 125 miles per-hour.

I can't wait to see what Fitzpatrick says about DeChambeau at the Masters.

And if you're one of those stuffed suits who thinks "equipment and the ball" are ruining the game of golf, you'll have a field day harping and complaining about how far he hits it at Augusta National next month. He's going to smash and mash that place to pieces. I'm not saying he's a lock to win, but he's going to put on quite the driving display there.

Speaking of equipment, Brandel Chamblee of The Golf Channel brought up a great point on Twitter during Monday night's Bears/Bucs game. After Jimmy Graham snagged a ball one-handed for an impressive touchdown catch, Chamblee noted Graham was wearing a pair of gloves specifically designed for use by NFL players. "Why isn't anyone barking about 'equipment' when a football player grabs a ball with one hand that he wouldn't have been able to catch without the glove on?" Chamblee asked.

DeChambeau's equipment is different, yes. He plays single-length irons (to my knowledge, no one else on TOUR does that) and a 46" driver. Both of those give him an advantage in terms of length, but -- here's the important thing -- only when he makes the correct golf swing. In fact, there's an argument his swing has to be more precise than the rest of his TOUR brethren because his margin of error narrows with the equipment he chooses to use. Go try and hit a pitching wedge that's the same length as your 6-iron and tell me how that works for you.

When I first started using the long putter, circa 2005, a few people at my club muttered that it was giving me an edge they didn't have. I had two great rebuttals that I often used on those who speculated I was getting "help" by using the long putter.

"If it's an advantage, why doesn't everyone putt with one in that case?" And, "Here, you use it for 10 minutes and tell me how much of an advantage you think you would get."

I can't tell you how many times an interested observer would ask to take a few putts with the long putter and after about four strokes they'd hand it back and say, "I have no idea how you use that thing. It feels awful."

Believe me, if I could putt adequately in competition with a short, standard length putter, I most certainly would. But here's what else I know. Learning how to putt with the long putter is most certainly a "skill".

And hitting a golf ball 360 yards is a skill. Period. In fact, it requires far more skill than hitting it 260 yards. Any goof can hit one 260. Not many people can hit it 360.

I have no idea why Fitzpatrick sought to bring up DeChambeau at a tournament in England when the latter is playing a tournament in Las Vegas. On another tour, as well. Fitzpatrick even mentioned he had taken a few minutes to go over DeChambeau's first round stats on the PGA Tour website to see where he hit his tee shots en-route to his opening round 62. Boy, talk about long-drive-envy, huh?

If nothing else, we now have our first 2021 Ryder Cup singles match on the books. Somehow, someway, it has to be DeChambeau vs. Fitzpatrick. Anything other than that would be a letdown.

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#dmd podcast replay


This podcast was first published this past Monday here at #DMD. A couple of readers e-mailed me and mentioned it might be good to run the podcast again for "weekend listening", so that's what we're doing. I love borrowing great ideas!

We spent some time last week with Tim Miller of Freestate Electric talking Ravens and other sports, plus we learn a little more about what it is that Freestate Electric does. If you're a business owner or commercial real estate professional, you'll be particularly interested in hearing Tim speak about Freestate Electric.

And Tim really knows the Ravens, too!

Enjoy...




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#dmd comments








Brian Jessup     October 29
Why would the host blast Jack? He's a citizen and has a right to endorse anyone he sees fit. It's still America although battered and bruised these past 4 years. Jack wasn't exactly brought up in a difficult environment, he's a millionaire over and over lives in Florida outside the death of a grandchild he's had a pretty good life. And wasn't always "faithful" on the road. So he has a lot in common.

Adam Porrell     October 29
Good article today about the O's and the World Series. I'm 40. I've never watched a World Series with the Orioles playing in it. I hope that changes soon.

George     October 29
"The cheering you hear is from Oriole fans. Everybody else is in muted silence. The pitch! Line drive! Ripken catches it at shortstop! And the Orioles are champions of the world!"

Jon Miller, 37 years ago.




DJ     October 29
Lots of hysteria today about a Jack Nicklaus tweet endorsing Donald J. Trump. I'm anxious to see if @DF addresses this tomorrow or will he avoid possibly having to blast a famous golfer?

Carl in Owings Mills     October 29
2023 may be the O's year, Drew. 65 or 70 wins next year, maybe a .500 season in 2022 and then who knows what 2023 might bring? If Hall continues to progress, we might have our first "ace" since Mussina.

Brian Jessup     October 29
@Butch, thank you, said this twice in the last 2 weeks. Let's see if the DMD faithful rip on you as well. 100% Butch

Butch (aka Big Fat Daddy)     October 29
President Teddy Roosevelt's speech should be required reading for all Americans.

Too bad the current politicians, newspaper and media pundits and the voters do not follow his thoughts and ideals. If all did America would be a much better country. George - thanks for sharing and DF thanks for publishing. To All - please vote - your vote does indeed matter. Just ask Jim Brochin - he lost the Baltimore County Executive Primary by only 17 votes.

Rob Really     October 29
Thanks, Guys... I had nearly forgotten about the Joe Carter home run to beat my Phillies. Next thing, you'll be bringing up Lee Evans and Billy Cundiff.

Josh     October 29
The 2008 Phillies call was pretty good.



Best team celebration: 86 Mets



Best crowd celebration: 02 Angels



Side note: The Os only had to beat Detroit to get to KC in the ALCS, only one series

David Rosenfeld     October 29
I know that some of these didn't have any broadcaster audio, but I wonder what people think about the best "call" of all these?

Personally, not sure anything can beat "touch 'em all, Joe. You'll never hit a bigger home run in your life," which was Tom Cheek on the Blue Jays' radio broadcast, not the national TV broadcast

DF     October 29
Thanks WJB!

Make it FOUR teams instead of five.

Now I feel even worse as a long suffering O's fan!

WJB     October 29
Not only has Toronto been to a World Series since 1984, they actually were back to back champions in 92 & 93.

HERMAN     October 29
There hasn't been an attorney living in a "hardened outpost" since Lincoln's log cabin.

George     October 28
President Roosevelt gave his speech titled “Citizenship in a Republic” as he toured Europe after his presidency. It does indeed contain the stirring words about the man in the arena, but the full speech, in which he contrasts in vivid terms the good and the bad citizen, should be required reading for all of us having the extraordinarily good fortune to live in this country. Especially in these times! We have to go back to President Reagan, or perhaps even as far back as President Kennedy, for a national leader who could sincerely communicate an instructive and inspirational message and do so elegantly in more than simple sentences and phrases.

I’ll find “Citizenship in a Republic” and see if Drew will re-publish it in the Dish in the next few days. I think all but the TL/DR crowd will find their spirits elevated.

Chris in Bel Air     October 28
Can't imagine what the Rays fans are thinking today. Obviously there is no way to know what would have happened had Snell stayed in the game. However, he was absolutely dealing and the Dodgers were barely sniffing contact on the ball. Despite what the plan was prior (pitch count, inning count, etc), I can't imagine watching your starter perform so superbly, in the most critical game of the season and perhaps their careers, how Cash thought my best chance at winning is to remove this guy from the game now. What the...

Jonathan     October 28
Oh the irony is rich indeed when Herman, the Dish's worst critic, offers a critical take about someone else being a critic.


Wayne Garrett     October 28
That was my first exposure to "Pittsburgh Dad". Good, wholesome humor in that video, something we've gotten away from as a nation. Thanks for sharing that. It took courage to promote something Pittsburgh on a Baltimore web site.

Frank     October 28
Of course Tomlin knew what he was doing. You could tell by the fact he was looking up at the jumbo board the whole time. I also think had he interfered with Jones and the Ravens would have lost the game that he might have been suspended for a long time. Changing the outcome of a game like that would have been a ground breaking event in NFL history.

Bill P.     October 28
Agree about Tomlin knowing what he was doing when he stepped on the field. Not sure I agree about the suspension though. Maybe one game but not rest of the season.



Agree that the Holmes Super Bowl catch was great, but don't think it was better than Tyree.



Agree that the O's loss to the Pirates in 1979 was brutal. I'm 60 and I still don't think I'm over it.

Tom     October 28
That's all Herman had to offer huh? That was his "hot take" for today?


TimD in Timonium     October 28
LOVE Pittsburgh Dad. He’d be right at home in Glen Bernie.

C.J.     October 28
Interesting thoughts about the Ravens-Steelers rivalry not being as heated as before. I haven't thought about it all that much but I would agree that this week doesn't feel like a typical Baltimore vs. Pittsburgh game. I'm not sure why that is but I agree with you that something's off.

Mark in Perry Hall     October 28
@Herman hates the web site, hates the "site owner" but still comes by every day. So odd.

Craig     October 28
The Pittsburgh Dad video was really funny. Never knew Ben had an acting career!

unitastoberry     October 28
Did not watch the exhibition season/field of dreams world series but first thing I thought was Buck Showalter too.



If I was Harbaugh I would bring in Ray,Ed, and Haloti this week to just let the young guys on defense like Queen get some inside info on Benny Boy. Its little things from vets who have played the guy for many years that might help some of our starters who have never played against the man from Findlay.

HERMAN     October 28
Irony is alive and well at DMD. Roosevelt's great quote decrying the critic, on a website devoted to a critic's commentary.

Mark Myword     October 28
Steelers plus 3.5 is a mortal lock.

Howard     October 27
Theme for Steelers week should be “and then there were none”

Hard for Ravens to screen when defenses are maintaining a 2nd line in case Lamar breaks the initial rush.

My major concern is that I don’t have access to my McNair jersey for the game. McNair was an awesome Steeler killer and I got this jersey specifically for Steeler games

Mark McGrath     October 27
Chris--Sleeping in your own bed, sticking with a simple daily routine and the waaaaaay better locker room experience can't hurt. The visitor's locker room is on the other side of the stadium, so they probably lose 5 minutes of halftime. (just enough time for Greg Roman to decide to abandon the run!)

chris K     October 27
I just have a simple question. With fans either not attending games or having a very limited amount of people attend, does being home or away really matter this year when it comes to team performance? In packed stadiums I believe crowd noise helps the home team usually. with no noise, each stadium is just a neutral site game. Im curious if anyone disagrees and why.

Jason M     October 27
Glad to see we're taking a break from the sartorial, but one last thing on Cam Newton. While we may not share his fashion sense, he's a very decent guy, who displayed said decency when spotted quietly bringing a dinner from Sullivan's steakhouse to a homeless man on the Saturday before Ravens game a couple of years ago. Cam's alright in my book - and I don't remember anyone being anything but admiring of Clyde Frazier, or Charles Oakley's always impeccable post game attire.

Mark McGrath     October 27
The best part of yesterday's golf marathon was getting Drew to tell stories from his days in the soccer business. Nothing takes the sting away from a chunked 6 iron than hearing his masterful recap of the time Billy Ronson thought he'd won the lottery.



Drew enjoys narrating them almost as much as he enjoys a power fade from the #1 tee.

HERMAN     October 27
The game will be won or lost this weekend by coaching. If the Pittsburgh coach has seen enough tape to exploit our weaknesses it's going to be a long game. They have speed on offense if they triple up to one side and can create pick plays that free up the speed we are in trouble. We are susceptible to screens, a steady diet of those and it'll also be a tough day. Their entire offense is a pick play. Figure that out, we can beat them.

Chris in Bel Air     October 27
Adding Ngakoue certainly seems to be a great addition for the defense. Obviously slowing down the opposing team improves the Ravens chances. However, the offense needs to find more consistency and Lamar has to improve his level of play. The Ravens have benefitted from playing some lousy teams the last couple of weeks. They won't be as fortunate playing at that same level over the next 5 weeks. With that said, I do believe they will look much sharper this week against Pitt. Harbs usually has the team ready to play after a bye week and I believe the Ravens will win this Sunday.

Eric     October 27
Is @Herman serious? Surely he knows the difference between golf clothes and normal clothes. Or not.

unitastoberry     October 27
I guess you can call me a doubting Thomas on this but I'm not sold on the 2020 Ravens yet. They have played one good team so far and they got beat kinda bad. They have a propensity to fold when they are losing which is not often but happens. Their big reciever Andrews has mind melts several games a year. The defense must generate confusion in big games but does not. And the offensive line is not in any type of groove yet minus Yanda and Stanley is playing hurt. They also need to pass to more than Andrews and Brown. If your not going to play the option game like last year try some more low percentage passes. Has anyone seen a Lamar toss a screen? Of course the kicker is still money in the bank and Duvernay should be back on punts not Proche. I hope I'm wrong Sunday will go a long way in telling us so.

HERMAN     October 27
When Payne Stewart was having some trouble with his golf game there were some announcers questioning him wearing the plus fours and saying he needed to pay a little more attention to his golf game than what outfit he was wearing. He wasn't backing up the flash with game. I don't recall any racial angle in the criticism. The race angle has to stop being the first narrative or we will never progress.

Rob Archibald     October 27
Great seeing you yesterday at the flag tournament and congrats to you and Brian and everyone involved for a great day. It was cool to see Free State Electric there as part of the day. When I saw their logo on the paperwork I said I know them from the Dish! The course was in great shape and the food was good. Even the drizzle and fog didn't see that bad! Thanks again Drew.

George     October 27
You run out of energy rooting for a new team when they are down by 21 points and score a touchdown to pull them within 14 and are then led in wild celebration by the QB and get a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty.



It's positively absurd to suggest this is a racial issue. Just like in golf, where journeymen like Poulter and Fowler seduce the media and public by wearing goofy clothes for the purpose of publicity, you wonder, is this competition, or is this entertainment?




kevin j     October 26
Gotta admit, when I saw the headline today I was certain Sergio Garcia had done something goofy again! Never would have guessed we needed to opine about an old washed up QB and his take on Cam Newton's fashion choices.

Not sure I get what the purpose of dancing around the obvious topic about either. The hand wringers are calling Garcia a racist, so if that's where you wanna go, then go there. I don't get it.

Ravens had a big bye week trade, its Steelers week, world series actions, lot of sports stuff going on these days.

@George has probably the best take on Cam, given his location. There were obviously reasons Cam had few takers, and none had to do with race.


Dan P.     October 26
It's weird that Garrapolo, who QB's the team in San Fran, also enters and exits the stadium nattily attired and Garcia didn't rake him over the coals. I wonder why not?

George     October 26
They figured out here in Carolina that Cam prepares more for the post-game press than he does for the games. They also learned that he's a great front-runner with good dance moves but in a tough football game he has zero heart.

HERMAN     October 26
Dog whistles. People hearing dog whistles. What does that say about the frequency they themselves are on?

delray rick     October 26
If the RAVENS lose SUNDAY, the howling on this site wil be x rated. If NEWTON doesn't look like a pimp..PHIL the thrill and MESSIAH should move on, they is DONE!! Taking up a spot for BERGER who should be in the MASTERS. The DODGERS winning the "thing" don't mean do do. 60 games !!!! So "sleepy joe" wants to beat "GEORGE BUSH", WOW!! According to AOC we have 9 years left, don't have to worry bout my 401k. If TRUMP wins SPRINGSTEEN says he's moving to CANADA with BETTE MIDLER. People who don't vote (DREW) should be ashamed ..the Men and women who died for this privilege. Don't be surprised if the 2 sons sell DEM O'S. Story made the papers in the sunshine state bout the wonderful squeegee kids in the BIG B spitting on windows if you turn them away. Best orient food was JIMMY WO'S on CHARLES ST. Broke 100 10 years ago of all places "GRAYSTONE". GET A GOOD TEACHER.

Jason M     October 26
It's Steelers week! Titans had them lined yup there with a late pick, but credit to the Steelers D for forcing a long field goal off the turnover. Worthy adversaries with their HOF bound QB looking stronger and fresher than I have seen him in a few seasons. Hopefully the Ravens will bring their A game, I don't think we've seen that much in 2020...yet!

Barker     October 26
An apology is the least Jeff Garcia should do. A suspension is in order if you ask me.

unitastoberry     October 26
"Maryland football has made lots of mistakes in recent years."



I would add to that saying in the last 45 years or since the departure of Jerry Claiborne. Bobby Ross got it back together but they messed with him too. Friedgen never had the recruits Jerry and Bobby had but he was a good head coach who also got messed around with. When the star players from Seneca Valley and Wild Lake etc go out of state for D1 your done.



Looks like the Stillers are for real. I turned it off but the Titans did come back a little too late. Oh well it always boils down to Benny Boy this is nothing new. Me makes a 500 team a 1000 team and that's why Canton already has a spot for him.

Eric     October 25
Not my fault you botched your comment.

Billy     October 25
That's some serious insight there, thanks @Eric.

Eric     October 25
Someone should probably tell Billy that last night's ending to the World Series game never happened before and will never happen again. What you saw last night was an ending "we've never seen before."

Friday
October 9
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2236



"you want answers?"


Carl in Owings Mills asks: "Are you excited about the Capitals potentially signing Henrik Lundqvist as a veteran #2 behind Samsonov or would you rather they go for someone younger?"

DF says: "Give me 'the King' every day! I love the signing, if it happens. I think Lundqvist can still be very solid if you give him 15 or 20 games and, who knows, if the Caps draw the Rangers in the post-season he might even have a little something saved up for them! I always liked Lundqvist. Except when he was beating Washington..."


DJ asks: "I saw on Twitter you mentioned your Masters Top 5 but didn't see who you listed. I'd love to throw some bucks down on a futures bet or two. Who do you like?"

DF says: "A lot could change in the next month. I'm curious to see how Koepka plays next week after rehabbing his knee injury and Molinari hasn't played since February and he's just now coming back on TOUR (because of Covid-19). But as of right now, if you want my top five, today, it's DeChambeau, Reed, Schauffele, McIlroy and Wolff. Any of those five could win for sure."


Aaron asks: "Is Nick Markakis a Hall of Famer if he gets to 3,000 hits?"

DF says: "Of course. But he has a long way to go. (Checks notes: He has 2,388 hits). He'll be 37 next month. What's he have, two more seasons at best? He can't get to 3,000 hits in two more seasons. And if he can't get to 3,000 hits, he has no chance of getting into Cooperstown. He's had a good career, but nothing more than that."


Tim Dalton asks: "I know you're a logo and helmet freak and you've often commented that the Texans have the best logo/helmet in the NFL. I'm wondering if you have a favorite in college football? I don't hear or see you reference college helmets/logos very often and there are far more of them to choose from than in the NFL. Thanks! Go Hall!"

DF: Yes, Go Hall! indeed! You're right, there are a lot more to choose from in college football, but I just don't follow it enough to know the best ones from the good ones. I will say that I always liked USC's helmets as a youngster. I like that color scheme and just always thought their helmets looked cool."


Tippy asks: "Who is/was the best golfer of all the media people you have played with in Baltimore?"

DF says: "Good question! I'll have to think about this one. Even though he gave up the game shortly after arriving in Baltimore, John Buren was a legit 4 handicap player when he first got here. We played together several times and I was very impressed with his game. Scott Garceau is also decent. He really loves golf. But for "best of Baltimore", I'd say the best of the ones I played with was definitely Buren. And he was a hoot to spend 18 holes with, too!"


Chris asks: "What does winning this NBA title do for LeBron's legacy if the Lakers do go on to win?"

DF says: "I'm not sure what more he needs to do. I guess if you're just judging him on titles, getting his 4th gets him closer to Jordan's six, but I'm not sure that's how you judge LeBron's legacy. I'd judge it like this: He went to Miami and they won two. He went back to Cleveland and they won one, including a startling upset of Golden State at the near-height of their dynasty, and now he's going to win one in L.A. for a franchise that had slipped significantly in quality and star power since Kobe's retirement. His legacy is pretty simple: wherever he goes, he wins...eventually."


Darren asks: "I have that bar bet question you love to answer. One hole to make a birdie and win a major championship. He's on the 18th hole all even with everyone else and he just needs a birdie to win. Who are you taking?"

DF says: "I think you know the answer to this before you even hit 'send' on the e-mail, don't you? Come on man. If you and your buddies are somehow arguing that it's not Tiger, you guys have had way too much to drink. It's Tiger. Period. But you already knew that. He's the greatest closer in the history of the sport."


Pat asks: "I don't want to bring up the Mount Pleasant argument again but I do have a question about golf courses in the area. If they held a PGA Tour major championship at Bulle Rock what do you think the winning score would be?"

DF says: "Thank you, first of all, for not asking a Mount Pleasant question. About Bulle Rock: It's a terrific course, for starters, and there's some room there to lengthen a few holes and present some challenges for TOUR players. I'm trying to remember what the winning score was back in the early 2000's when I played the Maryland Open there. I think (don't count on it) it was 9 under for 3 days. Now, we're 20 years later, almost, and the course is a bit longer and the players and equipment are better. Over four days at Bulle Rock, the winner would be 24 under par. And that's 'at a minimum'. 28 under might be more like it."


Cal James asks: "We got AC/DC crammed down our throats tonight (last night) on the NFL game in Chicago and it got me wondering. Who was better at the height of their success? AC/DC or Van Halen?"

DF says: "Oh boy, this one is really tough. I might have to abstain. I love both bands. If you push me for an answer, I'm going with Van Halen. By a nose. And I'm talking the David Lee Roth era of Van Halen, obviously, not Van Hagar. Van Halen's six albums are better than any six you can put up from AC/DC, with either Bon Scott or Brian Johnson singing."


Michael Gigliardi asks: "My golf group of eight guys are planning our 2021 trip and I wanted to ask if you have any suggestions for a place we can drive within 5 or 6 hours with a budget of about $1,000 a man?"

DF says: "Obviously you can always do Ocean City, but I'm guessing you're looking for more 'travel' than that. Williamsburg is nice, but you have to get down there after April. Anything before that could be chilly. Pinehurst is awesome from April through November or December. Depending on what time of year you go, I might suggest The Homestead, which is about 5 hours away, but it has an awesome hotel/restaurant on the property and the Lower Cascades course is one of the best layouts you'll ever play. Lots of options. If you pressed me, I'd say Pinehurst in the spring, Williamsburg in the summer and The Homestead in the fall."


Ken asks: "Besides Harbaugh, who is your favorite NFL coach?"

DF says: "I don't really have a favorite, per se. I've always admired Tomlin in Pittsburgh and Payton in New Orleans. But more recently, I've really admired the job that Brian Flores has done in Miami. They have very little talent down there and somehow they're in every game. They tore his team apart in August last year and he still managed to get the Dolphins to play hard the whole way through."


Tiger's first Masters win came in 1997 (above). Does he have room for one more green jacket in his closet?

J.J. asks: "What do you realistically think Tiger's chances of winning the Masters are?"

DF says: "I assume you mean this year's event and not just in general? Not much. I mean, it's Augusta, so he could always cobble together four decent rounds and make some noise, but his game is so far "off" from what it was a decade ago that I would consider it a borderline 'miracle' for him to win another major. But without question if there's one place he could win again, it would be Augusta. The November weather isn't all that much different than what he faces in April, so I don't think that's going to be an issue for him and his back/neck issues. I just don't think he has the ability to play the kind of 'error free' golf he used to play in his heyday. He makes too many bogeys and double bogeys now. I'd say he's 40 to 1 to win, although I'm sure the official odds are much, much less."


Steve in Hunt Valley asks: "Is Dennis Pitta a Ravens Ring of Honor candidate in your opinion?"

DF: "Ummm, no. Good player and all, but not a 'Ring' candidate. They have to make sure that legacy goes to the really special players. I've always thought they've done a good job of including the 'special players' only (Byner notwithstanding). The one argument you could make, perhaps, is McCrary. I'm not 100% convinced he belongs. But anyway, Pitta does not fit that criteria. The next three to go in are Suggs, Yanda and Flacco."


Chris J. asks: "Settle a friendly golf argument please. What's the most important club in the bag?"

DF says: "Everyone has always said 'the putter' but it's 'the driver' for sure. The hole always begins on the tee. If you hit a good tee shot on 14 of the 18 holes (assuming you're playing four par 3's), you're in command of the round. If you hit 10 good drives, you're still able to put together a decent score. If you hit 5 good drives, you're doomed. Getting off the tee and into the fairway is 50% of the game. You still have to get it on the green and into the hole, but getting your ball into the fairway is the most important part of golf. This, of course, is the answer for an amateur player. At the PGA Tour level, 'the putter' is probably the most important club because they're hitting between 60 and 70 percent of the greens in regulation and birdies win golf tournaments out there."

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This is an awesome 8 minutes from Coach Dungy. Please check it out. I promise you'll enjoy it.



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Thursday
October 8
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2235



debate? or no debate?


We can debate a lot of things, but there's one thing that's unarguable in Baltimore.

Vince Bagli was called "The Dean" because that's what he was...the man at the top of the class in Baltimore sports media.

Legendary Baltimore sportscaster Vince Bagli passed away on Wednesday at age 93.

Vince passed away yesterday at age 93. He led a remarkable life, starting off at Loyola Blakefield, moving on to Loyola College and then became "The Dean" after a 31-year stint at WBAL-TV.

There would be no better person to symbolize "Baltimore sports" than Bagli. He was wore his heart on his sleeve. He openly rooted for the home team. He had a Baltimore accent and didn't care.

I was fortunate enough to know, work and play with Vince. As a fresh-faced, out-of-my-element P.R. guy for the Blast in the mid 1980's, one of the first things I did, at the request of then-coach Kenny Cooper, was take Vince out to play golf. "Pick his brain," Cooper said. "See what he thinks makes a good P.R. Director."

Vince and I went over to what was then Wakefield Valley in Westminster. "Let's tee off at 10:00 am," I remember Vince saying. I got there just before 9:30. He was pacing near the first tee when I arrived.

"Where have you been?" he asked. "I thought you were going to no show on me."

I was stammering for my words. It was only 9:30. We weren't teeing off until 10.

"When I have a sportscast at 5:30, I don't get there at 5 o'clock. I get there at 2:30 or 3:00 and start preparing. I got here at quarter after eight this morning. Hit a few balls and let's get going," Vince said.

That was my introduction to Vince Bagli the golfer and it definitely left an impression. He took his golf seriously.

Vince and I probably played a dozen rounds together over the years. The last time we played was just after I started on the air as a radio host. We played at Hayfields and had a great day together.

"Do you like getting up at the crack of down?" he asked after I told him I was on the air every morning at 6:07 am.

"I'm not sure yet," I said with a laugh. "Check back with me in a few years."

At a Ravens home game a couple of years later, we ran into one another in the press box and he asked me again.

"So, how do you like getting up at 5:00 am every morning?" Bagli wondered.

"5 am? I don't get up at 5:00 am. I get up at 4:00 am and go in there and prepare. Just like you taught me at Wakefield 20 years ago!" I replied.

That, of course, wasn't really true. Most mornings I did get up around 4:45 or 5 am, but I didn't want Bagli to know that. I guess the wink gave it away at the end of our conversation.

Vince Bagli was a Baltimore charm. I never heard anyone say a bad word about the man. Not once. Never. If nothing else, that was Vince's greatest life accomplishment. He was "The Dean" and there's no debate about that.


You can debate old school vs. new school if you want, but there's one thing for sure in baseball these days. The San Diego Padres are going to do things their way.

Even though they lost Game 2 of the NLDS last night to the Dodgers, 6-5, the Padres were the social media rage when Manny Machado homered in the 6th inning and threw his bat in delight in the direction of the San Diego dugout before starting his home run trot.

It wasn't just a "toss", mind you. It was a full-fledged, 40-foot throw back at his dugout.

Twitter lit him up with angst from the old school baseball crowd, you know, the ones who say you should simply drop your bat at your feet and calmly run around the bases. But Twitter also defended him, with the younger crowd loving the showboating style and reveling in his gumption to "show up the opposing pitcher".

Interestingly, later on in the game, the Padres bristled at Dodgers' pitcher Brusdal Graterol, who threw his hat and glove in the air in delight after Cody Bellinger stole a go-ahead-homer with a spectacular over the fence catch.

He then blew a kiss in the direction of the San Diego dugout and waved bye-bye, which was definitely strange considering it was the 7th inning of a 9-inning game. But anyway...

Oddly enough, it was Machado, who never turned down a chance to showboat in his life, who immediately went to the top step of the dugout and started cursing and pointing at the L.A. pitcher.

Confused? Me too. And I'm a hybrid old school, new school guy, I'd say. I don't mind the bat throwing and the exaggerated slow run when a guy hits a homer. I don't really care about the unwritten rules at all, except for the ones that demand a pitcher throw at a batter to "send a message". That, I've always thought and said, is bush league stuff.

If you hit a homer and want to throw your bat in the air in delight, go ahead. If you make a great catch and want to do a back flip on your way to the dugout, do your thing.

But one thing you can't do is showboat and then get mad when the other team showboats. That, too, is bush league. And I can't imagine there's any debate about that.


There's no debate about what we're seeing in the NFL right now with regard to Covid-19. It has become a story. The Tennessee Titans are squarely in the crosshairs, with an early-season outbreak already forcing the postponement of one game (last week vs. Pittsburgh) and likely causing this week's clash with Buffalo to also be moved to a later date.

Some people are opining that the easiest solution is to boot the Titans from the 2020 season. I'm not joking. That's what some folks in the media are suggesting as a remedy to the problem.

I can't imagine that's going to happen. What would you do with the remaining 13 games on Tennessee's schedule? Give all of those opposing teams wins? That would hardly seem fair. Give them all losses? That most certainly would be wrong. Just don't count any 2020 Tennessee games (including the three already played) and allow those teams originally on the Titans' schedule to play 14 or 15 games instead of 16? Seems goofy to me.

One suggestion I'd provide seems reasonable if, in fact, the league did decide to simply remove Tennessee from the league for 2020 in an effort to move on with a fluid schedule and keep the playoffs and Super Bowl "on time". Why not just eliminate one game from each of the other 31 teams and effectively have a 15-game campaign instead of 16? You'd also have to figure out a way for AFC South teams to "pick up one game" (against one another) because they'd play 14 instead of 16. I have no idea how you would do any of this. That's way, way above my pay grade. But where there's a will, there's a way.

Having a 15-game season seems far more logical to me than toying with the idea of handing out free wins or free losses because the Titans wrecked the league's Covid-19 protocol.

My guess is none of that's going to happen, by the way. I've said all along that the Super Bowl is probably not going to be played until the last week of February. There are going to be other virus outbreaks in the league over the next couple of weeks. You just know it's coming. So you might as well just prepare to back the regular season into mid-January and move on from there.

In the meantime, though, people are foaming at the mouth over the prospects of punishing the Titans for their faux pas. I'm not sure how you do that. Who gets the blame...the team or the players? The league reportedly somehow has video of the Titans participating in team activities without wearing masks. They also have evidence of some players going out on the town and also not following Covid-19 protocols.

One thing we won't debate: You can't be surprised by any of this stuff. Covid-19 is here to stay, at least through the end of the year, if not longer, even. The only reason it didn't wreck the NBA and NHL post-seasons is because of the Bubble concept. When you allow free room to roam for athletes (or anyone, for that matter), they're getting the virus along the way.

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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.


thoughts on the ravens


The Ravens have 643 yards rushing in their first four games. That’s only shabby if you compare it to the team’s 2019 rushing performance, about 45 yards more per game, or to the early-season performance of the Cleveland Browns, who are on pace to finish the season just 14 yards behind the Ravens’ record-setting rushing total from 2019. (Note: That pace is unlikely to continue with the loss of Nick Chubb, who went on injured reserve earlier this week).

One cannot look at the Ravens’ rushing stats like those of any other team in the league, of course. However, we can talk about how the team spreads its “touches” outside of Lamar Jackson…and I think it’s time for more of Gus Edwards.

Mark Ingram and the Ravens' running attack is still one of the best in the league, even with four different people carrying the ball throughout the game.

I know that Gus the Bus is not an “every down back,” if such a player exists anymore in the NFL. The Ravens don’t make much hay in using their backs as receivers anyway, but it’s worth noting that Edwards has been targeted a total of nine times in his career. A running back’s most-important ability as a receiver is the yards he can gain after the catch, and that’s never going to be Gus.

The thing is, though, that the Ravens are a running-heavy offense, and Edwards is the team’s best runner not named Jackson.

He’s more than a guy who gets the ball, put his head down and plows into the middle of the line. He’s an excellent cutback runner who almost always picks the right hole or area to attack. His yards per carry are up by almost a yard this season compared to 2019, yet he’s playing fewer snaps than he did last year. Perhaps those two things are related, but I’m not so sure.

Mark Ingram was an explosive runner for much of his first season in Baltimore, beginning with the first play of the season when he ran for 49 yards in Miami. He was injured in Cleveland and could barely play in the playoffs against the Titans.

Now? He just doesn’t seem as explosive. Maybe it was that injury, or maybe it’s that he’s going to turn 31 in December.

The rookie J.K. Dobbins is out on the field sometimes too, but he hasn’t been a huge feature of the Ravens’ offense so far. Ingram is the one taking carries away from Edwards, not Dobbins. And I’m wondering whether that should change.

There’s no doubt that Edwards’ entire career is a result of Lamar Jackson’s ascendance to the starting quarterback role, which was initially due to Joe Flacco’s 2018 injury. He didn’t play until Week 6 and had just 15 total carries in the next four weeks until running the ball 17 times for 115 yards against Cincinnati, the game in which Jackson debuted as the starter.

Almost two years later, Jackson is a different player for sure. But so is Edwards, I think, and it might be only a matter of time before he feels like the Ravens’ featured back.

It’s almost cliché to suggest that teams who prefer to run the ball are better when they get ahead early than when they get behind. Frankly, every team is better when it takes an early lead. And teams that get a lot of early leads tend to be better teams. I could keep going in circles, but I won’t.

I think it’s somewhat anecdotal to suggest that Greg Roman’s head spins on its axis and that he can’t deal with life when the Ravens are trailing 17-7. On Sunday, CBS commentator James Lofton made a hypothetical comment suggesting that, if the Ravens’ playbook is 500 pages, then 400 of those pages are running plays. The Ravens’ passing game, then, is a lot more limited than most. Is that really true? We’ll never find out. HIPAA, or something like that…

Fans enjoy gabbing about situational football, which is fine. What would this website, or thousands of other places, be without armchair quarterbacking? Why pass the ball so often close to the goal line when the run has been so effective, for instance? Well, for one, it’s a lot harder for Lamar Jackson to be that Lamar Jackson so close to the end zone. And two, I thought the Ravens were excellent at passing the ball in the red zone in 2019. Jackson proved he had the arm strength to fit the ball into tight windows, and the threat of a powerful run game was sometimes enough to have the defense confused.

The Ravens have spent very little time trailing in games since November 2018. When the captains win the toss, John Harbaugh sends Justin Tucker out on the field, the defense holds and Jackson leads his team down the field for points. When the other team defers, they do it because it’s what the book says to do. Is it the smart play? Well it sure hasn’t been against this particular offense.

I almost spilled my beer when Jackson threw his first interception of the season on Sunday, allowing Washington to kick a field goal at the end of the first half. In the era of deferring the toss, how many teams have been better than Harbaugh’s team at scoring close to the end of the first half and then scoring again immediately after halftime?

Much of what’s ailed the Ravens in their infrequent losses in the last two calendar years is, without oversimplifying it, mostly mental. That includes the opponent, by the way, who must be hyped up when they get ahead, knowing how difficult it is to beat the Ravens when their team falls behind. Instead of being on their heels with Jackson on the other side, they can play aggressively on both sides of the ball.

The main story, though? The Ravens get ahead early a lot because they’re so good at what they do. I would rather they continue to do that well than worry so much about how they can get better when they fall behind.

Random thoughts…Jackson seems really effective as a passer when multiple receivers are sent out on the same direct “go” route against certain coverages. He’s become very good at looking off his chosen receiver long enough to allow space and time for the pass, which is almost always on target. The touchdown pass to Mark Andrews against Washington was an example…Ryan Clark said on television that Marcus Peters has “bad eyes,” and that allowed Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs to pick him apart last week. I think that Clark would probably admit under oath that sometimes Peters has “good eyes,” which allow him to make plays, including interceptions, that few other cornerbacks can make…Calais Campbell turned 34 in September, and who knows how long he’ll be in a Ravens’ uniform. I’d say trading for him was worth it just for his ability to bat down passes. The 6-foot-8 Campbell already has five “passes defensed” in four games, including a big one on a third down in Landover…It was noted here Monday that the Ravens were favored by 14 points against Washington and won by, well, 14. You might be able to thank Ravens’ fans for that, since they’re the ones who are constantly calling for Lamar Jackson to be pulled from games when they’re no longer in doubt. RG3 threw an interception, and Washington used the field position to score with two minutes left in the game. In Griffin’s defense, it wasn’t a terrible pass…Matt Judon got the franchise tag slapped on him in March. As a “punishment,” he’s making about $16.8 million, which is a compromise salary between an outside linebacker and a defensive end. I’d say that Judon, who had 9.5 sacks and four forced fumbles last season, is like many players who end up with the franchise tag. He was worth it, but I’m not sure he’s worth a big contract with the team starting next year…The Ravens’ trips to Indianapolis and Foxboro on consecutive Sundays, November 8 and November 15, will mark the first time the team has played consecutive away games since December 2018, when they played at Atlanta and Kansas City. When the Ravens play Jacksonville and the Giants on consecutive Sundays, December 20 and December 27, it will mark the first time the team has played consecutive home games (in the regular season) since November 2018. This is assuming the schedule doesn’t change before then, which is still an assumption at this point…I’m guessing that John Harbaugh shouldn’t have taken off his mask to scream at an official during the Kansas City game. I mean—there are lots of cameras at an NFL game, the last time I checked, and even more than usual on Monday nights. All that being said, Harbaugh was totally correct. That “tripping” call on Nick Boyle was nothing but malarkey…In three previous starts against Cincinnati, the Ravens’ opponent at M&T Bank Stadium this Sunday, Jackson has run for 342 yards and completed better than 70 percent of his passes.

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Wednesday
October 7
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2234



three thoughts


The NFL and NBA allowing players to choose a name or a slogan to put on their uniform brings about an interesting question.

Why can't a player put his favorite Bible verse on his helmet or uniform?

What's the difference, say, between Black Lives Matter, Equality and Hebrews 13:1-3?

Hebrews 13:1-3 -- Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.

What's the difference in having scripture on your helmet or your jersey and having Breonna Taylor on your helmet or jersey?

In both cases, you're simply allowing a player to express himself and publicly support a cause he believes in.

Right?

Or am I not right?

Why not allow Hebrews 13:1-3 to be painted on the court or in the end zone? What's wrong with that?


I have to wonder if the NFL didn't dodge the bullet-of-all-bullets this Fall by not allowing full stadiums of fans due to Covid-19.

I'm wondering this...would the seats be filled?

Yes, we're back to the discussion, again, about kneeling during the national anthem.

I saw a stat on the internet Monday. It seemed legit although I don't recall who the source was, honestly. Through 4 weeks of the NFL season, 28% of the players who have been visible on the field during the anthem have been kneeling.

That number seems to fit closely with what we've seen from the Ravens in 2020. 17 players took a knee prior to the Monday night home game vs. Kansas City.

I have to wonder what the reaction would be across the league if 15 or so players from each team were kneeling during the anthem? I don't know the answer, mind you. I'm asking. And wondering...

Would the fans boo the players who were kneeling? Would the fans leave en masse prior to kick off? Would they simply not return the following week?

I don't know. I'm just asking.

Much like the political climate in our country, you have two sides of the debate when it comes to the NFL and the current "TV numbers". Some are saying the numbers are up a tick and others are saying the numbers are down significantly. There's no telling what the truth is, but it's likely somewhere in the middle.

What we don't have numbers for, though, is the reaction we'd be seeing if fans were allowed in the stadiums and 28% of the players were kneeling during the national anthem.

Maybe the NFL dodged a major bullet...

Maybe they wouldn't want to see the reaction of the fans...

Or maybe they wouldn't really care...


I heard the news of Eddie Van Halen's death about 3:30 pm yesterday and made an immediate pledge to listen to all six Van Halen albums last night.

Man, were those guys great.

Before anyone says "there were more than 6 Van Halen albums", it's my contention there was a Van Halen (with David Lee Roth as lead vocalist) and a Van Hagar (with Sammy Hagar as lead vocalist). Hence, I listened to all six Van Halen albums last night just to remember how great they were.

Eddie Van Halen was amazing. I remember watching a special on TV back in the 1990's that included Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Joe Perry and when asked who the best guitarist was in the industry, all three laughed, looked at each other and said, basically in unison, "Eddie Van Halen."

The first Van Halen album was arguably the best debut rock album of my generation. Sure, it had a couple of covers on it, but that sound...holy cow, we'd never heard anything like that.

Fair Warning was my favorite Van Halen album. I might have gone through three cassettes because I played it so much circa 1981-1982.

It's hard to come up with a favorite song because I liked them all so much, but "Little Guitars" on the Diver Down album is my all-time top Van Halen song.

I remember seeing VH in Philadelphia in the early 1980's and David Lee Roth tried his best on Little Guitars that night, but the song was just too much for him at that point. His voice wasn't gone, but let's just say that years of booze and whatever else had taken its toll on his ability to carry a tune and remember the words.

Rock bands come and go. If they're lucky, some hit it big, sell out indoor and outdoor venues, make a bunch of money and live happily ever after.

If they're really lucky and really outstanding, they carve out a spot in the history of music and create a sound that's so uniquely their own that no one can argue about their greatness.

No one can argue Van Halen's greatness. They were an amazing band for about eight years. You can, without question, put their best eight years up against any other rock-n-roll band's best eight years.

And that sound coming from Eddie Van Halen's guitar is one of the things that made them so special.






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SUCH
a sports fan

MARK SUCHY is a lifelong Baltimore sports fan, youth basketball coach and father of three athletic sons. A former weekend sports radio host in Baltimore, "Such" offers his memories and insights on sports related topics each Wednesday here at #DMD.


“The cure for anything is saltwater: sweat, tears or the sea.” – Isak Dinesen

This past August I was sitting on the beach on a particularly perfect summer afternoon. My beach buddy Peter and I were having our usual conversation, fixing all of the world’s ills while occasionally remarking about what a gorgeous day it was.

Peter is one of my favorite people. He’s incredibly intelligent and funny. He has a keen sense of the fine line between reality and absurdity. That probably stems from the fact that he’s Irish. Not American of Irish descent, but born and raised in Dublin, and an American since 1986. His life experience gives him a unique perspective on all types of subject matters, and I tend to listen to him a bit more closely when he offers his insights on the world and its cultures.

It was a typical beach day in Ocean City, with families spread around, kids playing, people frolicking in the surf, and umbrellas dotted across the sand. As Peter and I conversed, we were doing the usual people watching that everyone does at the beach.

At one point a particularly obese young man passed by, and our discussion turned to health and weight and diet. Mind you, we weren’t being judgmental; neither of us would ever be selected as cover models for Men’s Health & Fitness magazine, and we know it. But it got us talking about food and exercise and mobility.

Peter said something then that has stuck with me ever since. He told me how his father, who lived to his mid-90’s, walked every day of his life, and was in great health until about a year before his passing. Peter said that in Dublin, as in many European cities, walking is a primary means of transportation. And he said that he believes the secret to a fulfilling life is to always be ambulatory; that once we lose the use of our legs, the rest of our health deteriorates.

It was so simple and yet so profound. And it made me think about how many people I’ve known who had serious health problems. The majority were either confined to wheelchairs or required the assistance of canes or walkers to get around. Some were middle aged, some were older, but their conditions never greatly improved. The quality of their lives was directly related to their inability to walk.

Somehow, this little chat kindled a spark somewhere inside of me. I considered what Peter had shared, and I began thinking about my own rapidly approaching twilight years.

It hit me that if I didn’t begin to make my health more of a priority, I could someday wind up without the use of my legs. Those images of having to use a wheelchair, or have to depend on others to help me get around, began to motivate me.

Upon returning home from vacation, I bought a FitBit. My sons all have one. Granted, they’re all young and healthy and extremely athletic, but they like all the health information that the FitBit and its app provides. They encouraged me to get one and start paying attention to its prompts. Sometimes it drives me a bit crazy, but I’m the kind of guy who needs to be pushed. Left to my own devices, I’ll get lazy and make excuses for not getting active.

The FitBit tells me how many steps I’ve walked. It reminds me to walk at least 250 steps every hour, and if I haven’t done so, at the 50-minute mark it gives me a reminder and shows how many I need to take to reach the magic number. It tracks calories burned, stairs climbed, and total miles walked. There’s also a sleep score tracker on the app that tells you exactly how long you slept, with 8 hours being the goal each night. I’m quite fond of the heartbeat monitor. It tells me exactly what my heartbeat is at any moment. Somehow, I find that feature comforting.

