Monday
February 17
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#2002



the story that just won't stop


As much as I want to get away from SignGate, the Astros, the media and the rest of baseball won't let that happen.

And the more I follow the story, the more amazed I become at how stupid a lot of the people involved show themselves to be on an almost daily basis.

I've read, watched or listened to almost every Astros player who has been willing to speak on the record about what happened in 2017.

Here's what stands out with each of those occasions: The players aren't really all that sad about damaging "the game we love" (as many of them describe it). They're not sad. They're mad. They're mad at Mike Fiers for spilling the beans on them. Nothing more than that.

It's sorta-kinda what happened to Colonel Nathan R. Jessup in A Few Good Men. He wasn't really all that sad about a "sub-standard marine" dying on his company's watch. He was far more mad that the men who served under him couldn't keep the "code red" a secret.

Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred says the Astros have been punished enough in the wake of their sign stealing scandal.

The Astros don't come across like a group of guys who really, truly understand the damage they've caused and the long-term stigma this will give themselves and their organization. Instead, they come across like a group of guys who feel poisoned by one of their own.

In some ways, this episode from 2017 (and 2018 and 2019...we'll get to that in a minute) is far worse than steroids, PEDs, pine tar on the neck and corking bats, which are all "tricks of the trade" that this nefarious group of so-called professionals have been using for decades.

At least with steroids, PEDs and pine tar, every player in baseball could have dabbled in those wrongdoings. In other words, as odd as it seems, every team could have benefitted from their scandalous players breaking the rules.

In the Astros case, while others around baseball might have also been utilizing an electronic sign-stealing scheme, it's obvious that not every opposing team they faced had the same advantage they had over the last three years.

And, yes, despite their claims, there's almost no doubt that the Astros were still using cameras and laptops in 2018 and 2019.

What? You think they won the World Series in 2017 and then suddenly felt shame and went to spring training in 2018 and said to one another, "OK, now, that was fun last year and all...but we have to go back on the straight and narrow this season and win the right way"?

Of course not. They started upgrading the cheating, I'd bet. That's where buzzers and other body-worn devices came into play.

This is all similar to Pete Rose's silly claim that he "only bet on the Reds" when he was gambling while serving as the team's manager. Yeah, sure, Pete. We believe you...

"We won the World Series in 2017 using an illegal sign-stealing scheme, then decided we didn't want to win like that any longer..." Yeah, sure. We believe you...

The real question through all of this, of course, is what kind of punishment do the players deserve? The GM and manager lost their job. The owner has fully embarrassed himself every time he talks about the whole ordeal. If baseball could fire him, they would.

But what of the players?

Commissioner Rob Manfred definitely cut a deal with them in order to learn all he could about the situation and publish his now famous "report". My guess is part of that agreement with the players is that he'd only focus on the 2017 season and would not pursue anything from 2018 or 2019. That's why Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve keep mentioning "the facts are in the report...and...the only year the Commissioner's report referred to was 2017."

So, because Manfred had to cut a deal, he has no real leverage remaining. The right thing to do would have been to strip the Astros of their title. As David Rosenfeld notes in his piece today, the Dodgers were the ones that couldn't win Game 7 at home in the 2017 World Series. But Houston won a lot of regular season and playoff games by virtue of their enhanced sign stealing scheme that year...it wasn't just the World Series victory that wound up being tainted.

The entire 2017 Astros season was tainted.

And this notion that "if you ain't cheatin' you ain't tryin'" is about the most idiotic response anyone could author in an effort to overlook the Astros' transgressions. If you write or say that -- as lots of knuckleheads have over the last three weeks -- you're condoning cheating. Period.

Just because someone didn't punish Gaylord Perry doesn't make it right to say "boys will be boys" when the Astros involve themselves in the worst team-related scandal since the Black Sox threw the World Series in 1919.

There is one other piece of business to settle. And it's called "self policing", which appears to be one of the ways current major leaguers are going to deal with the Astros in 2020. If self-policing includes throwing the ball at an Astros player in an attempt to even the score, those throwing the ball should immediately be suspended for 15 games.

The Commissioner is the officer in charge of remedy in this case. The players, as much as they want to believe they should arbitrate the punishment, are not in charge.

Throwing a baseball at someone is never the answer. It's not the answer after someone throws his bat aside after hitting a home run off of you. It's not the answer when you steal second base when your team is leading 10-2 in the 8th inning. And it's not the answer in the case of the Astros, either.

The answer would have been for Manfred to throw the book at the former 2017 World Series* champions right from the start. Once he negotiated his way out of the ability to do that, the story would never end.

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consider this

Cody Bellinger of the Dodgers, the reigning National League MVP, didn’t mince words at Spring Training when asked about those cheatin’ Astros. He said that Houston second baseman José Altuve “stole” the 2017 AL MVP award from the Yankees’ Aaron Judge, and that “everyone knows” the Astros stole the 2017 World Series against Bellinger’s Dodgers.

To which I say…Bellinger and others have every right to be upset at the Astros, to think that the team’s scripted apology day was pretty lame, and to believe that Houston continued their shenanigans the last two years as well. Like Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman said, the Astros likely gave themselves a “distinct advantage.”

While they might have stolen signs in a highly against-the-rules way, however, the Astros didn’t “steal” those achievements. They just didn’t. They happened, just like the banging on the trash cans happened.

Altuve and Judge are different players, and not just by the 13-inch height difference. Altuve gets on base a lot because he’s a good hitter, with just enough power to keep pitchers honest.

Judge is the quintessential modern power hitter, albeit one with a better batting eye than most. He strikes out 200 times every year and he hits home runs. It makes for an interesting choice when deciding on things like the MVP award.

Did Altuve win the MVP over Judge simply because the Astros defeated the Yankees in the ALCS in 2017, with every win in that series coming by the home team? I really doubt it. Both of them had a good series, but neither team really hit the ball well in general against the excellent pitching of their opponent.

As for the World Series, the Dodgers had Game 7 in their home ballpark, away from garbage cans apparently. Yu Darvish, not helped by his defense, couldn’t get out of the second inning. The Dodgers managed four hits in the first five innings. The Astros led big early, and like any good team took advantage.

The Astros won the World Series. The Dodgers had every chance to do so and lost. There’s no shame in that, of course, and there is some shame in cheating. But the results are what they are.


One of the first things Orioles’ manager Brandon Hyde did at Spring Training this past week was address his pitchers and catchers, just like every other manager did. Hyde told the Baltimore Sun that he wanted his returning pitchers to remember their struggles, and “know what that feels like and tell yourself that’s not going to happen anymore.”

Brandon Hyde is back for year two in Baltimore but the roster he starts with might be inferior to the one he inherited in 2019.

Those are good thoughts. A confident mentality is important for a pitcher. I’m not sure any of the Orioles’ pitchers are physically capable of taking that mentality and turning it into results, but I can’t blame Hyde for trying.