A funny thing has happened in the last two months, though: I’ve begun exercising regularly for the first time in years. And I’m pleasantly surprised to find out, and remember, how much I enjoy it. And how much I’ve missed it. And how much I like to work up a good sweat.

You see, a long time ago, I was actually something of an athlete. I loved sports. I played lots of them, and I was always on the move. Whatever game was in season, I was playing it. I may not have been the best player on my team, but I was there every day, practicing and working out without even realizing I was working out. I was active.

I enjoyed the feeling of being physically exhausted after practices and games. I was young and flexible and growing, and my body absorbed the contact and the strain. I could recover quickly and without consequence. As a result, I probably took being in shape for granted.

As the years rolled by and I got older without really realizing it, I drifted farther away from competitive athletics. There were some beer league softball teams, and a few winters of men’s basketball leagues, and even a few summers of an adult baseball league.

But before I knew it, I was married and working and then somehow I had three sons of my own. Then the boys were all playing sports, and I slowly morphed from being a player to being a coach and a parent and a chauffeur.

I still have this mental image of myself as a 22-year-old, thin and trim and able to race down fly balls in the alley while playing outfield. Then I look in the mirror and realize I’m 54 and I’ve got some work to do if I don’t want to be considered obese. And according to my body mass index, I’m right at that edge. So it’s time to embrace reality and get to work./p>

The FitBit has pushed me to a place I never envisioned. I decided that just walking vigorously every day, trying to get my 10,000 steps in, wasn’t enough. So I signed up for a six week session with a personal trainer. Yeah, I can’t believe it either.

I love that quote by Dinesen. It hangs on the wall of our beach house. And taken in reverse order, I certainly get plenty of cure from the sea.

I’m a big believer in the therapeutic benefits of saltwater and the fresh sea air. Nothing brings me as much serenity and restoration as time spent at the beach. I could write a million words about what the beach and the ocean does for me and I wouldn’t be able to properly express it. It’s the most special place in the world to me.

Tears? There’s a lot of truth in what cures us through crying. If we’re honest, some of our most cathartic moments as human beings come through our physical expression of grief. All of the pain and anguish and sorrow comes pouring out, and that process heals us and allows us to turn the grief to gladness. It takes time, of course.

I’ve shed a few tears this year, to be sure. Those tears have allowed me to process the losses and to begin moving forward in a different world. Real men do cry. In fact, they always should.

But sweat? I don’t do enough of that. And that’s something I can control, if I’m willing to work at it.

So now, five days a week, I’m back in the gym. It’s a little disorienting, honestly. I always played sports. I need a ball and a goal to focus my attention. Then I don’t feel like I’m forcing myself to be active.

But at the gym, there’s no basketball court or baseball diamond or volleyball net. There’s just all of this equipment. Lots of diabolical looking machines, and treadmills, and stairmasters, and exercise bikes, and free weights. A man could get lost, and probably seriously hurt, trying to figure out where to begin.

That’s where Shane comes in. He’s my trainer. I like him, I think. I mean, without sounding too resentful, he’s in his mid-20’s and in extremely good shape. He probably doesn’t have any kids to cramp his style. Lucky guy. But we sat down together and discussed my goals and my absolute lack of any previous training and my obvious weight issues. He’s helped me craft a schedule and given me a workout regimen and a diet plan.

It’s safe to say that we Americans don’t have the best diets and lifestyles. As of 2018, the CDC has estimated that the obesity rate in the United States is an astonishing 42.4%. We don’t eat well. Fast food dominates our culture. We demand quick fixes for practically everything, beginning with our appetites. I’m as guilty of this as anyone else. Especially living as a single father.

I can be quite lazy when it comes to preparing meals and grocery shopping for healthier alternatives. Poor nutrition creeps up on us over time and becomes a habit. Before we know it we’re heavier than we ought to be.

Sometime last year I started following the Keto diet plan. I made a conscious daily effort to cut out carbohydrates. I stopped eating bread, rice and pasta. I started reading the nutritional information on the labels of groceries I considered buying. I added more fruits and vegetables to my daily diet. And it worked really well. I can tell you with complete honesty that I shed over 20 pounds. I felt better and the difference was noticeable. The boys even complimented me on the change, which was nice.

But I’ve been lazy lately. I suppose that’s just my nature. I can manufacture excuses to justify eating just about anything. Old habits die hard, and I need a push from outside of my own head. That’s where Shane is really helping out.

Shane is emphasizing awareness of the foods I’m eating, urging me to cut down, if not entirely out, sugars, dairy and carbohydrates. I’m doing my best to adhere to a higher protein, lower fat diet. In all honesty, this is harder than the workouts. The double bacon cheeseburger isn’t really acceptable as a dinner alternative any longer. Neither is the leftover pizza.

And I have a particular weakness for chocolate. But now I’m settling for more peanut butter and more smoothies. Yes, it’s as unsatisfying as it sounds.

But the workouts are fun. I’m getting into a pattern where I can feel my body adjusting, and mentally I want to do more. It’s becoming a routine that I enjoy. I like the way I feel and I like the energy it’s giving me. And it’s not tedious; quite the opposite. Most of the current workout regimens for “solidly overweight” guys like me are resistance based.

I’m using my weight as the biggest counterbalance. At least I think I am. The focus is on strengthening the core muscles and improving balance. Shane gives me a cycle of exercises to use for 6 days, then it’s a new set.

Each morning as I get into the cycle of exercises, I begin to feel my heart rate increase. Then I can feel that first bead of sweat running through my hair and onto my forehead. That’s when I get excited. I think of Dinesen’s quote and I know I’m working on the cure. Because sweat means exercise means getting healthier means better energy means clearer thinking means happier living.

I’m not looking to be some insanely ripped mid-50’s beach bum. I just want to reduce this belly brought on by years of overeating and drinking and using any excuse I could come up with to not be active.

I write about sports, I follow my sons’ athletic journeys, I enjoy watching just about any athletic contest that’s on television any evening of the week.

I’ve started realizing that there’s a small measure of hypocrisy in my criticism of any player. That guy has worked hard to be in the best possible physical condition he can be. Meanwhile, I’m sitting in my recliner eating Doritos and demanding he not make mistakes. It’s kind of ridiculous when I think about it.

Every athlete needs their legs to power them, to drive their engine, so to speak. I need my legs to continue to carry my own weight, to give me the freedom to live the way I want, to enjoy as much of life as I possibly can. I can’t take my legs for granted. I take much greater notice of that now after Peter’s observation this summer. I’m glad he brought it to my attention.

I know I’m far too old to ever compete at a decent level again. But I’ve got moderately good health and (I hope) many miles to go before I sleep (to borrow from another literary influence).

Hopefully I can keep my legs under me for the duration of that journey, and keep trudging the road of happy destiny. And my FitBit will count every step.

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#dmd comments








Brian Jessup     October 29
Why would the host blast Jack? He's a citizen and has a right to endorse anyone he sees fit. It's still America although battered and bruised these past 4 years. Jack wasn't exactly brought up in a difficult environment, he's a millionaire over and over lives in Florida outside the death of a grandchild he's had a pretty good life. And wasn't always "faithful" on the road. So he has a lot in common.

Adam Porrell     October 29
Good article today about the O's and the World Series. I'm 40. I've never watched a World Series with the Orioles playing in it. I hope that changes soon.

George     October 29
"The cheering you hear is from Oriole fans. Everybody else is in muted silence. The pitch! Line drive! Ripken catches it at shortstop! And the Orioles are champions of the world!"

Jon Miller, 37 years ago.




DJ     October 29
Lots of hysteria today about a Jack Nicklaus tweet endorsing Donald J. Trump. I'm anxious to see if @DF addresses this tomorrow or will he avoid possibly having to blast a famous golfer?

Carl in Owings Mills     October 29
2023 may be the O's year, Drew. 65 or 70 wins next year, maybe a .500 season in 2022 and then who knows what 2023 might bring? If Hall continues to progress, we might have our first "ace" since Mussina.

Brian Jessup     October 29
@Butch, thank you, said this twice in the last 2 weeks. Let's see if the DMD faithful rip on you as well. 100% Butch

Butch (aka Big Fat Daddy)     October 29
President Teddy Roosevelt's speech should be required reading for all Americans.

Too bad the current politicians, newspaper and media pundits and the voters do not follow his thoughts and ideals. If all did America would be a much better country. George - thanks for sharing and DF thanks for publishing. To All - please vote - your vote does indeed matter. Just ask Jim Brochin - he lost the Baltimore County Executive Primary by only 17 votes.

Rob Really     October 29
Thanks, Guys... I had nearly forgotten about the Joe Carter home run to beat my Phillies. Next thing, you'll be bringing up Lee Evans and Billy Cundiff.

Josh     October 29
The 2008 Phillies call was pretty good.



Best team celebration: 86 Mets



Best crowd celebration: 02 Angels



Side note: The Os only had to beat Detroit to get to KC in the ALCS, only one series

David Rosenfeld     October 29
I know that some of these didn't have any broadcaster audio, but I wonder what people think about the best "call" of all these?

Personally, not sure anything can beat "touch 'em all, Joe. You'll never hit a bigger home run in your life," which was Tom Cheek on the Blue Jays' radio broadcast, not the national TV broadcast

DF     October 29
Thanks WJB!

Make it FOUR teams instead of five.

Now I feel even worse as a long suffering O's fan!

WJB     October 29
Not only has Toronto been to a World Series since 1984, they actually were back to back champions in 92 & 93.

HERMAN     October 29
There hasn't been an attorney living in a "hardened outpost" since Lincoln's log cabin.

George     October 28
President Roosevelt gave his speech titled “Citizenship in a Republic” as he toured Europe after his presidency. It does indeed contain the stirring words about the man in the arena, but the full speech, in which he contrasts in vivid terms the good and the bad citizen, should be required reading for all of us having the extraordinarily good fortune to live in this country. Especially in these times! We have to go back to President Reagan, or perhaps even as far back as President Kennedy, for a national leader who could sincerely communicate an instructive and inspirational message and do so elegantly in more than simple sentences and phrases.

I’ll find “Citizenship in a Republic” and see if Drew will re-publish it in the Dish in the next few days. I think all but the TL/DR crowd will find their spirits elevated.

Chris in Bel Air     October 28
Can't imagine what the Rays fans are thinking today. Obviously there is no way to know what would have happened had Snell stayed in the game. However, he was absolutely dealing and the Dodgers were barely sniffing contact on the ball. Despite what the plan was prior (pitch count, inning count, etc), I can't imagine watching your starter perform so superbly, in the most critical game of the season and perhaps their careers, how Cash thought my best chance at winning is to remove this guy from the game now. What the...

Jonathan     October 28
Oh the irony is rich indeed when Herman, the Dish's worst critic, offers a critical take about someone else being a critic.


Wayne Garrett     October 28
That was my first exposure to "Pittsburgh Dad". Good, wholesome humor in that video, something we've gotten away from as a nation. Thanks for sharing that. It took courage to promote something Pittsburgh on a Baltimore web site.

Frank     October 28
Of course Tomlin knew what he was doing. You could tell by the fact he was looking up at the jumbo board the whole time. I also think had he interfered with Jones and the Ravens would have lost the game that he might have been suspended for a long time. Changing the outcome of a game like that would have been a ground breaking event in NFL history.

Bill P.     October 28
Agree about Tomlin knowing what he was doing when he stepped on the field. Not sure I agree about the suspension though. Maybe one game but not rest of the season.



Agree that the Holmes Super Bowl catch was great, but don't think it was better than Tyree.



Agree that the O's loss to the Pirates in 1979 was brutal. I'm 60 and I still don't think I'm over it.

Tom     October 28
That's all Herman had to offer huh? That was his "hot take" for today?


TimD in Timonium     October 28
LOVE Pittsburgh Dad. He’d be right at home in Glen Bernie.

C.J.     October 28
Interesting thoughts about the Ravens-Steelers rivalry not being as heated as before. I haven't thought about it all that much but I would agree that this week doesn't feel like a typical Baltimore vs. Pittsburgh game. I'm not sure why that is but I agree with you that something's off.

Mark in Perry Hall     October 28
@Herman hates the web site, hates the "site owner" but still comes by every day. So odd.

Craig     October 28
The Pittsburgh Dad video was really funny. Never knew Ben had an acting career!

unitastoberry     October 28
Did not watch the exhibition season/field of dreams world series but first thing I thought was Buck Showalter too.



If I was Harbaugh I would bring in Ray,Ed, and Haloti this week to just let the young guys on defense like Queen get some inside info on Benny Boy. Its little things from vets who have played the guy for many years that might help some of our starters who have never played against the man from Findlay.

HERMAN     October 28
Irony is alive and well at DMD. Roosevelt's great quote decrying the critic, on a website devoted to a critic's commentary.

Mark Myword     October 28
Steelers plus 3.5 is a mortal lock.

Howard     October 27
Theme for Steelers week should be “and then there were none”

Hard for Ravens to screen when defenses are maintaining a 2nd line in case Lamar breaks the initial rush.

My major concern is that I don’t have access to my McNair jersey for the game. McNair was an awesome Steeler killer and I got this jersey specifically for Steeler games

Mark McGrath     October 27
Chris--Sleeping in your own bed, sticking with a simple daily routine and the waaaaaay better locker room experience can't hurt. The visitor's locker room is on the other side of the stadium, so they probably lose 5 minutes of halftime. (just enough time for Greg Roman to decide to abandon the run!)

chris K     October 27
I just have a simple question. With fans either not attending games or having a very limited amount of people attend, does being home or away really matter this year when it comes to team performance? In packed stadiums I believe crowd noise helps the home team usually. with no noise, each stadium is just a neutral site game. Im curious if anyone disagrees and why.

Jason M     October 27
Glad to see we're taking a break from the sartorial, but one last thing on Cam Newton. While we may not share his fashion sense, he's a very decent guy, who displayed said decency when spotted quietly bringing a dinner from Sullivan's steakhouse to a homeless man on the Saturday before Ravens game a couple of years ago. Cam's alright in my book - and I don't remember anyone being anything but admiring of Clyde Frazier, or Charles Oakley's always impeccable post game attire.

Mark McGrath     October 27
The best part of yesterday's golf marathon was getting Drew to tell stories from his days in the soccer business. Nothing takes the sting away from a chunked 6 iron than hearing his masterful recap of the time Billy Ronson thought he'd won the lottery.



Drew enjoys narrating them almost as much as he enjoys a power fade from the #1 tee.

HERMAN     October 27
The game will be won or lost this weekend by coaching. If the Pittsburgh coach has seen enough tape to exploit our weaknesses it's going to be a long game. They have speed on offense if they triple up to one side and can create pick plays that free up the speed we are in trouble. We are susceptible to screens, a steady diet of those and it'll also be a tough day. Their entire offense is a pick play. Figure that out, we can beat them.

Chris in Bel Air     October 27
Adding Ngakoue certainly seems to be a great addition for the defense. Obviously slowing down the opposing team improves the Ravens chances. However, the offense needs to find more consistency and Lamar has to improve his level of play. The Ravens have benefitted from playing some lousy teams the last couple of weeks. They won't be as fortunate playing at that same level over the next 5 weeks. With that said, I do believe they will look much sharper this week against Pitt. Harbs usually has the team ready to play after a bye week and I believe the Ravens will win this Sunday.

Eric     October 27
Is @Herman serious? Surely he knows the difference between golf clothes and normal clothes. Or not.

unitastoberry     October 27
I guess you can call me a doubting Thomas on this but I'm not sold on the 2020 Ravens yet. They have played one good team so far and they got beat kinda bad. They have a propensity to fold when they are losing which is not often but happens. Their big reciever Andrews has mind melts several games a year. The defense must generate confusion in big games but does not. And the offensive line is not in any type of groove yet minus Yanda and Stanley is playing hurt. They also need to pass to more than Andrews and Brown. If your not going to play the option game like last year try some more low percentage passes. Has anyone seen a Lamar toss a screen? Of course the kicker is still money in the bank and Duvernay should be back on punts not Proche. I hope I'm wrong Sunday will go a long way in telling us so.

HERMAN     October 27
When Payne Stewart was having some trouble with his golf game there were some announcers questioning him wearing the plus fours and saying he needed to pay a little more attention to his golf game than what outfit he was wearing. He wasn't backing up the flash with game. I don't recall any racial angle in the criticism. The race angle has to stop being the first narrative or we will never progress.

Rob Archibald     October 27
Great seeing you yesterday at the flag tournament and congrats to you and Brian and everyone involved for a great day. It was cool to see Free State Electric there as part of the day. When I saw their logo on the paperwork I said I know them from the Dish! The course was in great shape and the food was good. Even the drizzle and fog didn't see that bad! Thanks again Drew.

George     October 27
You run out of energy rooting for a new team when they are down by 21 points and score a touchdown to pull them within 14 and are then led in wild celebration by the QB and get a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty.



It's positively absurd to suggest this is a racial issue. Just like in golf, where journeymen like Poulter and Fowler seduce the media and public by wearing goofy clothes for the purpose of publicity, you wonder, is this competition, or is this entertainment?




kevin j     October 26
Gotta admit, when I saw the headline today I was certain Sergio Garcia had done something goofy again! Never would have guessed we needed to opine about an old washed up QB and his take on Cam Newton's fashion choices.

Not sure I get what the purpose of dancing around the obvious topic about either. The hand wringers are calling Garcia a racist, so if that's where you wanna go, then go there. I don't get it.

Ravens had a big bye week trade, its Steelers week, world series actions, lot of sports stuff going on these days.

@George has probably the best take on Cam, given his location. There were obviously reasons Cam had few takers, and none had to do with race.


Dan P.     October 26
It's weird that Garrapolo, who QB's the team in San Fran, also enters and exits the stadium nattily attired and Garcia didn't rake him over the coals. I wonder why not?

George     October 26
They figured out here in Carolina that Cam prepares more for the post-game press than he does for the games. They also learned that he's a great front-runner with good dance moves but in a tough football game he has zero heart.

HERMAN     October 26
Dog whistles. People hearing dog whistles. What does that say about the frequency they themselves are on?

delray rick     October 26
If the RAVENS lose SUNDAY, the howling on this site wil be x rated. If NEWTON doesn't look like a pimp..PHIL the thrill and MESSIAH should move on, they is DONE!! Taking up a spot for BERGER who should be in the MASTERS. The DODGERS winning the "thing" don't mean do do. 60 games !!!! So "sleepy joe" wants to beat "GEORGE BUSH", WOW!! According to AOC we have 9 years left, don't have to worry bout my 401k. If TRUMP wins SPRINGSTEEN says he's moving to CANADA with BETTE MIDLER. People who don't vote (DREW) should be ashamed ..the Men and women who died for this privilege. Don't be surprised if the 2 sons sell DEM O'S. Story made the papers in the sunshine state bout the wonderful squeegee kids in the BIG B spitting on windows if you turn them away. Best orient food was JIMMY WO'S on CHARLES ST. Broke 100 10 years ago of all places "GRAYSTONE". GET A GOOD TEACHER.

Jason M     October 26
It's Steelers week! Titans had them lined yup there with a late pick, but credit to the Steelers D for forcing a long field goal off the turnover. Worthy adversaries with their HOF bound QB looking stronger and fresher than I have seen him in a few seasons. Hopefully the Ravens will bring their A game, I don't think we've seen that much in 2020...yet!

Barker     October 26
An apology is the least Jeff Garcia should do. A suspension is in order if you ask me.

unitastoberry     October 26
"Maryland football has made lots of mistakes in recent years."



I would add to that saying in the last 45 years or since the departure of Jerry Claiborne. Bobby Ross got it back together but they messed with him too. Friedgen never had the recruits Jerry and Bobby had but he was a good head coach who also got messed around with. When the star players from Seneca Valley and Wild Lake etc go out of state for D1 your done.



Looks like the Stillers are for real. I turned it off but the Titans did come back a little too late. Oh well it always boils down to Benny Boy this is nothing new. Me makes a 500 team a 1000 team and that's why Canton already has a spot for him.

Eric     October 25
Not my fault you botched your comment.

Billy     October 25
That's some serious insight there, thanks @Eric.

Eric     October 25
Someone should probably tell Billy that last night's ending to the World Series game never happened before and will never happen again. What you saw last night was an ending "we've never seen before."

Tuesday
October 6
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2233



at the quarter mark


Ravens head coach Brian Billick was famous for breaking the NFL season into four quarters.

"You play for four weeks, then peek out and see how you're doing," the coach once said. "Then you put your head back into your work for four more weeks, then peek out again after that and see what's what."

The obvious goal of every team is to try and produce four quarters of 3-1 football. No need for Flyers fans to pull out the calculator. That would be a 12-4 campaign if you follow the 3-1 formula in each of the four quarters.

So, here we are. At the quarter mark. And it makes sense to take a minute today to look at all 32 teams, where they are now, and where we think they'll be at season's end based on what we just saw in the first four games of the season.

NFC East --

Holy cow is this division sorry. Wow. I mean, Dallas appears to be the class of the NFL "Least" but they're off to a terrible start.

Eagles (1-2-1) -- Give them credit. Everyone in America thought they were losing on Sunday night in San Francisco. They should be able to fight with Dallas for the division title. We see Philly going 7-8-1.

Cowboys (1-3) -- Is it possible the Cowboys could win the division at 7-9? Sure, particularly if something happens to Carson Wentz in Philly. But if the Eagles go 7-8-1, Dallas will have to go 8-8, which is what we figure they'll do.

Washington (1-3) -- Terrible team. Even worse organization. Only saving grace is their head coach, Ron Rivera, who is a classy guy. Washington's finish 5-11.

NY Giants (0-4) -- They'll win a game along the way, but who knows when. We see a long, long season in the Meadowlands for the New York Football Giants, as they finish 3-13.


NFC North --

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers rolled to their 4th straight win last night at Lambeau Field.

The Packers are going to have this division wrapped up by early December, barring something bad happening to them injury wise. Overall, this is a pretty weak four team group.

Green Bay (4-0) -- Even without a bunch of weapons to throw to, Aaron Rodgers still figures out a way to get it done. The man is remarkable. Packers roll to another division crown, finishing at 13-3.

Chicago (3-1) -- Somehow the Bears are 3-1, but they could be well on their way to a 6-10 season. Quarterback issues, very little offense...same old Bears, huh? We'll give them the benefit of the doubt and plug them in at 7-9.

Minnesota (1-3) -- They got a much needed win in Houston on Sunday, but times are tough for the Vikings. Their once awesome defense isn't all that awesome these days and without Stefon Diggs, Kirk Cousins is having trouble getting Minny in the end zone. Looks like 7-9 to us.

Detroit (1-3) -- These poor guys. Will Detroit ever ever be any good? The Matt Patricia era is entering the second week of December. He won't make it past this season, as the Lions finish 5-11.


NFC South --

It's going to be a battle between Tampa Bay and New Orleans, with the Saints already having won the first matchup in New Orleans on opening day.

Tampa Bay (3-1) -- That Tom Brady guy seems like the real deal after all. Tampa's defense needs some polishing, but Brady and the offense can put up a lot of points in a short amount of time. Bucs are on their way to an 11-5 campaign, maybe even 12-4. Ah, what the heck, he's Tom Brady. We'll say they go 12-4.

New Orleans (2-2) -- Is Drew Brees done? One week everyone says so, then the next week he torches a bad Detroit defense and everyone says "not so quick". He's not done, per se, but he's showing signs of slowing down, for sure. Once they get Michael Thomas back, the Saints will again be marching. But they're headed to a 10-6 finish.

Carolina (2-2) -- One of the surprise "decent" teams thus far, with a nice win over Arizona on Sunday to get them to the .500 mark. The guess here is the magic runs out in December and the Panthers lose 3 of their last 4 to miss the post-season, finishing at 8-8.

Atlanta (0-4) -- Wow. Just wow. Didn't Matt Ryan used to be good? The Falcons are terrible. It looks like 4-12 in 2020.


NFC West --

This could be the best division in the NFL. The 49'ers could still turn out to be formidable if they get most of their injured guys back by November.

Seattle (4-0) -- Unless something wacky happens, they're going to cruise to the division crown. They had to fight and scratch with Miami this past Sunday, and barely pulled out a win over New England, but the Seahawks are adept at winning those tight games. They'll finish 12-4.

L.A. Rams (3-1) -- Just because we're not big believers in the Rams doesn't mean they can't be one of the NFC's best teams. The hot and cold routine of Jared Goff is what keeps them from being great, but the Rams will do enough to make the post-season at 10-6.

Arizona (2-2) -- Geez, all that bluster and talk at the beginning of the season and now the Cardinals have lost to the Lions and Panthers in successive weeks. We're not ready to give up on them yet, but Arizona might be a year away from making some real noise in the NFC. We'll go with 9-7 at this point.

San Francisco (2-2) -- They should be OK once they get Jimmy G. back but the Bosa loss on defense really stings them. Kittle might be one of the top five best players in the entire league. They'll finish 10-6, somehow winning 5 of their last 7 to make the post-season.


AFC East --

New England won't give up their crown easily, but Buffalo looks like they're primed to finally take over for a few years.

Life without Tom Brady? Not so good thus far. Bill's Patriots are 2-2.

Buffalo (4-0) -- Stefon Diggs has made a world of difference and Josh Allen is an early MVP candidate as the Bills are rolling. As we predicted back at the start of the campaign, the Patriots' run is over. Buffalo cruises to the division title at 12-4.

New England (2-2) -- With Cam Newton, they're pretty decent, actually. Without him, they're lousy. If Bill Belichick can get this team into the playoffs, he really is a genius. We'll say they finish 9-7 up there in Foxborough.

Miami (1-3) -- As usual, the Dolphins could ruin some playoff parties in mid-December. Just when you think they're lousy, they string together some impressive performances. We have them finishing 8-8.

NY Jets (0-4) -- The battle for Trevor Lawrence is officially "on" between the two Big Apple teams. This Jets squad is the worst of the AFC, as they wind up at 3-13.


AFC South --

Could the Colts be this year's version of last year's Titans? Does Philip Rivers still have some decent football left in him?

Tennessee (3-0) -- As long as Covid-19 doesn't wreck them, they should win the division. Ryan Tannehill is getting some early MVP chatter thrown his way. They have allowed 74 points in just 3 games, which is a bit of a concern, but the Titans are headed to an 11-5 campaign and the AFC South crown.

Indianapolis (3-1) -- Philip Rivers still has something left in the tank and the Colts' defense is good enough to give anyone trouble on any given week. They've allowed just 56 points in 4 games, although their schedule hasn't been all that tough. Indy somehow finishes 10-6 and makes the post-season.

Jacksonville (1-3) -- They're not terrible, but they're still not very good, if that makes sense. You'll have to take them seriously every week, but let's be real here, they're going 5-11 if they're lucky.

Houston (0-4) -- Losing Hopkins at wide receiver has crushed them and their early schedule has also been difficult, to say the least. Other than having the best helmets in the league, though, they have nothing going for them in 2020. On their way to 5-11.


AFC West --

This division got pretty bad...quickly. Other than the Chiefs, everyone else is "meh".

Kansas City (4-0) -- It's hard to figure out how these guys are so good. Wait, that quarterback is actually not bad. And the tight end. And the running back, too. The only question is can the Chiefs go 16-0? The answer is "no", they can't. But they will go 14-2.

Las Vegas (2-2) -- There was a lot of hype after their 2-0 start but they've dropped two straight and Derek Carr is starting to gripe about the offense in the media. They'll win some games, but they aren't anywhere close to the Chiefs, Ravens, Titans or Bills. Vegas finishes 9-7.

Los Angeles Chargers (1-3) -- We don't see enough of L.A. to know what's going on out there, but they're good one week (losing to KC in OT, taking the Bucs to the 4th quarter on the road) and then terrible the next. Justin Herbert could be the real deal, though. They'll finish 5-11.

Denver Broncos (1-3) -- How'd they win a game? Their offense is benign and their defense is incredibly soft. Times are tough in the Mile High City. Broncos finish 4-12.


AFC North --

This division could be really good by the time 2022 rolls around. The Steelers' QB is on his last legs, but the other three starters are going to be around for a while.

Pittsburgh (3-0) -- Eh, we're not buyers yet. They're 3-0, but nothing they've done has been all that impressive, if we're being honest. Get back to us when they've defeated a varsity team or two. They'll finish 10-6, but nothing better than that.

Baltimore (3-1) -- Other than the Monday night egg against the Chiefs, the Ravens are right where we figured they'd be...competing for the best record in the AFC. The offensive line hasn't been all that great thus far and the defensive pressure on the QB has been suspect, but they're going to win a majority of their games because Lamar is better than everyone else. Headed to 12-4.

Cleveland (3-1) -- It all depends on Baker Mayfield. If he plays well, they have a puncher's chance every week. But that's a big "if" and the bet here is has a lot of down moments between now and January. Even still, Cleveland could make the post-season in the AFC if they finish 10-6. The guess here is they lose one they shouldn't late in the season to finish 9-7.

Cincinnati (1-2-1) -- Don't look now, but that Joe Burrow kid is kicking butt and taking names four games into his NFL career. The Bengals will not be an automatic win by season's end. We think they'll be a formidable foe by late November, but they're still rolling in the direction of a 5-10-1 finish in 2020.

By the way, here's what we said the two conference championship games and Super Bowl would look like when we made our 2020 predictions back in early September.

NFC Championship Game -- Tampa Bay beats Arizona, 23-13.

AFC Championship Game -- Kansas City beats Baltimore, 23-20 in OT.

Super Bowl -- Kansas City beats Tampa Bay, 30-20.

We'll stick with those for now. Arizona needs to get going a little bit, but the rest of the picks look reasonably safe, still.

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pro soccer: americans abroad


This was a groundbreaking weekend for multiple American players around Europe. The USMNT had players contribute for title contenders Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Manchester City, Chelsea, and Borussia Dortmund. There was also another debut in the English Premier League.

The marquee performances came from the German Bundesliga, where Gio Reyna once again started for Borussia Dortmund. The 17 year old had the best performance of his career in a 4-0 win over Freiburg. Reyna assisted three of the four Dortmund goals. For both the first and third goals he delivered well timed and weighted passes on the break for striker Erling Haaland to finish.

For the second goal, Reyna delivered a pinpoint corner that found the head of Emre Can. Reyna is currently the league leader in assists. It is still a small sample size, but at this point Reyna is even outperforming the production that Christian Pulisic had at Dortmund at the same age. The sky's the limit for this kid.

Continuing with the Bundesliga, on Sunday, 20 year old Chris Richards overlapping on the right wing and delivered an accurate pull back pass that Robert Lewandowski collected and slotted home en route to a 4-3 win for Bayern. Bayern’s roster is stacked, making it hard for the youngster to find minutes, but if he continues to perform in his chances the coach will find ways to get him on the field.

Josh Sargent started his third straight game for Werder Bremen. Sargent played as more of a center forward in this game along with another striker. He had a nice moment in the first half with a delicate pass for an assist, but it was deemed offside on review. Sargent provided solid hold up play in the front and helped Bremen to a 1-0 victory.

John Brooks started and played the full game, helping to provide another clean sheet for the Wolfsburg defense in a 0-0 draw against Augsburg. Tyler Adams missed RB Leipzig’s 4-0 win over Schalke with a minor injury.

In Spain there was another exciting debut, as newly transferred Sergino Dest was subbed on in the 75th minute of Barcelona’s 1-1 draw with Sevilla. Dest became the first American to ever play for Barcelona. He subbed in at left back after an injury to starter Jordi Alba. Word is that Alba may be out for a few weeks, potentially opening a starting spot for Dest.

In England, Antonee Robinson got his Premier League debut with a start at left back for Fulham. Robinson showcased his speed and attacking ability, helping create several dangerous chances in the first half. Tim Ream also started and played the full game at right center back for Fulham in the 1-0 loss to Wolverhampton.

Christian Pulisic returned to the field for Chelsea as a late sub in their dominant 4-0 victory over Crystal Palace. Pulisic subbed on as an attacking midfielder in the 83rd minute and helped Chelsea see out the win. It's a good sign to see him back on the field after a month out with injury. With no games next weekend due to the international break, Pulisic will likely return to the starting lineup in Chelsea’s next Premier League match.

In the midweek cup game, Zack Steffen again started in goal for Manchester City and kept a clean sheet in a 3-0 win over Burnley. He was on the bench as the backup to Ederson in their 1-1 draw with Leeds on Saturday.

Weston McKennie did not play this weekend because the Juventus match against Napoli was postponed due to COVID related issues.

All in all, this was another momentus weekend for American players at big European clubs. The only disappointing part is that the US team will not be playing any games during this upcoming international break due to logistical restraints and COVID concerns. Hopefully at some point soon we can see all these players together on the same field wearing the red, white, and blue.

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

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Monday
October 5
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2232



conversations


As expected, the Ravens rolled to an easy 31-17 win over the Washington guys on Sunday. I didn't see one second of the game. Not one. I didn't intentionally avoid it, mind you. I just had other things going on that kept me from seeing any of it.

I did find find it funny that the game featured a rare 14 point spread in the game. Usually you'd see the convenient (or not, depending on which side you were on) half-point "hook" attached to the betting line, but on this occasion, the spread was an even 14 points and.......the Ravens won by............14.

I'm not suggesting there was anything nefarious going on. I just always shake my head when the number hits like that.

Which reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend once.

Him: "Hey, I've been doing a lot of research on mid-major college basketball. I think I have a pretty good feel for it. What do you say we both kick in a few bucks and play with it on the mid-majors for a week or two and we'll see how we do?"

Thanks for nothin', Kent State.

This was well over a decade ago. My son was young, my daughter wasn't yet born, and I had a few bucks of golf winnings from the summer stashed away to "play" with, so I agreed to it.

Me: "This is on you. I know next to nothing about mid major basketball. But if you're into it, I'll trust you."

He produced a spread sheet that showed a week's worth of mock picks he had made, mostly on first half winners and point totals. If the sheet was correct -- and I had no reason to believe otherwise -- he was 11-3 in 14 selections.

I only remember the details of one game, which I'll highlight (wrong word) below, so I don't remember the exact way we piled up our initial cash reserve, but after about three weeks of wagering, we were ahead enough that I could have rented an ocean front house in Bethany for a week and still had enough money left over to grill steaks every night and buy some nice red wine to go with it.

Him: "We're on a roll now. One or two more big weeks and we're in the garden spot."

Me: "How about we cash it in? I could use the money for some house projects and my wife's been talking about buying a new van and that would be a great down payment."

Him: "No way. Not now. We're just getting to the point where we can do some real damage."

Me: "We've already done 'real damage'. Let's at least split it up and each take half and use the rest for other games."

Him: "No. Come on, where's your spirit of adventure? I have a great set of games coming up. The Kent State-Eastern Michigan game tomorrow night is going to be the one that takes us to the top."

I remember thinking, "what kind of derelict knows the details of a Kent State-Eastern Michigan game at the end of January?"

I also recall thinking, "if we somehow goof this up, I'm going to be sick to my stomach..."

Me: "OK, we'll roll with that game. But if we win this --"

Him: "When we win. Not if. Never say "if", OK?"

Me: "Sure. When we win this one, we at least split up the money or maybe even cap it off and be thrilled with our success."

He mumbled something about my spirit of adventure again. Or lack thereof.

Him: "I have a great feel for the first-half total in that game. It's 63.5. No way those two teams are scoring more 64 points in 20 minutes."

I don't remember anything about the game in terms of who was supposed to win, where it was played or anything of the sort. I just remember thinking we were a stone-cold winner when the score was 8-7 with 11 minutes to go in the half. Math was never my strong suit at Glen Burnie, but 15 points at the (nearly) halfway point of the half spoke clearly to the chances that the "under" was a great wager.

It was something like 14-11 with 9 minutes or so remaining in the first half.

I received a text message that to this day I remember: "Never doubt me."

I won't bore you with other meaningless details because I know you know what's coming next. You'd rather me just get to the good stuff and tell you how it all unraveled.

Both teams went on a scoring tear. Defense, apparently, was put on the back burner for the final 9 minutes of the first half. And with the score 39-23, Kent State (leading) missed a foul shot with a couple of seconds left. Eastern Michigan rebounded the ball, threw it to mid-court, and someone heaved up a 3-pointer from downtown that went in at the buzzer to make it 39-26 at the intermission.

From 39-23 and a first-half "under" to a hail mary 3-pointer at the buzzer to make it 39-26 and a first-half "over" the total.

A couple of years later when my wife brought up the subject of a new vehicle, I desperately wanted to say, "Well, you could have had one two years ago if not for Eastern Michigan University..."


Sergio Garcia won a golf tournament yesterday on the PGA Tour. It was his first win in the U.S. since 2017 when he captured the Masters, but Garcia has won an event, somewhere around the world, in 12 straight years now.

Garcia is, of course, a great player. He's a future World Golf Hall of Famer, for sure, and the only reason he's not a multiple major winner is because his putting has been hot and cold throughout his career. As I always tell people, there are two types of putters in professional golf: good putters and great putters. Good putters can putt great occasionally, and that's when they win. Garcia has always been a good putter, who, when he putts great, can play with anyone in the world because of his outstanding ball striking capabilities.

Sergio Garcia hit a 6-iron to 30 inches on the final hole yesterday and rolled in the winning putt with his eyes closed.

These days, he's putting with his eyes closed. It's not quite as dramatic as it sounds. His eyes are open the entire time when he's reading the putt, judging the speed and line, and so forth. But just seconds before he's ready to pull the trigger, he closes his eyes and strokes the ball. It worked wonders for him at the Sanderson Farms Championship this weekend, where he won with a 19-under score.

Putting being what it is and all -- one of the most "feel" things in all of sports -- someone having success with their eyes closed is almost unthinkable. It's hard enough to make a 6-footer when your eyes are open. How on earth can you make anything when your eyes are closed?

Garcia says he's been putting that way for three years now, off and on. He says -- and why believe he's lying? -- he putted that way at the Masters when he won, but to his surprise, no one brought it up.

Sometimes, I guess, people don't notice what you're doing and that's a good thing. If they brought it up, you might start over-thinking it.

Which reminds me...

Circa 2005, I was playing in a golf tournament in the Middle Atlantic, one that was probably a notch above my pay grade, but I cobbled together two decent rounds to make the cut and was paired with a prominent national amateur player in the 3rd round of the tournament.

Back then, in the early days of my putting battles, I discovered that I was much, much better on "hook putts" (ones that go right to left for right handers) than I was "cut putts" (ones that go left to right). So I practiced for a week or two putting the hook putts right handed and the cut putts left handed. I was using an old Bullseye putter, identical in loft on both sides of the putter. With nothing to lose, I decided to use it in the tournament.

I putted well enough to make the cut.

In the third round, I put together a fairly impressive opening nine holes. I made two birdies putting right handed, a birdie putting left handed, and knocked in a couple of other putts from both sides of the ball to shoot 2-under on the opening nine holes.

While we were waiting on the 10th tee, the high-ranking amateur playing competitor in my group finally address the white elephant in the room.

"So, how long have you been doing that?" he asked. "With the putter..."

Me: "Oh, I just started it about two weeks ago. This is the first time I've used it in competition."

Him: "What happened? Why don't you putt them all right handed?" I guess he figured since I was a right handed golfer that I would also putt right handed, which made total sense.

Me: "I don't know. I've been putting poorly and kind of flinching at it at impact and this just seems to work well. I putt the hook putts right handed and the cut putts left handed."

And then he said something, by accident, I think, that totally unnerved me.

"Seems to be working for you. As long as you don't care how it looks, keep rolling them in."

And before I could say anything else, he threw another knife my way.

"I guess the key is to not get a lot of straight putts. You wouldn't know what to do then."

The other guy in the group kind of giggled at that one and so, too, did the caddies.

I think I shot 39 coming in for a 73 that could have been a 68 if not for the fact that I putted like Stevie Wonder on the back nine.

The whole back nine, I kept wondering just how it did look to see a guy putting from both sides of the ball like some sort of confused moron. And, wouldn't you know it, I suddenly started seeing the line differently on the back nine. I didn't see as much break as I did on the opening nine. I saw, much to my chagrin, a lot of straight putts.

So here's hoping Sergio Garcia keeps putting with his eyes closed, if that's the way he feels he putts best.

Don't worry about what people say. Don't worry about the writers at GolfWeek or GolfChannel.com or anyone else for that matter. Don't worry if it "looks" silly, because what looks great is Garcia holding the trophy at the end of the four days.

In golf, as I say all the time to my Calvert Hall team, no one ever asks "How?". Instead, at the end of the hole and the end of the round, they ask "How many?"


a new #dmd podcast


We spent some time last week with Tim Miller of Freestate Electric talking Ravens and other sports, plus we learn a little more about what it is that Freestate Electric does. If you're a business owner or commercial real estate professional, you'll be particularly interested in hearing Tim speak about Freestate Electric.

And Tim really knows the Ravens, too!

Enjoy...


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"The Keen Eye" of
David Rosenfeld

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


consider this


Picking the “best” player on an NFL team is sort of silly, I’d say. Offense and defense and, yes, even special teams are distinct entities. And even within units, it’s impossible to compare the left tackle and the slot receiver, for example. Their jobs are interrelated, yet entirely different on most plays.

I was thinking about this on Sunday, for some reason. There are no other players in the NFL like Lamar Jackson, of course, and he’s got that whole MVP thing going for him. Ronnie Stanley will get paid; you could see the difference when he wasn’t out there on the left side of the offensive line. There’s a lot of talent on the field, no matter what happened against Kansas City a week ago.

I do have an answer, though. He just got paid, actually, like just a few days ago. Marlon Humphrey, he of the five-year, $98.75 million contract extension, is the Ravens’ best player.

He obviously covers well, does Humphrey, but he’s also a physical player who isn’t afraid to act more like a small linebacker. Unlike the rest of the Ravens’ secondary, he can actually tackle a receiver or runner in space. And then there’s what he does better than any player I’ve seen, which is stripping or punching or otherwise wrestling the ball away from players when they are least expecting it.

He did that to Washington’s J.D. McKissic in the first quarter on Sunday, and teammate Marcus Peters recovered the ball. Two plays later, the Ravens had their opening touchdown. Maybe Humphrey tries to do it too often, like pretty much every chance he has. If you’re an old-school fan, you’d rather a guy maybe try a nice form tackle every once in a while. Alas, that’s not what you’re gonna get right now, so figure out a way to deal with it.

I recall writing about Humphrey after he was drafted, in 2017. He was so young, only 20 years old on draft day, as rookies are these days in the NFL. He mentioned in a preseason interview that he was used to playing at a high level, having starred at Alabama, but was still getting used to being a professional. Certainly Nick Saban demanded discipline, but being an NFL player requires a self-discipline that college guys don’t have.

At 24 years old, Humphrey is a leader, a player who not only performs at a high level but also holds others accountable. Ozzie Newsome might have gone to the well at his alma mater a little too much, but he hit a home run with Humphrey.


The Washington Football Team is in a tough spot, and not just because they’ve jettisoned their historic team nickname. Not that the broadcast team of Andrew Catalon and James Lofton always remembered that, but that’s to be expected this early in the season.

The franchise has been so bad-to-mediocre for so long now that the famously loyal fanbase has shrunk. The stands would only have been filled yesterday because Ravens’ supporters might have made their way to the game, which if you weren’t aware took place in the State of Maryland. By midway through the fourth quarter, FedEx Field might have resembled what it looked like here in COVID times.

I was stunned when Catalon, yesterday’s CBS play-by-play announcer, mentioned that Washington hasn’t had a first-team All-Pro player since 1996, and that was the team’s punter, Matt Turk. James Lofton, the color commentator, quickly mentioned that in the same time period the Ravens’ have drafted and developed three players now in the Hall of Fame.

And adding to all of that? The team’s head coach, Ron Rivera, has cancer. Currently undergoing treatment, he understandably had a difficult time coaching the game yesterday. Typically, the head coach has some kind of assistant with him at all times for administrative reasons, or even to make the sure the coach doesn’t get a penalty for arguing with an official. For Washington, there’s an entirely different reason Rivera has someone watching him.

On the field currently, Washington is trying again to develop a top-tier quarterback. This time it’s Dwayne Haskins, who played his high school football at Bullis School in Montgomery County, and it would make a great story if he became a star.

The early indications are that it won’t happen. According to reports, Haskins is already playing for his job, as backup Kyle Allen played for Rivera in Charlotte and knows Rivera’s system well. Haskins threw for more than 300 yards yesterday against the Ravens, but the statistics are misleading—lots of throws in the flat, screens, a few slants, and a defense that was letting those things happen.

The funny thing this year is that Washington doesn’t need to be a great team to earn a playoff spot, considering that the NFC East is probably the league’s worst division. If Haskins can improve, or if Allen can help the offense improve, Washington will be in the running all season long. But my guess is that the team will find a way to be worse than they otherwise should be, because they’re the Redskins (whoops) after all, remember?


As we’ve made it to the quarter-pole of the NFL season, it’s time to do the usual 25 percent evaluation of the Ravens. I’ll start general and then get more specific…

Generally…the Ravens are still one of the best teams in the NFL, though they seem to have a few more challenges than they did when they were blowing through team after team in the last three months of the 2019 season.

The offense doesn’t seem as explosive as it could be…until Jackson fools a team with a zone read and runs 50 yards for a touchdown, a play no other team in the NFL has in its arsenal. The defense doesn’t seem nearly as explosive as it could be, either, yet as noted above the turnovers still get created somehow and in some way.

As for the special teams…find me a better guy at throwing the ball before the receiver makes his break than Sam Koch, the most efficient passer in NFL history. And kudos to Catalon for becoming Tony Romo and predicting the fake punt yesterday in Landover.

Without breaking down the film, the biggest “problems” anecdotally for the Ravens right now are in the trenches, the offensive and defensive lines. It seems like the pocket around Jackson is collapsing quicker than it should, and not giving the quarterback as much room to escape pressure as he’d like. It also seems like the Ravens don’t get as much pressure on the other quarterback as they should, no matter what blitz scheme they attempt.

The fact remains, though, that the Ravens can still dominate in the running game if the game situation calls for it. It’s also worth mentioning that Marquise Brown sure seems like he runs open a lot, whether it’s in the middle of the field or on long plays that he and Jackson are just missing by inches right now.

Meanwhile, the second quarter of the 2020 season changed a little bit for the Ravens when COVID forced the Tennessee-Pittsburgh game to Week 7 and the Steelers’ trip to Baltimore to Week 8. It might be a good thing for the Ravens, an extra week to prepare for a team that did not have the week off beforehand. But in this 2020 season, it’s hard to figure out what’s up and what’s down, and there’s no question other schedule changes could happen in the future.

For now, as the great Bill Belichick might say, on to Cincinnati, which got its first win under rookie quarterback Joe Burrow on Sunday against Jacksonville.

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#DMD GAME DAY
Week 4


Sunday— October 4, 2020

Washington Football Team

1:00 PM EDT

FedEx Field
Landover, MD

Spread: Ravens (-14.0)



back to normal


Unless something totally crazy happens today down in Landover, everything will be back to normal for Lamar Jackson and the Ravens by roughly 4:10 pm.

It probably won't even take until 4:10 pm. Things might actually be normal by the end of the first quarter -- or by about 1:45 pm. That's how long it should take the Ravens to jet out to a 14-0 lead.

John Harbaugh will try his best not to look like this throughout today's game in DC.

Six days after getting throttled at home by the Chiefs, the Ravens get the benefit of a softball thrown their way this afternoon. All they have to do is be patient and slug it out of the park.

There are more pressing issues going on in the NFL today, obviously. The Chiefs-Patriots game has been moved to next week after Cam Newton and a Chiefs practice squad player both tested positive for Covid-19 on Saturday. There's no telling what else is going to happen today or tomorrow, but no one can be surprised by what happened this week with the games involving the Steelers, Titans, Patriots and Chiefs.

Early prediction from #DMD: The Super Bowl, after more Covid-19 cases this month and additional postponed games later this season, will be played in late February, 2021. It seems sensible to think there are more positive tests on the horizon and several more teams getting impacted by the virus during the regular season. So, be ready for a late February Super Bowl. Still in Tampa Bay, of course, but a few weeks later than the original date. That's our "official call", anyway.

As for the Ravens today, it goes without saying -- but we'll mention it anyway -- that they simply can't afford a toe-stub down in Landover against the hapless DC team. Everyone can justify the beating Kansas City handed the Ravens on Monday night. But no one, and I mean no one, would be able to stomach a loss to the unnamed squad this afternoon.

This one is as close to a lay up as you can get in the NFL, and those are, indeed, rare things to find in a league that prides itself on the old mantra: "On any given Sunday..."

Expect a bounce back performance today by the Ravens.

Things will be back to normal and last Monday's loss to the Chiefs will officially be in the rear view mirror.


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by the percentages


5% chance the Washington Football Team wins today. It would be a massive upset if they do, and the Ravens under John Harbaugh have always been very good at these kind of games. You know, the ones you should win 34-10.

After a poor performance last week vs. K.C., Mark Andrews will bounce back today in Landover against the Redskins. There's a 95% chance of it, in fact.

15% chance that Lamar throws for over 300 yards today. The Baltimore running attack figures to get the bulk of the work this afternoon, thus limiting some of Lamar's passing numbers.

25% chance the Ravens defense accounts for a score somehow in today's game. Fumble recovery, interception return, etc. It feels like a perfect day for a defensive score of some kind.

35% chance the Washington Football Team turns the ball over at least three times this afternoon. That's how teams lose by 24 points at home.

45% chance the Ravens reach at least 30 points today. In fact, there's a better chance the Ravens hit the 40 point mark than the Washington team reaches 20 points.

55% chance the Baltimore running attack goes for at least 150 yards this afternoon. After Monday's debacle, expect Greg Roman to focus mainly on the running game today. Ingram, Dobbins and Edwards will combine for 28 carries.

65% chance the Ravens never trail in the game. They jump out early and cruise from there. I just can't see DC ever being in this one.

75% chance the Ravens cover the 14-point spread today. It just doesn't feel like DC has a chance to keep this one close, particularly after the Ravens got punched in the mouth on Monday night.

85% chance the Washington team doesn't score more than two touchdowns today. Three touchdowns would be a moral victory for the hosts.

95% chance Lamar Jackson and Mark Andrews connect for a TD pass today. After Monday's dismal performance from both players, you just know they're looking to get back on track this afternoon in DC. Expect Andrews to have a big game.

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how drew sees today's game


The Ravens stop the Redskins on the game's opening drive, then immediately move into high gear, with Lamar taking the visitors 81 yards in 10 plays, ending the drive with his own 7-yard TD run on a broken play.

Baltimore moves ahead 14-0 late in the first quarter on a Jackson to Nick Boyle touchdown throw.

Have no fear, you can get in a quick nine holes around 3 pm today if you like...

DC gets on the board after a few questionable penalties help them move quickly down the field. Facing a 4th and 1 at the Ravens' 6 yard line, DC decides 3 points are better than no points, and they kick a field goal to make it 14-3.

Midway through the 2nd quarter, Mark Ingram breaks off a big 44 yard run and Lamar adds a 14-yard scramble of his own on 3rd down. Moments later, Jackson finds Mark Andrews in the end zone to make it 21-3 Ravens at the half.

On the opening series of the second half, Baltimore's impressive drive stalls at the 13 yard line and Tucker's field goal from short distance makes it 24-3.

After a Marlon Humphrey punch out and Patrick Queen fumble recovery, Jackson and the Ravens offense march right down the field on a 7-play drive that culminates with J.K. Dobbins dancing into the end zone from 10 yards out. It's now 31-3.

The DC team scores a touchdown, somehow, early in the 4th quarter to make it 31-10. There's a thought within the DC front office that a parade might be in order on Monday, but they decide against it.

A late Justin Tucker field goal finalizes the scoring, as the Ravens cruise to an easy win over the WFT, 34-10.

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around the league in 30 seconds


Game of the Day -- Boy, this is one lousy week 4 NFL schedule. Patriots/Chiefs would have earned the nod here, or even Titans/Steelers, but both games are postponed due to Covid-19 issues. So as insane as this sounds, the Bills and Raiders -- in Las Vegas -- is probably today's marquee match-up. Buffalo is 3-0, albeit a shaky 3-0, while the Raiders are 2-1, including a pair of wins in their new building out west. Josh Allen is an early front runner for the MVP award if Patrick Mahomes decides to quit midway through the season. Are the Bills for real? Today will tell us more about them.

Dud of the Day -- There are plenty of games to choose from to fit this category, but we're going with the obvious one, in Cincinnati, where the Jaguars (somehow, 1-2) are facing Joe Burrow and the Bengals (0-2-1). Vikings/Texans (both 0-3) seems like a candidate for this one as well, but both of those sides have played a fairly difficult schedule to date. Wins will come their way. The Jaguars and Bengals could play to a 6-6 tie today and everyone would say, "Yeah, that seems about right."

Most to Prove -- Arizona travels to Carolina today after a shocking home loss to the Lions last week that robbed them of a 3-0 start. The Cardinals appear to be the real deal, but you don't lose to the Lions in your own building if you're any good. The Panthers are a "decent" 1-2 team. If Arizona's legit, they'll go in there today and win. They have a lot to prove thanks to that loss to Detroit last Sunday.

Lock of the Day -- This is CRAZY, but the lock today is in ------- Cincinnati, where the Bengals are giving Jacksonville 2.5 points. Take the Bengals and give the points (boy, there's 7 words you never see in the same sentence) as Joe Burrow earns his first pro win in a 23-17 Bengals victory.

AFC North Predictions -- In addition to the Ravens 34-10 win, we like the Bengals to beat the Jaguars, 23-17, and the Browns to upset the Cowboys in Dallas in an old fashioned shoot out, 36-33.

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Saturday
October 3
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2230



saturday nuggets


The four remaining series' in the baseball playoffs should all be intriguing, even if they're a best-of-5.

In the American League, the Yankees and Rays will meet in one ALDS, while the Astros and Athletics will meet in the other. There's on love lost between those four squads, particularly when it comes to facing one another. The Yankees and Rays had some heated on-field issues in 2020 and the Astros were unhappy with some comments made by the A's in the wake of the trash can story from Houston's 2017 championship run.

The Yankees haven't won a World Series in over a decade. Could Aaron Judge help get the Bronx Bombers another ring in 2020?

In the National League, it's the Braves vs. the Marlins and the Dodgers against the Padres. San Diego advanced last night with a 4-0 win over St. Louis in Game 3 of their series, while the Marlins continued their surprising 2020 play by finishing off a 2-game sweep of the Cubs at Wrigley Field, winning 2-0 on Friday afternoon.

The 2020 thing* being what it is and all, it's hard to say this year's World Series champion is really the best team in baseball. Heck, they played a third of a real baseball season. Some teams are just hitting their stride at the 60-game mark. But quirky thing* or not, the four remaining teams in each league have the goods to win it all. Yes, even the below .500 Astros (29-31), who have -- thus far -- withstood the loss of future Hall of Famer Justin Verlander.

If you're looking for the story with the most meat on it, it's almost certainly the Marlins, who were the team hit the hardest by Covid-19 at the beginning of the thing*. Next up would be the Astros, who were offensively inept for a large portion of the 60-game slate (I wonder why?) but managed to squeak into the post-season in the final week and now need just seven more wins to get back to the World Series. Without the trash cans, of course.

I couldn't care less who wins this next round of games. Once the Orioles are eliminated, I don't have much rooting interest any longer.

Long term, I guess I'd like to see the Dodgers finally win that elusive World Series just so Clayton Kershaw gets the ring he so richly deserves. If Tampa Bay wins the whole thing, I'm fine with that as well. I've always respected their organization. It would be cool to see Nick Markakis win a ring with the Braves, too. I really don't care who wins, but if any of those three teams win, I'll sign off on it.


Yes, they're running the Preakness today. Really, they are. You can look it up on the internet if you don't believe me.

What was traditionally the second leg of the Triple Crown is now the third and final jewel of the 2020 schedule. Tiz The Law won the Belmont back in June and Authentic was the winner at the Kentucky Derby early last month.

Eleven horses are slated to run later today (5:45 pm post time), with Tiz The Law out and Authentic in (#9 post position).

Art Collector (Brian Hernandez, Jr., jockey) and Authentic (John Velazquez) figure to be the favorites by race time.

Thousand Words, Swiss Skydiver and Mr. Big News also figure to get some heavy play from bettors.

#DMD likes Authentic to come out on top in today's Preakness, with Thousand Words in second and LiveYourBeastLife in third. That's 9-5-11 for those looking for the numbers. Throw in Pneumatic in fourth place for a 9-5-11-10 finish.


Did the Orioles really fire two coaches this week because they could no longer afford their salaries? If so...holy cow.

Doug Brocail (pitching coach) and Jose Flores (third base coach) were both told their departures were "budget related" earlier this week, trimming the O's coaching staff from eight to six.

I have no idea exactly what the two men made, salary wise, but industy reports suggest Brocail might have been on $300,000 and Flores was in the $150,000 range.

Are the Orioles in that much trouble financially that they have to cut loose two guys to save somewhere around $450,000? Aren't they going to have to replace the two of them as well? You can't not have a pitching coach. And someone has to stand in the box at third base, right?

If the organization didn't care for the quality of their work, that's a different story entirely. But general manager Mike Elias praised both of them for the job they did, telling each, instead, that their departures were a result of budget cuts mandated by ownership.

That's hard to believe.

2020 has been a weird year and all. I get it. But it's been so bad for the Orioles that they can't scoop together $450,000 to pay those two guys?

The O's have a long history of occasionally doing things on the cheap, there's no doubt about that.

But in the case of Brocail and Flores, something's not adding up...


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even horses are getting soft


2020 is surely one strange year.

In my lifetime, at least, it's the strangest of them all.

We lost another great one yesterday when Bob Gibson passed away at age 84. The Cardinals pitcher was so good he pitched 11 straight complete games in 1968 en-route to a remarkable 22-9 campaign (1.12 ERA)...and baseball reacted by lowering the mound from 15 inches to 10 inches the following year.

Just last month, Tom Seaver, another Hall of Fame right hander, also passed away.

It's been a tough year.

But a story that came out on Wednesday really had me shaking my head.

Effective October 1, 2020, jockeys and exercise riders in California are working under a more restrictive rule governing the use of whips during races and workouts.

Yep, 2020 is so weird that even race horses are getting soft.

How can it be? Those big, muscular, well-oiled machines...afraid of a love tap or two with the whip? Come on, man.

But it's true. The new rule that went in effect two days ago says riders can use the whip more than six times, excluding showing or waving the whip or tapping the horse on the shoulder. They can't use the whip more than two times in succession as part of the six-time limit without giving the horse a chance to respond before using the whip again.

The rule states that whips must be used in an underhanded position with it always at or below the shoulder level of the rider. During training, the whip can only be used for the safety of a horse or rider.

This is all code word for: please be nicer to the race horses.

I love animals. Let me say that right away. I won't be hemming and hawing the way the two guys did during Tuesday night's debate. I'll come out and say it: I love animals.

But we've really come to this? We're changing the rules in horse racing so the horses don't get hit with the whip in an excessive fashion? They're horses. They're supposed to run fast. If they don't, perhaps they need more urging.

I don't know what's going on these days. As soon as someone objects to something, we soften it up for them.

Don't like the company's 9-5 work schedule? We'll create "flex hours" for you so you can come in anytime between 9-10 a.m. and you can also leave between 4-5 p.m. as long as you were in before 10.

Need a break from the grind of the office? Some companies are now using what they call "an open room", where an employee can schedule a 3-hour slot during the day and do their work from an office in the building where they'll be the only person in there during that 3-hour period.

If you don't like seeing, talking or otherwise integrating with other humans, the "open room" seems like a great option. Sheesh...

And now, you can only whip a horse six times in a race in California or you have to go before the racing commission and explain yourself.

"Well, I kind of lost count, honestly. I thought maybe I had only hit in four times. Or five. So I whacked him a few more times and it turns out it was nine times that I hit him with the whip."

If you think that sounds kind of dumb, it's because it is.

2020, man...

It just keeps getting more weird, every day.

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i now need ONE golfer to join me


Do you like golf? Well, in this case, you probably have to love golf.

I'm looking for one more golfer who loves the sport and can devote a day to playing 45 holes with me. (I originally needed three players, but I've secured two this week already.) yesterday to join my group.)

I'll even write a note to your boss. How's that for customer service?

The Maryland Fellowship of Christian Athletes has an awesome annual event that's coming up. It's on October 26 at Eagle's Nest. You'll play five, 9-hole rounds of golf throughout the day, with each round featuring a different format. Best of all, there's very little putting!

It's called the "Flag Tournament", and the object in three of the 9-hole rounds is to hit your ball as close to the flag as possible. I'll explain the scoring later, but the golf goes quickly and it's fun to stand out in the fairway and aim for the flag without having to worry about missing the green and costing yourself a chance at a par.

There are two other 9-hole events that do include putting of some kind, so every facet of your game gets tested.

Here's what I need: One golfer to join me for the day.

Cost: $350, all of which goes to Maryland FCA, and includes a special gift from me. Our foursome will compete to earn some great prizes, plus I'll have a treat for everyone in my group that no other foursome will have.

Your handicap level does not matter. Please don't think you have to be a 5-handicap to play this event. You do not. It's very much "team golf", so just bring whatever game you have and we'll make it work.

If you're interested in joining my foursome, please email me: 18inarow@gmail.com

For more information on the Maryland FCA Flag Tournament, please click here and you'll be directed to the tournament website.

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Friday
October 2
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2229



"when's the preakness?"


Just for kicks, I asked several of my sports-loving friends the question as we were having a beverage after a recent round of golf.

"When's the Preakness? Anyone know?"

They all looked at me like I had three heads.

"May, sometime?" one of them said.

"No, they didn't run in May, remember?" another guy remarked. "I think it's coming up. Maybe at the end of this month?"

With no fans in attendance this year because of Covid-19, and the race moving from its traditional mid-May slot to early October...no one even knows the Preakness is taking place tomorrow.

One other guy at the table thought the race had been postponed all together in 2020. "I don't think they're having it this year because of Covid," he said.

"It's this Saturday, you dummies," I shot back at them.

The truth of the matter is that it had completely slipped my mind that the race was being held this Saturday...until I heard someone mention it this past Monday morning at a local coffee shop.

No one knows the Preakness is this weekend. And by "no one", I'm being very "general". The 83 people in Baltimore who still really follow local horse racing know the Preakness is this Saturday, but no one else has a clue.

I get it. The race was shifted from its traditional mid-May date to the first Saturday in October because of the coronavirus. The Belmont was run in June, the Derby was in early September and then here comes the Preakness, in a weird spot, with nothing on the line, being run during football season.

Quick...who won the Belmont and the Derby? Don't worry, no one else knows, either. (And if you somehow did reel off "Tiz The Law" and "Authentic", congratulations on being one of the 139 people in the country who know the names of the two winners.)

What I do wonder, though, is why hasn't the race been promoted at all this week? Is the lack of buzz a total by-product of the fact that no fans can attend the race? If so, that's understandable. I mean, 85% of the people who go to the Preakness when it's in mid-May have no real interest in horse racing, per se. They just go to the Preakness because it's an event that rolls around once a year and gives everyone a chance to party and act wild for eight hours on a spring day.

So if only 15,000 of those in attendance care about racing (and, if I'm being honest, that's probably a generous number) and 85,000 don't give a hoot, I suppose it does make sense to squelch any planned marketing or advertising for the event itself. Sure, betting on the race is a big deal and nets the Maryland Jockey Club a lot of money on race day, but my guess is the folks at the MJC just assume the aforementioned 85% aren't going to bet on the race on Saturday if they're not able to be there.

I'm certainly not suggesting they were wrong to move the race back in May. They didn't have a choice, in fact. But I'm wondering how it came to pass that the race is this Saturday -- as in, tomorrow -- and very few people in town even know it.

And this isn't a "sports fan issue". I was at a table with three ardent sports fans on Tuesday and none of them knew the race was happening tomorrow.

I didn't ask if anyone was betting on the race.

I didn't ask the guys who the favorite is.

I didn't ask anyone about Bob Baffert's horse.

I just asked them when the race was taking place. And no one knew.

For all I know, the Maryland Jockey Club might not care that no one knows the race is this Saturday. They may look at the 2020 running of the Preakness as not much more than protocol and an exercise they had to participate in, even though there's very little interest whatsoever.

If that's the case, so be it. I probably would do the same thing if I ran the Jockey Club. Why spend a bunch of marketing dollars trying to lure people to one of the local off-track-betting facilities when it's highly probable they're not going to bite the hook? Save those marketing bucks for next year's event.

But the more I think about it, the more it irks me. They're running the Preakness tomorrow. One of the three biggest horse races of the entire year. In our backyard, basically. And no one knows it's happening.

I don't think it's necessarily a Baltimore thing.

I think it's a horse racing thing.

And it's sad...but certainly not surprising.

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friday quick hits


Something dawned on me last night as I used the TV remote to go between the Padres-Cardinals and Jets-Broncos.

Joe Flacco went 2/2 for 16 yards last night as he saw brief action in the Jets' 37-28 home loss to Denver.

"Man, Joe Flacco got old, fast..."

I don't mean "old-old". I mean, "football-old". Flacco was a rookie in 2008. I remember it well. Thirteen years later, he's basically done. He spent one injury riddled season in Denver a year ago before signing with the New York Jets for the 2020 campaign. Last night, he briefly appeared after New York starter Sam Darnold got dinged up.

I understand the average career for a NFL'er is just a shade under 4 years, but the average career length for a good quarterback is much greater than that. A lot of QB's play in the league for 10-15 years. Heck, Brett Favre played for 33 years, I think.

Flacco's career went by very quickly. I remember watching him play for Delaware at Towson University. Wasn't it just last October?

Rookie, playoff quarterback, Super Bowl MVP, and now, sadly, mopping up for one of the league's moribund organizations. It all happened in a flash.

But was he elite? I'm sorry, I just had to say it...


If you missed last night's Padres-Cardinals game, you missed one wild post-season contest. The Cardinals led 4-0 and 6-2, trailed 9-6, cut it to 9-8, fell behind 11-8, made it 11-9 in the 9th and, naturally, had the go ahead run at the plate in the 9th before San Diego escaped with the win.

But the bigger story was how many bat flips the Padres authored on Thursday night. Machado, Tatis Jr., Myers. They were some bat-flipping fools in Game 2 after all three hit home runs in the win.

Something dawned on me after Tatis Jr. hit his second home run and flipped his bat about 30 feet in the air.

"If this was a regular season series, Machado and Tatis Jr. would both be beaned either later tonight or in the next game..."

But because it happened in a playoff game, the St. Louis pitchers wouldn't be as willing to jeopardize their team's chances of winning as they might be, say, in April or August.

I can't stand the unwritten rule of throwing at a guy who grandstands after a home run. I might not be a big fan of grandstanding, either, but I'm never a supporter of throwing at a guy.

There's little doubt had last night's game been just a regular old mid-summer game, Machado and Tatis Jr. would have been a target. Instead, the St. Louis pitchers had to react the old fashioned way -- by simply trying to get those two guys out the next time they came up to the plate.

What will be interesting is to see what happens tonight if the Cardinals are either up 10-2 or down 10-2 late in the game and one of those two Padres sluggers -- or both -- comes to the plate with the bat in their hand.


I was breezing through Twitter last night and saw a lot of commentary aimed at LeBron James. He and his Lakers are up 1-0 in the NBA Finals as James chases a title with his third different team.

I didn't do any scientific research on the Twitter activity last night, but there's no doubt that most of the discussion about James was negative.

I've never understood why so many people dislike LeBron James. OK, sure, "The Decision" was horrible and even James likely knows that by now. But did that earn him a lifetime of derision from people?

I don't follow the NBA nearly as much as I follow other sports, but I watch it enough to know that I've never once seen James on the police blotter. I don't ever remember him being a bad guy off the court. I can't recall seeing a non-basketball story about James and thinking to myself, "Man, that dude has some serious issues."

I see a story about hundreds of other athletes every year involving drugs, alcohol, domestic violence and so on. But never LeBron.

So why don't people like James? What's he done to earn this scorn? All he's done, basically, in his career, is win. Is he as good as Jordan was? I don't know. Maybe. Better than Kobe? Maybe. But both of those guys had some "non-basketball" stories trail behind them and it seems to me folks never gave them the same stink eye they give LeBron.

I just don't get it.

Maybe it's just success-envy that gets people to pile on LeBron. I have no idea. But it sure seems to me like James has been a great player and an overall solid steward for the NBA. Shouldn't that be good enough for everyone?

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faith in sports


Our regular Friday feature here at #DMD, brought to you by Freestate Electric, focuses on an awesome round table discussion by the Seattle Seahawks from a half dozen years ago. You'll see a fresh faced Russell Wilson talking about his faith, as well as other members of the Seahawks.

In one interesting clip, one of the team's assistant coaches says he found something more important than winning a Super Bowl.

I hope you enjoy today's edition of "Faith in Sports".


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Thursday
October 1
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#2228



this and that


I had to laugh last night when I was perusing the comments and saw one of the regulars bemoaning the fact that so many people were distressed over Monday's football result in Baltimore.

For those that don't know, sturm und drang is a fancy way of saying "emotional unrest". The city was filled with it on Tuesday morning, that's for sure.

Let your fandom for the Ravens be seen and heard!

But I didn't laugh because of the use of sturm und drang. I laughed at the thought that people aren't supposed to be upset after the Ravens laid a collossal egg on national television when they were facing the defending Super Bowl champions and had one of those "send a message" opportunities. A squandered one, it turned out.

Rather than fret over the football team's performance, someone suggested you instead, "Take up fishing. Schedule a Sunday afternoon golf round. Take up painting, write the "great American novel".

Funny enough, those are things we all did from 1984 through 1995. You know, when we didn't have a football team to cheer for every Sunday in the fall. The only thing we didn't get to do back then was build a museum, although I remember someone suggesting that we should do that very thing.

We most certainly do get over-invested in our sports teams here in the U.S., but it's always been that way and it's not changing anytime soon, no matter how many football players kneel during the national anthem. Oh, sure, some folks are going to go away because of the anthem issue and I'll be the first to admit my love for football has certainly been challenged over the last few years. But on the whole, I'm a Ravens fan because they're called the Baltimore Ravens, not because of anyone in particular who plays or coaches for the team.

I don't know much but I know this: Having a team to root for and invest in is way better off than having no team on a Sunday (or Monday) in September. No amount of sturm und drang is going to change the fact that we, as a community, pride ourselves on having a football team that represents the place we call home.

Do we put too much emphasis on sports? Probably, yes. But I'd rather have the opportunity to put too much emphasis on sports than have no opportunity at all. I remember what that was like in 1988 when the rest of the country was soaking in the joy of football and I was fishing, golfing, painting or trying to write a novel.

So this is a kind of way of saying to most of you, "Don't pay any attention to people who try and tamp down your enthusiasm for the Ravens, Orioles or any other team you favor." Tell them to go fly a kite. For real...go fly a kite on Sundays if you don't want to watch football. Or write a novel.

Now, should you balance the wins and losses of your favorite team and not let them impact your daily life? That would be a good idea. But don't ever think for a minute there's something wrong with being a diehard sports fan. Because there isn't.


This will sound weird, but it's unfair to have a baseball team's entire season hinge on a best-of-3 series. Why not just play one game instead?

I told you it would sound weird.

Aaron Judge and the Yankees made quick work of the Cleveland Indians, winning both games in Cleveland and moving on in the American League playoffs.

Now, given that this year's baseball season was 60-games and more like a thing* than a season, perhaps a best-of-3 series was the right way to go. I'll acquiesce on it for the time being because they'd be playing baseball until Thanksgiving if they didn't get these first round series' over with quickly. But on the whole, a best-of-3 is a terrible way to go.

At least in a one-game series, you could throw your best pitcher or, even, pitchers, in an effort to win that game. You might manage differently knowing there was no tomorrow. Players might -- yes, might -- even give a little extra knowing they might be going home when this one game was complete.

But I'll say this: Even with the 3-game series to start things off, these baseball playoffs are intriguing. Sure, the Astros finished 29-31 and are through to the next round and the Twins, who went 36-24 in the thing*, are on the first tee today.

It seems extra-odd and feels like something's wrong, but for all we know, Houston would have won a best-of-5 or best-of-7 series as well. There's almost no chance an under .500 would make the post-season in a regular 162-game campaign, which gives us all reason to think of the Astros as the outlier of all outliers.

Either way, though, these expanded baseball playoffs seem to be working. I've come around, so to speak, so much so that I'm enjoying the "March Madness replica" where there are so many games going on at once you don't know what to watch.

Yes, 16 teams might have been a couple too many, particularly given that two teams qualified without being able to win half of their 60 games, but that's the same kind of quirk the NFL is setting itself up for by adding a team to its playoff format. Sometimes there are a bunch of really good teams and one of them gets left out and sometimes there are a bunch of barely-average teams and one of them sneaks in.

I really don't want to see an 8-8 football team make the playoffs, but I'm also smart enough to know an 8-8 team could get their chakras in line for a month and win the Super Bowl. The NFL is the weirdest, unpredictable league ever invented, that's for sure.

Back to baseball: After all of their outstanding regular thing* play, though, the Cubs, Padres, White Sox and Athletics are all facing elimination today. For Chicago and San Diego, their playoff "lives" started yesterday and might end today. It's a weird way to go, for sure.

Meanwhile, the Astros roll on to the next round, even without their trash cans. 2020 has indeed been one long, strange trip. The baseball campaign has been just as odd, although the teams we assumed would be there (namely the Dodgers and Yankees) are still chugging along. In the end, maybe it's OK that the first series was a best-of-3 affair. That seems just as unnatural as the rest of the year to date.


There is still a lot angst and contention going on locally with regard to high school sports, particularly at the private school level, where the two leagues -- MIAA (boys) and IAAM (girls) -- have yet to commence their fall athletic calendars due to continuing concerns over Covid-19.

It's a very touchy situation, to say the least. A parent-organized group has surfaced over the last two weeks, seeking to have better communications with both the leagues and the member schools, hoping to convince the powers-that-be to start the various fall sports in early October. That other Maryland school systems (mostly public) have announced plans to begin their fall athletic schedule isn't helping ease the friction, obviously.

While the MIAA and IAAM haven't yet announced their plans for a return-to-athletics, it's fairly reasonable to assume an announcement is coming soon. What that announcement is going to be is far beyond my pay grade. I'm a high school golf coach and we play in the spring. I'm as far removed from the inner workings of the decision making as I can be. And, honestly, I like it that way.

I can certainly see the points being made by the parent-group. My team at Calvert Hall was the first to experience a Covid-19 shutdown last spring. I understand the anguish that goes with preparing for a season and then having it shut down with almost no warning at all. Believe me, we were more than disappointed at what happened last March. I worked hard on a personal level to keep my team's spirits up, but no amount of reasoning with them or team ZOOM calls could remedy the fact we didn't get to play our 2020 season. It was tough.

And I know it's tough on the student-athletes who would currently be playing a fall sport. I've heard every argument and they're all legitimate.

But here's the deal: These school systems and individual schools have to keep the safety and well-being of everyone in mind when they allow for a mass integration of people on the field, court, course, etc. I know that's not easy for a parent to digest. I'm a coach (and a parent) and I know it's hard to rationalize. But in the end, I believe the two leagues and their member schools are doing the right thing by showing extra caution, particularly since we're still seeing new cases of the virus pop up every day in Maryland. Sure, death totals are down, but the virus is still around us and still doing damage.

A parent reached out to me on Sunday night and asked me to write about it at #DMD this week and urged me to take their side, hoping my voice would influence someone. I wrote a short note back and said, "For starters, I have no influence. And second, I'm not going to be able to give your position a full endorsement. So you might not want me to write about it in the end."

I want sports to continue at the high school level. I have a very selfish reason, obviously, but I also know the young men at Calvert Hall and I feel for all of them who aren't getting to play right now. I know all too well what it feels like to not play.

But I trust the people at the MIAA and IAAM to make the right call and I most certainly have unwavering faith in the folks at Calvert Hall to do the right -- and smart -- thing. At every step since the virus took control last March, Calvert Hall has done the right thing. I can't speak for other schools, because I'm not involved in those, but I can say, from my vantage point, that Calvert Hall has made the right calls all along the way.

I hope fall sports get going sometime soon and that winter sports follow soon thereafter. And, of course, I hope spring sports start on time next March and that we get a full season in 2021.

But more than that, I want every student-athlete, coach, teacher, administrator and family member of those folks I just listed to stay healthy. That should be the number one goal for everyone.

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i now need ONE golfer to join me


Do you like golf? Well, in this case, you probably have to love golf.

I'm looking for one more golfer who loves the sport and can devote a day to playing 45 holes with me. (I originally needed three players, but I've secured two this week already.) yesterday to join my group.)

I'll even write a note to your boss. How's that for customer service?

The Maryland Fellowship of Christian Athletes has an awesome annual event that's coming up. It's on October 26 at Eagle's Nest. You'll play five, 9-hole rounds of golf throughout the day, with each round featuring a different format. Best of all, there's very little putting!

It's called the "Flag Tournament", and the object in three of the 9-hole rounds is to hit your ball as close to the flag as possible. I'll explain the scoring later, but the golf goes quickly and it's fun to stand out in the fairway and aim for the flag without having to worry about missing the green and costing yourself a chance at a par.

There are two other 9-hole events that do include putting of some kind, so every facet of your game gets tested.

Here's what I need: One golfer to join me for the day.

Cost: $350, all of which goes to Maryland FCA, and includes a special gift from me. Our foursome will compete to earn some great prizes, plus I'll have a treat for everyone in my group that no other foursome will have.

Your handicap level does not matter. Please don't think you have to be a 5-handicap to play this event. You do not. It's very much "team golf", so just bring whatever game you have and we'll make it work.

If you're interested in joining my foursome, please email me: 18inarow@gmail.com

For more information on the Maryland FCA Flag Tournament, please click here and you'll be directed to the tournament website.

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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.


couldn’t he have been a middling relief pitcher like his dad?


Here at #DMD headquarters, we allow ourselves to root, root, root for the home team. So, we’ll give props to the Ravens for winning 14 straight games in the regular season, many of them by large margins.

And we’re sure that the staff, outcoached as they admittedly were on Monday, will do a bang-up job of coachin’ the boys up before Sunday’s game against the Football Team down in unincorporated Prince George’s County.

Of course, we also like to be honest here at #DMD HQ. Heck, we don’t even need to do it ourselves, really. Lamar Jackson (who wasn’t born until 19 years after the original Christopher Reeve “Superman” movie, by the way) says that the Chiefs are the Ravens’ “kryptonite,” and that’s awfully concerning. We can see why he feels that way—his record in the regular season against the Chiefs is 0-3, and his record against every other opponent is 21-1.

I’d like to stop there, and say no more about them Ravens, hon. I want to switch gears, and please excuse my language while doing so.

Patrick Mahomes is a freakin’ genius.

And yes, I know that nobody in football should be called a genius, because a genius is a guy like Norman Einstein.*

*Former Washington Football Team quarterback Joe Theismann once said this on television, and was widely ridiculed for it. However, Norman Einstein is a real person, the valedictorian of Theismann’s high school class in New Jersey. So, Theismann might actually have been talking about Norman Einstein, or meant to say Albert Einstein but slipped up and mentioned another genius.

Lamar Jackson is amazing. He plays unconventional (for the NFL, anyway) football at a speed we’ve never seen, and all you have to do is look at that record above to see how adept he’s been at doing it. Patrick Mahomes is extraordinary. He plays conventional NFL football in an unconventional way, and nobody has any idea what to do about it.

Definitely not the Ravens, against whom he has completed 93 passes (nine of them touchdowns) for more than 1,100 yards in just three games, getting better each time. I don’t even want to think about what that means for next season, when the Chiefs will visit Baltimore again; the progression says he’ll throw for more than 400 yards then. But let’s not pretend anybody else has him figured out either.

At 25, Mahomes has played only 34 games in the NFL. He is not the greatest quarterback of all time, but it’s kind of like Mike Trout and baseball immortality. Mahomes is on his way there, and he does it with a combination of skills, creativity and intelligence we’ve never seen before.

He’s the best quarterback I’ve ever seen. We can talk about Marcus Peters and tackling and the (lack of a) pass rush and rookie linebackers later. Monday night was about him.

When he found Tyreek Hill for a 20-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter, giving the Chiefs a 20-10 lead, the same thing occurred to me as it did to Brian Griese and Louis Riddick, who were doing the game on television. Hill wasn’t open, even by NFL standards. Peters could not have done a better job in coverage. It didn’t matter.

When he found the speedy Mecole Hardman for the back-breaking long touchdown at the end of the second quarter, Hardman was very open. Clearly, there was some kind of miscommunication in the secondary between Peters and DeShon Elliott. That being said, Marlon Humphrey was bearing down on Mahomes. He ended up hitting him hard, but it didn’t matter; the pass that Mahomes made was exactly the same as it would have been if the teams were playing non-contact 7-on-7 in training camp.

When Mahomes rolls, or is forced to, his left, he is as dangerous as any right-handed quarterback ever. When Joe Flacco did that, you shuddered at what might happen. When Tom Brady does that, he’s probably going to throw the ball into the ground intentionally. Mahomes, on the other hand, seems to contort his body to make it seem as easy as if he were standing alone on the sideline playing catch.

There’s no doubt that Mahomes and Andy Reid, whose bona fides in coaching the passing game have never been questioned, are a stunning combination. Reid and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy called a play in the first quarter on Monday that featured some kind of misdirection and several fakes followed by a sneak middle screen pass to Travis Kelce, and I struggle to see how any team could have stopped the play for less than 10 yards.

And speaking of Kelce, he’s not only one of the top players in the NFL, but is statistically on his way to becoming the most productive tight end in league history. Oh, and try tackling him.

Not to talk about the Ravens again, but Greg Roman and staff have developed a running game that is unique and unusual, and they could only do so because of the quarterback they’ve drafted and developed. The Chiefs, on the other hand, have developed a passing game that’s equally as unusual, only because of the quarterback they’ve drafted and developed.

Kansas City can run the ball effectively; the rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire seems like a great find. Baltimore can pass the ball effectively; any thoughts otherwise are long gone, Jackson’s statistics on Monday or not. But this is the NFL, and Mahomes’ tremendous abilities in the passing game mean more than Jackson’s skills in the running game.

On Monday, Mahomes passed the 10,000-yard career passing mark in his 34th game, making him the fastest quarterback in NFL history to reach that number. The previous record holder was Hall of Famer Kurt Warner, who did it in 36 games, and it’s a telling comparison.

Warner was 28 years old before he started an NFL game. He famously bagged groceries and tooled around in the football “minor leagues” for a while before sticking with the Rams. He then had three incredible seasons with Mike Martz and “The Greatest Show on Turf” before injuries set in, and it wasn’t until late in his career in Arizona that he reestablished himself as a top-notch player.

Meanwhile, this season is on its way to being the third straight stellar year for Mahomes, even though he missed two games due to injury last year. He’s thrown 85 touchdown passes and just 17 interceptions since he became the starter in Kansas City, and he won’t be limited to three great years before he starts to break down.

Drew Brees has five 5,000-yard passing seasons, four of which have come after the age of 32. He’s done it with a precision short passing game, at which he has excelled better than any quarterback who’s played the game. Brady, Manning and Big Ben all accomplished the feat as older players. Jameis Winston, infamously, did it last year but also threw 30 interceptions. Matt Stafford did it as a young player, as Mahomes did in 2018.

The thing about Mahomes is that he’s doing it as a young player while also winning at a high rate, including a Super Bowl; he’s not doing it out of desperation, like Winston. He didn’t need any time to become who he is, unless you consider his time as Alex Smith’s backup in 2017. He doesn’t throw interceptions very often, which Warner always did even during his peak.

All of that makes Mahomes a different challenge for the Ravens, and every other team he might face on a consistent basis. He does the most important thing in the NFL better than anyone ever has at his age, and there’s no reason to believe he won’t get even better. The only thing the Ravens can do is try to become the most efficient team they can be without even thinking about him.


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Wednesday
September 30
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#2227



the morning after...the morning after


On the second morning after Monday night's 34-20 shellacking in Baltimore, nothing has really changed.

It was more like 44-20 than 34-20, if we're being honest. Kansas City, in my estimation, was closer to scoring 50 points than the Ravens were to winning the game.

But what's done is done. And the Ravens are, despite the loss, still a formidable team in the AFC.

There are, however, a couple of issues worth addressing in the wake of Monday night's loss.

We'll start with the obvious. There are games in the NFL. There are big games in the NFL. And there are career-defining games in the NFL. In what we generally just consider "games", Lamar Jackson has been spectacular in his three NFL seasons. He didn't win the MVP award last year by accident. He earned that honor.

Career-defining games are generally looked at as conference title games or the Super Bowl. As Jackson hasn't yet played in either of those, it's impossible to grade him in those performances.

Since 2018, these two have been at their top of their games...except for those three pesky "big games", where nothing seemingly has gone right.

But in the "big games" category, Lamar has fizzled. He did play well in the home game against New England last year when the Patriots came rolling in at 8-0, but that contest really belonged more to the defense, if we're being honest. He also played well in Los Angeles on a Monday night in late November, no doubt about that. But the Rams were a pretty sorry group a season ago, for sure.

Unfortunately, his performance in other big games has been less than stellar. He was lousy in the home playoff loss to the Chargers in January of 2019, he was lousy in the stunning playoff defeat to the Titans last January, and he was lousy on Monday night when Patrick Mahomes came in and whipped him.

This isn't meant to heap criticism on the 3rd year quarterback. We're not trying to pile on. But it will most certainly seem that way, because his performance in those three games has been shockingly bad and there's no way to sugarcoat it. The bottom line is this: Lamar Jackson is on his way to developing that label no professional athlete wants to earn: "Can't win the big one..."

Ask any Ravens fan to list, in order, the importance of the games in Lamar's career and there's little doubt Monday night's game would #3 on the list. You can put the Chargers and Titans games in any order you want, but Monday night would be #3 based mainly on the fact that the Chiefs were 2-0 vs. Lamar and that game, in particular, could wind up having a major impact on playoff seedings next January.

Big game vs. the Chargers -- subpar performance.

Big game vs. the Titans -- subpar performance.

Big game vs. the Chiefs -- subpar performance.

That's not a low blow...it's just a fact.

Lamar isn't going anywhere, obviously. The Ravens are tied to him, and thankful for that, I'm sure. But at some point this season -- this season, not next -- Jackson has to shed the label of poor play in the big games and rise to the occasion.

What's the old saying? Once is a coincidence, twice is a pattern? What is it when you've stunk it up three times?

And most importantly, those "big games" wind up becoming "career-defining games" if you lay an egg every time the big games come around.

Oh, but Lamar's not the only one...

In those three games we listed, guess who has 10 catches for 92 yards and zero touchdowns? If you said "Mark Andrews", go ahead and collect a prize.

In those three games we listed, guess who suddenly got the dropsies out of nowhere? You know who...

Like Jackson, Andrews has been terrific in those plain old important regular season games. Already one of the top five tight ends in the NFL, all Andrews needs to move up the ladder is a massive performance in one or two of the "big games". Yet, in the three we listed above, he had 3 receptions, 4 receptions and 3 receptions. Those aren't exactly numbers that would make Rob Gronkowski jealous.

In the "regular games", Jackson and Andrews are virtually unstoppable. But in the "big" games, something happens. They both take a step backwards. And that has to change.

But they're not the only two...no, no, no.

John Harbaugh has to figure out the "big" games, too. Yes, I remember he was the winning coach of Super Bowl 47. I am, on the record, an unabashed John Harbaugh supporter. But here's what else I know: John Harbaugh hasn't won a playoff game since January of 2015.

And Harbaugh hasn't yet won a playoff game with Jackson at the helm, either, despite having two of them, at home, against a pair of inferior teams.

We all know Monday night's game with the Chiefs wasn't a playoff game, but it had the look, feel and smell of one. And there was a lot on the line, mostly the opportunity to get the Kansas City monkey off of Lamar's back and give the Ravens the edge moving forward in the 2020 regular season.

Let's be honest about what happened on Monday evening in Baltimore: Harbaugh and his staff had a bad night. Those can be had, and those can be rationalized as such. But here's the thing: We said the same thing after the home loss to the Titans and we said the same thing after their home defeat to the Chargers.

"The coaching staff had a bad night..."