Considering the era of offensive baseball we’re in (I mean like home runs, not “offensive”), you could argue that the 2019 Orioles had the worst pitching performance in MLB history. At the plate, Hyde’s team performed more like a 70-win team, not a 54-win team.

On the mound, it was sometimes hard to believe Hyde’s team ever won a game, especially after trading Andrew Cashner away in mid-July.

The Orioles’ team ERA was 5.59, almost half a run worse than that of the Detroit Tigers, who actually won seven fewer games. The pitching staff (in)famously broke the record for most home runs allowed in a single season with an entire month left and allowed opponents to score 981 runs, a simply astonishing figure that’s hard to process even now.

Of course, it’s not like there hasn’t been turnover on the pitching staff since last year. 36 pitchers are in camp, and only 15 of them pitched for the team last year. Maybe a couple who weren’t on the staff last season can be productive. A guy like David Hess, who showed signs as a rookie, can’t possibly be as bad this year as he was in 2019, can he? We’ll see.

As mentioned often in this space, it’s hard for a terrible pitching staff to get better when playing 76 games a year against the American League East. At least Mookie Betts is no longer around to torment us.


Maryland scored the last 14 points of the game Saturday evening in East Lansing, beating Michigan State 67-60. The Terps made three-pointers on four consecutive possessions in the final three minutes, thanks to terrific dribble penetration by Darryl Morsell and Aaron Wiggins and some questionable defensive decisions by the Spartans. I had to go back and watch the end of the game again so I’d believe it really happened.

But you already knew all that from yesterday’s game recap from Dale Williams or from watching the game on television. The question to ask now is…how far can Maryland go before the NCAA tournament starts in mid-March?

Is it realistic to think that the Terps can win their final six regular-season games? Probabilities suggest that maybe it isn’t, especially since the win at Michigan State was already Maryland’s eighth in a row.

But the fact is that Maryland, which is 14-0 at home, plays three more home games they’ll be favored to win. That means the Terps have three more road games too, but they’ve just won four straight on the road, in a league where there have hardly been any road wins all season besides games at Nebraska and Northwestern.

One of the three road games is at Rutgers, whose 17-0 record at home this season is even better than Maryland’s 14-0 record. The others are at Ohio State and Minnesota. I won’t predict they’ll all be Maryland wins, but neither will I predict they’ll all be losses either.

After all that, is it realistic to think that the Terps can win the Big 10 Tournament? Certainly any of the top four seeds, the ones that would only have to win three games to do it, are the best bets. Right now, it would take a total collapse for Maryland to fall out of the top four.

As for NCAA tournament seeding, a No. 1 would be tough. The Terps may really need to win 17 games in a row entering the tournament to get one. And if they did that, they’d probably be the favorite to win it all.


A thought on 2,000 (and two) straight days of publishing at #DMD. There are lots of books and articles and blogs that tell writers (both aspiring and experienced) to develop a daily writing “habit.” Some people start doing that at a young age with a personal journal or diary. Others start much later with subjects that are less personal.

Here’s what I can tell you, though I can’t really speak for the person who actually has posted something 2,000 straight days here. It may or may not always have been great for you to have read the 200,000-or-so words I’ve posted here, but it’s been great for me.

Writers write. If a writer doesn’t write something every day, then it’s just a hobby, really. There’s no reason that I can’t write something every day, even if it has nothing to do with sports and isn’t published at #DMD or somewhere else.

Does writing every day make someone a great writer? Not necessarily. Is it a good way to be a more curious and thoughtful person? Absolutely.

I’ve learned quite a bit while doing this the last few years. I’ve done research and gained sports knowledge that I never would have known or looked for otherwise. I’ve reacted to current events in ways that I never had to before. I’ve gotten a much better sense of what readers are like, including the fact that many of you are more interested in talking to each other than I’d imagined.

There are hits and misses in 2,000 straight days of content. For this site specifically, there are certain sports realities. I groaned in early January even before the Ravens’ unfortunate loss to the Titans, wondering what in the world I was going to talk about once football season was over, especially considering how much there was to talk about during this particular season.

But something always seems to come up. A big reason for that? When you do this for 2,000 days in a row, you start to look at the world a little differently…and realize that almost anything could be the subject for a spirited discussion.

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#dmd comments


unitastoberry     February 17
The 1930 Philadelphia Phillies had a combined team ERA of 6.71 highest of all time per Answers.com. The 2019 Baltimore Orioles had a team ERA of 5.59. I know when many of you read that in the above article you where wondering if we where actually number one in something. Admit it

Delray RICK     February 17
DEAD LAST...WOW

Red Tee Golfer     February 16
@BTG - Yeah "Herman" hates all African Americans so much that he would turn the XFL on instead. I guess because there are no African Americans in the XFL?

The idiocy is strong here today.

Dan P.     February 16
Herman brings the hate and accusations on himself. He's been running this act here for 3 years now at least. If people think he's a racist that's because he's earned that. Just my 2 cents.

Some guy     February 16
Right on @JEFWEL. Seems to me, Herman dislikes Tigermania, not even sure he dislikes Tiger per se, but to Tigermaniacs, him not buying into Tigermania means he hates all African American golfers? Wow, just wow.

unitastoberry     February 16
So the vibe I'm getting from MLB is its ok to cheat. Then fire a few guys and fine the owner who blames it all on the employees he's not responsible for. Even "I love our guys" Buck is on the cheaters side.

Listen to this interview https://youtu.be/w4OKncAj_Ns he had on the YES radio network. Its a club and you aint in it. Don't be surprised if Hinch resurfaces in Baltimore in a year or so. Elias knows him pretty good. Personally my baseball rooting days have been destroyed since the Orioles irrelavance except for maybe 6 or 7 seasons the last 40 years.

jefwel     February 16
#blue tee; Since a certain poster does not like Tiger Woods, in your mind he hates all African Americans?



I think that says a whole lot more about your issues than his.

Joe Gilley     February 16
Hey Drew, just curious why you think overall interest in the Blast is down so much over the last 5-10 years?



Maybe a column on that subject some day soon?



I know a lot of people would be interested to know what you think.

Blue Tee Golfer     February 16
Can you imagine the nickname The Hateful One would come up with for HV3 if he wins today and gets the trophy from TW? Two African American men on the same TV screen would be too much for The Hateful One to stomach. He'd have to switch over to the XFL.

Chris in Bel Air     February 16
Sorry Altuve, I don’t believe you. Shame too because he has been one of my favorite current players in the game to watch. They have certainly placed baseball back in some bad light. I’m also curious when we will hear about the Red Sox or other teams. I also don’t understand all the talk from current players stating they will discipline the Astros players - presumably by plunking them. What does that mean? The first game of the season and then that’s it? Each opposing team gets a crack? So if the Os don’t play them until May do they still “discipline them”? Where does it end? If you don’t like what they did then beat them on the field and move on.

James     February 16
Thanks for the walk down Blast memory lane Drewski! Much appreciated. Those were the days.