And while it's indeed true that the offensive game plans and defensive game plans for those three contests were implemented and executed by others besides Harbaugh, we also know the way it works in coaching -- the head man (or woman) gets the blame when it all falls apart.

Here's what else we know: If the Ravens stub their toe in the playoffs again in January of 2021, the heat is really going to be on Harbaugh. 14-2 regular seasons are nice. But elite organizations like the Ravens aren't satisfied with regular season results, especially when they have an upper echelon roster.

The same goes for Lamar Jackson. You could excuse the Chargers loss back in 2019. It was his first playoff game and all. You could even potentially excuse the stinky performance vs. the Titans last January. "It was just one of those nights where everything Tennessee did was right," you might have said.

But there's no excusing the egg Lamar laid on Monday night. That's 0-for-3 in the team's three biggest games of the last three years. Three. Straight. Stinkers.

There's a lot of football left to be played until January, but there's no denying the obvious: Harbaugh and Jackson are both going to be in the crosshairs for the next four months.

It might be unfair. There might be more to it than just prodding the coach and quarterback to perform at a high level. Other players and coaches have to chip in and do their part, too.

But in the NFL, the buck always stops with the head coach and the quarterback. In the Ravens' case, it's time for improvement in the big games. No more excuses allowed.

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i now need TWO golfers to join me


Do you like golf? Well, in this case, you probably have to love golf.

I'm looking for two golfers who love the sport and can devote a day to playing 45 holes with me. (I originally needed three players, but I was able to secure someone yesterday to join my group.)

I'll even write a note to your boss. How's that for customer service?

The Maryland Fellowship of Christian Athletes has an awesome annual event that's coming up. It's on October 26 at Eagle's Nest. You'll play five, 9-hole rounds of golf throughout the day, with each round featuring a different format. Best of all, there's very little putting!

It's called the "Flag Tournament", and the object in three of the 9-hole rounds is to hit your ball as close to the flag as possible. I'll explain the scoring later, but the golf goes quickly and it's fun to stand out in the fairway and aim for the flag without having to worry about missing the green and costing yourself a chance at a par.

There are two other 9-hole events that do include putting of some kind, so every facet of your game gets tested.

Here's what I need: Two golfers to join me for the day.

Cost: $350, all of which goes to Maryland FCA, and includes a special gift from me. Our foursome will compete to earn some great prizes, plus I'll have a treat for everyone in my group that no other foursome will have.

Your handicap level does not matter. Please don't think you have to be a 5-handicap to play this event. You do not. It's very much "team golf", so just bring whatever game you have and we'll make it work.

If you're interested in joining my foursome, please email me: 18inarow@gmail.com

For more information on the Maryland FCA Flag Tournament, please click here and you'll be directed to the tournament website.

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SUCH
a sports fan

MARK SUCHY is a lifelong Baltimore sports fan, youth basketball coach and father of three athletic sons. A former weekend sports radio host in Baltimore, "Such" offers his memories and insights on sports related topics each Wednesday here at #DMD.


Names, names, names, I’ve got names on my brain. It’s not just the superstars of sports who capture my attention. I like the role players and the newcomers and the long-time obscure guys too. You see, everyone has a story.

Heat Check: The Miami Heat have advanced to the NBA Finals, beginning tonight, taking on the Los Angeles Lakers. The series features plenty of familiar names: LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Rajon Rondo, Jimmy Butler, and Andre Iguodala are most prominent to even casual basketball fans. But the Heat don’t reach this point and have this amazing playoff run without the sharpshooting talent of Duncan Robinson.

And there is no more interesting or unlikely basketball story than that of Duncan Robinson.

During this playoff season, Robinson is averaging 11.2 points per game while shooting 40% on 3-point field goal attempts (he’s 44 for 110). He’s only taken 14 2-point field goal attempts, making 10 of them. Simply put, Robinson is the long-range gunner for Miami. His accuracy demands that opposing defenses pay close attention to him, and this frees up Butler and Tyler Herro and the emerging superduperstar, Bam Adebayo, to drive to the rim or create open jump shots from the middle of the floor.

Watch a typical half-court possession for the Heat and you’ll see Robinson constantly moving, running from the wing to the baseline, setting screens and using them to get open looks behind the 3-point line. And he will catch and shoot without squaring up sometimes. When he’s in rhythm he’s insanely accurate. It’s surprising to see him miss. Robinson doesn’t fit the mold of the NBA 3-point specialist, either: He’s 6’8” and lanky and long. Most shooting guards around the league don’t have his height.

The thing that’s so fascinating about him is his backstory. Robinson was born in Maine and grew up in New Hampshire, not exactly areas known as basketball hotbeds. He was 5’7” entering his freshman year of high school. He didn’t even become a “serviceable” high school player until his junior year (his coach’s description), and he didn’t start until his senior year. But he was growing taller, and he worked on his game every day, sometimes taking up to 1,600 shots a day.

From AAU to Division III college hoops to the NBA, Duncan Robinson's story is a remarkable one.

Robinson dreamed of getting Division I scholarship offers, but none were in the offing, so he decided to take a postgraduate year at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire. This is a path that many basketball players follow with the hope of securing a D-I offer.

This is the part of Duncan Robinson’s story that I can relate most to, specifically because I know these teams and schools.

While at Phillips Exeter, Robinson played a season of AAU basketball for the Middlesex Magic, a very high-profile program based in Massachusetts. My sons have played several years of AAU basketball, and at every big tournament, you can be assured that the Magic will be there, and that they will be a factor. At one tournament in Pittsburgh, my son Mark’s York Ballers team advanced to the Final Four, only to lose to the Middlesex Magic (who then won the championship game).

Yet even with the exposure of playing for the Magic, Robinson still didn’t receive any offers. So when Williams College, a traditional Division III power, offered him admission, he accepted. As another brief personal aside, Williams College was the first DIII school to recruit Mark. Believe me when I tell you that Williams College might have the most beautiful campus in the country.

So Duncan Robinson goes to Williams College, starts every game his freshman year, leads the Ephs in scoring (17.1 ppg) and rebounding (6.8 rpg), and takes them all the way to the National Championship game, which they lose by 2 points to Wisconsin-Whitewater. But still no Division I coaches take notice, until his coach at Williams, Mike Maker, contacted his old friend, John Beilein, the head coach at Michigan. After watching tapes of Robinson and inviting him for a campus visit, Beilein offered him a scholarship.

Robinson played the remainder of his college basketball at Michigan, and then went undrafted in the 2018 NBA Draft. He worked out for the Miami Heat and was signed to a summer league contract and split time early last season between Miami and their G League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce (cool name! I wonder what their jerseys look like?). When he made his NBA debut later in the 2018 season, he became the first former DIII player to appear in a game since Devean George (who played for the Lakers, ironically).

The Heat purchased his contract prior to the start of the 2019-20 season. And the numbers Robinson has put up are astonishing. He established a franchise record for 3-pointers in a season with 270. He tied an NBA record with Robert Horry for 9 made 3-pointers in a game without attempting a 2-point field goal. He tied Mike Miller for a Heat playoff record 7 made 3-pointers in a game. An amazing 88.3% of his shot attempts this season were 3-pointers. So basically, yeah, Duncan Robinson can shoot the 3.

If you happen to watch any of The Finals (and I hope you do), keep your eyes on #55 of the Heat. And remember that as easy as Duncan Robinson makes shooting a basketball look, that guy has put in some seriously hard work to be in this position. As for me, I’m all-in on the Heat, and Duncan Robinson.


A Blakefield Bird: The Orioles’ season has ended, and while it’s fair to say that the team might have overperformed expectations prior to the start of this shortened season, their 25-35 record actually was a bit disappointing. Given the expanded playoffs, there was a realistic chance, about halfway through, of them making a run for the postseason. But injuries and their overall lack of depth sealed their fate.

There were some nice developments, as Anthony Santander looks to be a legitimate middle-of-the-order hitter and Ryan Mountcastle showed that he’s ready to be an everyday contributor. I’m also a big fan of Hanser Alberto. I can’t quite tell you why, but I just like the way he hits.

The pitching showed a few glimmers of hope for the future, as both Keegan Akin and Dean Kremer had some decent moments. I still think Hunter Harvey can be a legitimate closer if he can stay healthy.

And on September 17th, left handed pitcher Bruce Zimmermann, Loyola Blakefield Class of 2013, made his major league debut, starting against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Those of you familiar with my work know that I’m a proud alumnus of Loyola (Class of 1984). I’ve written before about my very short-lived baseball career on those hallowed fields. The reality is that Loyola Blakefield is not truly a traditional prep school baseball powerhouse. So I take great interest and pride in seeing Bruce Zimmermann play for the hometown team.

Zimmermann was undrafted coming out of Loyola, and enrolled at Towson University, where he played two seasons. Then he transferred to University of Mount Olive, a Division II school in Mount Olive, North Carolina (I had to look it up). Following his senior season, the Atlanta Braves selected Zimmermann in the 5th round of the 2017 Major League Baseball Draft.

The Braves assigned him to their rookie league team in Danville, where he played the remainder of the 2017 season. The following year, Zimmermann worked his way up to the AA Mississippi Braves. Then, on July 31, 2018, he was part of a six-player trade between the Orioles and Braves. The Birds sent Kevin Gausman and Darren O’Day to Atlanta for RHP Evan Phillips, 3B Jean Carlos Encarnacion, C Brett Cumberland and Zimmermann. So far, that’s looking like a good trade for Mike Elias.

Zimmermann reported to the Bowie Baysox and spent the remainder of that season and the beginning of the 2019 season there, before being called up to the AAA Norfolk Tides on July 28th. He finished last year there, then was sent to the Orioles’ alternate training site on August 3rd this year. Oh, and he also contracted Covid-19 and recovered.

In his brief major league career so far, Bruce Zimmermann has appeared in 2 games, pitching 7 innings while allowing 6 hits, 2 walks and 6 earned runs while striking out 6 batters.

Zimmermann is not the first Loyola Don to play in a major league game for the Baltimore Orioles. In 1974, Tim Nordbrook, a middle infielder, appeared in 6 games. Over the course of the next two seasons, Nordbrook would play in another 67 games for the Birds. As an Oriole, Nordbrook hit .183 with 1 double. He would go on to play for the Angels, White Sox, Brewers and Blue Jays over parts of the next 6 seasons, retiring after the 1979 campaign. In 169 major league at-bats, Nordbrook hit 1 triple and 1 double and drove in 3 runs. He never homered.

I was going to take this opportunity to poke some fun at our archrivals at Calvert Hall about not producing major league players, but then I did some further research and discovered that 10 Cardinals alumni have played in the big leagues. Damn. The most notable names are Dave Boswell and Andy Bair, both pitchers. Well, Loyola was always more of a lacrosse school, anyway.

If fans are ever allowed back at Oriole Park, I will be on hand to watch my fellow Don, Bruce Zimmermann, toe the rubber. I might even break out my old JV baseball hat and wear it as a show of solidarity.


The Upside - Down Player: Pick up a regulation NFL football and grab a friend for a catch. Stand 15 yards apart and throw the tightest spiral you can. Throw it to the exact same spot, waist high, over and over, so your buddy never has to move his hands. Now turn around, bend over, and snap it to him, waist high, again and again, hitting your friend’s hands without making him stretch or reach or jump.

Congratulations, you’re ready to play long snapper.

Since 2010, the Baltimore Ravens have entrusted this duty to Morgan Cox. While the Ravens have been blessed by the ability and accuracy and longevity of punter Sam Koch and placekicker Justin Tucker, it’s been the steady delivery from Cox that has set them both up for their success. And while here in Baltimore, Ravens fans are well aware of “The Wolfpack”, I imagine that Morgan Cox could walk into your local restaurant and you wouldn’t recognize him. I know I wouldn’t.

Cox has been a model of consistency and durability for a decade. He tore his ACL in 2014 and missed the last 9 games, but otherwise he’s played every game and made every long snap in that time. That’s a lot of pressure and a lot of 300-pound defensive linemen beating on you.

Ask yourself these two questions: When was the last time you can remember a bad snap costing the Ravens at any point in a game? And who was the Ravens long snapper before Cox? The correct answers are “I can’t remember”, and Matt Katula.

So how, exactly, does one become a ten-year veteran long snapper in the NFL? For Cox, his journey began as a high school football player in Memphis, Tennessee at Evangelical Christian High School. From there, he walked on to the football team at the University of Tennessee and was redshirted as a freshman. In his final 3 seasons in Knoxville, Cox was the primary long snapper for the Volunteers, appearing in 38 games and helping placekicker Daniel Logan earn All-America honors in 2009.

After graduating in the spring of 2010, Cox was undrafted (of course he was – does any NFL team draft a long snapper?) and then signed as a free agent by the Ravens on May 6th, 2010. He’s a 3-time Pro Bowl selection and won the Ed Block Courage Award for the Ravens in 2011. That’s a pretty wonderful career for being able to snap a football between your legs better than just about anyone else on the planet.

This being 2020, there are, of course, camps and clinics all over the country for long snappers. It’s a cottage industry unto itself. Spend enough time scouring the internet and you’ll find all different kinds of services that provide rankings of college and even high school long snappers. Heaven help us all, there’s even a board that debates and lists the greatest long snappers in NFL history. And because you’ve read this far, I’ll tell you the consensus among longtime sportswriters is that Trey Junkin is the greatest ever. He played from 1983 until 2002 and snapped in 281 games. Cox is currently at 153 regular season games after Monday night.

But that’s the thing: There are no real quantifiable statistics for long snappers. They’re only noticed when they make a mistake. Occasionally they’ll make a tackle on a punt return or recover a fumble. It might be the truest definition of the unsung player.

There’s no doubt that the Ravens appreciate the greatness of Morgan Cox, even if they can’t use sabermetrics to define it. We all should appreciate his steady hands.

So there you have it: Three players, three sports, three journeys, three professional dreams realized. These are the players and the stories I think about when I watch the games.

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Tuesday
September 29
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#2226



trounced


That....was a butt kicking.

In every sense of the word, Monday's 34-20 Chiefs' win in Baltimore was a thrashing. That it was only a 2-score result gave no insight into just how badly Kansas City smothered the Ravens. To borrow a phrase from the great movie Tommy Boy, that one is going to leave a mark.

It's one thing if the two teams battle for 60 minutes and Mahomes drives K.C. 40 yards, aided by a penalty flag or a fluke play, and Harrison Butker hits a game-winning 44 yard field goal at the buzzer. A Kansas City win, 30-27, with Lamar and the offense playing well and the defense standing up to the defending champions would have been easy to digest.

But it's the other thing that actually happened.

The Ravens got outplayed in almost every facet of the game. They did run the ball effectively, which we'll get back to in a minute. But other than that, Kansas City was dominant. Everywhere.

Andy Reid and the Chiefs put it to the Ravens on Monday night, as the teacher (Reid) got the better of the student (Harbaugh) once again.

The Ravens also got outcoached. On both sides of the ball.

They didn't go for it early in the game when they should have. They kicked a field goal later in the game when they shouldn't have. And, well, nearly every time the Ravens thought they had Kansas City's offense boxed in, Andy Reid and Eric Bieniemy came up with something crafty and the defending AFC North champs had no answer for it.

And the Kansas City all-world quarterback thoroughly outplayed the Ravens hopefully-all-world-someday quarterback. To use a golf analogy, Patrick Mahomes shot 65 and Lamar Jackson shot 77. Mahomes looked like a guy ready for the Ryder Cup and Jackson looked more like someone playing on the Korn Ferry Tour.

It was ugly.

But here's the good news. Yes, the good news.

It's one game. It's the end of September. The Ravens also laid a massive egg at home last September against the Browns and things turned out well. Well, until the Titans came to town in January, anyway.

There are still 13 weeks of the regular season remaining and the Ravens -- barring something wacky -- will be one of the AFC's top teams when the dust settles. They'll go to Washington this Sunday and clobber the hapless Redskins and all will be well.

Maybe...

What happened on Monday night does have the potential to leave a lasting impact, though. It won't leave one this Sunday, or the next one, even, but it could very well be a haunting memory for the Ravens come January if they have to once again face the Chiefs. Right now, Baltimore can seemingly beat everyone except Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid. Lamar Jackson even recognized it last night in his post-game comments when he said, "They're our kryptonite."

At some point, when one opponent has the goods on you, it eventually builds up to become something that's both physically and mentally imposing. You start believing you probably can't win rather than you probably can win.

It's like facing a baseball pitcher you can't hit. The first time you see him, you chalk it up to not knowing much about him. The second time he goes through your team with ease, you say all the right things like "we have to get better" and "we'll be better prepared next time" and the third time, when he throws a 2-hitter over 8 innings, you walk up to the plate and say "well, there's no way I'm getting a hit off of this guy."

Right now, the Ravens can't get a hit off of Mahomes.

And if the two teams meet in January, what confidence -- real confidence -- does anyone have that they'll figure him out? Recency bias might be taking over here, since it was less than 24 hours ago when he toyed with the Baltimore defense, but it seems like Mahomes has the Ravens' number.

Want to feel a little worse about last night's shellacking? Sure thing. How about this? Kansas City won by 14 points on a night when they allowed their first kick return for a touchdown in six years. On a night when their kicker missed an extra point and a field goal. On a night when they fumbled the ball at the Baltimore 25 yard line as they were cruising, apparently, to another score. And on a night when they couldn't pick up one yard at midfield by running the ball, eschewing the dump off to Travis Kelce that worked, oh, about 10 times on Monday evening. All of those things happened to the Chiefs and.......they still won by 14 points.

Patrick Mahomes accounted for all five Kansas City TD's on Monday night, throwing for four and running one into the end zone himself.

Yikes. Right?

Well, let's also do that for the Ravens. They lost by 14 to the best team in the league on a night when Mark Andrews couldn't catch a pass, including one in the end zone in the 2nd quarter. On a night when Lamar had Hollywood Brown open for a TD with 6 minutes remaining when the score was 34-20...and missed him. On a night when they drove the ball the length of the field on the opening drive and couldn't get into the end zone. On a night when Lamar finished the game with 99 yards passing.

Yes, lots of should's, could's and would's there. But that's how razor thin some of the games are, week in and week out. One play here, one play there, momentum gained here, momentum lost there. It all adds up at the end of the game.

Perhaps the most shocking thing to me -- you know, the guy who assumed the Ravens would man-up and produce a legitimate performance -- was the way the Baltimore pass rush failed to antagonize Mahomes and the way the Kansas City pass rush was able to make life difficult for Jackson. I assumed it might be the opposite, actually. But the Ravens didn't sack Mahomes once. And that, more than anything else, is a recipe for getting your hat handed to you by 14 points at home.

They're paying Matt Judon $17 million to chase the quarterback and last night, of all nights, he gave them a $17,000 performance. Rookie linebacker Patrick Queen got his indoctrination on Monday night and it wasn't pretty. By the third quarter, he was on the bench, dazed and confused. Marcus Peters and DeShon Elliott were lit up on a long touchdown throw by Mahomes. It wasn't a good night for Peters, and that's being kind.

Ozzie Newsome had a favorite saying about drafting and signing football players when he was the general manager: "The most important guys are the ones who touch the football and the ones who touch the quarterback."

Last night, those guys -- for the Ravens, at least -- all stunk.

Perhaps the game can be summarized that easily. Lamar wasn't very good, Andrews wasn't very good and the defensive ends assigned to make life miserable for Mahomes couldn't get to him. They're not entirely to blame, obviously, but a large part of the loss goes on those guys because they're the ones who touch the ball and touch the quarterback.

And coaching matters. On both sides of the ball last night, the Ravens had no answer for what Kansas City was doing.

Greg Roman's game plan looked fine on the very first series. The Ravens ran the ball with ease and moved into the red zone quickly, only to settle for a field goal on a 4th and 3 situation at the K.C. eight yard line. What happened to "kicking ass and taking names"? What happened to "we're not going to settle...we're going to put it all on the table"? That early field goal from Justin Tucker was a massive win for the K.C. defense.

After that early drive and the ensuing 6-3 deficit when Mahomes and Kansas City went down the field and scored, Roman's tact changed. Why? Who knows? But the Ravens stopped running the ball and immediately put the game in Lamar's hands. From 6-3 it became 13-3 and the Ravens were saved from a first-half disaster when Devin Duvernay returned a kick-off 93 yards for a touchdown. Roman continued with his "throw heavy" game plan. At one point in the first half, he had Jackson throwing the ball 9 times in 12 plays.

Yes, for those who watched the Titans game last January, it looked very similar. As soon as the Ravens fell behind, Roman wanted Lamar and the offense to look like Joe Montana, Jerry Rice and the old time 49'ers teams that dominated the NFL.

But the real eye opener was the way Wink Martindale got embarrassed by Eric Bieniemy and Andy Reid. The Chiefs had the Ravens so perplexed they threw a touchdown pass to an offensive lineman, the ultimate in kicking sand in your face, NFL style.

Mahomes is obviously a remarkable player. In a game driven by quarterback play, he's the best in the league by 10 lengths. He's going to get his yards and his points, no matter the opponent. But the Baltimore defense was supposedly the league's best. They'd get theirs, too. Alas, on Monday night, they got a large slice of humble pie shoved in their face by Mahomes and the Chiefs.

It was only one game, of course, as we mentioned above. Kansas City barely escaped with a win last week in Los Angeles, then battered the Ravens eight days later. It's a week-by-week league. The Ravens blasted the Browns and the Texans before stubbing their toe last night. They'll rebound this Sunday in D.C. and will roll on from there.

But come January, if, as Calais Campbell said last night, the Ravens "earn" the right to face Kansas City again, John Harbaugh's staff and playing roster will have to undergo a massive upgrade in order to compete with the Chiefs. As Kansas City showed in Baltimore on Monday evening, they are light years ahead of the Ravens at this point.

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i need three golfers to join me


Do you like golf? Well, in this case, you probably have to love golf.

I'm looking for three golfers who love the sport and can devote a day to playing 45 holes with me.

I'll even write a note to your boss. How's that for customer service?

The Maryland Fellowship of Christian Athletes has an awesome annual event that's coming up. It's on October 26 at Eagle's Nest. You'll play five, 9-hole rounds of golf throughout the day, with each round featuring a different format. Best of all, there's very little putting!

It's called the "Flag Tournament", and the object in three of the 9-hole rounds is to hit your ball as close to the flag as possible. I'll explain the scoring later, but the golf goes quickly and it's fun to stand out in the fairway and aim for the flag without having to worry about missing the green and costing yourself a chance at a par.

There are two other 9-hole events that do include putting of some kind, so every facet of your game gets tested.

Here's what I need: Three golfers to join me for the day.

Cost: $350, all of which goes to Maryland FCA, and includes a special gift from me. Our foursome will compete to earn some great prizes, plus I'll have a treat for everyone in my group that no other foursome will have.

Your handicap level does not matter. Please don't think you have to be a 5-handicap to play this event. You do not. It's very much "team golf", so just bring whatever game you have and we'll make it work.

If you're interested in joining my foursome, please email me: 18inarow@gmail.com

For more information on the Maryland FCA Flag Tournament, please click here and you'll be directed to the tournament website.

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soccer: americans abroad


It was another busy weekend for American players in the big European leagues. The biggest news of the weekend came off the field, where it was reported that 19 year old Sergino Dest will be heading to Barcelona for a transfer fee around 23 million Euros. The move is expected to be made official on Tuesday. Dest will likely serve as a part time starter at right back for Barcelona, sharing time with vetran mainstay Sergi Roberto.

With this move, there are now American players on top title contending teams in four of the five big European leagues (all but France) and there should be plenty of minutes for Americans in the Champions League.

Another lower profile deal was announced that will send 19 year old Brenden Aaronson of the Philadelphia Union to Austrian champions Red Bull Salzburg in January. This will give Aaronson a chance to play for American and former New York Red Bull coach Jesse Marsch and the opportunity to play in the Champions League.

Tyler Adams continues to see regular playing time for German side RB Leipzig.

The German Bundesliga had the most Americans in action on the field this weekend. Tyler Adams started and played the full game at center midfield for RB Leipzig in a 1-1 draw on the road against Bayer Leverkusen. There were no spectacular highlights for Adams, but he brought a solid defensive presence to the midfield along with tidy passing to help earn a draw against a tough opponent.

Gio Reyna started and played the full game once again for Borussia Dortmund in a disappointing 2-0 loss to Augsburg. Reyna was not as sharp as the first game of the season and seemed to be frustrated by a barrage of tactical fouls and physical play that Augsburg implemented. Dortmund were unable to find the gaps in a packed and disciplined Augsburg defense. However, it is a sign of the faith that coach Lucien Favre has in Reyna, that he was left in to try to spark a comeback as many others were subbed out for fresh attackers.

Josh Sargent started again for Werder Bremen in their 3-1 win over Schalke. Sargent played left wing in this game. After scuffing an early chance for a goal, he rebounded and provided an assist for the first Bremen goal, knocking down a header from a corner kick that teammate Niclas Fullkrug redirected home. Sargent nearly added a goal of his own late in the game but his sharp header was denied by the keeper.

John Brooks also started and played the full game for Wolfsburg in their 1-1 draw with Freiburg.

In Italy, Weston McKennie started his second consecutive game for Juventus. It was a tough game as Roma went up 2-1 just before half time. McKennie was subbed off in the 57th minute for Barcelona transfer Arthur, as Juventus looked for some more attacking ability. Shortly after, Juventus went a man down when Adren Rabiot picked up a second yellow card. They were able to equalize late in the game through a Ronaldo header to escape with a 2-2 draw.

In England, Tim Ream started and played the full game for Fulham in a 3-0 loss to Aston Villa. Zack Steffen was on the bench for Manchester City’s 5-2 loss to Leicester City, but he did get the start in their cup game midweek, a 2-1 win. He had one especially impressive save, coming well out of his box to make a timely clearance and break up a dangerous counter attack. Steffen will likely start most of the cup matches and serve as the backup in Premier League and Champions League games unless starter Ederson gets injured.

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



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#DMD GAME DAY
Week 4


Monday— September 28, 2020

Kansas City Chiefs

8:15 PM EDT

M&T Bank Stadium
Baltimore, MD

Spread: Ravens (-3.0)



a regular season obstacle has appeared


As the great Rod Stewart once sang..."tonight's the night."

Ravens fans have been looking at this game on the calendar since last April when it was announced that the defending Super Bowl champs would come to Baltimore on Monday night, September 28 for a nationally televised showdown with the Ravens. Of course, back then, it was assumed people would be in the seats at Ravens Stadium to watch it all unfold in person. Instead, everyone's watching from home.

Either way, though, the game still has the same level of importance. For the Ravens, they get the chance to flex their muscles against one of the league's top two teams and, in the meantime, perhaps secure home field advantage in the post-season if things continue along the way they've started for John Harbaugh's squad.

Patrick Mahomes is 2-0 vs. the Ravens and Lamar Jackson, including a thriller in Kansas City last September.

The degree of importance of home field in the playoffs is still not known, of course. You might be playing in front of 70,000 fans, 15,000 fans or, perhaps, 5,000 or less fans. Who knows? But it's always better to stay home than travel come playoff time, and tonight's winner gets a significant advantage moving forward.

The two teams will both try and do the obvious tonight: stop the other team's quarterback. Lamar Jackson is the Ravens' leading rusher through two games, which is probably not an ideal situation for Greg Roman's offense. Patrick Mahomes threw three TD's in K.C.'s opening night win over Houston, then sputtered a bit in Los Angeles last Sunday against a spirited Chargers defense that took K.C. to overtime before falling, 23-20.

On paper, Baltimore's defense is superior to Kansas City's. On paper, Mahomes has more experience and more "winning" than does Jackson. On paper, the Chiefs stepped up in big situations last January, while the Ravens authored one of the great gag-jobs in recent history with a home loss to 6 seed Tennessee in their playoff opener.

The game, as we know, isn't played on paper. And make no mistake about it, this is a game the Ravens should win. They're favored -- if that matters -- by the guys in Vegas, they're home, and they most certainly have something to prove. A Kansas City win tonight wouldn't necessarily be an upset or anything like that. But the Ravens should, and need to, win this game tonight, even if by the slimmest of margins.

There's a lot on the line this evening.

John Harbaugh tried to poo-poo the importance of it earlier in the week with his "it's just another game" assessment, but the Ravens' coach knows the deal. This is more than just a regular season game. It's an opportunity to show, right now, who the best team in the NFL is through 3 weeks of the 2020 season. It's the chance, to borrow a familiar sports cliche, for the Ravens to send a message to the Chiefs and the rest of the NFL.

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how drew sees tonight's game


The Ravens are off and running on their opening drive. After Kansas City picks up one first down on their opening possession, Lamar and the offense chug straight through K.C.'s defense. The Ravens rush for 56 yards in their opening series before Lamar finds Nick Boyle in the end zone for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead.

Kansas City puts together a good drive of their own and picks up a field goal to make it 7-3, but Lamar and the offense continue their mastery of the K.C. defensive front, with Mark Ingram picking up big yards on the next series, including an 18-yard scamper on 3rd and 4 at the K.C. 38 yard line. Jackson then hits Miles Boykin on a 12-yard strike in the corner of the end zone to give the Ravens a 14-3 lead.

Nervous about tonight's game? If you're a Ravens fan, you shouldn't be, as Drew's crystal ball has the Ravens winning easily.

In the second quarter, Jimmy Smith picks off a Mahomes throw and returns it to the Kansas City 24 yard line. The Ravens can get into the end zone there, settling instead for a Justin Tucker 30 yard field goal to make it 17-3.

Mahomes gets K.C. in the end zone on a short throw to Travis Kelce to make it 17-10 with 2:06 remaining in the half.

Jackson calmly marches the Ravens down the field in short order, finding Mark Andrews on 3rd and 8 and then running for six yards himself on 3rd and 6. With 24 seconds remaining in the half, Lamar's long strike to Hollywood Brown puts Baltimore on the 5 yard line. Two plays later, with the ball at the one and four seconds left in the half, the Ravens eschew the wisdom of an automatic field goal by Justin Tucker and Jackson keeps it himself for a touchdown and a 24-10 lead at the intermission.

Kansas City kicks a field goal on their opening possession of the 2nd half and they get the ball back on the next series after Jackson fumbles near midfield. But the Ravens' defense stiffens and they stop Mahomes and the Chiefs on 4th and 1 from the Baltimore 39 yard line.

Jackson makes up for the earlier miscue with two long throws, one to Brown and one to Mark Andrews. With five minutes remaining in the 3rd quarter, Lamar hits Ingram with a short dump off pass that turns into a 16-yard touchdown and the Ravens are rolling now, up 31-13.

Mahomes directs the Chiefs down the field in quick time, finding Tyreek Hill on a long throw to put the visitors on the 5 yard line. The K.C. quarterback keeps it himself for a TD run that makes it 31-20.

In the 4th quarter, the Ravens go to ball control and ground out a long drive that sees Ingram and J.K. Dobbins both gash the K.C. defensive line. Dobbins runs it in from 3 yards out with 8:03 remaining in the game and it's 38-20.

Mahomes and the Chiefs go for it on 4th down on the next series and are stopped at the Baltimore 30 yard line. After a Ravens 3-and-out (their only one of the night), Kansas City gets the ball on their own 20 yard line and promptly marches down the field for a late score. The Ravens beat Kansas City fairly easily, 38-27.

Jackson goes 19 for 25 for 243 yards. Ingram finishes the game with 21 rushes for 88 yards. Dobbins rushes for 34 yards on 9 carries. Jackson himself picks up 30 yards of rushing.

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around the nfl in 90 seconds


It's always worth repeating..."the NFL is one crazy league".

How on earth do you explain Detroit going into Arizona and winning after the Lions sputtered to an 0-2 start and the Cardinals beat the 49'ers on opening Sunday en route to their 2-0 mark? It happened, though. I imagine lots of "suicide pools" went up in flames yesterday when they saw that Detroit beat the Cardinals.

Drew Brees isn't looking so hot these days, as he was again off the mark in last night's 37-30 loss to the Green Bay Packers. New Orleans, playing without All-Pro wide receiver Michael Thomas, is now off to a 1-2 start, while Green Bay is 3-0 and has compiled a 16-3 mark under new'ish head coach Matt LaFleur. Aaron Rodgers made a handful of sensational throws in last night's win, which is nothing new, of course.

A late touchdown drive gave Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers a 28-21 win yesterday and a 3-0 start for the first time in a decade.

Maybe the Raiders aren't as good as they looked in the first two weeks or perhaps Cam Newton is the real deal in New England. The Patriots beat up on Las Vegas, 36-20, on Sunday, as New England improved to 2-1 on the year. And to think if not for some puzzling play calling in the final 30 seconds of last Sunday's game in Seattle, New England would be 3-0. Maybe this new start with Bill Belichick is just what Cam Newton needed.

Lots of folks up in Pittsburgh are crowing about the Steelers and their 3-0 start, but let a wise man in Baltimore set the record straight. Pittsburgh's not really all that good. Sure, 3-0 is 3-0 and "you can only play who they put on the schedule" and all of that other stuff, but the Steelers are 3-0 by virtue of beating three teams (Giants, Broncos, Texans) who don't yet have a win this season. When the games against the varsity begin, the Steelers will be exposed for what they are; a team with a good defense and not much offense.

Times are tough down in Atlanta, where the Falcons yesterday lost at home to the Bears of all teams. Chicago, like the Steelers, sport a 3-0 record by virtue of beating no one of signficance thus far. Atlanta is now 0-3, losing at home to Seattle, coughing up a game they had in their hands in Dallas, and losing to the Bears at home yesterday. There's a lot to unpack with this statement, as the roster has changed over the last few years, but the entire Falcons organization hasn't yet recovered from gagging away a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl. Something happened that night. They've never been the same.

The NFC West is going to be a doozy in 2020, with all four teams over .500 at this point. Seattle is the cream of the crop thus far at 3-0. San Francisco racked up an easy win over the Giants yesterday despite a dozen starters nicked up or missing the game due to injury. The Cardinals are 2-1 after the shocking loss to Detroit and the Rams fell to 2-1 after a referee-aided win by the Bills in Buffalo on Sunday, 35-32. Something's gotta give in that division, obviously, but it does look like anyone other than Los Angeles has the goods to win the division title. With the additional playoff team in 2020, it's possible that all four NFC West teams make the post-season.

On the flip side, 7-9 might very well win the NFC East. The Cowboys (1-2) appear to be the cream of the crop, but only a miracle win vs. Atlanta has kept them from an 0-3 start. Philadelphia (0-2-1) couldn't even beat the Bengals in Philly on Sunday and the Washington's (1-2) and Giants (0-3) are heading in the direction of 4 or 5 win season, max. Someone has to win the division, of course, and the bet here is that Dallas goes 5-1 in the division to end up at 9-7 overall. The other three teams won't be much of a factor, it appears.

Is Josh Allen the real deal in Buffalo? Are the Bills the real deal as well? Well, they are off to a 3-0 start after yesterday's nailbiter vs. Las Vegas, but let's not get too excited until we see where the Bills stand after week 6. Coming up, they play at Las Vegas, at Tennessee and then back home to face the Chiefs. If Buffalo's not 3-3 at that point, they might be legit. The feeling here is the varsity schedule will catch up to them and the Bills will be 3-3 after that Thursday night home game with Kansas City. Oh, and they still have a doozy of a schedule after that, with two games against New England and encounters with Seattle, Arizona, San Francisco and the Steelers. Buffalo plays a whopper of a schedule in 2020. 10-6 would be a GREAT year for them.

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


consider this


Since the Ravens didn’t play yesterday, here’s another reminder that LeBron James will be playing in the NBA Finals for the 10th time when the championship series begins this week.

This is James’ 17th season in the NBA. I don’t care if you think he’s not as good as Michael Jordan or spent too much of his career passing the ball or wish he would stop talking about social justice issues…it’s damn impressive to make the Finals 10 times in 17 years. As you may have read, only three NBA franchises—the Lakers, Celtics and Warriors—have made more all-time Finals appearances than James has with the Cavaliers, Heat and now the Lakers.

LeBron James has advanced to the NBA Finals in 9 of his last 10 seasons. His Lakers will take on Miami in the NBA Finals starting this week.

There are people who’ll give credit to the Heat and Pat Riley for some of those championship appearances, considering he’s the one who got James together with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh for those “superteams” in Miami. Of course, he (and the other two) had to make good on everyone’s belief, and they sure did, making the Finals in every year of Lebron’s four seasons in Miami.

That’s the thing about LeBron James, isn’t it? Forget how many points he’s scored or how many “triple-doubles” he’s fashioned or whether or not he is the best player ever, or even all those Finals appearances, win or lose, and there have probably been too many in the “lose” column for fans.

LeBron lived up to the hype, and then some.

On individual occasions, he may have disappointed a few fans in Cleveland and Miami. His “Decision,” now 10 summers ago, was in many ways a poor choice, especially from a public relations perspective. His reverse decision to rejoin the Cavs in 2014 probably seemed a bit hollow—all that stuff about Northeast Ohio being his forever home, which made some fans dislike him even more for the fact that he left the first time.

As a basketball player, though? LeBron has been the same as Tiger Woods has on the golf course…a teenage prodigy who not only became a success but far surpassed anyone’s dream for their career…except for maybe their own expectations.

LeBron had all the physical gifts a player could ask for, which is important, and he had them at 18 years old. At 35, in his most recent game, he finished with 38 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists. On longevity at a high level alone, I think you might have to rank him the best of all-time.


Since the Ravens didn’t play yesterday, I wonder whether we ought to be concerned about the Steelers and the Browns, who went to 3-0 and 2-1 respectively after wins over the Texas (for Pittsburgh) and Washington (the Browns). I’m not too worried about the Bengals, who have yet to win after losing a late lead in Philadelphia and then playing a punting contest in overtime in a 23-23 tie.

As for Pittsburgh, well there’s certainly reason for concern for Ravens’ fans. The Steelers have an excellent defense; they held Houston to 29 yards rushing on Sunday, and they clamped down on Deshaun Watson in the second half when they needed to do so. On offense, Ben Roethlisberger is back, and that means that the Steelers are going to win the tight games they might not have won last year. Down by a point in the fourth quarter against the Texans, he led his team on a game-winning 12-play, 79-yard drive that took nearly seven minutes off the clock.

Don’t forget, of course, that the Steelers play the same non-AFC North schedule as the Ravens except for two games. They get to play Washington and Jacksonville and Philly too, and they’ve already beaten the Giants. And as the second-place team in the division last year, Pittsburgh got Denver instead of Kansas City.

In other words, the 3-0 Steelers are on their way to a good season. If Roethlisberger stays out there most of the time, it’s a really good season. How good it is might depend not only their matchups with the Ravens (Oct. 25 in Baltimore and Thanksgiving night in Pittsburgh) but also a game at Tennessee next week and road games later in the season at Dallas and Buffalo.

The Browns, on the other hand? They’ve scored 69 points the last two weeks against Cincinnati and Washington. They are the kind of team that is talented enough to score a lot of points against bad teams but maybe not tough enough to compete against the better teams in the league. I’d be surprised if Baker Mayfield and company wins either game against the Steelers or the rematch against the Ravens on a Monday night in December.

When Big Ben went down last year, and the Browns started having lots of internal problems, the division was over pretty early. Unless the same things happen at similar times this season, that won’t be the case in 2020.


The Ravens are playing today, actually, so here are some thoughts and a prediction. My prediction is that the Ravens will win, because I think their offense is too good for the Chiefs’ defense right now. My thoughts are that the result of the game will not be as important at season’s end as fans are making it out to be.

You only need to look at last season to realize that. The Ravens won 14 games a year ago, while the Chiefs and Patriots won 12. It’s quite possible that the Chiefs’ come-from-behind win in a game they came close to losing, last weekend against the Chargers, will be as important as a win in Baltimore tonight. There are 13 games left. There are other good teams out there. I could keep going…

Yes, there is an extra playoff team in the AFC and NFC this year. Yes, only one team will get a playoff bye in each conference this year, meaning six teams will be playing on Wild Card Weekend. Yes, if the Chiefs and Ravens were to finish with identical records at the top of the conference, then the head-to-head result would be important. Yes, it’s way too early to start going through week-by-week predictions to see if that’s a likely possibility.

In Week 16, if the teams are tied and everyone else is behind, I’ll think about it. The Ravens end with the Giants and Bengals, while the Chiefs finish with the Falcons and Chargers. At that point, the head-to-head result will seem incredibly important. Now? I can’t feel that way.

Much has been made about the fact that Lamar Jackson heads into tonight’s game 0-2 against Patrick Mahomes, even though it’s not actually a matchup between the two. I don’t make much of it, especially since I don’t consider it Jackson’s fault that that Ravens lost both of those games. It would be nice for Jackson to get a win, if only for the numbers entering next season, the 2021 season…the Ravens and Chiefs will play again next year in Baltimore no matter what the result this year.

The Ravens have won 14 straight regular-season games, and that streak could keep going considering the next three opponents after Kansas City are Washington, Cincinnati and Philadelphia. Even if the Ravens have to start a new streak, however, I’m not sure the result of tonight’s game will be on the minds of any Ravens’ players or fans by season’s end.

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Sunday
September 27
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#2225



just some things to mention...


There was apparently a big UFC card last night. I totally realize I'm an outlier, but I've never watched one second of a live UFC fight. Not one minute. I've seen a handful of highlights of some dude kicking a guy above the ear and knocking him out and I usually say, "This is about the dumbest thing I've ever seen..."


I'm also an outlier on this subject as well, but I have just about zero interest in college football this fall. I'm not sure why, either. It's not like I'm a diehard Maryland fan and, thus, if they don't play, I don't watch. I just can't get into it this fall for some weird reason.


With last night's win over Denver, LeBron and the Lakers are in the NBA Finals. Are you ready for this stat? LeBron has now made every NBA championship series since 2011 except for 2019 when he only played 55 regular season games and the Lakers, predictably, failed to make the playoffs. Starting in 2011 when his Miami Heat lost to Dallas, LeBron has now made it to the Finals in 9 of the last 10 seasons.


Can Derek Carr and the Raiders improve to 3-0 today when they visit New England?

There are some really interesting NFL games today. The Rams are at Buffalo, which will tell us a little bit more about which of those teams are legit. Las Vegas is at New England. If the Raiders are indeed a potential threat to the Chiefs in the AFC West, they'll go to Foxborough and figure out a way to win. Dallas is at Seattle. The Cowboys are very fortunate to not be 0-2 and Seattle should be 1-1 if not for New England's silly play call at the end of last Sunday night's game. And Green Bay visits New Orleans on Sunday night. With a win this evening, Green Bay would have two road victories against Minnesota and New Orleans, both of which are difficult places for visiting teams.


This is an odd time for the PGA Tour, as they start another season while some of the 2019-2020 campaign is still not yet finished. But these tournaments they're playing now -- albeit in softer fields than usual -- still present an opportunity for players to earn FedEx Cup points and also qualify for the 2021 Masters and other tournaments. I'd like to think this is finally going to be the season that Silver Spring, MD native Denny McCarthy finally picks up that elusive first TOUR victory. He made the cut in this week's event in the Dominican but he won't win. McCarthy finished 1st on the TOUR in Strokes Gained, Putting for 2019-2020. All he needs now is a win.


In Saturday's #DMD, I produced an all-time MISL Top 5 after a reader asked me to do so. Part of the question included the disclaimer that I couldn't pick any Blast players for the list. Even though I complied and listed five players (Zungul, Preki, Tatu, Segota and Haaskivi), I should have mentioned that Haaskivi did spend a season with the Blast in 1988-89 but was widely recognized as a member of the Cleveland Force franchise.


Speaking of NFL games, the Ravens travel to Washington D.C. next Sunday to take on the yet-to-be-named. In any other season, next week's trip down I-95 would be highly anticipated, particularly since the Ravens are probably gonna lay a 40-burger on D.C. in their own building. The Covid-19 impact on the NFL has especially hurt Ravens fans who would have been interested in traveling to an away game or two in 2020; this season alone, the Ravens visit D.C. and Philadelphia, in addition to New England, Pittsburgh and Cleveland.


I think the Ravens have far more to prove on Monday Night than do the Chiefs. If Baltimore loses, they're now 0-3 against the Chiefs in the Lamar era. If Kansas City loses, they were "due for a loss" and still have last season's NFL title to fall back on. Oh, and the game being in Baltimore -- fans or not -- means the Ravens should win (which, of course, is why they're the betting favorite). I'm not giving my prediction until tomorrow's edition of #DMD, but let me say this: There will be 65 points scored on Monday night.


The Orioles are either going to finish 24-36 or 25-35 depending on the result of today's season finale in Toronto. Here's a weird note. Remember those four games early in the thing* when the Marlins came to town right after their whole team got crushed with Covid-19? Miami showed up in Baltimore and won all four games. Not only did the Marlins make the playoffs in part because of that 4-game sweep, but the O's might have missed out on the post-season by virtue of losing those four to the Marlins. Who woulda thunk it, huh?


Speaking of the MLB playoffs, guess which team in the National League now owns the longest streak for not making the post-season? Think about it. You have 30 seconds and 30 seconds only.


If the Ravens do come out on top Monday Night, that should pave the way for another remarkable season. Assuming, of course, that Lamar stays 100% healthy, John Harbaugh's team will likely go 14-2 or 13-3, at worst, with a win over K.C. on Monday evening. I know there's some social media chatter about the winner of Monday's game possibly going 16-0 but I don't see either team finishing without a loss. The league's just too crazy for an undefeated season. But another campaign of 14-2 or even 13-3, as long as they beat the Chiefs, should be enough to give the Ravens home ice throughout the playoffs...again.


The Tampa Bay Lightning squandered a chance to sew up the NHL title last night when they fell to Dallas in double overtime, 3-2. Tampa Bay now leads the series 3-2, with Game 6 set for Monday evening. Kevin Shattenkirk, the erstwhile Caps defenseman, scored the game-winner in overtime on Friday night that gave Tampa Bay a 3-1 series lead. I realize players can change over time, but Shattenkirk looks nothing like the guy who cruised around for the Caps a few years ago. With Tampa Bay, he's engaged and spirited and looks like he's really giving 100%. With the Caps, he looked like just another guy. And that's being kind.


The answer to the baseball playoffs question? I'm pleased to report the team in question is 75 miles north in Philadelphia. Yes, now that the Marlins and Padres have both made the post-season, the team with the longest non-playoff streak in the National League are, in fact, the Phillies. Speaking of long streaks without winning, the last time the Flyers won the Stanley Cup was......1975. That's 45 years ago, sports fans. May it be another 45 before they win again.


Which way would you bet this? If there was a wager available where you could bet on or against a shutout AND an overtime tie today in the NFL, which way would you go? The odds: +950 for a shutout AND a tie (two separate games) or -500 that says both of them don't happen. You would bet $100 to win $950 or you would bet $500 to win $100. Which way would you go?

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#dmd comments








Brian Jessup     October 29
Why would the host blast Jack? He's a citizen and has a right to endorse anyone he sees fit. It's still America although battered and bruised these past 4 years. Jack wasn't exactly brought up in a difficult environment, he's a millionaire over and over lives in Florida outside the death of a grandchild he's had a pretty good life. And wasn't always "faithful" on the road. So he has a lot in common.

Adam Porrell     October 29
Good article today about the O's and the World Series. I'm 40. I've never watched a World Series with the Orioles playing in it. I hope that changes soon.

George     October 29
"The cheering you hear is from Oriole fans. Everybody else is in muted silence. The pitch! Line drive! Ripken catches it at shortstop! And the Orioles are champions of the world!"

Jon Miller, 37 years ago.




DJ     October 29
Lots of hysteria today about a Jack Nicklaus tweet endorsing Donald J. Trump. I'm anxious to see if @DF addresses this tomorrow or will he avoid possibly having to blast a famous golfer?

Carl in Owings Mills     October 29
2023 may be the O's year, Drew. 65 or 70 wins next year, maybe a .500 season in 2022 and then who knows what 2023 might bring? If Hall continues to progress, we might have our first "ace" since Mussina.

Brian Jessup     October 29
@Butch, thank you, said this twice in the last 2 weeks. Let's see if the DMD faithful rip on you as well. 100% Butch

Butch (aka Big Fat Daddy)     October 29
President Teddy Roosevelt's speech should be required reading for all Americans.

Too bad the current politicians, newspaper and media pundits and the voters do not follow his thoughts and ideals. If all did America would be a much better country. George - thanks for sharing and DF thanks for publishing. To All - please vote - your vote does indeed matter. Just ask Jim Brochin - he lost the Baltimore County Executive Primary by only 17 votes.

Rob Really     October 29
Thanks, Guys... I had nearly forgotten about the Joe Carter home run to beat my Phillies. Next thing, you'll be bringing up Lee Evans and Billy Cundiff.

Josh     October 29
The 2008 Phillies call was pretty good.



Best team celebration: 86 Mets



Best crowd celebration: 02 Angels



Side note: The Os only had to beat Detroit to get to KC in the ALCS, only one series

David Rosenfeld     October 29
I know that some of these didn't have any broadcaster audio, but I wonder what people think about the best "call" of all these?

Personally, not sure anything can beat "touch 'em all, Joe. You'll never hit a bigger home run in your life," which was Tom Cheek on the Blue Jays' radio broadcast, not the national TV broadcast

DF     October 29
Thanks WJB!

Make it FOUR teams instead of five.

Now I feel even worse as a long suffering O's fan!

WJB     October 29
Not only has Toronto been to a World Series since 1984, they actually were back to back champions in 92 & 93.

HERMAN     October 29
There hasn't been an attorney living in a "hardened outpost" since Lincoln's log cabin.

George     October 28
President Roosevelt gave his speech titled “Citizenship in a Republic” as he toured Europe after his presidency. It does indeed contain the stirring words about the man in the arena, but the full speech, in which he contrasts in vivid terms the good and the bad citizen, should be required reading for all of us having the extraordinarily good fortune to live in this country. Especially in these times! We have to go back to President Reagan, or perhaps even as far back as President Kennedy, for a national leader who could sincerely communicate an instructive and inspirational message and do so elegantly in more than simple sentences and phrases.

I’ll find “Citizenship in a Republic” and see if Drew will re-publish it in the Dish in the next few days. I think all but the TL/DR crowd will find their spirits elevated.

Chris in Bel Air     October 28
Can't imagine what the Rays fans are thinking today. Obviously there is no way to know what would have happened had Snell stayed in the game. However, he was absolutely dealing and the Dodgers were barely sniffing contact on the ball. Despite what the plan was prior (pitch count, inning count, etc), I can't imagine watching your starter perform so superbly, in the most critical game of the season and perhaps their careers, how Cash thought my best chance at winning is to remove this guy from the game now. What the...

Jonathan     October 28
Oh the irony is rich indeed when Herman, the Dish's worst critic, offers a critical take about someone else being a critic.


Wayne Garrett     October 28
That was my first exposure to "Pittsburgh Dad". Good, wholesome humor in that video, something we've gotten away from as a nation. Thanks for sharing that. It took courage to promote something Pittsburgh on a Baltimore web site.

Frank     October 28
Of course Tomlin knew what he was doing. You could tell by the fact he was looking up at the jumbo board the whole time. I also think had he interfered with Jones and the Ravens would have lost the game that he might have been suspended for a long time. Changing the outcome of a game like that would have been a ground breaking event in NFL history.

Bill P.     October 28
Agree about Tomlin knowing what he was doing when he stepped on the field. Not sure I agree about the suspension though. Maybe one game but not rest of the season.



Agree that the Holmes Super Bowl catch was great, but don't think it was better than Tyree.



Agree that the O's loss to the Pirates in 1979 was brutal. I'm 60 and I still don't think I'm over it.

Tom     October 28
That's all Herman had to offer huh? That was his "hot take" for today?


TimD in Timonium     October 28
LOVE Pittsburgh Dad. He’d be right at home in Glen Bernie.

C.J.     October 28
Interesting thoughts about the Ravens-Steelers rivalry not being as heated as before. I haven't thought about it all that much but I would agree that this week doesn't feel like a typical Baltimore vs. Pittsburgh game. I'm not sure why that is but I agree with you that something's off.

Mark in Perry Hall     October 28
@Herman hates the web site, hates the "site owner" but still comes by every day. So odd.

Craig     October 28
The Pittsburgh Dad video was really funny. Never knew Ben had an acting career!

unitastoberry     October 28
Did not watch the exhibition season/field of dreams world series but first thing I thought was Buck Showalter too.



If I was Harbaugh I would bring in Ray,Ed, and Haloti this week to just let the young guys on defense like Queen get some inside info on Benny Boy. Its little things from vets who have played the guy for many years that might help some of our starters who have never played against the man from Findlay.

HERMAN     October 28
Irony is alive and well at DMD. Roosevelt's great quote decrying the critic, on a website devoted to a critic's commentary.

Mark Myword     October 28
Steelers plus 3.5 is a mortal lock.

Howard     October 27
Theme for Steelers week should be “and then there were none”

Hard for Ravens to screen when defenses are maintaining a 2nd line in case Lamar breaks the initial rush.

My major concern is that I don’t have access to my McNair jersey for the game. McNair was an awesome Steeler killer and I got this jersey specifically for Steeler games

Mark McGrath     October 27
Chris--Sleeping in your own bed, sticking with a simple daily routine and the waaaaaay better locker room experience can't hurt. The visitor's locker room is on the other side of the stadium, so they probably lose 5 minutes of halftime. (just enough time for Greg Roman to decide to abandon the run!)

chris K     October 27
I just have a simple question. With fans either not attending games or having a very limited amount of people attend, does being home or away really matter this year when it comes to team performance? In packed stadiums I believe crowd noise helps the home team usually. with no noise, each stadium is just a neutral site game. Im curious if anyone disagrees and why.

Jason M     October 27
Glad to see we're taking a break from the sartorial, but one last thing on Cam Newton. While we may not share his fashion sense, he's a very decent guy, who displayed said decency when spotted quietly bringing a dinner from Sullivan's steakhouse to a homeless man on the Saturday before Ravens game a couple of years ago. Cam's alright in my book - and I don't remember anyone being anything but admiring of Clyde Frazier, or Charles Oakley's always impeccable post game attire.

Mark McGrath     October 27
The best part of yesterday's golf marathon was getting Drew to tell stories from his days in the soccer business. Nothing takes the sting away from a chunked 6 iron than hearing his masterful recap of the time Billy Ronson thought he'd won the lottery.



Drew enjoys narrating them almost as much as he enjoys a power fade from the #1 tee.

HERMAN     October 27
The game will be won or lost this weekend by coaching. If the Pittsburgh coach has seen enough tape to exploit our weaknesses it's going to be a long game. They have speed on offense if they triple up to one side and can create pick plays that free up the speed we are in trouble. We are susceptible to screens, a steady diet of those and it'll also be a tough day. Their entire offense is a pick play. Figure that out, we can beat them.

Chris in Bel Air     October 27
Adding Ngakoue certainly seems to be a great addition for the defense. Obviously slowing down the opposing team improves the Ravens chances. However, the offense needs to find more consistency and Lamar has to improve his level of play. The Ravens have benefitted from playing some lousy teams the last couple of weeks. They won't be as fortunate playing at that same level over the next 5 weeks. With that said, I do believe they will look much sharper this week against Pitt. Harbs usually has the team ready to play after a bye week and I believe the Ravens will win this Sunday.

Eric     October 27
Is @Herman serious? Surely he knows the difference between golf clothes and normal clothes. Or not.

unitastoberry     October 27
I guess you can call me a doubting Thomas on this but I'm not sold on the 2020 Ravens yet. They have played one good team so far and they got beat kinda bad. They have a propensity to fold when they are losing which is not often but happens. Their big reciever Andrews has mind melts several games a year. The defense must generate confusion in big games but does not. And the offensive line is not in any type of groove yet minus Yanda and Stanley is playing hurt. They also need to pass to more than Andrews and Brown. If your not going to play the option game like last year try some more low percentage passes. Has anyone seen a Lamar toss a screen? Of course the kicker is still money in the bank and Duvernay should be back on punts not Proche. I hope I'm wrong Sunday will go a long way in telling us so.

HERMAN     October 27
When Payne Stewart was having some trouble with his golf game there were some announcers questioning him wearing the plus fours and saying he needed to pay a little more attention to his golf game than what outfit he was wearing. He wasn't backing up the flash with game. I don't recall any racial angle in the criticism. The race angle has to stop being the first narrative or we will never progress.

Rob Archibald     October 27
Great seeing you yesterday at the flag tournament and congrats to you and Brian and everyone involved for a great day. It was cool to see Free State Electric there as part of the day. When I saw their logo on the paperwork I said I know them from the Dish! The course was in great shape and the food was good. Even the drizzle and fog didn't see that bad! Thanks again Drew.

George     October 27
You run out of energy rooting for a new team when they are down by 21 points and score a touchdown to pull them within 14 and are then led in wild celebration by the QB and get a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty.



It's positively absurd to suggest this is a racial issue. Just like in golf, where journeymen like Poulter and Fowler seduce the media and public by wearing goofy clothes for the purpose of publicity, you wonder, is this competition, or is this entertainment?




kevin j     October 26
Gotta admit, when I saw the headline today I was certain Sergio Garcia had done something goofy again! Never would have guessed we needed to opine about an old washed up QB and his take on Cam Newton's fashion choices.

Not sure I get what the purpose of dancing around the obvious topic about either. The hand wringers are calling Garcia a racist, so if that's where you wanna go, then go there. I don't get it.

Ravens had a big bye week trade, its Steelers week, world series actions, lot of sports stuff going on these days.

@George has probably the best take on Cam, given his location. There were obviously reasons Cam had few takers, and none had to do with race.


Dan P.     October 26
It's weird that Garrapolo, who QB's the team in San Fran, also enters and exits the stadium nattily attired and Garcia didn't rake him over the coals. I wonder why not?

George     October 26
They figured out here in Carolina that Cam prepares more for the post-game press than he does for the games. They also learned that he's a great front-runner with good dance moves but in a tough football game he has zero heart.

HERMAN     October 26
Dog whistles. People hearing dog whistles. What does that say about the frequency they themselves are on?

delray rick     October 26
If the RAVENS lose SUNDAY, the howling on this site wil be x rated. If NEWTON doesn't look like a pimp..PHIL the thrill and MESSIAH should move on, they is DONE!! Taking up a spot for BERGER who should be in the MASTERS. The DODGERS winning the "thing" don't mean do do. 60 games !!!! So "sleepy joe" wants to beat "GEORGE BUSH", WOW!! According to AOC we have 9 years left, don't have to worry bout my 401k. If TRUMP wins SPRINGSTEEN says he's moving to CANADA with BETTE MIDLER. People who don't vote (DREW) should be ashamed ..the Men and women who died for this privilege. Don't be surprised if the 2 sons sell DEM O'S. Story made the papers in the sunshine state bout the wonderful squeegee kids in the BIG B spitting on windows if you turn them away. Best orient food was JIMMY WO'S on CHARLES ST. Broke 100 10 years ago of all places "GRAYSTONE". GET A GOOD TEACHER.

Jason M     October 26
It's Steelers week! Titans had them lined yup there with a late pick, but credit to the Steelers D for forcing a long field goal off the turnover. Worthy adversaries with their HOF bound QB looking stronger and fresher than I have seen him in a few seasons. Hopefully the Ravens will bring their A game, I don't think we've seen that much in 2020...yet!

Barker     October 26
An apology is the least Jeff Garcia should do. A suspension is in order if you ask me.

unitastoberry     October 26
"Maryland football has made lots of mistakes in recent years."



I would add to that saying in the last 45 years or since the departure of Jerry Claiborne. Bobby Ross got it back together but they messed with him too. Friedgen never had the recruits Jerry and Bobby had but he was a good head coach who also got messed around with. When the star players from Seneca Valley and Wild Lake etc go out of state for D1 your done.



Looks like the Stillers are for real. I turned it off but the Titans did come back a little too late. Oh well it always boils down to Benny Boy this is nothing new. Me makes a 500 team a 1000 team and that's why Canton already has a spot for him.

Eric     October 25
Not my fault you botched your comment.

Billy     October 25
That's some serious insight there, thanks @Eric.

Eric     October 25
Someone should probably tell Billy that last night's ending to the World Series game never happened before and will never happen again. What you saw last night was an ending "we've never seen before."

Saturday
September 26
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2224



you're the one that asked...


Bill K. asks -- "Who is the best hitter of your lifetime?"

DF says: -- "I never like this question. How are we to quantify "hitter"? Here's what I'll say. It's 2-2 in the 9th inning and there is a man on 3rd and two outs. Which player do I want at the plate in that moment, needing a single to put his team put 3-2? That's an easy answer: Ichiro Suzuki. Now does that make him the best hitter of my lifetime? I'm not sure. But I'd want him up there in the situation I described above, more than anyone else I can think of."


Rich asks -- "I know I'm loading a gun for you with this question, but now that you've seen Bryson Dechambeau shoot 6-under at Winged Foot, what would he shoot over four days at Mount Pleasant?"

DF says: "I need to adopt a policy here where I'm allowed to pass on a question. I'd pass on this one. He'd shoot 30 under in a 72 hole event there."


"Home at Last", "I Got The News", "Peg"...all on the same album!

Terry asks -- "Chrissy Hynde or Stevie Nicks? Pretenders or Fleetwood Mac? Most underrated rock band in your life? Name a favorite album of yours that will surprise us."

DF says: "Huge Pretenders fan here, so it's Chrissy and the Pretenders for sure. I like Fleetwood Mac, but the Pretenders Greatest Hits is greater than Fleetwood Mac's. The most underrated band question is a tough one. It took me about 10 minutes to sift through my list and come up with a winner. I'll go with Steely Dan. Aja, Royal Scam and Gaucho are all remarkable albums. Aja is on my Top 5 list all time. Jay-Z's Kingdom Come is on my favorites list. Not sure if that surprises you, but there it is.


Dave asks -- "If you could see one last game at Memorial Stadium on 33rd Street, who would you see?"

DF says: "Any Orioles game on a Tuesday night in July. That's always when the field looked the best and those warm summer nights were just awesome for sitting there, stretching out, and watching a game."


Bob Oleroth asks -- "You're invited to play Augusta National but in exchange for playing 18 holes there, the Ravens and Orioles have to both finish in last place. What would you do?"

DF says: "I do have one question before I answer. Do people know about "the deal"? Like, is it public knowledge that I have the ability to influence the Ravens and Orioles seasons? Or am I the only one who knows? Ah, heck, either way the answer's the same. What's my tee time at Augusta National? I assume you knew I would go that way. I love the Orioles and Ravens...but Augusta National is Augusta National."


TJ asks -- "Is there anyone on the Orioles roster right now you wouldn't trade?"

DF says: "I'm not trading Mountcastle or Santander. I mean, OK, if the Angels offered Mike Trout or something, I'd consider it, but on the whole, those two guys aren't available. Other than that, I guess everyone else can be had for the right price, but I don't see any reason to think about dealing guys like Kremer and Akin and Tate, along with the other two I mentioned earlier."


One more Masters win would be #6 at Augusta National for Tiger Woods and tie him with Jack Nicklaus, who also won on six occasions.

James asks -- "Finish this sentence. The 2021 Sports Year would be perfect if........."

DF says: "Tiger wins his 6th Masters in April."


Ron asks -- "If Baltimore could nominate one person to represent our sports history, who would it be? He would have had to have played for a Baltimore team, obviously."

DF says: "Brooks Robinson. He was part of a dominant era in Baltimore sports and wound up becoming the best defensive third baseman in history. And then he made Baltimore his home once his playing days were over. There's no one more "Mr. Baltimore" than Brooks."


Tom P. asks -- "What's the weirdest thing you've ever seen happen in a golf tournament you've played in?"

DF says -- "Wow, good question here. A long time ago, circa 1995 or so, I was playing in the Kemper Open qualifier and a player in my group chipped in on his final three holes. I don't remember his name. But I remember thinking, 'I don't chip in three times a year' and he did it three times in 35-40 minutes.' I played in an event once where one of the guys broke 4 or 5 of his clubs (on purpose) during the round like in the movie 'Tin Cup'. That was weird."


Cal asks -- "Overrated or underrated -- Robin Williams, Matt Damon, Al Pacino, Morgan Freeman. Thanks!

DF says: "Williams was really underrated. Damon is underrated, I think, especially after I saw him in that movie where he gets stranded on Mars. I think Pacino's overrated. Not saying he's a bad actor or anything. Just overrated. Morgan Freeman is supremely underrated. Might be on the all-time top 5 underrated list."


John Masterson asks: -- "Keeping Blast players out of it, who are the five best players in the old MISL?"

DF says: "Zungul, Preki, Tatu, Segota and Haaskivi. In that order..."


Pat M. asks: Here's your bar bet question of the week. If a 30 year old guy has never played golf in his life and decides to take it up, how long would it take for him to break 100 legally for the first time? Assuming the guy plays golf on a regulation 18 hole course 3 times a month.

DF says: "Assuming he played 3 times a month and practiced for 30 minutes another 3 times a month (at the driving range, example), it would take him at least 2 years to break 100."


Frank asks: "Any early thoughts on the Masters in November? How about a sleeper or two?

DF says: "I don't think Matthew Wolff can be a "sleeper" after his performance at Winged Foot, but I think he has a great chance to win at Augusta. I also have a weird feeling McIlroy is going to play well there, and I never think Rory has a good chance, so that's saying something. There's still time for guys to get their games together, but right now, if you made me bet money on one guy to win, I'd bet on DeChambeau."


Lisa V. asks: "From your personal collection, what's one album every Dish reader should listen to once?"

DF says: "Musicforthemorningafter" by Pete Yorn."

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Friday
September 25
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2223



a lot to prove on monday, but...


Everywhere I go in San Diego, as soon as a new friend finds out I'm from Baltimore, the Ravens and Lamar Jackson become the immediate topic of conversation.

People are genuinely excited to see the clash between Lamar and Patrick Mahomes. That's the way most people look at the game. It's not really Ravens vs. Chiefs. It's Lamar vs. Patrick.

While we know that's not exactly true, the game will almost certainly hinge on the quarterback play. It could be one of those "team with the ball last wins" kind of games, but one of the two QB's will be on the winning side and one will be on the losing side.

There are other components to the game, obviously. For the Ravens, running the ball effectively will be a huge bonus on Monday night. I suspect that Greg Roman is trying to figure out how to make someone other than Lamar become the team's leading rusher vs. Kansas City. Either way, running the ball with success also keeps Mahomes and his arsenal of weapons off the field.

One of these two will win on Monday night. Will Mahomes go to 3-0 vs. Lamar or can the Ravens 3rd year QB finally get a win vs. the Chiefs?

It goes without saying -- but you have to say it anyway -- that the Ravens pass rush and defensive interior have to step up on Monday night. For the most part, you're not going to shut down Mahomes and Company. But you can definitely slow them down, as the Chargers were able to do last Sunday before losing in overtime. The best way to limit what Mahomes can do is put pressure on him and force a mistake or two, as rare as they might be.

Interestingly enough, Andy Reid's blueprint for the game is probably very similar to Harbaugh's plan. Run the ball well to move the chains and keep Lamar off the field. Play tight on the defensive front and apply pressure to Jackson when he does go back to throw in hopes of creating a turnover.

Good luck to both defensive coordinators. This one could be a total shootout.

But in as much as we're excited in Baltimore about the muscle-flexing moment in front of the Ravens on Monday evening, I think we all know this in the back of our minds: No matter what happens vs. Kansas City, it doesn't mean jack squat. Sure, would it be nice to beat the defending champs? You betcha. Would a Ravens win on Monday establish them as the team to beat in the entire NFL in 2020? Probably, yes. Would Lamar own current bragging rights over Mahomes? Yes.

But a win over the Chiefs for Lamar and the Ravens in September doesn't mean jack squat.

Not in the long term, anyway.

There's this pesky month of January that has befuddled Lamar and the Ravens over the last two years. The Chargers and Titans, you'll recall, both came to town and completely shut down Jackson and the Baltimore offense. Two consecutive January's, two consecutive post-season's of high hopes, two consecutive season-ending eggs laid at home.

That can't happen again this January or Jackson will bear the brunt of the responsibility, even if he doesn't necessarily deserve it.

Lamar could throw for 320 and run for another 65 in a 38-26 win this Monday night, but if the Ravens host the Raiders in the playoffs this January and Las Vegas (so weird...) wins that game, Lamar besting Mahomes on Monday night in September won't mean one hill of beans.

If Lamar Jackson goes 0-3 to start his playoff career with three straight home losses, that will be the early career defining characteristic of the former Heisman Trophy winner. "He's great in the regular season but can't do it in the playoffs." If for no other reason other than winning is better than losing, avoiding that 0-3 entanglement is critical for Lamar. You just don't need that kind of scarlet letter on your jersey -- "CWTBO"

Can't. Win. The. Big. One.

And, no, this Monday night isn't a real "big one". A win over Mahomes and the Chiefs would be great, but it can't possibly replace that home game this January where Lamar tries to lay to rest two years of bad fortune.

This Monday isn't a "must win" situation for Jackson or the Ravens. It's just not.

So, even if the folks out here in San Diego don't realize it, the Ravens and Lamar Jackson do have a flaw. And it can't be fixed until Jauary.

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quick questions


Ryan Fitzpatrick was a 7th round pick of the Rams in 2005 NFL Draft. At that time, the Rams were starting a downturn after a 5-year run as The Greatest Show on Turf. I wonder: What would have happened to Fitzpatrick's career if someone like the Ravens or Vikings or Seahawks, even, would have drafted him? Would he have turned into a legit, decade-long star in the NFL if a more established franchise would have drafted him instead of St. Louis?

This slimmer, 2018 version of Bryson DeChambeau didn't scare the world of professional golf. But now that he's hitting 350 yards drives, people are worried.

I wrote here last week that we're starting to see light at the end of the tunnel for the Orioles. I meant that. I wouldn't say I'm over the moon excited about 2021, but I fully expect to see the Birds get into the 70-win range next season. They have some fresh offensive talent and a few of the young pitchers look like they have -- to borrow one of baseball's favorite terms -- "electric stuff". So let's say the 2021 O's finish 75-87. Do you give manager Brandon Hyde a new deal and let him skipper the team into their real competitive seasons of 2022 and beyond?

Bryson DeChambeau won the U.S. Open last Sunday and there's already talk of next year's U.S. Open site, Torrey Pines, being stretched out to 8,000 yards in an effort to combat today's modern long hitter(s). Is DeChambeau's win the most impactful victory in golf since Tiger's Masters victory in 1997? The folks at Augusta National obviously went to great lengths to try and "Tiger proof" the course after Woods won in '97 and '01. It didn't seem to change anything. But the USGA is likely going to follow suit and make sure someone like DeChambeau doesn't hit driver, wedge on a 510 yard hole next June. And what, exactly, will that do for the rest of the field when they make a couple of par 4's at Torrey Pines 525 yards? Has there been a win in golf since 1997 that's shaken the golf world like BDC's Open win apparently has done?

I caught bits and pieces of the Lakers/Nuggets game last night, with LeBron and Company winning a tight one to build a 3-1 series lead in the Western Conference Finals. I wonder: what does James have to do in his career in order to be recognized as "better than Jordan"? Is it six championships and that's it? Would that do it? I doubt it. Jordan's supporters would say, "You might have six like Mike but he never lost a Finals series and you did, LeBron." Would James have to win eight titles? Nine? I mean, he's undeniably the best player of his generation at this point, but from a career achievement standpoint, I'm wondering if there's anything at all LeBron can do to nudge past Jordan?

Back to the Ravens for a second. Where is Earl Thomas? I'm not asking a literal question. I assume he's home, wherever that might be. I mean, "where is he and why hasn't anyone signed him?" I guess most teams are laying off of him after both the Seahawks and Ravens said, "Ummm, on second thought, we'd rather not have you on our team." It's one thing if the Browns or Bengals cut you. Your agent can always tell other teams, "The (Browns) have no idea what they're doing. My guy is as solid as they come." It's another thing, entirely, when two of the league's premier organizations cut you loose while you still have gas in the tank. I can't help but wonder what Thomas is thinking these days as he sits in the NFL's unemployment line?

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faith in sports


Our friends at Freestate Electrical present "Faith in Sports", a weekly feature where we present the testimony of an athlete or sports figure.

This week's feature centers on New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees, who suffered a horrible knee injury in high school and turned to his faith to help him navigate his way through that period and into the NFL.


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Thursday
September 24
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2222



around the horn...


Man, a 4 AM wake up call is tough on an old guy. Fortunately my host has an awesome coffee machine. Oh, and that gentle breeze blowing in off the Pacific Ocean is a nice way to get the day started.

I'm doing my best out here to stay on Eastern time. I'm only staying for a few more days and didn't want to completely ruin my body clock while I'm out here. I definitely could write and publish #DMD at night and sleep in, but somehow it just feels normal to get up at 4 am and publish the website. Did I mention the coffee is really good?


I've been around long enough to know that sports wagering is very much an inexact science. You get those gut feelings and you go with them. Sometimes they work out, most times they don't. That's why casino owners have big houses and big pools, I guess. I had a gut feeling Sergio Garcia was going to win the 2017 Masters. That one, let's just say, "worked out" for me. I had a gut feeling on the U.S. Open last weekend and would have really enjoyed seeing Lucas Glover, Patrick Reed, Matthew Fitzpatrick or Martin Kaymer win. That gut feeling didn't pay off.

Alas, I had a gut feeling about the Miami Heat when the NBA playoffs started. I wrote here at #DMD that Miami could be the surprise team in the East. Once they disposed of Indiana, I said they would beat Milwaukee. After crushing the Bucks, I said the Heat would go to beat Boston. Last night, Miami held off the Celtics, 112-109, to go up 3-1 in that series. Sadly, I didn't take my "gut feeling" on the Heat to the wagering window. So here I am, telling you the sad story about how I knew it all along and don't have a ticket in my hand. Oh, and I know nothing at all, really, about the NBA. I follow it, casually, at best. But I had that gut feeling about Miami...


The American League Cy Young Award is a mere formality this year, as Shane Bieber of the Indians is the clear winner.

I realize a 60-game Major League League thing* is odd, particularly on the stat nerds, but they're apparently still going to hand out all of the major awards in 2020. That means the Cy Young Award will be earned by a pitcher in both the American and National League.

The American League is a slam dunk. Cleveland's Shane Bieber has it locked up and put on ice. He's 8-1, with a 1.63 ERA and 122 strikeouts, both tops in the American League. Oh, and his WHIP is pretty good too -- 0.87. The National League isn't a slam dunk at all. Several pitchers have enjoyed solid things*, including Yu Darvis, Max Fried and Zach Davies. But I wouldn't give the award to one of those three. I'd give it to Trevor Bauer of the Reds. I realize his record (5-4) isn't great, but his real pitching numbers, the ones that matter, are spectacular. His ERA is 1.73 and his WHIP is 0.79, to go with 100 strikeouts. Most importantly, he's been a catalyst for the Reds' resurgence since mid-August.


The story out of Los Angeles about Tyrod Taylor is really scary. I realize most folks are going to create an argument about the inherent dangers of pain killing medications and how professional athletes shouldn't have to "take a shot" before a game in order to play. This case, of course, takes on a totally different angle when you mix in the doctor's mistake, Taylor's punctured lung, and his trip to the hospital.

But let's always remember this: It is the player's right to simply say, "I can't play today..." Yes, yes, I realize he'll be labeled "soft" and might lose respect with the coach, which could lead to his position on the team being in jeopardy. He could lose his starting job and so on and so on. I do understand how of all that works. But I also understand that Tyrod Taylor had every opportunity to say, "I don't want a shot to get me through the game. I don't want it. And that's that." This is not meant to blame him for the doctor's mistake. No, no, no. It's meant to remind everyone that the player is in control at all times, whether he (she) believes it or not.


By complete coincidence, one of the players in my golf foursome yesterday was a decorated, well known scout in the Oakland A's organization. We eventually circled around to talking baseball and I peppered him with questions about players, the Astros' trash-can-banging stunt and the new extra innings rule baseball is using in 2020.

We got to talking about the Orioles and he offered this nugget: "The Rutschman kid is the real deal. He can do it all. You're going to be very, very happy with that pick. He has the potential to be a franchise player."


I participated in a fun Ryder Cup pick 'em contest yesterday where 60 golf enthusiasts in the media/social media world got to pick the 12-person U.S. Ryder Cup team for 2021 at Whistling Straits. Next year's team will feature a new selection format, as six players will automatically qualify on points and captain Steve Stricker gets to pick six players.

Here's who I went with -- Six automatic qualifiers; 1. Bryson Dechambeau, 2. Dustin Johnson, 3. Collin Morikawa, 4. Justin Thomas, 5. Tony Finau, 6. Patrick Reed. Six captain's picks: 7. Xander Schauffele, 8. Daniel Berger, 9. Matthew Wolff, 10. Patrick Cantlay, 11. Scottie Scheffler, 12. Kevin Kisner. Yes, that means I left Brooks Koepka off of both lists. I'm doing that mainly because there's no telling how long he's going to battle his knee injury. In a perfect world, he rebounds and makes the team. But not knowing anything about his long term health, I decided to leave him off the 2021 team.


I have no idea how a fan base earns the distinction of being obnoxious. I suppose it takes years and years of winning to build up that layer of conceit. You know, like you might find in Boston or New York. I think everyone pretty much agrees the New England area sports fan is kind of the worst. They've had two decades of success up there, with the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics all winning titles since 2000. And their fan base has parlayed that success into a massive amount of obnoxiousness, if that's even a word.

But let me say this, and shield myself from the eggs you're going to throw. The Ravens fan base is starting to border on obnoxious. You'd think, reading the social media commentary and hearing people talk on the radio, that John Harbaugh's team has won 3 Super Bowls since 2008. The reality is, of course, that the Ravens haven't done anything of note since 2013. I mean, sure, they went 14-2 last year, but who cares about that if you lose to Tennessee in the first round of the playoffs -- at home, no less. That's akin to hitting a 320 yard drive on a 395 yard hole and somehow making a bogey. You hit a great drive, but were left with nothing to show for it. I understand that people love Lamar and rightfully so. I get it. But until the Ravens win a game of importance in January, people should temper their enthusiasm a smidge. I'll take the eggs, now.


There are a handful of very talented young sports broadcasters out there. While Jim Nantz (CBS) and Joe Buck (FOX) are still considered to be the cream of the crop due to their multi-sport capabilities, there are two guys on the upward trend who are both outstanding at calling football and basketball.

If you get the chance to listen -- I mean, really listen -- to Kevin Harlan and Ian (pronounced: eye-an, not eee-an) Eagle, I promise you some of the best sports play-by-play you will ever hear. I don't know how I would rank the two; Harlan and Eagle or Eagle and Harlan. It doesn't matter. They are both sensational broadcasters. It's indeed a total joy to tune into a game and hear either of them calling it.

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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.


in favor of the ravens’ execution


The quotable John McKay, a legend in the college ranks at USC in the 1960s and 1970s (1), was the first coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His expansion team of has-beens and castoffs lost its first 26 games. Somewhere during the middle of that ignominious streak, a local reporter asked McKay what he thought of his team’s “execution.”

“Well,” McKay replied, “I’m in favor of it…”

Not to sound like a football coach (2), but there’s never been an NFL season in which “execution” is more important.

There are no “Dawg Pounds” or “12th Men” in the west end zone to force a team into noise-based confusion on its own 10-yard line and into an early timeout it could probably use later in the game. That makes a defense better, even if ain’t really that good.

Make a big play at home — a 30-some yard run while breaking three or four tackles, or a long pass that gets you out of jail near your goal line and out toward midfield? Great. But you’ll have to create your own excitement to keep the drive going. It probably feels like training camp, only with pads the whole time. Those cardboard cutouts of Mo Gaba (RIP), Kevin Harlan (3) and Charles Davis aren’t going to do it for you.

#DMD's David Rosenfeld says K.C. quarterback Patrick Mahomes faces the most talented team he's ever seen this Monday night in Baltimore.

Somebody keeps sticking a swab up your nose at frequent intervals, reminding you (as if you need the reminder) that life isn’t normal. Want to have some fun during your small amount of down time? Well don’t have 15 people over your house, especially if any of them have been in questionable places. It stinks, all of it. None of it helps get a player ready for Sunday.

This season is about blocking and tackling (4), being in the right spot and not missing your assignment. There are fewer excuses than before for dropping a perfect pass, lining up in the wrong place, missing the cutback lane that you saw on film earlier in the week and not going through your progressions before deciding where to throw the ball.

I’d even go so far as to say that those “emotional” penalties you hate to see — roughing the passer and other personal fouls, for instance— ought to be eliminated almost completely in the current setting. The game just can’t be played with as much emotion right now as it normally would be.

It can be played with just as much of a focus on execution, however.

Where do the Ravens fall in when it comes to that? Well, it’s a complicated answer, even though the team would still be a great one if 2020 was a more typical season.

On one level, this season is perfect for John Harbaugh’s team. As Colin Cowherd (5) has said several times, very few teams in this salary cap era have had as few “holes” as the Ravens do right now. The Ravens are solid at every position, even the ones at which they might not be spectacular. In other words, they have the kinds of players all over the field that have the ability to execute at a high level all the time, not just on occasion.

The Ravens’ best player is one that doesn’t need to execute with precision in order to help his team win. That’s a bonus, because Lamar Jackson has also become one of the “cleanest” quarterbacks in the league when it comes to being precise. Yes, the Ravens don’t pass the ball as much as other teams, but it’s still a fact that Jackson has thrown one interception (and 29 touchdowns!) in his last 12 regular-season games (6). The fumbling problems that beset Jackson late in his rookie season have also abated; he’s lost just two fumbles in 17 games the last two seasons.

Defensively, I’m not sure that this unusual season is perfect for the Ravens. Wink Martindale’s group blitzes more than any other team, but I wonder if the effects of that might be muted by the lack of crowd noise.

That being said, maybe some of the “chill” is good for rookie linebackers Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison, who’ve performed pretty well in the season’s first two weeks. The defensive line created through free agency probably just needs some time to play together, especially without a preseason. (7)

As for the defensive backs, execution be damned for All-Pros Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters. Why worry about any of that when you can just wait for the receiver to catch the ball and then punch it out of his hands, or keep sneaking looks at the quarterback’s eyes knowing that you have the ability to recover lost ground for another interception.

Ok, so maybe we shouldn’t be so worried about the defense (8). It’s not like the Browns and Texans are the worst offensive teams ever, and they’ve combined for 22 points in the first two weeks.

The question now is whether the Ravens can execute well enough to beat Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs Monday night at the empty M&T Bank Stadium. About the only thing Jackson hasn’t done in the regular season is beat Kansas City, though it took a minor fourth-down miracle late in the game from Mahomes in 2018 to keep the Ravens from a win.

On December 9, 2018, the day of that game, and September 22, 2019, when the teams played last season, the Ravens were not the team they’ve been for the last 12 months or so (9). In 2018, the Ravens could run the ball like they do now but were still holding Jackson back in the passing game. In 2019, when they fell behind early in the game, Peters was playing for the Rams in Cleveland, and Kenny Young was still starting at middle linebacker.

The last time they played the Chiefs, the Ravens didn’t yet have the league’s best offense, that 59-point outburst in Miami or not. The last time they faced Patrick Mahomes, the Ravens’ defense may not have been in shambles, but Earl Thomas and Brandon Williams were about ready to get into a fight.

Mahomes, who missed a few weeks due to injury last year, will start his 34th regular-season game on Monday night. His record is 26-7, Lamar Jackson-like, you might say. His numbers against the Ravens have been spectacular: in two games, he’s completed 62 passes for 751 yards and five touchdowns. The Ravens haven’t had an answer for him yet, joining the club (10). And just when they get the chance to have him in their own building, there won’t be any hype coming from the stands.

But this is clearly the best team Mahomes will have faced in his young career, regular season or playoffs. The Ravens can execute better than any team in the league, and they can win big even when they don’t execute that well.


Notes (and Quotes) --

1 - McKay was the USC coach during the career of O.J. Simpson. After a 1967 game, McKay was asked why he was giving the ball to Simpson so often, to which he replied “Why not? It’s not that heavy.”

2 - The football coach at Princeton for the first 10 years of the 21st century was Roger Hughes, a decent and humble man who has a Ph.D. in exercise physiology. When asked once about Colgate’s defense, he told an assembled media group that “Colgate blitzes 72 percent of the time on third-and-medium.”

3 - “Nice catch down there by Justin Tucker. He can kick and he can catch. He can do it all!” – Kevin Harlan, Sept. 20, 2020.

4 - Another McKay quote, after another loss. “Well, we didn’t block. But we made up for it by not tackling.”

5 - About the Ravens, said Cowherd Monday, “I think this is the best team in the league, by a lot. The Texans had three extra days to prepare and still got rolled. Every team has holes. I don’t know where they are in Baltimore.”

6 - “Short, and a little bit slight. Clearly, clearly not the thrower the other guys are. The accuracy isn’t there.” – Bill Polian on Jackson, February 2018.

7 - Mike Preston — "The Ravens stifled Houston’s running game in the first half and that set the tone for the rest of the game. This group has only played two games together, but it keeps getting better. Grade: B”

8 - “The Ravens’ defense is playing at a record level. They have 15 straight games with a takeaway. Seven defensive touchdowns since 2019. They’ve not allowed 25 points in a game in 14 consecutive games. They had 13 quarterback hits on Sunday, the most they’ve had in two seasons.” – Brian Billick.

9 - “Nobody talks about this, but their defense is No. 1 in the league after they acquired Marcus Peters. And so, to me, if you have the No. 1 offense and the No. 1 defense in the league, how are you not the No. 1 team?” – Rex Ryan, with hard-hitting ESPN commentary.

10 - You’ll remember that the 2019 game was the day that John Harbaugh had his team try a bunch of two-point conversions and went full-on to football analytics. Said Harbaugh after the game, “We’re going to keep playing that way, just for the record. When you write your article, just understand that we’ll disagree with your criticism. We’re going after it. That’s the way we’re going to play all year.”

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Wednesday
September 23
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2221



san diego


I don’t usually pre-read the contributions sent by David Rosenfeld and Mark Suchy. I do some general “coding” of their work for publication on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, but doing that doesn’t really require me to read what they wrote.

After I’ve launched #DMD, I’ll go in and read their piece, just like a regular reader would do. On the rare occasion there’s a grammar or typographical error, I’ll fix it during that reading. Otherwise, I read their work for the first time in the same way you do.

Today, though, is different. Mark’s piece that you’ll read below is one I pre-read before publishing it. I’m not sure why I did…but I’m glad I did. It gave me the inspiration to also write a journal of sorts here today. We’ll take a brief break from Ravens-Chiefs and just go down memory lane for a while. I hope you like it.


Through the grace of God and the computer wizardry of George, I’m publishing today’s edition of #DMD from San Diego. I’m here out visiting an old friend from Baltimore and teeing it up at a couple of really nice courses. I hear a rumor there’s a bottle or two of good red wine on the menu tonight.

San Diego…

I haven’t been out here since 1992. Yes, 1992. I’m thinking…that’s almost 30 years. It's hard to believe it has been that long.

I was a “regular visitor” to San Diego in 1985 through 1992. The Blast would routinely make two trips during the regular season to San Diego during those six years, plus we played the Sockers in the playoffs in ’85, ’89, ’90 and ’92. I don’t have exact numbers off hand, but I’d say I visited San Diego somewhere around 20 times in that span.

I have been to San Diego enough to say this, when asked.

”Hey Drew, in all of years in the soccer business, what was your favorite visiting arena?”

”San Diego”, I'd say.

”You’ve traveled all over the country, basically, what’s your favorite city, Drew?”

"No doubt, San Diego,” I’d tell them.

”If you ever moved from Baltimore, where would you go?”

”That’s easy…San Diego,” I’d quickly reply.

You could say I like San Diego. I guess you can tell.

So this trip down memory lane includes four stories below, all connected to San Diego. Three of them are true. One of them isn’t.

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The 1988-89 MISL Championship Series was won by the San Diego Sockers, 4-games-to-3, over the Baltimore Blast.

History will show the Blast and Sockers split the first two games in Baltimore and the Sockers won Game 3 and Game 4 in San Diego, setting up a potential title-clinching Game 5 in their building.

At that point, the Blast had never defeated San Diego in the playoffs in the San Diego Sports Arena, losing three games in 1983 and three games in 1985, before dropping the first two games of the ’88-89 series. Game 5 was, most people thought, a slam dunk win for the Sockers.

A raucous crowd of 12,000 was expected for the game.

The San Diego Sports Arena, home of the San Diego Sockers.

We arrived at the arena at 5 pm for the 7:35 pm game. I needed to make some additional copies of the media game notes I had produced and made my way to the Sockers office.