Tom     February 16
Right you are "KM". The whole "Playful fist bump" thing is tired. You hate Tiger. We get it. Get a new nickname just to show us all you're creative enough to do it. I have never been much of a Tiger fan and I've found myself rooting for him just knowing how much crying Herman would do!

KM - Owings Mills     February 16
Longtime reader and DF supporter. First time diving in here on the comment part and I realize it might be a mistake. This note is for Herman. What you write might be considered more if you wouldn't stoop to the childish nicknames you use. If you can't write the words TIGER WOODS then it's hard for me to read your work and consider that your point or points might be valid. I am not a big golf fan so my opinion on the subject isn't nearly as keen as yours might be, but your inability to write his name out in full tells me you aren't looking to inform the reader. You're just looking to make sure everyone knows you aren't a fan of his. Just my thoughts. You should do better, as I tell my 16 year old son constantly.

HERMAN     February 16
Could it be possible that last year's Masters was Playful Fist Bump's "Jack '86" moment, and that we can only expect the continued decline that age demands moving forward? Lost in all the constant anticipation of "setting the record" for wins is that the last one was overseas against an abbreviated field. Perhaps his domination at The Memorial, or Bay Hill, or some return to Firestone could give him a temporary "horses for courses" possibility as he has just dominated at those venues. But I'd say those getting all juiced up over his record chase every week he is in the field should temper expectations. Golfers in their mid-40's just don't win very often on tour. Time and tide wait for no man, even the "great" Playful Fist Bump.

Delray RICK     February 16
So MESSIAH said his glutes. did not engage. WOW !!!

Eddie Kelly in Baltimore     February 16
Second what Robert Lenartavage said. Like reading this site, and hate having to endure chickenshit comments to get to the important ones. I've been reading this site for 2 years and like everything about it except the ridiculous and immature comments. Want those people to get a life.

Biff Cantrell     February 16
The comment clowns are what make this place worth clicking on multiple times during the day.

JohnInEssex     February 16
CONGRATS on 2,000 consecutive days Drew and Company! Read it EVERY DAY! KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!

Robert Lenortavage in Frederick     February 16
Sure would be nice if all the clowns who comment here under fake names would just go away and stop posting childish stuff. You really should moderate this section. Who could possibly care if “Red Belly Ed” thinks Tiger is going to shoot 67 or 76 on a particular day? And who only shows up again if he's right and changes his handle when he's wrong. Who cares if you said that a favored team was going to win? Or lose? Its a shame that low intellects dominate the rap here. There are so many good comments and its a shame we have to wade through what dummies post to get to them.

Blue Tee Golfer     February 15
Doing fine over here. Had a party today and we were watching all of Tiger's major wins and we got to 12 before midnight and everyone wanted to go home. Long day.

White tee golfer     February 15
Should we send some one over to Blue Tee's house to check on him??? Hope he's holding up ok

George     February 15
Congrats on 2,000. Thought the streak might end around 1.3 or 1.4K when DF came to NC with the CHC golf team a few years ago. Found him wandering aimlessly around RDU, zonked on painkillers for gall stones. I loaded him and his clubs into the car and we set out. As we circled endlessly down nine levels of the airport parking deck, Drew opened one eye and asked, “Are you sure this is the way to Pinehurst?” Was astounded to read a perfectly trenchant edition the next morning.

Chris in Bel Air     February 15
Congrats Drew. Amazing milestone. I’m looking forward to coming here for another 2000. Really enjoy the work from David and George as well.

Idiot Caller     February 15
Drew, congrats on 2000! Keep up he good work.

In other news, Tiger not looking very good at Riviera today. Can't wait to read the comments tomorrow!

HERMAN     February 15
I'm at a loss to understand the howls of condemnation on the Houston cheating scandal. Cheating has been a part of baseball forever. From moving foul polls or adjusting the home park to suit players' talents, to spit balls, a dab of grease under the cap, a sharpened belt buckle to groove a cut with which to grip a ball better, put more spin, to corked bats and all manner of sign stealing, cheating and baseball have gone together like mom and apple pie. I vaguely remember a pitcher being interrogated on the mound about a nail file and trying to casually drop it in the grass only to be caught on camera discarding the cheating evidence. He got tossed, everyone laughed.

It would appear that Houston just took the whole cheating thing to a highly elevated and technological level.

What's the difference?

If you laugh off a corked bat, or sharpened belt buckle as "boys will be boys" as writers and the general fan public has done for years then the Houston "scandal" shouldn't surprise. They brought a gun to a knife fight.

What do they say in auto racing, if you ain't cheatin' you ain't trying? With all the engine tweaks and design changes to subvert the "stock racing" rules?

Some organizations "cough cough Robert Kraft, Robert Kraft", you just know they'd cheat their own mother at cards if they had the chance.

As for the Houston scandal? Get over it, it's a logical extension from a little thumb grease under the bill of a cap.

And I do say congrats on 2000, it's a difficult proposition to create a site alone, much less one that is monetized and popular. Quite an achievement.

H     February 15
@Radiohead, when do you "pay" for sports talk radio?

Radiohead     February 15
Car dealers, roofers, finance guys, is this the new radio sponsor model, pay for the pleasure of being able to talk sports "on air"?? I'll stick to boring my friends with my opinions, doesn't cost me a thing lol!

Monk     February 15
2,000 is special......



Good work!



Bounced back NICELY after the boss pulled the plug on your and your family..........

That Guy     February 15
I don't listen every Friday either but I think Glenn/Drew together make for an entertaining combo. And I actually listened to the podcast with the Jerry's guy yesterday and thought it was very good. fwiw

Radio Guy     February 15
Don't want to turn this into a Glenn bashing thread but his "I am always right" act was old in 2013. I'm sure it's far worse now.

Tom     February 15
@The Bern must listen to a different show on Friday. Granted I don't catch them all but Glenn is the king of talking over people and shouting people down. He was that way on the air at WNST.



Congrats on No. 2000 Drew! I have been with you since the WNST days! Sat next to you at Free The Birds game and on a bus home from a Ravens-Steelers game. I aways enjoyed your insights.

Feel the Bern     February 15
I’ll pass on the podcast. I’ve listened to this blog host talk over Glenn and ruin his production on Facebook. Talking louder doesn’t make you smarter. It’s unlistenable.

Delray RICK     February 15
Reading paper this am and BALTIMORE big wigs taking turns going in and out prison. (Should be confinement house PC.

Josh     February 15
Congratulations on 2,000! Been here every day. Keep up the good work!!



@CJ- You are a God fearing man, lol

Pratt     February 15
Enjoy the site. Congrats on the longevity. IMO well deserved.

Fireball Roberts     February 15
As soon as I read the fourth sentence, I knew it was going to piss someone off. LOL. I guess CJ never carries cash. Congratulations on the milestone DF.

James - Dundak     February 15
I dont comment everyday , but I read the Dish & the comments everyday. And yes I have checked in everyday from places like Dublin ,London, South Bend In. Hawaii, Seattle ,San Francisco, of course Dundalk (Ireland & MD). Keep up the great work.