A few interns were milling around. Most of the staffers were already doing their thing in the arena. One of the interns took me to the copier and I started making extra sets of game notes.

An older guy wheeled something past me.

”What room does the champagne go in?” I heard him ask someone.

There was a conversation, but it was drowned out by the copier humming along.

I peeked around the corner and there on a cart were several large boxes. In black magic marker it read, “Sockers Celebration”.

”They already have the freakin’ champagne!", I thought to myself.

A minute or so later, the man came out of the neighboring office and made his way to the front door.

I was in the process of stapling the game notes together. For reasons I can’t explain, even to this day, I shoved the completed notes in my briefcase and left three or four sets of them unstapled and crammed those in as well.

I quickly followed behind Mr. Champagne Deliverer.

We entered the building and I trailed about 50 feet behind. He would get an occasional greeting from an arena worker and I just acted like I was supposed to be there. Finally, he made a right hand turn into a room. I walked by and snuck a look inside, just long enough to see a beautifully decorated room with blue and gold streamers and soccer balls on the tables, along with “CHAMPIONS” in big gold letters stationed in the middle as a table setting.

”This is where they’re going to have their after game celebration!”

Sparked by the Sockers’ audacity, I walked out to the arena floor. A few techs were working on the carpet and the Sockers coach, Ron Newman, was on the field doing a TV “live shot” with a local sportscaster. I nodded to Ron and he gave me a thumbs up.

”You won’t be giving me a thumbs up after tonight,” I mumbled to myself, forgetting for a second the Blast hadn’t ever won a playoff game in San Diego.

I headed back towards our locker room. As I got back out into the hall, the champagne man was coming out of the room with his cart…but it was empty.

I ducked in right behind him, like you’d see in a movie, and quickly went into the room. On each table was a bottle of champagne with a specially made “San Diego Sockers, 1988-89 MISL Champions” label across the front.

I grabbed a bottle and walked out of the room. I was breathing hard, nervous as as a bank robber getting ready to hand over the note. I didn’t have any way to conceal the bottle. This wasn’t planned, after all.

I made my way to our locker room.

When I walked in, Kenny Cooper was getting dressed in his traditional game day blue suit with the matching red tie.

I sat the bottle down in front of him.

”Where did you get that?” he asked.

”Don’t ask,” I replied.

Cooper spun the bottle around to see the label, “Those sons of b**ches,” he said.

He took the bottle in and put it on the training table in the middle of the locker room.

”The Sockers sent you boys a little gift,” Cooper said, putting the bottle down on the table so hard it made a large cracking noise.

History will show the Blast won Game 5 of the 1988-89 Championship Series, 6-3, behind outstanding goalkeeping from Scott Manning and two (or was it three?) big goals from Carl Valentine.

What history doesn’t show is how a bottle of champagne snuck into the room by the team’s media relations guy might have been the biggest source of motivation for that important win.

And all because I didn’t have enough media notes prepared for the game.


In 1986, I was pretty lousy at golf. I could shoot anywhere from 90 to 110 in those days. I remember very specifically that I didn’t break 80 until 1988, so in ’86 I was, for sure, a hack.

Thanks to a friendly MISL schedule maker, one of our 1985-86 west coast road trips during the regular season was 18 days. Seven of those 18 days would be in San Diego and Los Angeles. I know, I know…but someone had to do it.

On one of the team’s “off days”, myself, Kenny Cooper and assistant coach Jim Pollihan set up an afternoon of golf at a place called the Stardust Hotel. I don’t believe it exists any longer, or, if it does, I’m fairly certain it’s no longer a 54-hole resort like it was back in the mid 1980’s.

Cooper was a good player back then and so, too, was Pollihan, a lefty who probably carried a 10 handicap at the time.

Trust me, I won’t take you shot for shot on this, except for a few occasions where it mattered.

I made a “9” on the first hole. It was, as I remember, a par 5 where I hit the first ball out of bounds.

It didn’t get much better on the 2nd hole, where I dribbled one off the tee and scraped it around long enough to make a quadruple bogey on a relatively easy 375 yard par 4.

A six minute episode in two greenside bunkers led to a “7” on the third hole. It was comical. Flub, blade, blade, flub…I had no idea what I was doing in the sand traps back then.

At the 4th hole, another par 5, I finally pieced together several good shots and had 40 feet for birdie.

The first putt rolled past the hole some 6 feet or so. Knowing I needed the next one for par, I tensed up and missed it.

”Pretty good hole there, Drewski,” Cooper said. “Almost made your par.”

I had 10 feet for par at the 5th hole, but the putt slid just past the hole for a bogey 5. Still, no par.

At the 6th, I finally did it. I hit the green in regulation and calmly two putted from 30 feet.

Both Cooper and Pollihan were enthusiastic in their praise.

At the par-4 7th, I hit a remarkable (for me, at the time) 8-iron to 10 feet and made the birdie putt. It looked like I knew what I was doing…even though I didn’t.

Standing on the 8th tee, I remembered one of the quirks about the course we were playing. I seem to recall it might have been called the “West”, maybe? Anyway, it ended with two par 3’s on the front and started with two par 5’s, at #10 and #11, on the back. That was just something you didn’t see very often in terms of course design.

I hit a 5 iron to about 10 feet at the 8th hole. I hadn’t ever made two birdies in a row, which, of course, I announced to Cooper and Pollihan as we walked to the green.

”Well, let’s roll this one in then!” Cooper said.

And….I did. The ball slowly tumbled in over the front edge and I raised my putter and waved to the imaginary crowd.

Cooper and Pollihan gave me high fives and made jokes about playing in the Masters next year. I had somehow salvaged a decent front nine after a horrendous start. I walked over to the golf cart and looked at the card, eager to see my two consecutive birdies circled – a first in my golfing life.

To my surprise, I also saw this as I read through my hole by hole numbers.

9 ---- 8 ---- 7 ---- 6 ---- 5 ---- 4 ---- 3 ---- 2 ---

I didn’t even realize it at that time, but I had gone 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 through the first eight holes.

And now, standing on another par 3 hole, I could do the unthinkable. I could make a hole in one and go 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

I thought to myself that if I did make an ace, the scorecard would have to be kept and framed. ”Maybe even sent off to the golf hall of fame, wherever that is.” Hey, a guy can dream, you know.

I won’t keep you in suspense and go through how I hit a majestic 7-iron that started right and then slowly drifted left as if commanded by the golf gods.

I won’t tell you about the beautiful blue San Diego sky and the shiny ball, blending for the perfect snapshot.

I will not lead you on with a story about how the ball hit the green some 20 feet behind the pin – a Tour Edition #2, the same kind of ball Greg Norman was playing in those days – and gently rolled downhill before settling into the cup for the most unlikely of aces in the history of aces.

I won’t do any of that, because I didn’t make an ace. I hit a skanky, bottom groove 7-iron that never came close to the green, instead bounding in and out of water hazard some 30 yards short of the putting surface, eventually settling in a thick patch of grass next to a sand trap.

The dream was over before it started, really.

I had a chance to make golfing history in San Diego…and instead, made a double bogey five to cap off “just another 49” on the front nine.


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One of the treasures in San Diego back in the 1980's was the “Swap Meet” which was held from 8 am to 2 pm every Saturday and Sunday in one section of the parking lot at the San Diego Sports Arena.

Clothes, jewelry, tires, lamps, bedding pieces, tools, sports equipment, lawn furniture…you name it, it was being sold at the Swap Meet.

After a successful career in St. Louis, Slobo Ilijevski, a Yugoslavian goalkeeper, joined the Blast for the 1988-89 campaign. Ilijevski had been in the league since 1980 and was very familiar with San Diego.

On one of our trips out west, we were slated to play the Sockers on a Sunday night. Ilijevski approached me in the hotel. “What are you doing tomorrow morning?” he asked.

Slobo went on to explain that he needed help at the Swap Meet.

Slobo Ilijevski played one season for the Baltimore Blast after a success eight seasons with the St. Louis Steamers.

”I’m going to buy some things and just need help getting it to the post office,” he said.

So I went with Slobo to the Swap Meet. He had rented a van, for reasons I didn’t know.

When we got to the Swap Meet, I figured it out.

Our first stop was a table where a guy was selling razors. Upon seeing Slobo, the man smiled broadly and came out to give his visitor a hug. “It’s great to see you!” he said to the goalkeeper. They spoke in foreign tongue and the man retreated to the back of the space he had rented.

”24 boxes,” he yelled out to Slobo. “Come around here and pick them up!”

Ilijevski had just purchased 2400 disposable razors.

We lugged the boxes some 200 yards to the van.

The next stop was a guy selling pocket knives. The same greeting occurred when Ilijevski approached the table. “I’m all ready for you!” the pan seller said. We carried 20 boxes of pocket knives back to the van, 480 of them in all.

”One more stop,” Slobo said to me. And with that, we made our way over to a table where a woman was selling sunglasses.

”How many sunglasses do you have here?” he asked her.

”More than you count,” she deadpanned.

”Do you have one thousand?” Slobo asked?

”If you have five thousand dollars I do,” she said. The sign on the table was marked in bold, black ink: SUNGLASSES, $5.00 EACH

”I’ll give you three thousand cash for one thousand,” Slobo countered.

”I’ll do four dollars each and that’s it,” she said.

Ilijevski took out a wad of money and peeled out four thousand dollars in cash, right there, on the spot.

”There’s twenty in each box,” she declared. “Grab 50 boxes.”

We got back to the van and headed to the post-office. Slobo thumbed through his money and gave me two, one hundred dollar bills.

”Thanks for your help today,” he said.

”I don’t want that,” I replied as I handed him the money. “I didn’t do anything.”

”Yes, you did,” Slobo remarked. “Please, you must take the money. I’m running a business and you’re part of my labor costs. Please, I insist.”

Ilijevski went on to explain his “business”.

He would ship the items back to Yugoslavia in large boxes and would mark “Town Supplies” on them. Doing that apparently made it OK to send the goods home to Yugoslavia without being taxed and or levied with an import charge.

”I bought those razors for 20 cents each,” he explained. “I have a friend who owns a store back home and he buys them from me for $1.20 and sells them in his store for $3.00 each.

”The pocket knives cost me $7.00 each. I sell them to him for $15 and he sells them for $25.”

”And those sunglasses were $4.00 and he’ll give me $8.00 for them and then he sells them for $15.00.”

”Last year, we came here twice when I was with St. Louis and I made $5,000 each time. The first year I came here I made about $3,000. Every year I make more and more money doing this.”

We went to the post office and made arrangements to ship everything back to his native Yugoslavia. Slobo slipped an invoice into the box. On it he wrote, “Please pay soon or I will have someone cut off your head.” He showed me the note and smiled.

”He’s my friend since childhood," Slobo explained. "But he takes a long time to pay me so I have to threaten him like that.”


We stayed in a variety of hotels during our days in San Diego.

There was the Kona Kai, an off the beaten-path resort kind of place that Kenny Cooper preferred.

On occasion, we stayed at the Hanalei, which was right at Mission Circle and was convenient to everything.

And we spent a lot of time at the San Diego Travel Lodge, mostly because we could walk to the arena and there were gobs of shops and eateries on the main road for the players to enjoy.

One year, we played in Los Angeles on a Wednesday and San Diego on a Saturday, so on Thursday morning, the team made its way down Interstate 5 to set up shop at the Travel Lodge for a few days.

On Friday morning as we were leaving for practice, several large vans pulled up to the hotel’s front entrance.

And out they came, one by one.

The Honky Tonk Man

Greg “The Hammer” Valentine

Mr. Fuji

George “The Animal” Steele

There was a professional wrestling event at the Sports Arena on Friday night!

And half the wrestling roster was stepping out of two vans right in front of us.

We arrived back at the hotel after practice around 1 pm and players immediately headed to the pool.

It was filled…with wrestlers.

Steele was sitting at a table with an umbrella over top, a large pitcher of iced tea in front of him. He was feverishly writing on papers and shuffling them around.

”George, you gettin’ in or what?” Roddy Piper yelled.

”Yes, give me a damn minute,” Steele bellowed. “I have to finish grading these papers.”

Steele, as it turned out, was some kind of philosophy professor at a school in Michigan, I believe. He was a real, live professor at a real, live school. Oh, and he was also George “The Animal” Steele in his other life.

Tim Wittman befriended Randy “Macho Man” Savage. Savage was curious about who we were, because he was once a minor league baseball player before turning into one of wrestling’s top characters. Savage and Wittman hit it off.

A few minutes later, Macho Man’s wrestling manager and real life steady, “Miss Elizabeth”, curled out of her swim robe and walked to the edge of the pool. Time froze for a moment as we all looked at her, in a wildly impressive two piece bathing suit, tip toeing into the pool.

”Hey Randy, what’s the chances I can get a picture with you?” Wittman asked.

”One hundred percent,” Savage replied.

”What’s the chances I can get one with her?” Billy Ronson asked, totally unaware that Miss Elizabeth was Savage’s significant other. Billy knew nothing about professional wrestling.

”Zero percent you puny little punk,” the Macho Man said.

I couldn’t tell if he was serious or if this was a wrestling bit and I didn’t want to find out, either.

Ronson made his way out of the pool, shooting me a look as if to say, “I think I’ll be going now.” The tone in Savage’s voice was definitely not friendly.

Steele and The Honky Tonk Man scraped together six tickets , somehow, and a half dozen of us sat ringside that night at the Sports Arena. Savage noticed Ronson in one of the seats while he was going through his pre-match back and forth with the crowd. He pointed at Ronson and acted like he had a camera and was snapping a picture. Then he zipped his finger across his throat and pointed at Ronson and said, “That’s going to be YOU!” and we were all howling.

I never could figure out if Savage was serious….or just playing around.

But the last thing I wanted was a front page sports story in USA Today about how a professional wrestler beat up a Baltimore Blast player in San Diego.

So I told Ronson to get in the row behind us and switch seats with someone in the event Savage wanted to take him out. We had a game on Saturday, after all, and we needed Ronson on the field, not in the hospital.


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SUCH
a sports fan

MARK SUCHY is a lifelong Baltimore sports fan, youth basketball coach and father of three athletic sons. A former weekend sports radio host in Baltimore, "Such" offers his memories and insights on sports related topics each Wednesday here at #DMD.


There’s nothing like a weekend road trip to get the mind wandering. This past weekend, I traveled to Westminster College, in New Wilmington, Pa., to visit my oldest son, Thomas. Presented without filter are some of my mental musings and observations from the journey. Come along and ride shotgun with me. Buckle up…

Saturday morning dawns crisp and cool and clear. Perfect driving weather. Lamar and I are ready. Lamar is my new car’s nickname. It’s a BMW 530i. Easily the most beautiful vehicle I’ve ever owned. The boys and I have christened it Lamar because it’s sleek and powerful and oh so incredibly fast and graceful. When it’s gliding down the open road it’s as smooth and sure-handling as Lamar Jackson on a straight line in the open field. It accelerates past other vehicles like Lamar does past linebackers. I like to joke that 90 is the new 65. I’m satisfied that we’ve given it the proper name. All of our cars have names. Lamar is the first vehicle in the family fleet to have a male name. Quite an honor.

Heading west on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, I can’t help but think that it’s a perfect college football Saturday. As I pass Carlisle and Shippensburg and motor towards Johnstown, I think of all the small college towns that would be hosting games. All the local bars and restaurants and shops that won’t have business from families and friends of the kids on the team. All the campuses where students aren’t allowed to gather and socialize the way college kids do. I tend to think more in terms of the smaller colleges than the big schools; that’s certainly due to the fact that my sons attend small colleges. There are a lot more small schools across our country than people realize.

I’m listening to the B.B. King Bluesville channel on satellite radio. Janis Joplin’s Ball and Chain comes on and I crank up the sound system. I’ve always loved her voice; gravelly and raw and full of range and emotion. Hearing her sing reminds me that I heard on Friday that Jimi Hendrix died 50 years ago. 1970 was a tough year for rock and roll. Ironically, The Doors’ Love Her Madly comes on next. Jim Morrison died in 1971. Two bad years in a row for legends.

Thomas Suchy, goalkeeper at Westminster College.

As I approach Pittsburgh and cross the Allegheny River, I look to my right and see a huge old railroad bridge. It has to stand 150 feet above the river, and it’s made entirely of steel. This makes me think about team nicknames. I have to admit, as much as I dislike the Steelers, it’s one of the best nicknames in all of sports. Travel around that region and there’s just so much evidence of the city’s history in steel manufacturing, especially with the bridges.

I think Ravens is a really good nickname for Baltimore’s football team. For some reason my mind wanders back to when Baltimore was pursuing an NFL expansion franchise in the early 1990s. I remember a few of the suggested nicknames were Rhinos, Bombers and Americans. Those would have been awful choices. Orioles has always been a good nickname. A couple ones that always made me scratch my head are from teams that relocated: Why are they the Los Angeles Dodgers? There are no streetcars to dodge in L.A. And the Utah Jazz has always been completely absurd. I doubt many Mormons listen to Miles Davis or Louis Armstrong. Also, the Arizona Cardinals? Are there cardinals in the desert? I have so many questions.

When you get close to New Wilmington, you pass through Slippery Rock Township. This is the home of Slippery Rock University. My father used to speak fondly of “The Rock”, for reasons unknown to me. But this is Western Pennsylvania, and they take their football and its traditions seriously. Apparently, in the 1930’s and 1940’s, The Rock was something of a nationally renowned powerhouse in college football. Dad was a huge Notre Dame fan, and I think he said the Irish played Slippery Rock sometime in the 40’s, when he was growing up. Plus, he used to say that it was a really great name for a school. It’s funny the places my mind can go to during 4 hours on the road.

I arrive at Westminster College and Thomas comes out of his dorm to greet me. We share a nice long hug. I could drive 20 hours just to get that hug. I miss my boy. I honestly can’t believe he’s 21 now, and a senior in college. No matter the years, he’ll always be my baby boy. Thankfully, he’s still as kind and funny and gentle as he was when he was a little boy. The years have been good to us.

We hop into Lamar and I let him drive. He goes through the winding back roads of Amish country that surround New Wilmington. He puts Lamar through its paces on some of the curves and hills, and then we hit I-79 and I tell him to put it in sport mode. It’s then that I realize that he should have pursued car racing instead of soccer. He’s got a natural lead foot, and we laugh and smile at the acceleration and performance. At the risk of meeting a stray Pennsylvania State Trooper, I suggest we grab some lunch. Off the interstate.

Then it’s back to Westminster to pick up his buddies, Chance and Noah. We’ve got a 3 p.m. tee time at Green Meadows Golf Course in Volant, which is the next town over. It’s an absolutely glorious afternoon to take some divots and hack it up. Believe me when I tell you that neither me nor my sons will ever threaten any scoring records in a round of golf. The boys have really just started playing in the last year or so. They each have their moments with a club in their hands, but they’re tall and rangy and they need custom fitted clubs. For now, they play with hand-me-downs from their grandfather and me.

I used to try and play once a week, a long time ago, but between work and the boys’ sports schedules, it became too time consuming. So their recent interest has helped get me to dust off my clubs and start hitting massive slices with my driver again. But I only go out for a round if it’s with them. It’s really just a nice way to share their company and laugh at each other’s flubs. And there are plenty of those.

It’s a good thing Green Meadows has wide open fairways and very few bunkers and water, because all four of us are all over the place. At one point, Thomas hits a drive approximately two fairways over to the right, and I snap hook mine into the pines along the left side of our fairway. We laugh about how bad we are at staying near each other. Fortunately, there’s hardly anyone on the course so we don’t concern ourselves with pace of play. We’re not holding anyone up, and we’re not endangering anyone on adjacent fairways. Chance and Noah are novices, too, so I encourage them to keep an extra ball or two in their pockets and just hit another one if they whiff or shank it. We’re not here to keep score.

There’s a view from the 5th tee that is simply gorgeous. Looking northwest, it’s just rolling hills and farmland and forest. The sun is beginning to sink a little lower, and the sky is cloudless and a soft, pale blue. It’s no wonder Thomas chose Westminster. He always wanted a rural, small school. Growing up in the Hereford Zone, he always liked the quiet surroundings. This region is so reminiscent of home. I tell him that he chose well for college, and he just smiles and says how much he loves it out here. I think he’s had a really nice college experience. His time here is drawing close to an end, and that probably makes us both sad.

The air turns cold rather quickly, and the shadows have enveloped the course to the point where it’s almost impossible to see the ball, so we pack it up after a short par 3 and head back towards campus for dinner. We decide to go all-in on the Pittsburgh experience and head to Primanti Brothers. Noah is a native son of the ‘Burgh, so this choice makes him quite happy. Now, putting french fries and cole slaw on a sandwich has never been my idea of haute cuisine, so when my sandwich arrives, I take the bread and the fixings off and enjoy them on the side, as any sane human would. Plus, it’s just way too big to try and handle. I suppose this is where I could make a joke about Steelers fans’ physiques, but I’ll refrain, just this once.

We watch some college football as we eat. North Texas is playing Southern Mississippi, I think. I don’t know. All I know is that major college football isn’t the same this September. Notre Dame destroyed Central Florida (or is it South Florida? I should pay more attention). Without the traditional Power 5 schools playing, Saturdays just aren’t quite the same. I imagine the executives at ESPN feel the same way.

I drive the boys back to campus. We’re all pretty exhausted. I ask them what their plans are for the night, forgetting that nobody is allowed to have parties or social gatherings of more than 6 people. College life in the time of coronavirus. I sure hope they can have parties and graduation in the spring. I tease Noah about rooting for the second-place team in the AFC North and say goodnight.

When I get to the hotel, I settle in and watch the Celtics and Heat playing in the NBA’s Eastern Conference Finals. It’s so weird to realize that it’s mid-September and there’s playoff basketball on, but the games and the teams have been compelling, and I’ve been enjoying pro basketball more than I usually do. That’s definitely a result of not having any sports to watch during the spring and summer. But I’m grateful to have it now. And Bam Adebayo of the Heat has quickly become my new favorite player. So I stay awake and watch the game to the end, even though I’m tired.

Today was a good day.

Sunday morning is a carbon copy of Saturday. The wind has picked up a little bit, and it’s chilly and bright and there isn’t a cloud in the sky. Thomas comes over and we have breakfast in my room together. We talk about his classes and life on campus and we watch Sunday NFL Countdown. We both pick the Ravens to win big against Houston. After a segment on Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson, we head over to campus. He’s playing 8 on 8 soccer on the turf field at their stadium.

Although fall sports have been postponed for Westminster College, and all the other schools in the Presidents Athletic Conference, the men’s soccer team has been working out and practicing regularly. They’ve been told that the plan is to have a conference season next spring. Watching them scrimmage, I sure hope so. The guys are in shape and talented and fast. They play on a 60-yard field, and there are really no rules. There’s no offsides and no fouls called. It’s physical and there are lots of shots on goal.

Thomas is a goalie. He fell in love with playing keeper around 10 years ago, and he pursued it throughout middle school and high school. He’s quite good. He has long arms and broad shoulders and quick reflexes. He’s also fearless in the net, which is a good quality for any goalkeeper. And he has a short memory, another strong trait required for that position. He’s always been really even-keeled. He doesn’t get too emotional, either on the field or off. I’ve always called him my old soul.

It’s great to see him play for four years in college. He hasn’t played much in games. In fact, he only appeared in one half of a game last year. We talked about it over the spring and the summer, and while he expressed some frustration at his lack of playing time, I encouraged him to go out again this year. I told him that I thought he might regret not playing his senior year, that this would probably be his best chance to finally win the job, and that after three years of putting in all the work, it would be kind of silly to walk away now. Plus, this was likely the end of the line for playing organized soccer for him, so why not give it everything he had? I’m proud of him for seeing it through.

I take a few pictures of him in action. As the boys continue to play, I walk the track around the field. I can hear an organ and voices singing, coming from the campus chapel. There are random soccer balls scattered around the turf and the track, so as I walk I pick them up and punt them back towards where the game is being played. This gives me an idea.

When was the last time you walked onto a football field? I’m asking because a football field is a lot bigger than you might imagine. 120 yards long by 53 yards wide. Television compresses the size and makes everything look closer than it really is. It’s been a while since I’ve been on one. I had forgotten just how much area the players have to cover.

So I gather up a couple of soccer balls and walk to the 23 yard line. I place one in the middle of the field and look at the goalposts. A 33-yard kick shouldn’t be a problem, right? Plus, I’m kicking a soccer ball, not a football. I pace off about 4 yards behind the ball and take my approach. My first boot is a low screamer that has no chance of clearing the crossbar. Realizing I need to finesse the ball a little more, my second attempt lofts up, high and lazy, and drops short and to the left. Now I’m embarrassed. One more try, one more approach, and this one soars high and fast and strong and starts hooking left…and hits the upright about 8 feet above the crossbar and bounces back towards me. No good. 0 for 3.

This gives me a whole new appreciation for Justin Tucker. That dude never misses extra points. And I couldn’t even make one. With a soccer ball. In my defense, I am 54 years old now.

The scrimmage ends and Thomas and I go grab some lunch. As we walk into the restaurant, the guy working the counter looks at me and says, “That’s a great slogan. Cool shirt. Where did you get it?” I had forgotten I was wearing my Nobody Cares – Work Harder tee shirt. I told him I was from Baltimore and that’s Lamar Jackson’s saying. He said, “Even though I’m a Steelers fan, that guy is so fun to watch. You guys are really lucky to have him.” I agree. It’s always nice to know the coolest player in the league is your quarterback.

We eat and watch some of the Steelers game. Big Ben throws an 80-yard touchdown pass to some rookie wide receiver and Thomas and I just laugh. That guy just won’t go away, will he? I tell Thomas that he was 4 years old when Big Ben was a rookie. Talk about ageless. We both agree that as long as he’s at quarterback, the Steelers will always be a threat. It’s so annoying. Thomas jokes about the Duck Hodges era last season and we laugh. I wish that era had lasted longer.

It’s time for me to head home. I slip Thomas a few dollars and we hug and I tell him to keep putting in the work. I’m going to miss him. Thanksgiving will be here soon, I hope.

Heading east, I notice that the trees are just beginning to turn. There are hints of orange and yellow in the tops. Autumn is approaching. I tune in to the Steelers game, hoping that somehow the Broncos can do Baltimore a favor and pull the upset. But some guy named Jeff Driskel takes a sack on 4th down near the end of the game and it’s over. I’m sure glad we’ve got Lamar. There are some pretty bad quarterbacks in the NFL.

I listen to the Sunday Drive on the Sirius/XM NFL channel as I get closer to home. It’s like the Red Zone Channel for radio, so you get to hear games from around the league as big moments are happening. I hear the final minutes of the Cowboys epic comeback against the Falcons. That figures. Has there ever been a team of chokers worse than the Falcons? I gave up on them after that embarrassment in the Super Bowl a few years ago.

I’m hustling now, pushing Lamar to get me home in time to watch the second half of the Ravens game. This bad boy glides. 90 really is the new 65. And I only see one trooper on the way. Good times.

470 miles in just over 34 hours. Lots of thoughts and lots of laughs and lots of sports and lots of memories made. Plus, I get to watch Lamar and the Ravens run away from the Texans in the second half from the comfort of my recliner. Texans – that’s another bad nickname.

It’s been a great weekend. I think we might just stay home next weekend. Maybe not, though.

After all, Lamar doesn’t play until Monday night. I mean, the real Lamar.

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Tuesday
September 22
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2220



things people argue about...


I make it a rule to never barge into someone else's Twitter feed and bellyache about something they wrote. I mean, people have their opinions on things and if they maintain a certain position on a topic, who am I to try and convince them otherwise?

On an almost daily basis, I see people barking about insanely dumb stuff on Twitter. It's amazing, really. They get their feathers ruffled over something as benign as "Kansas City has the best kicker in football" and within minutes an all-out Twitter war is raging.

Let's start with that one, actually, since it's one of the more fresh social media stories out there.

On Sunday, Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker nailed a 58 yard field goal in regulation to help get the Chiefs to overtime, then in sudden death, he kicked the game-winner from 58 yards after kicking two other successful field goals that were negated by a penalty and a time-out.

Best kicker in the NFL? Maybe, yes. Or, maybe not.

The announcing team (frankly, I have no idea who it even was because....here's a tip from the top...I never care at all who the announcers are for any game, Ravens or otherwise) then mentioned that Butker "just might be the best kicker in the NFL right now."

Cue the maniacs here in Charm City, who took great offense to that commentary and immediately launched into a wild defense of Justin Tucker. It started a lengthy back-and-forth with Chiefs fans and morphed into an evening long Twitter battle. All because a couple of TV announcers thought Butker might be better than Tucker.

I actually posted something about Butker -- without knowing what the TV announcers said, since I didn't watch the game -- but in no way was I trying to engage anyone into a debate about Justin Tucker. I merely pointed out that having to make three consecutive kicks like that in overtime was really a "gut check" kind of moment for the kicker. Someone even dropped into my DM's (direct message) and said, "Ummm, you're forgetting that J. Tuck does that all the time."

No, I wasn't forgetting that, Sean. In fact, I didn't mention Justin Tucker's name. I was merely pointing out that the kicker in Kansas City had a big moment. Nothing more, nothing less.

The Twitter rage rolled on throughout Sunday night as people in Baltimore were spitting nails over the announcer's opinions about Butker.

Who freakin' cares? I mean, seriously, who cares one iota about what announcers say about any player, in any league? So a couple of guys think Harrison Butker is better than Justin Tucker. Who cares? Maybe he is. Maybe he isn't. I don't know. But I do know that I don't care what two guys calling the game on TV think about it. That much I definitely know.


Every second or third Sunday, it seems, former Ravens defensive back Bernard Pollard draws the ire of people in Baltimore. Pollard will take to Twitter midway through a Ravens game and start complaining about something John Harbaugh does.

Or, he'll take a swipe at Lamar Jackson.

Pollard, in case you forgot, was a member of the 2012 Ravens team that won the Super Bowl. He was also the guy who couldn't usually go 14 minutes in a game without a cheap shot, a late hit, or an ill-timed penalty. The why and how of his departure remains unclear, but the fact of the matter was this: Pollard was a good player at times, but nothing more. He was a smidge better than Jim Leonhard, basically.

For some reason, though, Ravens fans love to spend part of their Sunday arguing with other folks about why Pollard was dismissed from the team. Yes, EIGHT seasons later, people are still whining about Pollard's exit. Maybe Harbaugh didn't like one of his players constantly creating turmoil on the field. Perhaps Harbaugh didn't like Pollard's habit of being overly aggressive in practice. Maybe Harbaugh just didn't like Pollard, period.

Who would you rather the Ravens have kept after 2012? John Harbaugh? Or Bernard Pollard?

Whatever the case, the whole thing happened eight years ago. And, to that end, it's not like Bernard Pollard went on to greatness elsewhere. He was, as the phrase goes, a journeyman NFL'er.

But even now, anti-Harbaugh folks prattle on about how Pollard was dealt a bad hand in Baltimore.

Who. Cares? Let. It. Go.


Skip Bayless made a comment last week about Dak Prescott and his battle with depression in the aftermath of his brother's suicide earlier this year and Bayless was raked over the coals for several days.

I didn't particularly agree with what Bayless said, but I also recognize he's a national sports talk "host" who spends hours a day offering opinions, insights and "hot takes" on the world of sports.

The work of Skip Bayless is almost entirely opinion based. It's not really rooted in fact because, as the business goes, opinions sell more than facts. If Bayless believes Dak Prescott's leadership skills might be diminished because of his depression issues, he can go ahead and say that. I don't agree, but I also get the idea that Bayless isn't trying to win me over. He's making an opinion on something sports related.

People on Twitter annihilated Bayless. The folks who run FOX -- you know, the group that encourages Bayless to say outrageous things to get viewers stirred up -- offered an apology on behalf of the network. The next day, forced, no doubt, to do so, Bayless offered a luke warm apology of sorts.

Why must everyone have to apologize for having an opinion on things? You said it. You own it. You might be right. You might be wrong. But this outrage in our country over things people say and opinions they give is incredibly weird.

"Give us your opinion on sports..."

"OK, here's my opinion..."

"What? Wait a minute!!! You can't have that opinion. You can only have the opinion that coincides with what OUR opinion is on that subject..."

I've never watched one second of Skip Bayless on television. Not because I don't like him. I've just never watched his show, ever. So maybe that's why what Skip Bayless said last week didn't bother me. Or maybe it's because I realize he's entitled to believe what he wants and the rest of us are entitled to believe what we want.

Either way, I'm not worried about Skip Bayless.


Golf enthusiasts and golf haters alike spent much of Monday frantically tearing apart Bryson DeChambeau's win at the U.S. Open on Sunday.

At the heart of the matter were three things: DeChambeau's "diet" and fitness program, his arm-lock putting style, and his mercurial personality.

People who love Bryson were thrilled that he won the country's national golf championship.

The other 95% of the folks in the country took to Twitter to take issue with his play and the methods he's been employing for the last four months.

Even 4-time major champion Rory McIlroy had a pouty lip in his post-tournament interview, dropping a veiled hint about Bryson's arm-lock putting method.

What kind of cheese goes well with sour grapes, I wonder?

The easiest part of the debate to settle is the one about DeChambeau's putting style, which includes locking his putter shaft against his left forearm.

Here's how you settle the debate: It's legal.

End of debate.

It's not a gray area. It's not "suspicious". It's nothing. It's entirely legal for a professional golfer to lock his arm against the shaft of his putter. If it wasn't legal, DeChambeau (and others, like Matt Kuchar) wouldn't be doing it.

Does it give him an advantage? Maybe. His putting stats weren't great at Winged Foot. Frankly, putting is one of the weaker parts of his overall game. So if it is giving him an advantage, it's an undetectable one at this point.

Back in the 1980's and 1990's, South African golfers were known for taking beta blockers before tournament rounds. Beta blockers were drugs used to reduce blood pressure and stress on the heart. Whether they did anything or not, golf wise, South African players believed taking them was a way to manage stress during a round.

There was nothing illegal about it. Unconventional? Sure. Medical risk, perhaps? But entirely legal.

DeChambeau's diet and workout regimen should be of no concern. He eats strange, organic foods and makes his own protein shake made up of various nutrients most of us have never heard of, let alone consumed. He did all of this in an effort to put on substantial body mass, which he succeeded in doing. PGA Tour players are tested for performance enhancing drugs twice in each tournament they play in. If DeChambeau is somehow beating the system, he has one heck of a protocol in place.

And about his personality. Well liked on TOUR? Maybe not. But you know who else out there wasn't particularly well liked recently? Brooks Koepka. You know what he did over three years? He won four major titles, that's what.

Whether folks want to admit it or not, winning on the PGA Tour these days requires an isolated mindset that looks and seems snobby, so to speak. There's not much time for friends or kind, gentle banter. You get up, eat, work out, practice, play, practice some more, eat dinner and go to bed. The 125th player on TOUR might not do that, which is why he's 125th. But the great players have a certain level of "a-hole" in them that is required if you want to be the best golfer in the world and beat everyone in major championships.

Golf instructor George Gankas had a poignant comment about Matthew Wolff, his student, earlier in the year, and I couldn't help but wonder if part of what Gankas told Wolff was one source of inspiration for his outstanding play coming out of college. "I tell my students all the time," Gankas said. "In order to be a great player, you have to think you're a great player. You have to act like you're great, talk like you're great and carry yourself on the course as if you're great. And I think the sooner you do that, the sooner you'll be great. You can become great much more quickly if you act like you're great, even when you aren't."

Deep stuff, there. It echoes something I believe in as well. "Every great putter I've seen believes in his heart he's a great putter." It's true. I've never met someone who putted great who didn't already think he was a great putter.

DeChambeau most certainly thinks he's "found something" with his scientific approach to the game. Whether it's because he read and can understand Homer Kelley's The Golfing Machine when most people can't get past page 15...or because he's really good at math and equations and understands how to make them work in golf...or because he's developed a mindset that he's better than everyone else and is out to prove it.

Whatever the case, that certain level of "a-hole" that you need to win on TOUR fits DeChambeau's quest to a tee. He's really, really good. And he knows it. And...he's winning.

Bryson DeChambeau just won the U.S. Open and people spent most of Monday trying to tear him down instead of simply saying, "Well played, man. You worked your tail off for six months to change your body and your approach to the game and most of the world doubted you. But you earned that win on Sunday at Winged Foot."

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americans abroad


Last weekend was quite exciting for American soccer players in Europe.

The US National team had players contributing to wins for European Champions Bayern Munich, Italian Champions Juventus, European semifinalist RB Leipzig, and perennial German contenders Borussia Dortmund, while another player was at the center of a bidding war between European giants Barcelona and Bayern Munich. All that was without Chrisitian Pulisic contributing, as he remained sidelined for Chelsea’s 2-0 loss to Liverpool recovering from an injury.

In Germany, 17 year old Gio Reyna got his season off to a strong start. Reyna started as an attacking mid for Borussia Dortmund and opened the scoring with a well taken shot tucked into the far corner, his first career Bundesliga goal. He later drew a penalty kick after sparking a counter attack to lead to another Dortmund goal en route to a 3-0 win over Borussia Moenchengladbach.

Young center back Chris Richards received a 20 minute substitute appearance for reigning European Champions Bayern Munich in their dominant 8-0 season opening win.

Midfielder Weston McKennie continues to perform well in Germany and figures to be a mainstay in the U.S. lineup as the team prepares for 2022 World Cup qualifying.

In Leipzig, Tyler Adams started and played the full game at center midfield in a 3-1 win over Mainz. Adams’s ball winning ability helped Leipzig repeatedly regain possession and control the flow of the game.

Josh Sargent started and played the full game for Werder Bremen in a 4-1 loss to Hertha Berlin. Sargent was deployed a bit out of position in a left midfield role and was beaten by his mark at the back post for Berlin’s first goal. He did produce a strong left footed shot that forced a tough save for the keeper, but was unable to get on the score sheet.

In Wolfsburg, John Brooks started and played the full game at center back. He helped Wolfsburg keep a clean sheet in a 0-0 draw with Bayer Leverkusen.

Weston McKennie was another headlining American this week, as he got the start and played the full game for his new team, Italian Champions Juventus. McKennie looked at home in center midfield in a 3-0 win over Sampdoria. He set up a goal when he forced a difficult save and teammate Leonardo Bonucci put back the rebound. Late in the game, McKennie nearly got a goal of his own with a hard bouncing shot that the goalie kept out by the thinnest of margins. It appears that playing with higher quality teammates could bring out the best in McKennie’s game.

Over in the Netherlands, Sergino Dest saw only a 10 minute sub appearance at left back in Ajax’s 3-1 victory. However, the bigger news for Dest is the apparent tug of war between Barcelona and Bayern Munich to secure his transfer. Barcelona sold their current right back, Nelson Semedo, to Wolverhampton over the weekend, potentially opening a spot for Dest if the transfer can be worked out.

Tim Weah received another late substitute appearance for Lille in a 1-1 draw. Weah played the last 15 minutes as a lone striker and nearly got on the end of a cross for a game winning goal, but could not quite connect.

Reggie Cannon got the start and played the full game at right back in a 3-3 draw for his new club, Portuguese side, Boavista.

There has been a lot of talk about a potential golden generation of American soccer players. While it will take years to see if that pans out, it's certainly safe to say there have never been this many American players simultaneously performing well for top level, Champions League quality, European clubs. The most inspiring aspect of this cohort is the youth of the players.

With the exception of John Brooks, every player mentioned in today’s report is under 23 years old. So the real question may be, is this a golden generation or just the start of a trend of increasing numbers of quality American players overseas?

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

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Monday
September 21
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2219



good news...everywhere


We'll get to Bryson DeChambeau and the Ravens in a minute. I promise.

I felt like today would be a perfect opportunity to welcome our newest corporate partner to #DMD. What better day to introduce you to a new friend than the morning after a remarkable U.S. Open golf championship and another Ravens blowout, right?

As the title says, "there's good news everywhere!"

I'd like to officially welcome Freestate Electrical to the #DMD family. Freestate specializes in commercial and industrial electricity, so any business owners or property owners who frequent #DMD will hopefully take note and keep Freestate's contact information handy.

You can click on their ad either on the right side of the page or within the content below and visit their outstanding website. You can contact Freestate through their website as well.

Freestate Electrical will be the exclusive sponsor of a weekly piece here at #DMD called "Faith in Sports". It will run every Friday and feature faith testimonials from various athletes and coaches in the world of sports.

As I've said from the first day of #DMD, all the way back on August 25, 2014, the idea of this website is loosely centered on the phrase "people helping people." If you're in need of commercial or industrial electrical work, we'd ask that you give Freestate Electrical a shot at obtaining your business. They would help you. And you'd be helping #DMD. We're all working together, of course.

Over the years, #DMD readers have become loyal to our corporate partners, which I greatly appreciate. As you look at the website today, please patronize our partners whenever the situation presents itself. We continue to provide a free, daily website here because of the partners on the site now and those who have marketed with us in previous years.

Thanks again to Freestate Electrical for their support of #DMD!!


Also, on a personal note, for those of you who are listeners to 105.7 The Fan in Baltimore, I will be a guest on Jeremy Conn's show tonight at 7:30 pm to talk U.S. Open, Bryson DeChambeau and anything else Jeremy wants to chat about. You can either listen on the radio or online through the Fan's website or any of the other radio platforms you might use.

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ravens cruise in houston


It's not often that a 33-16 road win is met with a morsel of disdain, but that's what happened on Sunday when the Ravens cooked up a decent-but-not-great performance in Houston en-route to a 17-point triumph.

Hey, a win's a win, friends. Ask the Falcons about the value of coming out on top no matter the final score or how its done.

With the Texans doing a good job of limiting Lamar Jackson and with Baltimore's offensive line getting manhandled, the Ravens were "only" ahead 20-10 at halftime. The game was over, of course, but the Ravens' lukewarm first-half performance gave social media experts the opportunity to pounce.

Mark Ingram's 4th quarter touchdown run on 4th and 1 gave the Ravens plenty of breathing room in their 33-16 victory at Houston on Sunday.

"Overrated," was a claim thrown around a lot at halftime. I snickered at that one. Most teams would love to be up by 10 on the road and be overrated.

"I told you, all you have to do is stop Lamar and the Ravens can't play," some goof opined on Twitter. That, of course, might actually be a true statement, except for the fact that the Texans didn't actually stop Lamar and the Ravens were ahead by ten points, on the road.

"The league's starting to figure Lamar out," a few others claimed. "Yeah, they sure are," I said to myself. "I mean, he does have three losses in his last 19 NFL games..."

Was it Baltimore's best performance of the last two years? Not really. But the other team has players on scholarship too, let's not forget. And the Texans were staring at an 0-2 start and facing the eye-opening statistic about teams who don't win one of their first two games. Since 1990, only 13% of the teams who lost their first two games have turned it around and made the post-season. So it made total sense to see Houston put up a fight on Sunday.

But the Texans were never winning on Sunday, despite having the best helmets in the league. Their quarterback, speaking of overrated, just isn't good enough to lead his team to a win over one of the best three teams in football, home game, away game or neutral site game. Houston's defense is good and they must certainly gave the Ravens' offensive line fits, but the Ravens were always going to figure out a way to get into the 30's and that, right there, was the ballgame.

The games against the junior varsity are a temporary thing of the past, though. Kansas City comes steaming into town next Monday night in what will be one of the most anticipated regular season games of the last decade. Bragging rights between two of the NFL's best quarterbacks are at stake, not to mention the possibility of hosting the AFC title game in January should the two teams work their way through the new playoff format and make it that far.

There will be lots of opinions over the next seven days about the importance of the game and, more specifically, about Lamar's performance against a high quality team. Some will say -- mark my words -- that next Monday night is akin to a playoff game and......well......you know what that means as it relates to Lamar Jackson. But next Monday night isn't a playoff game, no matter how many people try and weave it that way. The Ravens can win next Monday by 30 points, but if Lamar lays another first round post-season egg in January, that's the moment that will shape his first three years in the league.

For now, let's enjoy a 33-16 win in Houston.

There was a time, circa 2005, when a 17-point road triumph was seen as a reason to celebrate. If Kyle Boller engineered the Ravens to a 33-16 road win against anyone, there was a parade in downtown Baltimore on Monday afternoon. So let's be sure and remember that winning on the road in the NFL is hard to do. And let's keep in mind, please, that 2-0 is always, always, always better than 1-1.