Rich     February 15
I'm sure there were "certain people" who both hoped you would fail back in August of 2014 and assumed you'd never get this far. Congrats on proving him wrong. I'm one of those (few?) who have checked in for all 2,000 days of The Dish. Keep on doing your thing Drew and best of luck to C. Hall golf this season.

Hal     February 15
Oh that first point in "Breakfast Bites" is intentionally thrown in the face of @CatonsvilleMike, right? "St. Joe blows 13 point lead in the last 4 minutes". Cruel, DF, just cruel.

Ron     February 15
@CJ, It was actually the 4th sentence not the 3rd. If that stops you from reading you're in sad shape my friend.

CJ     February 15
It only took you 3 sentences to mention God. Congratulations. I stopped reading at that point. Maybe you made a point in the rest of the blog but it misssed me unfortunately.

Mark in Perry Hall     February 15
Congrats on 2,000 consecutive days Drewski! That's quite a feat. Get Gehrig and Cal Jr. next !!!

Red tee golfer     February 14
So now "making the cut" is the bar?? LOLLOL

J.R.     February 14
Another cut made by the GOAT. Maybe this is the year he finally wins the Rivera tournament!!??

Delray RICK     February 14
Praise the Lord, MESSIAH looking BAD. HE HE HE

Chris     February 14
Baseball has had this odd, cozy relationship with gamesmanship (cheating, getting an edge, whatever you want to call it) for years. The 1951 Giants supposedly had an elaborate sign stealing system, Gaylord Perry thowing greaseballs/spitballs, Joe Niekro having an emory board flying out of his back pocket, corked bats by Albert Belle, Gregg Nettles, etal, PED use by multiple players (including Andy Pettitte who "only did it once"), the Astros and their trash cans and buzzers (allegedly), and on and on. It's almost as if it's woven into the fabric of the sport and becomes accepted behavior.



The one thing I have always wondered is how much does all of this really enhance on field performance? Barry Bonds was an amazing player from 1986 - 1997 (before PED's, allegedly). Would he have had the same type of stats from 1998 - 2007 if he had laid off the juice? We'll never know. The Astros play half of their games at away stadiums. In 2017 and 2018 they had more away wins than home wins (53 vs 48 in 2017 and 57 vs 46 in 2018). Makes me wonder how much their sign stealing really aided them. Is it really just a case of the team and players felling like they "need to have an edge" in order to feel comfortable? The results don't seem to indicate the cheating got them an advantage unless you believe they would have been even worse at home (which may be true).

John In Westminster     February 14
Right on, Forrester, with the classic golf call about not being able to do anything with a ball stuck in a bad lie. It's more surprising when the pros actually misplay the shot. More than likely, they stay on course for par or birdie.

RJ     February 14
Talk about LOL....@ Neutral says being a fan of a sports team means you idolize all the players?? Ok buddy. Then again, he is fine with insulting priests so.....

JohnInEssex     February 14
Saw an interview with Bob Costas who said there were at least EIGHT other MLB teams who had some sort of sign stealing system set up similar to the Astros. Why aren't they all unearthed too? Probably because that list includes the Red Sox and Yankees, and would make this all even uglier than it already is. Might that explain the Yankees bajillion home runs hit against the Orioles? Just let the Astros stay front and center and keep taking the hits for the SignGate. Like Rich Eisen said - this sign stealing is the ultimate PED. Chris Davis gets 40 games for PEDs and the whole Astros roster gets NOTHING....Rant over for now.... :O)

Neutral Observer     February 14
I laughed out loud at Father Tom. If "idolizing false gods" was frowned up there'd be 700 people in the football stadium every other Sunday instead of 70,000. No offense Father Tom but you might want to look for another profession.

Sunday
February 16
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#2001



sunday stuff...


Indoor soccer began in Baltimore back in 1980, when the Houston Summit moved to Charm City and renamed themselves the Blast. We have Blackpool, England native Kenny Cooper to thank for that one. He was tasked with finding a new home for the Blast and was scheduled to visit Baltimore first, then head north to check out the city of Boston.

Cooper never made it to Boston.

The Blast set up shop in Baltimore and started playing in November of 1980. 40 years later.......indoor soccer is still being played in Baltimore, although the venue changed a few years ago when the current franchise moved from the downtown Royal Farms Arena to the 4,000 facility on the campus of Towson University known these days as SECU Arena.

40 years after Kenny Cooper brought indoor soccer to Baltimore, they're still playing the pro game in Charm City.

I went to last night's Blast-Harrisburg game and bumped into some old friends. Mike Conway was a young East Baltimore soccer player back in 1992 when we first signed him to play for the Spirit, which was an entry in the NPSL after the MISL folded and we were in a legal hassle over using the Blast name. Mike would go on to later work in the front office with me and eventually moved up to the team's General Manager a year or so ago.

I also ran into Lance Johnson last night, a former Towson University soccer player that we drafted in 1993 and would go on to enjoy a successful career with the Spirit/Blast and later be added to the team's Hall of Fame roster.

And I spent some time chatting with Kevin Healey, who ran the Blast for 15 years or so after I departed in 1998 and is now the general manager of the Harrisburg team, where his son Pat, an outstanding player himself with the Blast for a decade, is now the Heat's head coach.

"40 years......." I said to Kevin as we stood in the concourse together at halftime.

"I know, it's amazing," Healey responded. "40 straight years without missing a season. No one can say the same thing in this country in soccer."

Indeed that is true. No city in the U.S. has featured a professional indoor soccer team playing in a professional league for 40 consecutive years except for Baltimore. I've lost track at exactly how many leagues have come through the city since 1980 but I'll give it a whirl: the original MISL, the MSL, the NPSL, the MISL (again), the NISL, the MISL (again x 2) and, now, the MASL, which, in case you don't know or care, stands for Major Arena Soccer League.

The crowds are down these days, a far cry from the zenith of the sport when 12,000 would jam the Baltimore Arena/Civic Center for Blast soccer, entertaining such great indoor players as Steve Zungul, Tatu, Keith Furphy, Tino Lettieri, Stan Terlecki, Branko Segota, Preki, Kai Haaskivi and 50 more that I don't have the time to list.

They had roughly 2,000 there last night to see the Blast beat Harrisburg in a big game, 7-4. While the 2,000 had a good time, it was disappointing to see an already small building only half full. The times have changed, unfortunately, and the hot ticket that once was isn't hot any longer.

But it was cool to catch up with three old friends and chat about the old days. All three of those men played vital roles in indoor soccer, in some way, from 1992 through 2018. One of them, Lance Johnson, is already a franchise Hall of Famer. The other two, Kevin Healey and Mike Conway, should be in the Hall of Fame someday. Without those two, that 40-year stretch of indoor soccer in Baltimore probably wouldn't still be intact.


Didn't see any of the Maryland game last night. Not one second of it. Because, as I noted above, I was at the Blast game. But here's precisely how it went for me.

I had a Google calendar update set on my phone and got instant scoring changes, so all I had to do was open my phone and look at the score.