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dechambeau breaks through


In the end, one player broke par after 72 holes at Winged Foot.

And only one player managed to shoot an under par round on Sunday at the U.S. Open.

Bryson DeChambeau was the man who did both of those things, as the former U.S. Amateur titleist added one of golf's biggest trophies to his man cave after a final round 67 gave him a 6-under par total and a 6-shot win over Matthew Wolff.

In winning the title, DeChambeau showed that all of the changes he made earlier in the year paid off. He not only gained 45 pounds and changed his entire body shape, he used that bigger size to also change his philosophy on the golf course.

Bryson DeChambeau made just one bogey in Sunday's final round at the U.S. Open, winning the first major championship of his career.

"I started out in 2020 wanting to get to the point where I could overpower a golf course and bring it to its knees," DeChambeau said on Sunday evening with the trophy by his side. "This week...I did that here at Winged Foot."

Indeed he did. DeChambeau did what everyone assumed was impossible. He tamed the 7,400 yard beast by hitting only 41% of the fairways over four days (23 of 46). Had you seen the script before the event began last Thursday and saw that DeChambeau would hit an average of just under six fairways per-day, it's likely you would have said, flatly, "Well, we know he's not winning."

But win he did, mostly because on the fairways he did miss, DeChambeau's length routinely left him with a wedge in his hand to reach the green. While his fairway stats weren't great, his greens-in-regulations numbers were staggering, as the champion hit 64% of the greens (46 of 72) over four days.

If you're looking for one hole yesterday that told the story, it came at the 16th hole, a 510 yard par--4 that was the start of a terrorizing final three holes on Winged Foot's famed West Course. Staked at the time to a 4-shot lead, all DeChambeau did on the 16th hole was drive his ball over a line of trees that extended some 290 yards down the entire left side of the hole. His ball cleared the trees by 20 yards, bounded into the fairway, and Bryson was left with 138 yards to the pin.

Here's the simple math again. The hole played 510 yards. DeChambeau was left with 138 yards to the pin. He hit driver, wedge, on a 510 yard hole.

Whether yesterday's win is the only major he ever wins or the first of a half dozen or more is anyone's guess. But here's what's not a guess: DeChambeau should be able to overpower Augusta National in November with even more ease than he blistered Winged Foot.

All four of the par 5's will be reachable at Augusta National. Barring something crazy happening with his driver at the Masters, the longest iron he'll have into a par 4 will likely come at #5, #10 or #11, where he could potentially have a 7-iron into the green on those three holes. Every other par 4 will be 8 iron, 9 iron, wedge or sand wedge.

The USGA will no doubt react accordingly to DeChambeau's dominant performance and go out of their way to make next year's U.S. Open even more difficult than 2020 at Winged Foot.

Here's what the USGA needs to understand. All they're doing by adding length to the courses is favoring the handful of players who can bomb it 350 yards off the tee. Want to make the U.S Open "better"? Here's how:

This will sound radical, but the way to improve the U.S. Open is to actually play the golf courses shorter, not longer. Grow the rough to 5 or 6 inches, like it was at Winged Foot. Narrow the fairways to 24 yards wide, like they were at Winged Foot. Get the greens glassy fast, like they were at Winged Foot. And......make the golf course 7,000 yards instead of 7,500 yards.

By doing that, you're not eliminating 75% of the field before the event starts. And you won't jeopardize the integrity of the course or open it up to a birdie-fest, either. The only way to make a golf course more difficult is to grow the rough, narrow the fairways and speed up the greens.

I played the Maryland Senior Amateur championship a couple of weeks ago at Rolling Road Golf Club, a quaint 6,100 yard test that features a 100-yard par-3 and three par-4 holes of 300 yards or less. One of the par-5's is 450 yards. Do you know how they made that course tough? The fairways were narrow and firm, the rough was up and the greens were fast. I mean, they were really fast.

The winning score for two days was 4-over par. Yes, the place is quirky and a few of the holes should be thrown into a wood chipper, but that's not the point. The point is, you don't have to have a 7,500 yard golf course in order to make it a difficult test. Rolling Road is a perfect testament to that. It can play an easy 6,100 yards or a difficult 6,100 yards, depending on how they set it up.

Yes, the longer a course the more difficult it is, generally. That's true. If your course has a half dozen holes where a 5-iron is needed to reach the green in regulation and my course has one of those holes, it stands to reason that your place will yield higher scores. But with today's professionals, length doesn't seem to matter all that much. Narrow the fairways, grow the rough, speed up the greens. It's a simple equation if you want your golf course to play tough.

Bryson DeChambeau has figured out his equation, for certain. Drive the ball 350 yards, leave yourself with a wedge into 70% of the holes, stick a few approach shots close, and make 4 to 6 birdies per round.

No matter the course, that's a good formula to employ.

At Winged Foot, it was enough to bring a monster golf course to its knees while giving American golf yet another rising star to follow.

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"The Keen Eye" of
David Rosenfeld

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


consider this


As I do once in a while, I took the first cool days of the fall (ok, late summer) to go through my collection of colder-weather gear. I thought it was even more important this year—what with the fact that I don’t really need out-of-the-house work clothes, and because donations are more needed than ever.

In the heavy sweatshirt bin, I came across what was once a prized possession. Gray. Orange and white lettering. Team logo. ORIOLES. Postseason 2012. I wore it a lot for a few years; we had a couple really cold winters afterwards.

Time for it to go, I thought. I also thought about when I first got my hands on it.

As soon as I saw the guys on the team wearing them on the bench, I had to get one. I remember exactly when I did—Tuesday, October 9, 2012, the day after the Orioles had evened the ALDS at 1-1, Jim Johnson retiring the slightly-above average Yankee trio of Jeter, Ichiro and A-Rod in order to protect a one-run lead in the ninth. The series having shifted to New York, Eutaw Street and the stadium were open, and I popped down to the team store for it.

I think I was still in shock that the Orioles…yes, the Orioles…had just hosted two playoff games, against the Yankees in front of boisterous sellout crowds, and had even won one of them. Rightfully, fans look back to 2014 as the peak of the team’s excellent five-year stretch, but 2012 was more fun. It was new, exciting, unexpected.

A few weeks before the playoffs, I’d been in the stands for the entirety of a five-hour, 14-inning epic Thursday afternoon game against Tampa Bay, which finally ended when rookie Manny Machado blooped a single into left field. The feeling of excitement in that moment was unusual, for Orioles’ fans anyway.

You may have forgotten that the Orioles weren’t always destined for the Wild Card game either. After sweeping the Red Sox, they were tied with the Yankees at 92-67. Unfortunately, the Yankees had the last-place Sox after that. Then again, that Wild Card game in Texas was really cool, up to and including the celebration after Johnson recorded the final flyball out.

32 players recorded an at-bat that season for the Orioles. Only one of them, Chris Davis, is still on the team, and we know all about him. 26 pitchers appeared in at least one game, and none are on the team anymore. It was a long time ago now, though it doesn’t always seem like it. The sweatshirt will soon be gone, but never forgotten.


In what can only be described as a stunning reversal, the Big Ten Conference announced Saturday that it indeed would be playing football this fall.

So, let’s recap. The league released an updated 10-game schedule on August 13, only to cancel the season less than a week later. Commissioner Kevin Warren seemed adamant that the decision was final. A few schools were, um, not very happy. One of them has a dotted “i” in its name and is pretty good at football.

Then, exactly one month later, here comes the season…eight conference games for each team, beginning October 24, and then a ninth game for each team on December 19 during something the league is calling “Champions Week,” about which details will be announced at a later time. Apparently, one of those details is that every game will be “East vs. West,” including the conference championship game between the winners of each division.

Maryland will still (unfortunately) play each of its East Division opponents, three of which they will likely lose to by at least four touchdowns. The two games against the other division are against Northwestern, on the road, and Minnesota, at home. I say 2-6.

The new schedule also keeps most of those last-game-of-the-year rivalries, albeit on December 12 instead of a few weeks earlier. Those include Michigan-Ohio State, Indiana-Purdue and Illinois-Northwestern.

With all that out of the way, let’s discuss the main issue…which is the following question. Did the Big Ten cave to the large amount of pressure it was facing, from a whole host of parties, or did it simply decide the scientific evidence was enough to allow the games to go on?

The press conference to announce this new schedule featured a doctor, the one who leads the conference’s group of team physicians. There were no coaches there, and only a few athletic directors. Clearly, Warren and crew would like for you to believe the evidence-based decision.

I’m guessing that, in reality, this decision came for a little of both reasons. The league doesn’t exactly look like it succumbed to pressure from parents, coaches and even the President of the United States, but it did decide that if Central Arkansas can be playing, then so can Wisconsin.

Now, of course, we get to find out if the stringent rules the conference will put in place during the nine-game season will work well enough to avoid any game postponements or cancellations. Even one of them would make some people wonder whether it was worth it to change a decision that seemed to be set in stone.


The Ravens didn’t play all that well in Houston, to be honest. I thought they were strangely inefficient for too much of the game, and the offensive coaching staff took a while to adjust to what the Texans were doing on defense. I give the Texans’ defense some credit for making Lamar Jackson hold the ball longer than he usually does and for making it hard for Jackson to turn the corner on designed runs.

Jackson and the offense only scored two touchdowns, and one of them came on a short field after the Texans’ moderately questionable decision to keep the offense on the field on fourth down at their own 34-yard line on the final play of the first quarter. What can I say? We’re spoiled right now. We love Justin Tucker, who had another 4-for-4 day on field goals, but this team scores touchdowns!

What the Ravens are doing right now, however, is making the other team give up. Or, to give the opponent more credit than that, the Ravens are making their opponents understand that they’re up against something a little more than just another good team.

The owner of this site likes to go on Twitter early in Ravens’ games and declare the game over, much to the chagrin of some of his followers. But he’s right, I think, not so much because of what’s already happened in the game, but because what he knows is going to happen after halftime.

It was mildly annoying, for instance, when the Ravens could do nothing after a great Marcus Peters interception and then allowed the Titans to drive down the field for a field goal at the halftime buzzer. What I thought would be 27-7 was instead 20-10.

But no worries. Whenever they want to, the Ravens can use up most of a quarter. That’s what they did right after halftime, using 14 plays and nearly nine minutes on the clock on their first possession of the half.

And then…whenever they want to, the Ravens can strike quickly. A big Jackson run at the time when it was needed the most. A “pop” pass to Willie Snead that went for 22 yards. And then a play the Texans clearly weren’t ready for…the direct snap run to Mark Ingram, who only needed to find one hole against the sold-out defense to get to the end zone.

Game over, and point made. The Ravens will grind you down, and then they’ll blow right by you. They can, and will, do both every game until someone proves they can stop it from happening.

On to Kansas City, for the Game of the Year in the NFL…



#dmd comments








Brian Jessup     October 29
Why would the host blast Jack? He's a citizen and has a right to endorse anyone he sees fit. It's still America although battered and bruised these past 4 years. Jack wasn't exactly brought up in a difficult environment, he's a millionaire over and over lives in Florida outside the death of a grandchild he's had a pretty good life. And wasn't always "faithful" on the road. So he has a lot in common.

Adam Porrell     October 29
Good article today about the O's and the World Series. I'm 40. I've never watched a World Series with the Orioles playing in it. I hope that changes soon.

George     October 29
"The cheering you hear is from Oriole fans. Everybody else is in muted silence. The pitch! Line drive! Ripken catches it at shortstop! And the Orioles are champions of the world!"

Jon Miller, 37 years ago.




DJ     October 29
Lots of hysteria today about a Jack Nicklaus tweet endorsing Donald J. Trump. I'm anxious to see if @DF addresses this tomorrow or will he avoid possibly having to blast a famous golfer?

Carl in Owings Mills     October 29
2023 may be the O's year, Drew. 65 or 70 wins next year, maybe a .500 season in 2022 and then who knows what 2023 might bring? If Hall continues to progress, we might have our first "ace" since Mussina.

Brian Jessup     October 29
@Butch, thank you, said this twice in the last 2 weeks. Let's see if the DMD faithful rip on you as well. 100% Butch

Butch (aka Big Fat Daddy)     October 29
President Teddy Roosevelt's speech should be required reading for all Americans.

Too bad the current politicians, newspaper and media pundits and the voters do not follow his thoughts and ideals. If all did America would be a much better country. George - thanks for sharing and DF thanks for publishing. To All - please vote - your vote does indeed matter. Just ask Jim Brochin - he lost the Baltimore County Executive Primary by only 17 votes.

Rob Really     October 29
Thanks, Guys... I had nearly forgotten about the Joe Carter home run to beat my Phillies. Next thing, you'll be bringing up Lee Evans and Billy Cundiff.

Josh     October 29
The 2008 Phillies call was pretty good.



Best team celebration: 86 Mets



Best crowd celebration: 02 Angels



Side note: The Os only had to beat Detroit to get to KC in the ALCS, only one series

David Rosenfeld     October 29
I know that some of these didn't have any broadcaster audio, but I wonder what people think about the best "call" of all these?

Personally, not sure anything can beat "touch 'em all, Joe. You'll never hit a bigger home run in your life," which was Tom Cheek on the Blue Jays' radio broadcast, not the national TV broadcast

DF     October 29
Thanks WJB!

Make it FOUR teams instead of five.

Now I feel even worse as a long suffering O's fan!

WJB     October 29
Not only has Toronto been to a World Series since 1984, they actually were back to back champions in 92 & 93.

HERMAN     October 29
There hasn't been an attorney living in a "hardened outpost" since Lincoln's log cabin.

George     October 28
President Roosevelt gave his speech titled “Citizenship in a Republic” as he toured Europe after his presidency. It does indeed contain the stirring words about the man in the arena, but the full speech, in which he contrasts in vivid terms the good and the bad citizen, should be required reading for all of us having the extraordinarily good fortune to live in this country. Especially in these times! We have to go back to President Reagan, or perhaps even as far back as President Kennedy, for a national leader who could sincerely communicate an instructive and inspirational message and do so elegantly in more than simple sentences and phrases.

I’ll find “Citizenship in a Republic” and see if Drew will re-publish it in the Dish in the next few days. I think all but the TL/DR crowd will find their spirits elevated.

Chris in Bel Air     October 28
Can't imagine what the Rays fans are thinking today. Obviously there is no way to know what would have happened had Snell stayed in the game. However, he was absolutely dealing and the Dodgers were barely sniffing contact on the ball. Despite what the plan was prior (pitch count, inning count, etc), I can't imagine watching your starter perform so superbly, in the most critical game of the season and perhaps their careers, how Cash thought my best chance at winning is to remove this guy from the game now. What the...

Jonathan     October 28
Oh the irony is rich indeed when Herman, the Dish's worst critic, offers a critical take about someone else being a critic.


Wayne Garrett     October 28
That was my first exposure to "Pittsburgh Dad". Good, wholesome humor in that video, something we've gotten away from as a nation. Thanks for sharing that. It took courage to promote something Pittsburgh on a Baltimore web site.

Frank     October 28
Of course Tomlin knew what he was doing. You could tell by the fact he was looking up at the jumbo board the whole time. I also think had he interfered with Jones and the Ravens would have lost the game that he might have been suspended for a long time. Changing the outcome of a game like that would have been a ground breaking event in NFL history.

Bill P.     October 28
Agree about Tomlin knowing what he was doing when he stepped on the field. Not sure I agree about the suspension though. Maybe one game but not rest of the season.



Agree that the Holmes Super Bowl catch was great, but don't think it was better than Tyree.



Agree that the O's loss to the Pirates in 1979 was brutal. I'm 60 and I still don't think I'm over it.

Tom     October 28
That's all Herman had to offer huh? That was his "hot take" for today?


TimD in Timonium     October 28
LOVE Pittsburgh Dad. He’d be right at home in Glen Bernie.

C.J.     October 28
Interesting thoughts about the Ravens-Steelers rivalry not being as heated as before. I haven't thought about it all that much but I would agree that this week doesn't feel like a typical Baltimore vs. Pittsburgh game. I'm not sure why that is but I agree with you that something's off.

Mark in Perry Hall     October 28
@Herman hates the web site, hates the "site owner" but still comes by every day. So odd.

Craig     October 28
The Pittsburgh Dad video was really funny. Never knew Ben had an acting career!

unitastoberry     October 28
Did not watch the exhibition season/field of dreams world series but first thing I thought was Buck Showalter too.



If I was Harbaugh I would bring in Ray,Ed, and Haloti this week to just let the young guys on defense like Queen get some inside info on Benny Boy. Its little things from vets who have played the guy for many years that might help some of our starters who have never played against the man from Findlay.

HERMAN     October 28
Irony is alive and well at DMD. Roosevelt's great quote decrying the critic, on a website devoted to a critic's commentary.

Mark Myword     October 28
Steelers plus 3.5 is a mortal lock.

Howard     October 27
Theme for Steelers week should be “and then there were none”

Hard for Ravens to screen when defenses are maintaining a 2nd line in case Lamar breaks the initial rush.

My major concern is that I don’t have access to my McNair jersey for the game. McNair was an awesome Steeler killer and I got this jersey specifically for Steeler games

Mark McGrath     October 27
Chris--Sleeping in your own bed, sticking with a simple daily routine and the waaaaaay better locker room experience can't hurt. The visitor's locker room is on the other side of the stadium, so they probably lose 5 minutes of halftime. (just enough time for Greg Roman to decide to abandon the run!)

chris K     October 27
I just have a simple question. With fans either not attending games or having a very limited amount of people attend, does being home or away really matter this year when it comes to team performance? In packed stadiums I believe crowd noise helps the home team usually. with no noise, each stadium is just a neutral site game. Im curious if anyone disagrees and why.

Jason M     October 27
Glad to see we're taking a break from the sartorial, but one last thing on Cam Newton. While we may not share his fashion sense, he's a very decent guy, who displayed said decency when spotted quietly bringing a dinner from Sullivan's steakhouse to a homeless man on the Saturday before Ravens game a couple of years ago. Cam's alright in my book - and I don't remember anyone being anything but admiring of Clyde Frazier, or Charles Oakley's always impeccable post game attire.

Mark McGrath     October 27
The best part of yesterday's golf marathon was getting Drew to tell stories from his days in the soccer business. Nothing takes the sting away from a chunked 6 iron than hearing his masterful recap of the time Billy Ronson thought he'd won the lottery.



Drew enjoys narrating them almost as much as he enjoys a power fade from the #1 tee.

HERMAN     October 27
The game will be won or lost this weekend by coaching. If the Pittsburgh coach has seen enough tape to exploit our weaknesses it's going to be a long game. They have speed on offense if they triple up to one side and can create pick plays that free up the speed we are in trouble. We are susceptible to screens, a steady diet of those and it'll also be a tough day. Their entire offense is a pick play. Figure that out, we can beat them.

Chris in Bel Air     October 27
Adding Ngakoue certainly seems to be a great addition for the defense. Obviously slowing down the opposing team improves the Ravens chances. However, the offense needs to find more consistency and Lamar has to improve his level of play. The Ravens have benefitted from playing some lousy teams the last couple of weeks. They won't be as fortunate playing at that same level over the next 5 weeks. With that said, I do believe they will look much sharper this week against Pitt. Harbs usually has the team ready to play after a bye week and I believe the Ravens will win this Sunday.

Eric     October 27
Is @Herman serious? Surely he knows the difference between golf clothes and normal clothes. Or not.

unitastoberry     October 27
I guess you can call me a doubting Thomas on this but I'm not sold on the 2020 Ravens yet. They have played one good team so far and they got beat kinda bad. They have a propensity to fold when they are losing which is not often but happens. Their big reciever Andrews has mind melts several games a year. The defense must generate confusion in big games but does not. And the offensive line is not in any type of groove yet minus Yanda and Stanley is playing hurt. They also need to pass to more than Andrews and Brown. If your not going to play the option game like last year try some more low percentage passes. Has anyone seen a Lamar toss a screen? Of course the kicker is still money in the bank and Duvernay should be back on punts not Proche. I hope I'm wrong Sunday will go a long way in telling us so.

HERMAN     October 27
When Payne Stewart was having some trouble with his golf game there were some announcers questioning him wearing the plus fours and saying he needed to pay a little more attention to his golf game than what outfit he was wearing. He wasn't backing up the flash with game. I don't recall any racial angle in the criticism. The race angle has to stop being the first narrative or we will never progress.

Rob Archibald     October 27
Great seeing you yesterday at the flag tournament and congrats to you and Brian and everyone involved for a great day. It was cool to see Free State Electric there as part of the day. When I saw their logo on the paperwork I said I know them from the Dish! The course was in great shape and the food was good. Even the drizzle and fog didn't see that bad! Thanks again Drew.

George     October 27
You run out of energy rooting for a new team when they are down by 21 points and score a touchdown to pull them within 14 and are then led in wild celebration by the QB and get a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty.



It's positively absurd to suggest this is a racial issue. Just like in golf, where journeymen like Poulter and Fowler seduce the media and public by wearing goofy clothes for the purpose of publicity, you wonder, is this competition, or is this entertainment?




kevin j     October 26
Gotta admit, when I saw the headline today I was certain Sergio Garcia had done something goofy again! Never would have guessed we needed to opine about an old washed up QB and his take on Cam Newton's fashion choices.

Not sure I get what the purpose of dancing around the obvious topic about either. The hand wringers are calling Garcia a racist, so if that's where you wanna go, then go there. I don't get it.

Ravens had a big bye week trade, its Steelers week, world series actions, lot of sports stuff going on these days.

@George has probably the best take on Cam, given his location. There were obviously reasons Cam had few takers, and none had to do with race.


Dan P.     October 26
It's weird that Garrapolo, who QB's the team in San Fran, also enters and exits the stadium nattily attired and Garcia didn't rake him over the coals. I wonder why not?

George     October 26
They figured out here in Carolina that Cam prepares more for the post-game press than he does for the games. They also learned that he's a great front-runner with good dance moves but in a tough football game he has zero heart.

HERMAN     October 26
Dog whistles. People hearing dog whistles. What does that say about the frequency they themselves are on?

delray rick     October 26
If the RAVENS lose SUNDAY, the howling on this site wil be x rated. If NEWTON doesn't look like a pimp..PHIL the thrill and MESSIAH should move on, they is DONE!! Taking up a spot for BERGER who should be in the MASTERS. The DODGERS winning the "thing" don't mean do do. 60 games !!!! So "sleepy joe" wants to beat "GEORGE BUSH", WOW!! According to AOC we have 9 years left, don't have to worry bout my 401k. If TRUMP wins SPRINGSTEEN says he's moving to CANADA with BETTE MIDLER. People who don't vote (DREW) should be ashamed ..the Men and women who died for this privilege. Don't be surprised if the 2 sons sell DEM O'S. Story made the papers in the sunshine state bout the wonderful squeegee kids in the BIG B spitting on windows if you turn them away. Best orient food was JIMMY WO'S on CHARLES ST. Broke 100 10 years ago of all places "GRAYSTONE". GET A GOOD TEACHER.

Jason M     October 26
It's Steelers week! Titans had them lined yup there with a late pick, but credit to the Steelers D for forcing a long field goal off the turnover. Worthy adversaries with their HOF bound QB looking stronger and fresher than I have seen him in a few seasons. Hopefully the Ravens will bring their A game, I don't think we've seen that much in 2020...yet!

Barker     October 26
An apology is the least Jeff Garcia should do. A suspension is in order if you ask me.

unitastoberry     October 26
"Maryland football has made lots of mistakes in recent years."



I would add to that saying in the last 45 years or since the departure of Jerry Claiborne. Bobby Ross got it back together but they messed with him too. Friedgen never had the recruits Jerry and Bobby had but he was a good head coach who also got messed around with. When the star players from Seneca Valley and Wild Lake etc go out of state for D1 your done.



Looks like the Stillers are for real. I turned it off but the Titans did come back a little too late. Oh well it always boils down to Benny Boy this is nothing new. Me makes a 500 team a 1000 team and that's why Canton already has a spot for him.

Eric     October 25
Not my fault you botched your comment.

Billy     October 25
That's some serious insight there, thanks @Eric.

Eric     October 25
Someone should probably tell Billy that last night's ending to the World Series game never happened before and will never happen again. What you saw last night was an ending "we've never seen before."

#DMD GAME DAY
Week 2


Sunday— September 20, 2020

Baltimore Ravens at Houston Texans

4:25 PM EDT

NRG Stadium
Houston, TX

Spread: Ravens (-7.0)



can't win 'em all unless you win the first two


I've seen a lot of Twitter pundits and supposed NFL "experts" calling today's Ravens-Texans tilt a "trap game" for John Harbaugh's team.

They can think that all they want, but the Ravens don't fall for such things. Especially not in week 2. The Ravens could fall for something like that if they were 8-1 and had been reading their press clippings for two months and were already three games up in the AFC North. Maybe...just maybe...they'd have an off day because they were looking ahead to the Kansas Chiefs.

But this Ravens team knows better than to look past the Texans to the Chiefs. So, as you can tell, I'm not buying the "trap game" theory.

Deshaun Watson and the Texans will have their hands full today with the Ravens speedy, ball-hawking defense.

What I am buying, as you'll see below, is a Ravens team going into Houston and lighting up the Texans today. I say that happens far more often than the Ravens somehow snoozing their way through a 24-20 loss.

Now, obviously, something weird could happen today. Lamar could get injured in the first quarter with the Ravens already down 7-3 and Robert Griffin III would have to lead John Harbaugh's team for the game's final 45 minutes. And if that scenario somehow played out, sure, the Ravens could lose.

Over the years, the Ravens have been prone to one really stinky defensive performance, almost out of nowhere. Last year it was the big 40-25 home loss to the Browns in week 4. Back in 2017, they got throttled in London by the Jaguars, 44-7. So, once in a while, the Baltimore defense just fails to show up and they get plastered. Today could be one of those days. But all I'm doing is trying to create a scenario that could see Houston win. And my guess is that's not happening today.

Yes, those are the only two things that can derail this Ravens side in 2020: injuries and a fluke, once-a-season poor defensive performance.

I'm sure the Ravens are looking forward to tangling with the Chiefs next Monday night in Baltimore. But I'm also sure they're not forgetting about the Texans in the meantime.

On a side note, related today because of the opponent, I've seen and heard a lot of people this week clamoring over Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson. I'm not trying to stir the pot here, but I just don't see what all the fuss is about. I mean, he's a good quarterback and all, but all of this yapping about how he's one of the game's five best QB's has me puzzled. He was obviously a tremendous college athlete and he's had some success in the NFL, but I don't see what all the hoopla is about when it comes to Watson's rise up the QB ladder. When he wins something of significance at the pro level, I'll be impressed.

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by the percentages


0% chance that the two teams don't combine for more than 34 points. I could see Baltimore winning by something like 30-7, but even that's over 34.

20% chance that the Ravens don't allow Houston to score an offensive touchdown.

40% chance that the Baltimore rushing numbers go over 150 yards this afternoon. This sets up to be a "ground and pound" game that opens up Lamar's arm.

60% chance the Ravens win the game by double digits. We had this same percentage for last week's Browns game and, well, we were right. This could be another romp today vs. the Texans.

80% chance that Deshaun Watson throws for under 300 yards. Who does he throw to now that DeAndre Hopkins is no longer out there?

100% chance the Baltimore offense totals at least 400 yards. I can hear the highlights tonight during Sunday Night Football: And it was another big day for reigning league MVP Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens offense in Houston."

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how drew sees today's game


The Ravens score on their first offensive possession, just like last week vs. Cleveland, with Jackson keeping it himself and running in from 4 yards out to stake Baltimore to a quick 7-0 lead.

A fumble recovery by Brandon Williams on the next series gives Baltimore the ball deep in Houston territory and two plays later, Jackson hits Mark Andrews on a 16-yard touchdown throw to make it 14-0 early.

Another blowout win for the Ravens? That's what it looks like...

Houston gets a late first quarter field goal to cut it to 14-3.

J.K. Dobbins runs for 48 yards on the next series but it's Mark Ingram who scampers in for the touchdown from 6 yards out and it's 21-3, Ravens. Houston does manage to score a touchdown just before halftime to make it 21-10 at the intermission.

A Chuck Clark interception in the 3rd quarter gives the Ravens good field position once again and it pays off for Jackson and Hollywood Brown, as Lamar finds his favorite wide receiver target on a long, looping 39 yard throw to make it 28-10.

Justin Tucker connects from 49 yards out late in the 3rd quarter to push Baltimore's lead to 31-10.

Early in the fourth quarter, after Houston goes for it on 4th and 2 from their own 44 and fails to get it, Jackson again connects with Hollywood, this time from 33 yards, and the Ravens push the lead to 38-10.

The Texans get a kickoff return for a touchdown to save face just a tad; Ravens lead 38-17 with 6 minutes remaining.

Late in the game, Watson gets the ball knocked out of his hand by Matthew Judon and L.J. Fort picks it up and runs 21 yards for a touchdown to complete the scoring.

The Ravens improve to 2-0 with a 45-17 romp in Houston.

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around the league in 30 seconds


Can Bill Belichick take Cam Newton to Seattle and come out with a win tonight?

Game of the Day -- It should be "Game of the Night", technically, as Seattle hosts New England in the Sunday Night game. Sure, New England beat Miami last week, but what have we really learned thus far about Cam Newton and the new look Patriots? Does Bill Belichick still have the magic or will his Pats go to Seattle without Brady and get clobbered? The Seahawks, meanwhile, have a great opportunity early on to make a statement in the NFC West. This should be a good one. We have Seattle winning 30-17.

Dud of the Day -- Giants (0-1) at Bears (1-0) seems pretty lousy to me. New York got handled by Pittsburgh on Monday night, at home no less, and the Bears were really fortunate to beat the Lions in Detroit last Sunday. I mean, really fortunate. Call this one a 17-9 Chicago win and set the over/under on how many times you nod off while watching it at 2.5.

Most To Prove -- Several "good" teams lost on opening weekend, including Dallas and New Orleans, but the only good team that got throttled at home was Minnesota. The Vikings travel to Indianapolis today to take on Philip Rivers and the Colts. It's week #2, so it's not "must win" or anything, but Minnesota definitely needs to prove that last Sunday's home loss to Green Bay was a one-time thing.

Lock of the Day -- We missed last week's "lock" when Miami failed to cover at New England, so let's redeem ourselves today, shall we? Arizona giving Washington seven points seems low...and at home, even more puzzling. We see the Cardinals winning this one to the tune of something like 33-13. Math was never my strong suit at Glen Burnie H.S., but that seems like a "cover". We're high on the Cardinals this season and the Washington Football Team will see why today out in Glendale.

AFC North predictions -- Ravens beat the Texans. Steelers get another decent day from Big Ben and beat up on the pretty awful Broncos, 27-10.

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there's a lot on the line today at winged foot


Anything could happen today in the final round of the U.S. Open.

Want a crazy scenario? Webb Simpson produces one of his stellar putting rounds and shoots 67 to go from 3 over par to even and wins his 2nd U.S. Open title. The rest of the leaders and those around him all crumble under the delightfully painful course set up at Winged Foot and Simpson plays "the round of his life" to step into the winner's circle again.

I'm not saying that's going to happen, by the way. I'm simply saying anything could happen today, like Simpson coming back from 3 over par to win.

I'll give you my winner below, but let's look at what happened on Saturday in round 3.

Matt Wolff's round of 65 should be remembered as one of the best rounds in U.S. Open history because that's precisely what it was, particularly when you consider the former Oklahoma State star hit just 2 of 14 fairways on Saturday. But Wolff's ultra-steep golf swing has been his biggest friend this week, as it allows him to more easily negotiate those awful lies in the rough. To wit, even on the 12 fairways he missed, he still hit the green 10 times. For the day, Wolff hit 13 of 18 greens, which was tied for 3rd in the field.

A lot has been made about his quirky, weird swing, but, as the saying goes, "the ball has no idea how the clubface got back to square at impact". Wolff, at 21, is already an elite TOUR ball striker. But if he can't find his driver swing in round four and if he only hits 2 of 14 fairways today, he'll likely lose. As Patrick Reed demonstrated yesterday, you can go to the well too often.

Reed was cruising along at 5 under par and tied for the lead on the 10th hole yesterday. Two hours later, he had authored one of the worst nine hole stretches in recent major championship history -- from a leader, that is -- and was on the verge of shooting himself out of the tournament after an inward 43 and a second round score of 77. What happened to Reed? What didn't happen to him? He couldn't hit a fairway on the back nine, only hit two greens in regulation, muffed a couple of chip shots around the green, and failed to make a putt of any length. Everything that went right for him in the first two rounds went wrong for him on Saturday's back nine.

Could Bryson DeChambeau become a first-time major champion winner as a professional this afternoon at Winged Foot?

Bryson DeChambeau showed up at Winged Foot with a game plan to attack and overpower the course and most folks scoffed at it. With 18 holes remaining, DeChambeau is locked into perfect position at 3-under par. He has, as he said he would, used his driver throughout the opening 54 holes and has hit 40% of the fairways and a whopping 65% of the greens in regulation. Like Wolff, DeChambeau's steep swing and ability to power the ball out of the rough has been critical to his success thus far. DeChambeau has won at golf's biggest stage in recent years, capturing both the U.S. Amateur and the NCAA Individual Title. It wouldn't be a surprise in the least to see him win today. He's ready.

Of the guys at even par or worse, three of them stick out to me: Xander Schauffele (even), Rory McIlroy (+1) and Lucas Glover (+3). Glover has posted three straight rounds of 71 and has a history of playing well on tough courses, like Bethpage Black, where he won the Open in 2009. If he can nip a couple of shots off of that score today and shoot 68, a one-over par total could be good enough. The golf course is going to play very, very difficult this afternoon. Even par will be a great score. McIlroy also needs one of those two under rounds like he authored in Saturday's third round. He's not out of it by a longshot. Schauffele has quietly produced three steady rounds of 68-72-70 to put himself firmly in the hunt. The thought here is that he winds up winning today with a 69 and a one-under par total.

It was good to see two guys who didn't play well yesterday -- Patrick Reed and Justin Thomas -- still show up for their media obligations after their round on Saturday. Neither of those guys were short or curt with the media. They answered all the questions thrown at them and did so in relatively good spirits. That was a great lesson for young golfers. If you're going to make yourself available to the media after shooting 66 or 67, you also have to make yourself available to the media after a 76 (Thomas) or 77 (Reed).

A few weeks back, I played in a tournament in York, PA. A player -- mid 20's assistant golf professional in Southern PA -- in my group played poorly and shot 89. Afterwards, he signed his scorecard and handed it to me and said, "Can you turn this in for me?" I handed it back and said, "Absolutely not. You turn in your own card. If you would have shot 69 instead of 89, I bet you'd leave me in the dust getting to the scorer's tent to turn in your card in front of all of your friends." He didn't like my answer, but I hope he learned something that day. It's your score. You shot it. You own it. Reed and Thomas owned their scores yesterday, which was good to see.

It's worth noting that a spot on the 2021 U.S. Ryder Cup team is on the line this afternoon (if an American wins, obviously). While a position in the top 8 wouldn't be completely locked up, it would take something crazy to happen for an American winner of today's Open to not be part of next year's Ryder Cup squad. That means this afternoon's final round is particularly important for someone like Matt Wolff or Harris English. While guys like Thomas, Reed, DeChambeau and Schauffele are already virtually locked into next year's team (meaning they'll all either make it or be a captain's pick), Wolff and English have to play their way onto the team. A win today would just about do that for them.

It bears repeating, again, that Winged Foot is one of the country's best U.S. Open golf courses. If the USGA doesn't make it part of their regular Open rotation, they're crazy. Sure, the place is almost borderline impossible to play at this point, with the fairways holding almost no ball that lands there off the tee. And the green complexes are incredibly fascinating and difficult. But this week's Open looks like the U.S. Open we all grew to love circa 1990, when par was your friend and a triple bogey could be made without really hitting an "awful" shot.

The U.S. Open once had a saying: "We're not trying to embarrass the best players...we're trying to identify them." I think that still stands true today. The guy who wins today will be the player who played the best golf over four rounds on one of the best tournament golf courses in the country...maybe even the world.



Saturday
September 19
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2217



father time has the wrong guy


You can understand Phil Mickelson's golf game starting to dwindle. He's 50 now.

And it's easy to see why Tiger Woods can't do it any longer. Age and four back surgeries aren't a tonic for hitting fairways and greens.

But why has Father Time put his hands around the neck of Jordan Spieth? He's only 27 years old. Check the birth certificate, Father.

That all three of those guys aren't playing the weekend at Winged Foot isn't a great shock. It's the how and why of it all that isn't easy to understand when it comes to Spieth, who won three major titles before his 24th birthday and hasn't won a golf tournament since July of 2017.

Mickelson bowed out gracefully on Friday, shooting a second round 74 to finish at 153 for the two days, far outside the 6-over par cut line. Friday's play was a massive improvement over a sloppy first-round 79, where Phil hit one shockingly bad shot and said to himself, surrounded by cameras and a hot mic, "I'm so sick of this..."

He arrived at Winged Foot in desperate hope of righting his biggest career wrong, a final hole double bogey in 2006 when he had the U.S. Open all but wrapped up. His recent dedication to a coffee-based diet has Phil looking more like 40 years old than 50. Less than a month ago, he played a Champions Tour event on a whim and lapped the field, winning his debut tournament on the senior circuit with ease.

Jordan Spieth won three major titles before his 24th birthday but is winless since that British Open triumph in 2017.

While his PGA Tour play hasn't been all that great in 2020, there's always hope that Mickelson-at-a-Major draws something out of the lefthander that few players in the world can find.

But as this week showed at Winged Foot, Father Time has won yet again. Mickelson, like many players over time, has tried desperately over the last year to add distance to his game off the tee. He's made changes in nutrition, fitness and golf swing in order to accommodate that effort to hit the ball farther off the tee. What it yielded, unfortunately, was a higher score. You can't turn back the clock.

Woods is six years younger than Phil, but that hasn't stopped Father Time from putting his foot down and saying, "Enough!" Tiger did manage to win twice in the last 18 months and both victories were substantial to say the least. Against all odds, he claimed a 15th major championship in April of 2019 at the Masters, then tied Sam Snead's career record of 82 wins with a victory in Japan last November.

But, as S.E. Hinton once wrote: That was Then, This is Now.

Other than a 45-minute window during Thursday's opening round at Winged Foot where Tiger reeled off three straight birdies, nothing about his game over the opening 36 holes reminded anyone of the Tiger Woods who beat everyone with one-hand-tied-behind-his-back for close to 15 years. He barely hit enough fairways to qualify for the first flight at your local club championship, which was the number one game crusher at Winged Foot, especially for a 44-year old with a bad back. His work around the greens was shockingly bad, including two consecutive double bogeys at the 18th hole where his ball was 25 yards short of the pin in two shots on both Thursday and Friday.

What do you get when Father Time shows up to strangle you and your nerves are gone? You get 73-77, 10-over-par, and a late Friday flight back to Jupiter, Florida to spend the weekend watching your kids play soccer.

The only small sliver of hope for both Tiger and Phil is a place called Augusta National. It's there that those two will always have a chance to win because the course is the course is the course. There's never any "rough", the length can't be changed all that much, and the nuances of the greens were long ago mastered -- no pun intended -- by both players. It would not be a shock in the least to see either player win again at the Masters. They're both that good at that course.

But on the whole, it's over for Phil and Tiger. Not that we needed a performance like we saw from both of them at Winged Foot to confirm it, but what we saw over the last two days at the U.S. Open cements what we already suspected. Father Time wins again.

What, then, do we make of the career collapse of Jordan Spieth? Surely it's not an age thing. It's not "physical", either. Spieth hasn't had any kind of injury or threatening body issue that has led him down the dark hole he's currently occupying. What happened?

Why didn't Father Time pick on someone older who deserved it? Why not diminish the skills of someone like Matt Kuchar? Or Zach Johnson? Or, even, 47-year old Stewart Cink, who was a winner last week on TOUR after going 11 years without a win? Why not those guys, all in their 40's, all of whom fit the bill more than 27 year old Spieth?

Spieth, like many others, spent lots of time in 2018 trying to master a new move that would provide him with more distance off the tee. Days and months of watching his good buddy Justin Thomas hit it 40 yards past him off the tee must have worn Spieth down. So, as they say on TOUR, Spieth "chased distance" in an effort to keep up with the (much) younger guys who were coming out of college and pounding it 325 yards off the tee.

And what did "chasing distance" get Jordan? Nothing. Well, actually, it did get him something. It got him a 3-year winless streak and a tumble down the world rankings that would have made Hunter Mahan shudder. Spieth was once number one in the world. He's now -- if we're being honest -- probably not one of the best 250 players in the world. It might even be more like 500, frankly. There are, without question, better players in college here in the U.S. right now.

On the surface, it's hard to figure out. Spieth is aware he's struggling. He knows it. He's worked hard to fix it. Harder, he says, than he's ever worked before. But that hard work hasn't made him better. It has, strangely enough, made him worse.

David Duval, who himself knows something about the term "career collapse", offered an interesting opinion on Thursday about Spieth. "He's playing "golf swing" and not "playing golf", if that makes sense," the Golf Channel analyst said while cameras showed Spieth practicing after his opening round 73.

"He's trying to make a better swing, which is all well and good, but in the process of doing that, he's not able to free himself up to actually go ahead and swing the club," Duval added.

That might sound confusing to the golfing neophyte and that's OK. But to experienced players, it all makes sense. Golf is a game of opposites. Hitting it right? Try swinging left more. Hitting it left? Try swinging out to right field. Too nervous or tense? Intentionally try and play loose and without worry.

Spieth would benefit greatly from trying to master the theory of the great Crash Davis in the movie Bull Durham. With rookie pitcher Nuke LaLoosh struggling on the mound, Davis lumbers out to the mound and offers the kid some of the best sporting advice anyone could ever provide: "Don't think Meat...just pitch."

It would help Spieth to follow the same advice at this point: "Don't think...just swing."

Of course, that's easier said than done, and very easy to say from the TV tower or a keyboard in Baltimore, Maryland. It's not easy to do that when you're presdisposed to assuming you're going to make a bogey or worse before the hole even begins. But therein lies the rub for Spieth. You can't "free up" when you're swinging bad, but you can't swing well until you free up. Quite the contradiction.

It's easy to understand what has happened to Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods. They had their days in the sun. Woods is the greatest player of his generation by a distance that would make Secretariat blush and Mickelson is the second best player of his career and no one's even close to him in those rankings. While Father Time might have won the final battle, both Tiger and Phil won far, far more than they lost in their respective careers.

Spieth, though, is not easy to understand. At 27 years old, he's in danger of becoming -- gulp -- the next Hunter Mahan. While Mahan didn't win a major and wasn't the decorated player that Spieth was in his first five years on TOUR, Mahan was a U.S. Junior champion and a 9-time TOUR winner, not to mention a U.S. Ryder Cup performer. Mahan's career was chugging along nicely until 2016, when he suddenly lost his golf swing. It's 2020 now, and he's still looking for it.

It seems fair to turn the career calendar to December for Tiger and Phil. You can't win forever. And, well, Father Time and all...

But it doesn't seem fair to watch Spieth get tortured like this. He doesn't deserve it and, more importantly, hasn't done anything to warrant the massive downturn in abilities. All he's done, like others, is try and get better.

Right now, Spieth's at a career crossroads. This is no longer the standard sports "slump". This...is a career crisis. Here's hoping Father Time finds a soft spot in his heart. Sooner, rather than later.

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u.s. open: day two notes


There's still a lot of golf left to play but Patrick Reed looks like he's dialed in, particularly on the greens. Reed sits at 4-under par, one shot ahead, but Winged Foot looks like a course that fits him well. There's 36 holes remaining, but the tournament is on Reed's racket at this point.

Patrick Reed would be halfway to the career grand slam with a win at this week's U.S. Open.

Bryson DeChambeau has actually played the best golf of anyone in the field if you're a believer in basic statistics. He's driven it better, hit it closer and made just enough putts to sit at 3-under par, one shot behind Reed. His short game is average by TOUR standards. If he hits enough fairways over the last two days, he could win.

There's no telling what the final score might be come late Sunday afternoon, but it's still looking like something around par or perhaps a couple of over par might wind up being the winning total. Reed, of course, could finish 70-70, shoot 4-under-par, and win by six shots or more. This year's event could be like Pinehurst 2014, where Martin Kaymer was just way, way better than everyone else that week and wound up winning by a bunch. But the course toughened up on Friday and will definitely get more difficult as the weekend goes along. The bet here is even par is good enough to win. Who shoots it?