I saw Maryland was up early, enjoyed a 14-point lead at one point, and by the next time I checked the score it was a close game in the 40's somewhere. "Michigan State wasn't going to get blown out on their home court," I mumbled to myself as I saw they had forged ahead 51-50.

Could Anthony Cowan be closing in on getting his jersey hung in the Xfinity Center rafters someday?

The next time I looked it was 60-53 with 3:25 remaining. This also happened to coincide with the end of the Blast game (both contests started at 6 pm) and the home team led in that one 6-4 but Harrisburg had pulled their goalie and was pressing to get back in the game.

The Blast goalkeeper threw the ball into the empty net for a goal to make it 7-4 with 30 seconds left and I grabbed the kids and headed for the exit.

Walking to my car, I checked my phone.

MD 67 - M St 60 (Final)

I actually stopped in my tracks.

"Come on Dad, keep walking, it's freezing," my son said.

I started walking again but refreshed my phone to try and get the score to come back up again. Surely that couldn't be right. My brain started doing the math. Maryland was down 60-53. They couldn't have won 67-60. That's a 14-0 run.

The phone refreshed and the score popped back up: MD 67 - M St 60 (Final).

Dale Williams will do his duty below as our outstanding basketball analyst, but I'll just say this: Back in early January or so, I didn't think this Maryland team was all that good. I said so. I didn't think they were lousy or anything, but I just didn't think had much under the hood. I was wrong. Big time wrong.

I still think they could run into a bad match-up in the NCAA tournament if they draw a high scoring, offensive minded team, because this Terps squad doesn't seem like one that can pour in points at a feverish pace, but they are playing great team basketball and defending the heck out of the half court game. There's no telling how far they might go. Last night's win over Michigan State proves that.


Even though Tiger won't win his 83rd career event today in Los Angeles, the golf might still be worth watching. The final group is a promoter's dream, with Rory McIlroy, Matt Kuchar and Adam Scott all tied for the lead at 10-under par.

Adam Scott doesn't have a PGA Tour win since March of 2016.

And then there's Harold Varner III one shot back at 9-under par. Varner is African American and seeking his first win on TOUR. It would be, quite obviously, a unique story line for Varner to win his first ever tournament and be handed the trophy by the tournament's host, Tiger Woods.

Editor's note: I had a very good fantasy team working its way up the DraftKings leaderboard yesterday until Ryan Palmer took six shots to get out of the bunker on a par-3 hole and made a "9" there. Thanks a lot, Ryan...

McIlroy was once the next fair haired boy on TOUR, winning four majors rather quickly before falling back to earth five years ago. He's still a great, great player, of course, having won last year's PLAYERS title and the FedEx championship as well. But he's been stuck on four majors since 2014 and still needs to win the Masters to complete the career grand slam. A win for him today would be a nice way to start that lead-in period to Augusta National in early April.

It's fitting that Adam Scott is in the hunt giving his Hollywood good looks and the tournament's venue in Los Angeles. Scott was also once "the next great thing" but still has just one major championship to his credit, the 2013 Masters. He has top 5 finishes in all of the other three majors, but hasn't been able to crack through at any of them. Unlike McIlroy, though, who has piled up PGA Tour and European Tour wins over the last five years, the Australian has just a handful of international wins since 2013 and hasn't won on the PGA Tour since 2016. He's had his chances, too.

If any of the final three could really use a win today it would be Scott. McIlroy's still great no matter what and the other guy, Matt Kuchar, won twice last season on TOUR. Scott really needs this one today.

Kuchar can win today and that would be great, but his career is still incomplete without that elusive major championship. He's had chances throughout his two decade career to snag one, but Kuchar hasn't ever pulled into the winner's circle at the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open or PGA. A victory today would be nice for his already-bulging bank account and would garner him some significant Olympic and Ryder Cup qualifying points, but the victory he wants the most is in Augusta, Georgia in two months time.

I'm rooting for Varner, personally, but certainly wouldn't mind seeing Adam Scott get the trophy at the end of the day, either.

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DALE WILLIAMS returns for his fifth season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2019-20 season.




a comeback for the ages


This team has heart!

Maryland squandered a 15-point first half lead, trailed by 7 points with only 3:25 left in the game, and yet the Terrapins managed to beat Michigan State last night in the Breslin Center by 7, 67-60.

After struggling to score throughout most of the second half, the Terps outscored the Spartans 14-0 during the last 3:25 of the game to secure the win. They were down 60-53 prior to the late run. Jalen Smith and Anthony Cowan combined to hit four three-pointers in just 2:30, and the entire team never stopped defending with ferocious energy.

As a result, Maryland secured a road win against a tough, and stunned, Spartan team.

A lot of the Turgeon critics have been silenced in recent weeks.

Three-point shots gave the Terps the early lead (5 were made in the first half), and it was the three pointer that enabled them to overcome the late 7-point deficit and win this game.

After going 0-10 from long range in the second half, the Terps hit their last four deep balls in a row to fashion a come from behind win. Jalen Smith hit the first, but it was Anthony Cowan’s clutch shooting that put Maryland over the top when he nailed three bombs in a row in just under two minutes.

Cowan finished with 24 points and Jalen Smith added 17 points and 10 rebounds.

At halftime, Maryland held a 22-12 rebounding advantage, a big advantage on three-point shots made (5-1), and a 39-31 lead on the scoreboard. Xavier Tillman (13) and Cassius Winston (9) had accounted for 22 of the 31 Spartan points.

Maryland’s defense excelled early on, and they got 7 big points from Eric Ayala, but the momentum at the half switched to Michigan State’s side when they scored 7 straight points to cut a 15-point deficit down to 8. The momentum had shifted, and even though the Terps held the 8-point intermission lead, you could sense the confidence in the green and white and a bit of panic with Maryland.

The second half continued much where the first half left off. Maryland struggled to score and Michigan State chipped away at the lead. The Spartans finally forged ahead when Cassius Winston made a three pointer with 7:32 left in the game. Things really looked bleak for the Terps.

Michigan State would gradually push their lead to 7, but then their scoring stopped and it was all Terps, and long-range bombs from that point on.

Maryland made Michigan State work hard for every bucket. At times the Terp half court ball pressure was stifling. They raced to loose balls and dominated the glass in the first half. However, MSU was able to turn the rebounding tables in the second half when they out rebounded Maryland 22-13. Tom Izzo must have given them a stern pep talk.

I’ll go on record as saying that the three-pointer is way too influential in college basketball. It’s ruined the pro game for me.

It’s a shot that yields up to 50% more points than a shot inside the three-point line, but it’s not 50% more difficult than the closer shot. It’s too influential, but the NCAA and the fans, enjoy the equalization that the shot can provide.

Earl Weaver preached pitching, defense, and three run homers. Last night, Maryland played outstanding defense, and hit enough timely three-point home runs to ruin Michigan State’s hope for a quality home win.

Michigan State did a nice job defending Cowan for much of the second half. This left Eric Ayala open for 13 shot attempts, He scored 7 times in the first half, but only managed to hit 1 shot in the second. He shot just 4-13, so I guess the strategy was successful.

I couldn’t notice any significant changes for Maryland, defensively, between the first half and the second. Michigan’s splits were 31 points in the first half and 29 in the second. Pretty consistent.

Offensively, with MSU’s concentrated effort on stopping Cowan, I thought Maryland did a nice job running sets for Smith and he responded with several assisted layups. Both teams played tough defense, but Maryland just made more critical shots, especially late in the game.

Sparty will get their chance to avenge last night's home collapse when these teams meet again in two weeks back at College Park.

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Saturday
February 15
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2000



lou, we're coming for you next!


As you can see above, today marks the 2,000th consecutive day of publishing here at #DMD.

I'm not much for milestones. Looking forward is always more productive than looking back, but 2,000 days in a row is pretty wild to sit back and reflect upon.

Tony Young got me started with #DMD about five hours after we all got canned at the radio station. He was the guy who built the first website for me and made me go live on Monday, August 25, 2014 when I had little idea what this would or could become.

I'm sure I'm going to miss a location, somehow, but by God's grace and the computer wisdom of my friend George McDowell, who built me a mobile server way back when, we've been able to publish #DMD from a lot of different places since August 25, 2014.

Baltimore, Hagerstown, Ocean City, Deep Creek Lake, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Foxborough, Myrtle Beach, Washington DC, Hot Springs VA, New York City, Plainfield NJ, Pinehurst NC, West Palm Beach FL, Raleigh NC, Durham NC, Kiawah Island SC, Nashville, Phoenix, Pebble Beach CA, London, Atlanta...I *think* that's everywhere we've hit "publish" from over the last five-plus years.

So, next up is something symbolic, from a sports standpoint anyway. We're gunning to go 2,131 days in a row and surpass the games played streak of the great Lou Gehrig. If we're able to reach that number sometime in early July, then -- and only then -- will we even *think* about Cal Jr.'s all time record!

We're channeling our inner-Ripken here, I guess, but I can say that we didn't start out with the hope or goal of publishing 2,000 consecutive editions here. It's just happened that way. I've published in the middle of a kidney stone attack in Pinehurst, during more gout outbreaks than I care to remember and I've published in the middle of an overnight cardiac evaluation at GMBC. I hit "send" minutes before taking off from Dulles airport en route to London for the Ravens-Jaguars game. We've published on Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. On any of those days, I suppose it would have been just fine to say, "Taking a day off today, see you back here tomorrow"......but we just never did. I can't explain it. Here we are at 2,000 days and counting.

Isn't there a Johnny Cash song about this? "I've Been Everywhere".

I haven't been everywhere. No one has, actually. But we've published from a lot of different places, that's for certain.

Anyway...I don't know how many people have checked in for all 2,000 days thus far, but thank for visiting here no matter your frequency. I hope we've become part of your daily routine in some small way.


Carroll County Public Schools voted on and approved a new high school athlete transfer rule last night. It now reads that no CCPS varsity athlete can switch schools and play the same sport without sitting out one year of competition. The rule does not apply to JV athletes or students without varsity level experience.

This rule, of course, is in place to serve as a potential "game changer" in terms of transferring within the CCPS. If after two outstanding years as a varsity football player at CCPS "A", you can't finish out your sophomore year and then skip over to play your junior year at CCPS "B". You can go to school as a junior a CCPS "B" and you can even practice and participate in all athletic activities with CCPS "B", but you can't play in any games with them until your senior year.

Oh, and in case you're wondering......this exact rule already exists within the MIAA. A Calvert Hall rugby player can't play his sophomore year on the varsity team and then transfer to Gilman and play his junior year of rugby over there. He could play rugby if Calvert Hall discontinued rugby. And he can play soccer or baseball or golf at Gilman as a junior. But he couldn't play rugby again until he sat out one year.

This was good news from Carroll County on Friday.


Tony Kemp was called up by the Astros in September of 2017 and was asked directly, if he wanted to participate in the sign stealing scheme. Kemp said "no thanks".

Kemp, now with the Oakland A's, was a rookie in 2017 who had enjoyed a productive minor league season at the Triple A level.

"Once I got called up, I just felt like I was going to trust my abilities up there," he said. "I just didn't want any distractions."

Imagine being that guy...

The varsity players tell you about this new drink they're all drinking before a game that makes you hit the ball better and you say, "No thanks, I'm good."

Now they know you're not willing to go to the dark side with them. How can they trust you as a teammate? Do they worry that you're going to someday spill the beans on them? How do you go along every day and know what's happening and not be distracted in some way?

I noted yesterday that some national writer penned a piece that essentially said, "I'm going to keep riding the Astros until one of the prominent parties in the whole sign stealing scheme openly uses the word "cheated" in a direct attributable quote."

Boy, you talk about dying on a hill.

We need to hear them say "cheated" for what reason? Just to force it out of them? Will it make them feel any differently at all? Worse about themselves? Will it feel like, finally, the media and fans won and the Astros lost?

The only way the players lose is if Rob Manfred punishes them, somehow. And it would appear he granted most of them immunity in exchange for having them participate in his initial investigation. So, punishing them now might not actually be permitted.

I don't think the Astros are going to say "we cheated". But we all know they did and we know that they know that we know, too. That's good enough for me.


Barring a stirring weekend comeback, Tiger Woods won't win at Riviera CC this weekend, making him 0-fer, still, at the iconic track in Los Angeles. Matt Kuchar leads at 9-under par while Woods rests at even par after rounds of 69-73 to start the tournament.

But that wasn't the biggest news to come out of L.A. on Friday. Woods and three other prominent American players who could use the free Olympic qualifying points available at next week's WGC event in Mexico City have elected NOT to play down there. Woods, Brooks Koepka, Rickie Fowler and Patrick Cantlay each failed to sign up by last night's deadline. International players in need of Olympic qualifying points who also missed the deadline included Justin Rose (England), Jason Day (Australia) and Henrik Stenson (Sweden).

It's a horses-for-courses thing, apparently. Just like Woods has never fared well at Riviera, most of those skipping Mexico City haven't scored well at Club de Golf Chapultepec.

Koepka’s record at Club de Golf Chapultepec is dismal: He hasn't finished better than 27th in two appearances, and he’s playing the following week at his hometown Honda Classic.

Fowler has never cracked the top 15 in Mexico City, either, and as a past champion he’s already signed up for Honda, in addition to Bay Hill and The Players that all come around within a month's time.

Rose? Never better than 37th in Mexico City, and he skipped in 2019, too.

More and more these days, the best players in the world simply pick and choose where they play, even when valuable "free" Olympic points are on the line.

My guess is guys like Koepka and Cantlay and the rest of them just assume they'll win once or twice between now and late June and that will take care of their Olympic qualifying quest. They're not forced to play in Mexico City. They'll just win somewhere else in the next few months.