The USGA would be well served to put Winged Foot into a rotation with Pebble Beach, Bethpage Black, Oakmont, Torrey Pines and Pinehurst and allow those six courses to host the U.S. Open year after year after year. Now, the members of those places might not care all that much for giving up their course for a month once every six years, but there's no doubt at all that a rotation like that would be perfect for what the USGA wants the U.S. Open to become. Winged Foot is a remarkable golf course, offering the sternest challenge possible to the best players in the world. That only a handful of players are under par after 36 holes there tells you all you need to know about the course's difficulty.

This doesn't mean much, but the coverage provided by NBC is so far superior to FOX it's not even funny. NBC really knows how to broadcast golf. FOX was just trying out a new toy. There's actually an argument that NBC is better at covering golf than CBS, which is saying something since CBS came up with most of the traditional things we've seen on TV over the years, like shot tracer, green slopes and slow-motion swing analysis. NBC shows more players, more shots and they're less prone to telling the story and more about showing the story along the way.

Just for kicks and giggles, here's a quick look at how our projected Top 10 did over the first 36 holes of the event:

#10, Chez Reavie (USA) -- Going home early after rounds of 75-76. Length of the course was just too much for him. Only hit 46% of the fairways and 50% of the greens in two rounds.

#9, Viktor Hovland (Norway) -- Very much still in it after rounds of 71-71. Has hit 70% of the greens thus far. If he does that for two more days, watch out.

#8, Jason Kokrak (USA) -- In great position at 1-under par. Hasn't been in this position before. How will he handle it?

#7, Bryson DeChambeau (USA) -- One shot behind Reed. Tied for 11th in fairways hit at 50% but his strength out of the rough has helped him hit 67% of the greens.

#6, Tony Finau (USA) -- In good shape at 2-over par but has to hit more fairways. Only 43% of fairways hit thus far, but still scoring well.

#5, Brendon Todd (USA) -- We told you the stats indicated he'd be a threat this week and here he is at even-par through 36 holes. He's tied for first in fairways hit at 67% (18 of 28).

#4, Justin Rose (England) -- Shot the same scores as Tiger (73-77) and will be missing from the weekend. Awful off the tee, hitting just 10 of 28 fairways (36%).

#3, Jon Rahm (Spain) -- Quietly very much still in it at 1-over par. Struggling a bit off the tee but two good rounds could give him the trophy.

#2, Martin Kaymer (Germany) -- Was cruising along at 3 over par with 9 holes remaining on Friday, then failed to hit a fairway on the back nine and bogeyed 18 to miss the cut by a shot. Shockingly, he hit just 1 of 14 fairways on Friday.

#1, Matthew Fitzpatrick (England) -- Also bogeyed the 18th hole on Friday to miss the cut. His stats weren't terrible tee-to-green (50% of fairways, 53% of greens) but once he got on the putting surfaces, he was in trouble.

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Friday
September 18
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2216



that light...is getting brighter


OK, so the Orioles are done.

Before last night's dreary doubleheader sweep at the hands of the Tampa Bay Rays, the Birds were 22-27 and still had a faint glimmer of hope of making baseball's (silly) expanded playoff format.

I know what you're thinking: Come on Drew, the Orioles didn't have any hope of making the playoffs...

At 22-27, if they would have swept Tampa Bay to get to 24-27, they would have still been hanging around. Barely. But hanging around, nonetheless.

But now, at 22-29, it's over. Sure, sure, they could win out and finish 31-29 but they're not doing that. They're not even going to finish 29-31, which could, potentially, be good enough for the last A.L. playoff spot.

The call up of Ryan Mountcastle turned out to be a wise decision for the Orioles. Mountcastle figures to be an every day player in 2021.

It's over. But it was fun while it lasted, even if we never really totally bought into the O's as a playoff contender.

For starters, I was wrong about the 2020 Birds. I said they'd go 21-39. They've already topped that. And I think I was generally wrong about the fact that they wouldn't be competitive. They have been, for the most part.

Here's the deal in 2021 and moving forward. The Orioles have some pieces. I mean, some "legit" pieces. Mancini returns next year. Santander looks to be an every day right fielder. Mullins is a very solid defensive centerfielder. If his bat improves, he's your guy. Will he morph into the next Adam Jones? Never. But he's more useful than you probably thought he would be.

Ryan Mountcastle will never again ride a minor league bus. He's the real deal. I know there are still some question marks about his defense and a bird in a tree tells me they're going to work him out at first base a lot this winter. But with the bat, that kid is a potential big time performer.

Adley Rutschman will be up at some point next year, maybe even to start the season. He still has to prove himself, obviously, but there's nothing that suggests he's going to be a dud as a major leaguer. Severino and Sisco are decent, for now, but neither of those guys are anything except a back-up, perhaps, in the future.

The Iglesias kid looks useful. So, too, does D.J. Stewart, for now. He might regress in 2021 or he might have finally found the magic formula. But don't write off D.J. Stewart just yet.

All the sudden, there's 7 or 8 guys who actually resemble real major leaguers in Baltimore. This time last year, we had 1 or 2 of those guys.

And don't look now, but the O's pitching staff doesn't look so rag-tag after all. It's early days, yes. And teams will learn more about the young arms as they pile up starts. But Kremer and Akin look like they might be able to make 30 starts in 2021.

Here's the only "but"...

And you knew there'd be a "but".

The bullpen is pretty lousy.

Now, admittedly, finding bullpen arms is far easier than grooming major league starters. No doubt there. But those bullpen guys also see action in 40 to 60 games a year. They can't stink in half of those. They have to be able to pull their weight. Right now, the only halfway-trustworthy guy in the bullpen is Tanner Scott. Dillon Tate has some good stuff but only time will tell if he can consistently throw strikes.

This is a long winded way of saying that light you see at the end of the tunnel is actually getting brighter. The Orioles are improving. With modest bullpen improvements and better starting pitching, the Birds could threaten 70 or 75 wins next year. They have a long way to go, of course, but 75-87 is a whole lot more enjoyable to watch than 55-107.

The problem, of course, is that the A.L. East appears to be getting stronger. Tampa Bay is totally legit, the Yankees are the Yankees and Toronto will likely make the playoffs this year and be a contender in 2021. And despite Boston looking like the American League version of the New York Jets, we know they won't be down for long.

The challenge for the Orioles is obvious. How do they reach the point where they're an 88-win team and get themselves into playoff contention? They still need a real third baseman, a real second baseman and, depending on what they do with Mountcastle, a real first baseman. Nunez, Ruiz and Alberto are "just guys", of course. One or two of them could stick around as back-ups and platoon guys, but you're not winning 88 games if those three are regulars.

2021 will continue to yield growing pains, I'm sure, but by the time 2022 rolls around, the O's should be on the verge of putting it all together. And perhaps by that time, a free agent or two will see Charm City as an attractive landing spot.

Mike Elias has the Orioles heading in the right direction. Not everything he's done has turned to gold, of course, but his hits far outweigh his misses thus far. And don't forget, there are still fruits to pick from the deals for Bleier, Castro and Givens. Elias will get a gem or two out of those trades before it's all said and done.

This crazy 2020 thing* hasn't been a complete wash out for the Birds.

The Orioles are improving. If you don't believe me, just wait until next year. You'll see.

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u.s. open: notes from day one


Phil Mickelson won't be avenging his 2006 Winged Foot collapse this week. Phil's effort to complete the career grand slam flatlined yesterday with a first-round 79. Given the generous course conditions and the perfect-for-scoring weather, Mickelson's 79 was more like an 85 in "real time". He didn't hit a fairway until the back nine and putted terribly. He legitimately looked like a guy who had no business being in the event, which is a massive statement to make about the second most successful player of the last 20 years on TOUR.

Tiger Woods isn't out of it yet, but he'd have to pull off a near miracle to win major #16 after authoring a sloppy 3-over par round of 73 on Thursday. Oddly enough, the one thing that has bothered Woods all year -- putting -- was his strength in the opening round. He did manage to make five birdies on the day, several of which were from the 20-25 foot range. But his work off the tee was 10-handicap'ish. Like Mickelson, Woods was all over the map with his driver. The only way Tiger has a hope over the last 54 holes is for the course to toughen up dramatically and 4 or 5 over par wind up as the winning score.

In search of his 2nd major win, Justin Thomas shot 65 on Thursday in the opening round of the 2020 U.S. Open.

Speaking of the course, those low scores from day one will be a thing of the past by the time Sunday rolls around. Winged Foot is about to bear her teeth over the weekend. USGA officials say they won't be adding any water to the greens other than a 30-second "spritzing" each morning and they've vowed to not touch the rough with a mower of any kind over the last 54 holes. Oh, and the pin placements will get even more dicey as the days go by. Odds are something around even par will still wind up being good enough to win the event.

Justin Thomas has the look of someone who knows he's going to play well this week. You can see it in his stride and you can hear it in his voice. He's "on" at Winged Foot, as Thursday's opening round 65 indicated. The key for Thomas, as it is with almost everyone on the first page of the leaderboard, is to avoid the tragic double or triple bogey. Bogeys can be dealt with, but the big numbers are hard to overcome. If J.T. can keep hitting fairways and give himself birdie looks on 10 or 12 holes each day, he has a great chance of winning his second major title.

Matthew Wolff also looks very comfortable after a 4-under 66 on Thursday. The guy with the quirky swing got a taste of major medicine back in August when he played well at the PGA Championship, so it's no surprise he's back in the hunt at Winged Foot. Hitting fairways and greens typically isn't an issue for Wolff. It's the putter that drags him down on occasion. But if he rolls the rock the rest of the way like he did on Thursday, the former Oklahoma State star could be in one of the final three groups on Sunday, with a chance to win the U.S. Open.

The lack of fans on site could be one of the biggest reasons why no name players like Davis Thompson (1 under) and Will Zalatoris (even) have a chance to win this week. It's likely they won't win, of course, but without fans in the stands the event closely resembles a college tournament and both of those young men are keenly familiar with big time college golf. Thompson currently plays at Georgia and Zalatoris was a star at Wake Forest before turning professional. If there was ever a major tournament where a college kid or someone a year or two into his professional career could win, this week is it. It might "be" the U.S. Open, but it sure doesn't seem like it is.

I'd personally love to see Patrick Reed win this week but if he keeps hitting his driver into the left rough, like he did a half dozen times on Thursday, there's no way he can come out on top. Reed's short game and putting were nearly flawless in round one. Can he keep that up for three more days? That seems highly unlikely. Few guys on TOUR putt as well as Reed, but at some point he's going to run out of magic bullets. For Reed to contend, he must drive the ball in the fairway over the last 54 holes. History says he won't do that.

Just for kicks and giggles, here's a quick look at how our projected Top 10 did on Thursday in round one:

#10, Chez Reavie (USA) -- Not a great day for Reavie, who shot 75. He'll need something around 71 or 72 on Friday to make the weekend cut.

#9, Viktor Hovland (Norway) -- Had it a couple of under early on before settling for a 1-over par round of 71. Still very much in it.

#8, Jason Kokrak (USA) -- A solid round of 2-under 68 for Kokrak, who was out early on Thursday and plays late on Friday.

#7, Bryson DeChambeau (USA) -- In good shape after day one with a 69.

#6, Tony Finau (USA) -- The big hitter is also sitting in decent shape at 1-under par after a solid opening round on Thursday.

#5, Brendon Todd (USA) -- Chipped and putted his way to a solid 68 on Thursday. He looks like he might hang around.

#4, Justin Rose (England) -- Drove it poorly and had to work hard for a 3-over par round of 73. Clearly not out of it yet, but has to shoot something around 72 or 73 to guarantee he plays over the weekend.

#3, Jon Rahm (Spain) -- In great position at 1-under par after the opening 18 holes.

#2, Martin Kaymer (Germany) -- The 2014 champion posted 1-over 71 on Thursday.

#1, Matthew Fitzpatrick (England) -- Couldn't get the putter going en route to a 74 on Thursday. At +4, he'll need to shoot a lower number on Friday in order to make the cut.

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Thursday
September 17
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2215



well, you asked...


Kent asks -- "Who will be the first NFL coach fired this season?"

DF: "Cleveland should have fired their new guy in the first quarter last Sunday after he tried that goofy fake punt when they were already down 7-0. Anyway...my guess is that honor will go to Adam Gase of the Jets. I mean, I'm not sure there's ever been a head coach in the NFL more over-his-head than Gase. I don't think he's the sole reason they're going to go 4-12 or 5-11 again, but he's one of the reasons why they won't go 8-8 or 9-7. I firmly believe if you sent Harbaugh, Tomlin or Arians to the Jets, they'd cobble together a .500 campaign at worst."


Ron Creel asks -- "Are you excited about the Caps hiring Peter Laviolette?"

DF -- "A Caps question! Thanks!! Indeed I am. If you remember a few weeks back when I previewed the top 3 or 4 available candidates, I zeroed in on Laviolette as my preferred guy. I thought the Caps looked different under Reirden. Not as disciplined as they when Trotz was behind the bench. Not as dedicated to the cause night after night. I think you saw the Caps play some bad hockey on the second night of a back-to-back series under Reirden. I don't recall that kind of performance under Trotz. Laviolette is cut more from the Trotz cloth. He's demanding. He'll kick their butts when needed. I love the hiring."


Can Tiger silence the critics who say he can no longer win a major title this week at Winged Foot?

T.J. asks -- "Here's your obigatory Tiger Woods U.S. Open question. By percentages, which you like to do, what are the percentages that Tiger makes the cut, finishes Top 20 and wins? Thanks!"

DF -- "I do want it noted from everyone in the peanut gallery who cries whenever Tiger's name is mentioned here that T.J. brought The Great One up first. I didn't. Anyway...I'd say there's a 30% chance he makes the cut. I mean, he's still Tiger Woods and all, but this is going to be a brute of a golf course and he'll have to drive the ball straight in order to be anywhere near par for two days. It is worth noting, in his favor, that the USGA gave him the favorable early/late tee time draw. He'll play around 8 am on Thursday and 1:30 pm on Friday. That's potentially a help. The cooler September temperatures might not help his ailing back, so there's a trade off of sorts. There's a 10% chance he finishes Top 20 and a 5% chance he wins. The golf course will just be too much for him, sorry to say. My official prediction is he shoots 76-77 and misses the cut."


Lee Porter asks -- "I have a friend who is a Steelers fan and we came up with an interesting bet on the Ravens. For every win this year, he gives me $100. For every loss, I give him $300. Was I crazy?"

DF -- "Sounds to me like you better hope they go 12-4 if you want to break even. As it is, if they go 13-3 you win $400. But if they go 11-5, you lose $400. Pretty cool bet. I think you have a better chance of the Ravens going 13-3 than 11-5. That said, you better hope Lamar doesn't get hurt in week #5."


Carl in Owings Mills asks -- "Should Andy MacPhail and/or Dan Duquette go into the Orioles Hall of Fame some day?"

DF -- "Question of the day! Love it! And the answer is...yes! To both! MacPhail was the first person who was ever able to convince Peter Angelos that a rebuild was necessary if the Orioles were to compete in the A.L. East and he also somehow finagled Buck Showalter into coming to Baltimore to manage the team. MacPhail was also responsible for the trade that brought Adam Jones to Baltimore. Duquette, for all of his quirky ways, was part of an organization that made the playoffs 3 times in 5 years and he also was effective with the Rule 5 draft, something that is very hit or miss in the major leagues."


Pat asks -- "What would be your ultimate U.S. Open story this week at Winged Foot?"

DF -- "Easy answer here. Phil Mickelson winning would be the best story possible. It would not only complete the career grand slam for him but it would also help to wipe away the fiasco of 2006, which will always be his biggest lowlight if he fails to win a U.S. Open title. Mickelson, even at age 50, is still one of golf's great characters. In fact, we've really seen him open up over the last few years and show a side of his personality we hadn't previously seen. Must be that gum he chews. Or the coffee. You didn't ask for a 2nd and 3rd place winner but I love the question so I'll give you one. I'd love to see Lee Westwood somehow win and capture that elusive first major title. He's come so close, so often. And now that he's in the December of his career, a major would do him great justice. 3rd is basically the same theory, but insert the name Rickie Fowler. I'd love to see Fowler win. He's been great for golf over the last 15 years. A major has somehow eluded him. It would be cool to see him finally win a big one."


Carl P. asks -- "With Bruce Springsteen's birthday coming up next week I was hoping you would list your five favorite albums of his." Thanks!

DF -- "This answer has probably changed a lot over the years, but #1 has always been #1. In reverse order: #5 would be Wrecking Ball. Some of his best song writing ever came on that album. #4 is The Rising. It's just remarkable. #3 is Magic. My favorite Bruce song ("I'll Work For Your Love") is on that album. #2 is Tunnel of Love. Talk about great song writing...holy cow. And #1 is Darkness On The Edge of Town. Every song on that album is phenomenal. By the way, a new Springsteen/E-Street album is coming out on October 23!"


R.C. asks -- "A few weeks ago you mentioned that learning to hit a fade would be the one thing you would stress to all young junior golfers. I'm a 14-handicap who would like to get into single digits in 2021. What's the one tip you'd give me to knock those last five or six shots off of my score?"

DF -- "That's almost impossible for me to answer not seeing you play once or twice. Do you hit shoot in the mid 80's because you hit two or three terrible tee shots or because you miss four or five short putts every round? That said, one thing I see in most guys who shoot in the mid 80's regularly is they aren't very good lag putters. They generally get the ball on the green in three shots at worst, but often times they're left with 30 or 40 feet for their first putt and then they blow that one past the hole or leave it 10 feet short. "Get better at lag putting" would be my answer here without actually seeing you play golf."


Tom asks -- "What's the best album of these three bands that I know you like: Rush, Led Zeppelin and The Cars?"

DF: -- "Well, my "best" probably won't be what industry experts would say are their best, but that's a listening preference thing. My favorite Rush album is "Hemispheres". It still stands the test of time, even today, 40 years later. "In Through The Outdoor" is my favorite Led Zeppelin album. "I'm Gonna Crawl" is my favorite LZ song, ever, and it's on that album. And while I acknowledge that The Cars struck gold with their self-titled debut album and it is, in fact, totally awesome, "Candy-O" was always my favorite album of theirs. I love every song."


Darryl asks -- "Who are the top 3 most overrated players in the NFL?"

DF -- "Geez, there's a lot to unpack there. Wow. Well, right now, Baker Mayfield has to top that list. He looks no better now than he did as a rookie. In fact, there's probably an argument he's regressed. This is a hard question, Darryl! Jared Goff, maybe? That's two. He just seems like a guy who parlayed one good season into stardom that, perhaps, his talent level didn't deserve. And I'll go with Matt Ryan at #3. Maybe he just needs a change of scenery, but all I see him do in Atlanta is lose a lot." I realize that's three quarterbacks. Sorry..."

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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.


this is not normal


This is not normal. Yes, you’ve heard that a lot since March. But that’s not what I’m talking about.

This is not normal. 13 in a row now, after a blowout win Sunday that could have easily been placed smack in the middle of last season, just with people in the stadium watching back then. An average margin of victory in those 13 games approaching three touchdowns.

During almost half those games, you could turn the television off or leave the stadium midway through the third quarter knowing the opponent’s chance to win was not 25% or 10% (both of which would be great!) but more like 0.00000001%.

At least every other game, the backup quarterback is allowed on the field for legitimate mop-up duty, which is much more rare in the NFL than the Ravens make it look. None of this normal. None of it. It’s exceptional.

Lamar and the Ravens expect to easily dance into the 2020 NFL playoffs.

Not unprecedented, just extraordinary. Not unheard of, though quite noteworthy. Not the best stretch of play we’ve ever seen by anyone, but probably the best stretch by the Ravens, nevermore.

I bring it up because I think it’s important to keep talking about it. We don’t know how long it will last. And I don’t just mean the winning streak, which has many weeks to go before it could be called historic.

I’m talking about the quality of play. The people outside the Ravens’ circle are tired of talking about that, I think. They’d rather talk about why Cleveland stinks or whether Aaron Rodgers can play like that all year and of course about the Cowboys, who haven’t had consecutive good seasons in a generation.

I am not tired of talking about it. I will never be tired of talking about. I will be talking about it for a while. Even if the Ravens don’t win a Super Bowl in the near future, I’ll still talk about it, at least a little bit.

I’d rather not even compare it to some other team, or some other sport, or some other earlier time when Pro Football Reference didn’t exist. It’s worth looking at on its own merits. It’s that good.

I’ll start with this…I wasn’t expecting it, and I don’t just mean a double-digit winning streak, which you never expect from even the best teams. There were a lot of questions in late September 2019, the last time the Browns visited Baltimore before this past weekend.

The biggest surprise by then was that Lamar Jackson, in his first full season as a starter, wasn’t a question. He was spectacular in the first three games of 2019, and it’s not like he stunk against Cleveland. Everything else, though? A bunch of questions, save for Justin Tucker.

I didn’t know if the Ravens’ defense was very good; at the least, they seemed like they weren’t communicating very well.

No matter how good Jackson was, I didn’t know whether the league might have him and Greg Roman’s offense figured out better by the second half of the season.

Even after the Ravens won in Pittsburgh and at home against Cincinnati, I questioned how good they really were. They were fortunate to beat Mason Rudolph and Duck Hodges at Heinz Field and kinda let the winless Bengals hang around, though some of that came from the fact that the visitors ran the game’s opening kickoff back for a touchdown.

The lack of Ben Roethlisberger made me almost certain about the playoffs, but I was also certain that there were plenty of lose-able games left on the schedule.

And then, it was like the snap of a rubber band. John Harbaugh asked Lamar if he wanted to “go for it” on 4th-and-short in the third quarter in Seattle, Jackson responded by not just getting a first down but scoring a touchdown and we were living in a new world.

People weren’t ready for it; some of those people were the coaches and players on other NFL teams. I wasn’t ready for it. Not in the way it happened, anyway.

From the opening kickoff, how much better were the Ravens than the New England Patriots on a Sunday night? We remembered that the Ravens had pulled some surprises against New England, but even when they did it wasn’t because they were “better” than Tom Brady and company. But not this time…

The following week, Jackson ran for a 47-yard touchdown in Cincinnati, the highlight of which will be watched for at least the next 50 years. Then, back at home, the Ravens ran for 256 yards against one of the league’s best teams. Not Miami. Not Cincinnati. Houston, a team with legitimate aspirations.

I don’t know about you, but during this long offseason, the highlights I watched the most came from the Ravens’ 45-6 Monday night win against the Rams, a beatdown of epic proportions in which five of Jackson’s 15 pass completions were touchdown passes.

I should stop here, as my point wasn’t to go through a game-by-game recap of the winning streak. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a couple things, though—the high quality of the 49ers game, despite rain, the great early-second-half call by Roman that led to a long touchdown pass to Hayden Hurst in Buffalo, the insane final two minutes of the first half in Cleveland, completed with a ridiculous off-balance throw by Jackson to Mark Andrews in the end zone. And then, in this most abnormal of opening weekends, a 99-yard touchdown drive, the first for the team in nearly 20 years.

Think back about a year. Sure, there have been turnovers, including the difficult-to-understand wishbone fullback dive from Patrick Ricard on Sunday. I wonder, though, how many teams have had so few “negative” plays for such a long period of time. When Jackson gets a yard-and-a-half, it’s still a yard-and-a-half, even though it seems like a loss. When Gus Edwards pile drives into the line, it’s not always thrilling…but it’s never negative.

That might be the biggest sign of genius/good fortune that’s come with the selection and development of Jackson. To other teams, he seemed like a player who would lead a team to more negative plays because of his skills in keeping plays alive, for better or worse. Instead, those skills have made it almost impossible for the offense to ever lose yards, save for the occasional sack.

When you watch the Ravens, the only thing that ever feels totally “negative” is the defense’s tendency to give up relatively long runs. I wonder, though, if that has more to do with the team’s defensive philosophy than with any particular player or group of players.

This is the NFL as it’s been for years…there are only a few great teams, and a few terrible teams, and a whole bunch of teams in a mediocre middle. The Ravens have occasionally been near the top, and infrequently been near the bottom. Even when they haven’t been near the top, there’s usually been something about them that makes them competitive.

But this isn’t normal at all. The Ravens are playing football—every aspect of the game down to the smallest detail—in a way that few teams have ever been able to sustain for more than a few games, let alone double digits.

Harbaugh’s team heads to Houston this Sunday as prohibitive favorites, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they play like it. I look forward to talking about that next week. Even if I can’t, though, I’ll probably still bring it up again sometime soon.

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Wednesday
September 16
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winged foot will win in the end


The start of tomorrow's U.S. Open is filled with uncertainty.

Will Rory's new dance with fatherhood help or hurt this week?

Can Jordan Spieth recapture his magic of five years ago?

Is this the week Rickie Fowler finally breaks through and wins that elusive major title?

Against all odds, does Tiger have a 16th major title in him...at one of golf's toughest venues, no less?

Could a veteran like Lee Westwood or Matt Kuchar find the recipe and cap their otherwise outstanding career with a U.S. Open win?

Those are all uncertanties.

Does Gary Woodland have a second straight U.S. Open in him this week at Winged Foot?

What is certain, though, is that by the time the final putt is holed sometime around 6 pm on Sunday (barring a playoff), the real winner of the event will be the golf course where it's going to be contested. Winged Foot promises to be the talk of the four days, what with its firm fairways, tall rough and ultra-slick greens.

One thing about this year's oddly placed U.S. Open: Warm days and cool nights have helped get the course in mint condition, unlike those sweltering hot days of mid-June where the course turned a curious shade of beige by late Saturday afternoon.

Nearly everyone on site this week has offered the same general synopsis of what they expect to see over the 72 hole tournament: More bogeys than birdies and a winning score somewhere in the 2 over to 6 over par range.

It's worth remembering that back in 2014 at Pinehurst, everyone thought even par would win that event and then Martin Kaymer went out and scorched the place on Thursday and Friday, producing rounds of 65-65 and owning a cozy 6-shot lead heading into the weekend. As it turned out, the experts were mostly right that week. Only three players broke par; Kaymer (-9), Eric Compton (-1) and Rickie Fowler (-1). Everyone else failed to finish in red figures.

So for every "no way anyone breaks par at Winged Foot this week", let's keep in mind it only takes one guy playing outrageously good golf to lay waste to that prediction.

That said...no one's shooting under par this week.

So what kind of winner will surface at Winged Foot? Someone who drives the ball straight, for starters. Length will matter, naturally, but it won't be as important as accuracy. The guy who drives it the straightest has the best chance. For kicks and giggles, here were the five straightest drivers of the golf ball in the 2019-2020 PGA Tour campaign:

1. Jim Furyk

2. Ryan Armour

3. Brian Stuard

4. Brendon Todd

5. Kyle Stanley

Of those five players, only Todd is in the field this week.

What he gains in accuracy, Todd loses in length. He averages just 282 yards off the tee, which ranks him 187th on TOUR. In other words, he's one of the shortest guys out there. But let's remember: accuracy is more important than length this week. As you'll see below in our U.S. Open Top 10, we like Todd's chances this week at Winged Foot.

Scrambling will also be critical this week. That statistic comes into play anytime a player doesn't hit the green in regulation. Of the top five players in scrambling in 2019-2020, four are playing this week; Daniel Berger, Xander Schauffele, Kevin Na and -- that name again -- Brendon Todd.

And finally, we look at putting. There are two important categories that figure to come into play this week: Strokes Gained and putting from inside of 10 feet. In Strokes Gained, three of the top five are in this week's field; Matthew Fitzpatrick, Kevin Na and Andrew Putnam. Inside of 10 feet, four of the top five are playing; Bryson DeChambeau, Matt Kuchar, Jon Rahm and Abraham Ancer.

With par being everyone's friend this week, it stands to reason that the guy making the most putts inside of 10 feet has the best chance of winning.

So who do we like at Winged Foot?

We're glad you asked.

For starters, we've broken down our Top 10 into two categories; players you'd expect to win and players you wouldn't expect to win. Given the golf course's difficulty, we believe a player you don't expect to win is just as likely to come out on top as someone you do expect to win. It might not be like that at the Masters, where a "name" almost always wins. Or even the British Open. But this week, at a course where even par gives you a shot, we're thinking Brendon Todd is just as likely to win as, say, Jon Rahm. As you'll see below, we like both of them this week.


DMD's U.S. Open Top 10

#10, Chez Reavie (USA) -- Reavie's a fighter. He's perfect for the U.S. Open grind, in fact. Not long off the tee, but very accurate. Won't make a lot of big mistakes.

#9, Viktor Hovland (Norway) -- One of the TOUR's young guns whose only weakness, chipping from tight surfaces, might not really come into play much this week at Winged Foot, where any missed greens will find deep, thick rough. He can make a lot of birdies.

#8, Jason Kokrak (USA) -- We love Kokrak's game. The former long drive competitor has refined his action over the last five years and has blossomed into a legitimate TOUR player. If his putter can behave, Kokrak could be a contender come Sunday afternoon. He's a darkhorse who can play.

England's Matthew Fitzpatrick finished 36th in the 2019-2020 FedEx Cup points race.

#7, Bryson DeChambeau (USA) -- He can hit it far. And, generally, it goes straight. BDC's week all relates to his driver and off-the-tee game. If he finds 70% of the fairways, he has a real chance of winning. His methodical, plodding style is perfect for the 5-plus hour rounds at a U.S. Open.

#6, Tony Finau (USA) -- He might be this generation's Rickie Fowler, but we're going to keep throwing him in our major Top 10's until he wins one. Finau drives it long and straight. The only part of his game that's a question mark is his ability to close the deal. He's played in Ryder Cups and Presidents Cups, so "pressure" isn't an issue for him. He just needs to win.

#5, Brendon Todd (USA) -- We know he'll hit it straight. The only question is whether or not he can hit it far enough to handle the par 4's. If ever a major set up for him, it's this one.

#4, Justin Rose (England) -- A player this good should have more than one major title. With Rose, it always comes down to the driver. If he's on with the big stick, he contends. Our bet this week is that he's "on" and he's in the hunt.

#3, Jon Rahm (Spain) -- He plays the hard courses well. And Winged Foot will be really hard. Lost in the discussion about his great season was how much of a complete player he's become. Drives it great, stuffs his irons and can putt the lights out of it. He is one of the five best players in the world right now.

#2, Martin Kaymer (Germany) -- This one is a complete flyer. Talk about "not expected to win", this guy largely hasn't been heard from on the PGA Tour since 2014. But his recent form in Europe is really good and this is precisely the way he shows up at a major...as an afterthought who beats it around for four days, shoots 73-69-72-71 and wins with a 5 over par score.

#1, Matthew Fitzpatrick (England) -- All of his stats and data point to a U.S. Open kind of player. It's time for a major breakthrough for this kid. This win would be a surprise, yes, but it's well within his capabilities. Just needs a sharp week with his approach shots into greens, which has been a statistical weakness for him in 2020. But the short game and putter save him.

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SUCH
a sports fan

MARK SUCHY is a lifelong Baltimore sports fan, youth basketball coach and father of three athletic sons. A former weekend sports radio host in Baltimore, "Such" offers his memories and insights on sports related topics each Wednesday here at #DMD.


This isn’t going to be easy for me to write. It likely won’t be easy for you to read.

But I have to get this out, get this off my chest, clear my head a little bit through the exercise of writing.

There is no doubt that the year 2020 has been the most difficult one in my lifetime. I feel safe in writing that many of you would agree. These are unprecedented days we’re living through. There is just so much that is completely out of our control.

The coronavirus has reshaped our way of living. It has created a greater social upheaval than any event I can recall. Schools aren’t open. Countless small businesses have closed their doors, likely forever. Stadiums and arenas are empty, even as games are played. Millions of Americans have filed for unemployment, and food insecurity is a real problem for too many families. The uncertainty of everything we knew and took for granted is disturbing.

All of the unanswered questions have led our country into an unprecedented mental health crisis. People are scared and there are no immediate answers. According to the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) of August 14th, 2020, in late June of this year, 40% of U.S. adults reported that they were struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues.

See? I told you this wasn’t going to be easy.

John Suchy, local musician and brother of #DMD contributor Mark Suchy.

These issues came front and center to my consciousness this past weekend as I settled in to watch Sunday Night Football on NBC. There was a segment during the pregame show about the Dallas Cowboys quarterback, Dak Prescott, and his struggles with depression and anxiety during the early days of the virus, back in March and April. Like so many of his fellow Americans, Prescott was afraid and nervous about his health, his future and his family’s well-being. Those are thoughts and emotions that I’m sure just about all of us can relate to.

Then, on April 24th, Dak’s 31-year-old brother, Jace, committed suicide.

And oh, could I relate to Dak Prescott when I heard that.

Because, on April 22nd, my 61-year-old brother, John, committed suicide.

See? I told you this wasn’t going to be easy.

When this year began, I didn’t imagine that I would be writing a weekly column here. I didn’t imagine that a worldwide pandemic would create so much havoc and upheaval in our day to day lives. I didn’t imagine that I would share a similar story of anguish and frustration and sorrow and regrets with an NFL quarterback. But here we are.

The reality is that I wouldn’t be writing this, and sending pieces to #DMD each week, if John hadn’t died. Because I know with everything in my heart that part of my grief and part of my healing has been expressed through writing. I haven’t written nearly enough over the past few decades. And writing has always been a passion and a creative outlet for me. That it took my brother’s passing to re-ignite this flame is some sort of divine intervention. At least, that’s my interpretation.

My brother John was an amazing musician. He had immense natural musical abilities. He had an ear for sound, so much that he could hear a song one or two times and then play it perfectly, note for note and chord for chord. I was always amazed at his gifts.

He spent his life deeply involved in the music scene here in Baltimore. He ran a recording studio on York Road in Towson, and over the course of 25 years or so he influenced and helped hundreds of musicians pursue their dreams. He was an essential part of the greatest classic rock cover band you’ve ever heard, Hectic Red. If you need proof of that assertion, spend some time on You Tube watching their videos through the years, then get back to me. And watch him perform Solsbury Hill, please.

But my brother suffered from depression all his life. He never truly sought professional help and counseling. His last years were a spiral of alcohol and drug abuse. By the end, there was no way to reach him or help him. It was frustrating and maddening. Nothing has ever made me feel so hopeless.

Now, I don’t know anything about the life that Jace Prescott lived. But the circumstances surrounding his death make me certain that he was suffering from depression. I can only imagine that his brothers and his father had a sense of his problems.

The more I read about Dak Prescott and his family, the more I can relate. He’s one of three brothers, just as I am. His mother passed away in 2013 of colon cancer. My father died in 2010 of a massive heart attack. And now he’s one of two brothers, just as I am. And he’ll have a lifetime of unanswered questions ahead of him, just as I will.

In an upcoming interview on In Depth with Graham Bensinger, Dak described his emotions upon learning of Jace’s death. "I mean, obviously tears and tears and tears," Dak Prescott said of his initial reaction. "I mean, I sat there and tried to gather what had happened, and wanted to ask why for so many reasons. It was like this sense of all these emotions coming off of my back."

That’s a statement I can completely understand. That sense of emotions coming off of my back, of asking why, is all too real for me. It’s this bizarre combination of relief and anger. There’s no other way for me to describe it.

Too often, we overlook the fact that athletes are human, just as we are, that they have families and hopes and fears and dreams and disappointments, just as we do. We view them through this prism that narrows down our thought processes and distills them into some kind of commodity to be thought of as either useful or disposable, depending upon their performance.

Thinking that they face real-life issues like addiction and mental illness and family dysfunction makes us uncomfortable. We don’t like to consider their humanity off the fields of play. We demand to be entertained, and when the game is over, to forget that they go back to all the real-life issues surrounding them, the same as we do.

Sports teaches us lots of different life lessons. How to be a good teammate; how to work in a system in order to achieve victory; how to respect your coaches, your opponents, even the officials. It demands hard work and practice and dedication to staying in shape. It pushes the best athletes to the highest possible levels of physical and mental endurance. There’s not much room for error, and any sign of weakness can be exploited or used against you.

In our culture, we don’t like to see any vulnerabilities in the athletes we admire. That equals weakness, and weakness can lead to losing. And losing, of course, will not be tolerated.

For whatever reasons, we don’t talk enough about fears. Yet we all have them, and at times like this, when there’s so much uncertainty, fear stalks around freely, and drives too many of our friends and family into isolation. From personal experience, the truth is that I was never as alone or as different as I thought I was.

It was when I finally admitted my own weaknesses that I met others who had similar struggles. Those people helped lift me up and showed me that I wasn’t as special or unique as I liked to think. It was a refreshing paradox. By finally giving up, I gained strength.

That’s why listening to Dak Prescott discuss feeling vulnerable is so refreshing to me. It humanizes him and exposes him in a way that so few athletes do. It makes him even stronger in my eyes. He’s using his platform to help others who are experiencing a similar pain. What could be stronger than that?

“So before I can lead, I got to make sure my mind is in the right place to do that and lead people where they want to be. I think that’s important, to be vulnerable.” That’s Prescott at his news conference last Thursday, as the Cowboys were preparing for their season opening game against the Los Angeles Rams. That might very well be the most remarkable quote I’ve ever seen from any professional athlete. Who does that? Who openly talks about feeling vulnerable in the NFL?

Knowing more about Dak Prescott due to his brother’s death is helping me. It’s not because he’s a world class athlete, or because he’s the starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. It’s because, through his brother Jace and my brother John, I can feel a connection and a sense of empathy that I never would have prior to April 22nd. I know I’m not alone in the process.

And for that, I want to say thank you to Dak. I feel you, brother. I know exactly what you mean.

In her novel Eat, Pray, Love, author Elizabeth Gilbert writes, “Deep grief sometimes is almost like a specific location, a coordinate on a map of time. When you are standing in that forest of sorrow, you cannot imagine that you could ever find your way to a better place. But if someone can assure you that they themselves have stood in that same place, and now have moved on, sometimes this will bring hope.”

I don’t know Dak Prescott’s career statistics. I don’t know much about his life outside of the football games I see him play. I do know he’s a legitimate starting quarterback for one of the league’s premier franchises (or maybe I should say brands). I know he played college football at Mississippi State. In fact, I know I saw him play one random Saturday night a few years ago on ESPN and I remember thinking, hey, he’s pretty good. I know his name has been mentioned in the past few seasons when MVP debates inevitably spring up.

I’m not a Dallas Cowboys fan. I never have been. But I’m a Dak Prescott fan. I’ll be pulling for him, on and off the field.

One thing I know for sure is that Dak Prescott has stood in that forest of sorrow, just as I have. Just as so many of us have. And that now, we both have to keep moving on, finding our way to a better place. That hope will spring forth again.

For all their troubles, I’m sure that Jace and John would have wanted us to do just that.

If you or someone you love is struggling with depression, anxiety, addiction and/or suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 immediately. You can visit the website at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org for more local resources and information on where and how to get help.

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September 15
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#2213



tuesday nuggets


The ratings downturn from last Thursday's NFL opener didn't spill over to the weekend, where the number of overall viewers eventually finished on par with last year's opening weekend ratings.

There were some decreases on a city-by-city basis, but in general, the nation watched as much football on Thursday and Sunday this year as they did on opening weekend, 2019. I'm not really all that sure what to make of those numbers, but I'm certainly not surprised. The blowback from the social justice and equality "push" by the NFL definitely cut out a portion of the league's fan base, but it didn't add up to the kind of damage some thought it might.

It is fair to note, of course, that without attendance numbers to evaluate there's no real way of "seeing" whether the discontent has a tangible negative impact. We can't "see" ratings numbers and, honestly, I've never been a huge believer in ratings in the first place. But when you're in the stadium and you see empty pockets of seats, you can witness real evidence of who is there and who isn't.

I hear a lot of "I'm not watching any longer" and on the surface, I believe those folks. Whether or not they "come back" remains to be seen, but I tend to believe most people who pledge they're no longer going to watch the games. I wrote last week about my decision to not watch on Thursday as my own form of protest, if you will, but I was in front of the TV at 1:00 pm on Sunday ready to watch Ravens-Browns. I caught a bit of the first quarter of Rams-Cowboys on Sunday evening, but I didn't really watch much of the game. That was more because I was doing something else and less about "protest". The TV was on during the early game last night, but I only caught bits and pieces of Pittsburgh's fortunate win in New York.

For the most part, other than a calculated decision to not watch last Thursday night, my TV viewing habits didn't really change at all from 2019 to 2020. I watched the Ravens game (until the 4th quarter, when I ducked out early because the outcome was decided) and had the TV set on as "white noise" both Sunday night and Monday night. That's basically the way I always watch football. I'm just not into it enough to watch a regular season game from start to finish that doesn't involve the Ravens. But that has nothing at all to do with "protesting" or anything of that nature.


Those first week NFL impressions are hard to shake. Nothing was really all that shocking in week one, with the exception, perhaps of Tampa Bay getting run out of the gym in New Orleans and the Washington team beating Philadelphia. Other than that, it was standard week one stuff.

Aaron Rodgers and the revamped Green Bay offense hung up 43 points on the Vikings on Sunday in Minnesota.

The two New York teams are going to be lousy, again. The Giants got pushed and shoved all over the field in last night's 26-16 loss to the Steelers. The Jets were never in the game up in Buffalo on Sunday. A combined win total of 12 for those two teams? Seems highly unlikely.

The early returns on Cam Newton in New England were favorable. The biggest question with Newton, of course, will be his health over the 16-game season. If he stays healthy, New England should be able to win at least half their games, if not perhaps even nine or ten. But make no mistake about it, the dynasty of the Patriots is finished. They're on their way to being "just another team".

Green Bay's win in Minnesota was a good one, but that NFC North is a weird division. Minnesota could wind up going 5-1 in the division and posting an 11 or 12 win campaign (although I wouldn't bet on that happening). The Packers have to be feeling good about that kind of offensive output against a team with a solid defense -- and in Minnesota's stadium, no less.

Denver's going to stink, again. If not for Gostkowski missing four kicks last night, the Titans would have waltzed to a victory. I don't know what's happened to the Broncos. Wait, I do know. They don't have a real quarterback. They haven't had one since Peyton retired, if we're being honest. They're looking like a 5 or 6 win team out there, tops.

In Sunday's #DMD, we called the "Dud Game of The Week" to a tee. It took place in Cincinnati, where the Chargers and Bengals goofed around for 60 minutes and produced a 16-13 barnburner that featured a missed 31 yard field goal at the buzzer by Cincy kicker Randy Bullock. It says far more about the Chargers than the Bengals that Los Angeles was only able to pull out a 3-point win over Joe Burrow and Company. My guess? Cincy finishes with as many wins as the Chargers by season's end.

Atlanta getting throttled at home by Seattle might have been a surprise to some, but the Falcons have been bad for a while now, so any loss they absorb is no longer a shock. Their defense was supposedly "much improved" but it sure didn't look like it on Sunday. The Seahawks really roughed them up. It's certainly worth wondering if Matt Ryan is part of the long term problem in Atlanta. Yes, I know, he doesn't play defense. But Ryan hasn't been himself since the Falcons squandered that 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl. Something happened to him in the aftermath of that collapse. He -- and the entire organization -- have never recovered from losing that game and the title.

Expect the Ravens to clobber Houston on Sunday. By "clobber", I mean a double-digit win, perhaps something by 15 or 17 points. The Texans offense won't be able to score nearly enough to offset the point production of Lamar and the Baltimore offense. Another blowout on the horizon...


My personal stance on our national anthem issue hasn't changed...and won't change, ever. I believe you should stand for the national anthem. During a phone conversation with a friend on Monday, we both talked about standing for other country's national anthems when they are played prior to sporting events. To wit, I know for certain when I'm at a hockey game and the Canadian national anthem is played, I immediately stand up for it. It would never dawn on me to sit down while another country's anthem is played. That, I believe, would be disrespectful. Your mileage may vary on that subject but that's the way I've always been.

I believe NFL players have done a poor job of mixing their personal objections with the flag and the national anthem. Doing it "at work" seems to be a main point of contention from those who are not happy with the NFL's stance on the national anthem. That, of course, is hard to argue about. You couldn't go into work today with a racist slur on your tee-shirt, but you could wear that shirt in public if you were so inclined. I'm certainly not suggesting that wearing a t-shirt in public with a racist slur on it is acceptable. But you get the point. What you are allowed to do in public differs greatly with what you're allowed to do at work.

Why the NFL has allowed players to muddy the waters