Wins wise, there's only one thing Tiger hasn't done in his career: He doesn't yet have an Olympic medal of any kind, mostly because golf was just added as an Olympic sport in 2016. If it's important to him to play in Tokyo this summer, skipping the Mexico City event is an odd way of showing it.


a new #dmd podcast


Bill Bolander of Jerry's Toyota sits down with me this week to discuss the Ravens, the Terps and the benefits of leasing a vehicle. I learned a lot in this one, myself. I learned Bill knows plenty about the Terps and I definitely discovered that I should be a leasing a new vehicle soon instead of buying one.

Check out my conversation with Bill Bolander below.



#DMD PODCAST


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DALE WILLIAMS returns for his fifth season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2019-20 season.



terps face huge test tonight in east lansing


With Michigan State now occupying third place in the Big Ten and no longer part of the top 25 national rankings after being the preseason #1, you might think this team isn’t one of Tom Izzo’s better teams.

Don’t believe that. This Sparty team is good. They might not be Final Four good, but they are good.

Every Spartan home conference win this year has been by double digits. Other than their recent home loss to Penn State, they really haven’t been challenged at home in their conference games.

In order to beat Michigan State in East Lansing, Penn State needed a special night by Myreon Jones (6-8 shooting threes) and a big night forcing turnovers. Two things at which the Terps don’t excel, unfortunately.

It's almost unthinkable that Tom Izzo and his Spartans would lose two straight home games.

I think the Spartans are a tough matchup for Maryland. Coach Izzo has used a variety of starting lineups lately, but I’ll take a shot at the likely starting matchups for tonight's game (6:00 pm tip off).

Cassius Winston is the best point guard in the league. He can slash and he can shoot from beyond the three-point line He’s a four-year player and the heart and soul of their team.

Winston leads them in scoring with over 18 points a game and also dishes out a team high 5.7 assists per game. The Winston – Anthony Cowan battle will be fun to watch and go a long way in determining the outcome of today’s game. Michigan State can still win even if Maryland can limit Winston’s scoring, but the Terps have little shot for victory if Cowan doesn’t put up big points himself to counter the expected production from Winston.

The next likely matchup involves Eric Ayala and Rocket Watts. Watts is a smaller guard, at 6’2”, but staying in front of him will be a real problem for Ayala. Watts is a relative newcomer to the starting lineup, but he can provide an offensive lift whenever he’s on the court. He’s not a deep threat (29% from three), but he’s good at getting into the paint and making things happen. It’s another good matchup, but in this game they pretty much all are.

At the three-spot, Izzo will start Aaron Henry. Henry shoots it really well from the outside (38%) and is an athletic defender with his 6’6” 210-pound frame. He’s a natural matchup with Maryland’s Darryl Morsell. He may not be the defender that Morsell is, but he’s more versatile offensively. I see this fight as a draw.

The small forward starter could come from any one of three players. Gabe Brown and Malik Hall have amassed the most minutes there, but a guy that only gets 12 minutes a game could come up big for Michigan State, literally.

If Izzo chooses to give significant court time to Marcus Bingham Jr, the matchups under the basket greatly favor the Spartans. Bingham’s body is almost a carbon copy of Maryland’s Jalen Smith. Like Smith, Bingham is a lanky 225 pounder, but he’s not nearly as skilled as Smith. However, at 6’11”, he could be a problem for Donta Scott, Ricky Lindo, or anyone else Maryland puts on him. Regardless of who plays the four spot for Michigan State (including Kyle Ahrens), they are winning that battle.

Perhaps even more important than the point guard battle, is the big man battle between Smith and Xavier Tillman.

Defensively for the Terps, I think this is the most important duel on the court. Winston will get his points because he is just really good, but limiting Tillman spells success for Marc Turgeon’s Terps. Only once this year have the Spartans lost a Big Ten Game where Tillman scored in double digits.

If you look at the box score at the conclusion of this game and see that Tillman has 12 or more points, his Spartans will have won the game.

From a team perspective, I’m sure Maryland’s recent practices have focused intensely on transition defense and rebounding. Runouts and second chance points are a trademark of Tom Izzo teams. It’s where Tillman will beat you too. Michigan State's rebounding stats are the best in the Big Ten, overall, and Maryland can’t allow themselves to get man-handled on the glass.

Not only are the Spartan rebounding stats superior to Maryland’s but Michigan State is better than Maryland in most of the Big Ten statistical categories. They are a good all-around team playing a big game for them.

I have questions about this game. Can Smith stop Tillman? Which Anthony Cowan will we see? Can Maryland compete at the small forward position? Will Michigan State lose back-to-back conference home games after losing to Penn State the last time they played in East Lansing?

Again, this is a tough matchup for Maryland. They can really distinguish themselves with a win here today, but I think it’s a bit too tough a task.

Maryland is a good defensive team, but a poor shooting team.

The Terps' rebounding is average. Michigan State has better rebounding, defensive, and shooting numbers than the Terps.

The Spartans are home, so you can’t expect Maryland to gain a huge advantage with their excellent foul shooting abilities.

It wouldn’t surprise me to see Jalen Smith pick up a few early fouls. Tillman will get 15, Winston will provide 20, and MSU will force Terp turnovers. It will take a major shooting percentage upgrade for the Terps to hang with Sparty and pull off the upset today.

And shooting accuracy on the road hasn’t been Maryland’s strong suit. Michigan State is a 6-point favorite on the early line. It another situation where an unranked home favorite is playing a top ten team. That almost never goes well for the visiting team....Michigan State wins by 9, 76-67.

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Friday
February 14
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1999



things i love in sports


This isn't a complete list and some of my affections are quirky, but here are some Valentine's Day loves of mine.

Please don't ask for an explanation...in most cases, I don't have one.

I love a three point shot that banks in off the backboard and swishes. I especially think it's cool when it's clearly an accidental shot attempt or something that is thrown up to beat the shot clock.

I love the hockey tip in and not just because T.J. Oshie authored one last night 2:04 remaining in Colorado that gave the Caps a 3-2 win. There's just something about a guy standing in front of the net and gently nipping at the puck that is more like art to me than a 50-foot slapshot at 110 mph. Tom Wilson also had one last night, it's worth mentioning. Hockey tip-ins are the best.

Go get 'em Skipper!!

I love when Jim Palmer calls what's going to happen and then it does happen. "You know, Gary, if they put Villar on here, they'll have to hold him at first base with a one run lead, which means the gap between first and second is about 15 feet wider. That would open things up for Mancini to punch one into right field, which, as we saw in that Boston series last week, he's pretty adept at doing when the circumstances call for it." Villar walks...and on a 1-1 pitch, Mancini pokes one between first and second, just like 'Cakes said he might.

I love hearing the TV announcer say, "This ball is buried, I can't see any way he can hit the green from here" and then seeing a PGA Tour player gouge it out of there to 15 feet. The late, great Bob Rosburg was famous for authoring that line. "What's he have, Bob?" "Oh, Roger, this is awful. I've been out here all week and this is by far the worst lie I've seen in the rough. I almost stepped on the ball walking past it. If Tiger can get this out to within 50 yards of the green he'll be lucky." Moments later, Tiger blasts it out to within 15 feet of the hole. "I can't believe what I just saw," Rosburg would then say.

I love seeing the manager kick dirt on the umpire's shoes. It doesn't happen all that much these days, but it was an Earl Weaver special way back then. When a manager beefs with the ump and all he does is yell, we're missing the best part of it all. I mean, we can "see" it, but we can't hear what's being said...and we know that alone would be worth the price of admission. But seeing the manager kick dirt on the ump's shoes is the visual treat we need. It's harmless, obviously, but it's so over the line you know the manager is getting tossed. And he's OK with that. "If I'm going to get thrown out, you're at least going to have dirty shoes..."

I love being the first group or two on the course when it's immaculate and the greens are freshly cut and untouched by other players. Sure, it's easier to putt, but even more so, there's just something very settling about putting on fresh greens. No one else has been on them yet today. They don't have "missed putts" in them already. They're brand new, with no bad memories seeded in them from other players coming along and scraping their feet or missing a 2-foot putt and cursing the greens. Uncursed greens react better for everyone than do cursed greens. I'm pretty sure that's a fact. Don't curse at the greens. It makes life miserable for everyone else that follows you that day.

I love watching the snap, hold and kick in a football game. There really is an art to that. The timing of it all is nearly flawless. The snapper has one job, but he has to be almost perfect. The holder has one job, but he has to be almost perfect. The kicker has one job, but he has to be almost perfect. If any of those three efforts are "off", the kick is generally not made. There's precision, science, art and mechanics, all wrapped in one two-and-a-half second event.

I love the smell of new ice at an ice rink. You know, the one the Zamboni machine creates when it cleans the ice and lays down a new, fresh sheet. It's one of the greatest "clean" smells you'll find anywhere. In between periods of a hockey game, you duck out for a bathroom break and a refreshment. When you walk back to your seats, it's the first thing that hits you as you go from the concourse to the seating area. "That smell"...wow, it's glorious.


a new #dmd podcast


Bill Bolander of Jerry's Toyota sits down with me this week to discuss the Ravens, the Terps and the benefits of leasing a vehicle. I learned a lot in this one, myself. I learned Bill knows plenty about the Terps and I definitely discovered that I should be a leasing a new vehicle soon instead of buying one.

Check out my conversation with Bill Bolander below.



#DMD PODCAST


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stop talking and stop caring


The Houston Astros had their day in the sun on Thursday and, for the most part, it didn't go well.

In an attempt to get everyone to start the process of forgetting that the Astros cheated to win the 2017 World Series, the players who are still around from that team met the media to discuss, openly, what happened and how regretful they are that they were a part of it.

Instead of helping people forget...they poured more gasoline on the fire.

Owner Jim Crane was the worst of them, stumbling and bumbling through a 30-minute explanation at the team's spring training headquarters in West Palm Beach, Florida. Crane said so many dumb things I won't list them all here, but the two biggest eye openers were these:

"I shouldn't be held accountable for the actions of my employees."

"Our opinion is that this didn't impact the game."

These guys were having fun then...not so much now!

Other Astros talked openly about "SignGate" and nearly all of them said something dumb at least once or twice in the Q & A with the media. Carlos Correra was one of the few who came clean and understood the situation entirely.

"It was definitely an advantage for us," said Correra.

Of course it was an advantage. It turned out to be such an advantage that the Astros -- loaded with talent already, it's fair to point out -- were able to use their sign stealing talents to edge themselves past everyone they faced in the playoffs, including the Dodgers in the World Series.

The only person dumb enough to not believe the whole episode created an advantage for the Astros was the owner.

Everyone else knows.

The media, naturally, tore into Crane on Thursday. They sniped at certain players, too, like Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve, both of whom met with the media yesterday but didn't come close to authoring any sort of full, open admission of guilt or a lengthy, tears-welling-in-the-eyes apology.

We do this a lot. Athlete makes mistake. We demand apology. Athlete's apology isn't "good enough" for us, so we demand something better. Nothing better comes along, so we say they're not willing to take ownership of their ways.

The Astros cheated. To suggest they didn't is just you being dumb or protective of them. No other evidence is needed. This case is settled. The Astros cheated.

In the same way they should stop talking now, because it's not helping their case, we can now stop worrying about it, because they've said what they said and it's clear they just.....don't.....get it.

And, really, what more could the Astros say that would us feel any better?

I can't think of anything myself.

I mean, if Jose Altuve stood up there yesterday and broke down in tears and went into great detail about his sorrow and how much he knows this impacted careers and records and young players learning the sport he loves, would it change anything at all? It might be nice to hear, but nothing really changes.

We're best served to let it go now.

And by "we're best served", I'm talking about the media, the fans, and everyone with a Twitter or social media account. You can continue to pile on if you like, but in the same way the Astros are no longer serving a purpose with their lukewarm apologies, those of us on the outside aren't changing anything by hammering away at them.

The Astros cheated and got caught. The person responsible for punishing them is Commissioner Rob Manfred. We don't have that authority, which is actually something the Astros should be happy about. I do believe the court of public opinion would be harder on the Astros than Manfred has been thus far.

My advice to the Astros is to shut up about it now. They have a long season of baseball ahead of them and 17 different cities to visit over the next seven months. They can't keep doing this Apology Tour from now until September. Like it or not, deserved or not, they are public enemy #1, baseball wise.

And my advice to the rest of us? Let it go now. They know that we know...and they know we won't forget about it, too.

But there's no reason to continue trying to make the Astros see something they clearly don't want to see.

They should stop talking now. And we should stop caring. The Astros are guilty and that's that. Nothing else needs said.

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valentine's day reminder!


Men, today is Valentine's Day, in case you didn't know. Most men -- studies show -- are huge procrastinators. Today's your last chance.

We're doing our part here to keep you in good graces with that significant other in your life. We don't want you getting the cold shoulder when you forget that this Friday is an important day!

Get your Valentine's Day purchase out of the way today by shopping at Flowers and Fancies.

For those men (and our female readers, too, Valentine's Day works both ways!) who are looking for something to give to their wife, girlfriend or significant other or family member this Friday, please consider using our friends at "Flowers and Fancies". They're a local company owned by longtime Baltimore florist Edddie Wingrat. Not only will they put together the best flower arrangement you can find, you can also purchase "fancies" from them like balloons, fruit baskets and much more.

You can visit their website by clicking here. There's also an ad on directly below that will take you there. We'd prefer you use the ad simply because it will best allow us to track our results, but either way works just fine.

Get your Valentine's Day obligations taken care of today by visiting the Flowers and Fancies website. You can also reach them by phone at 410-653-0600. Please tell them you're a Drew's Morning Dish reader!

And....men....don't procrastinate! Get it done now!


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Thursday
February 13
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1998



what's baseball thinking?


In case you haven't noticed this week, Major League Baseball is considering some significant changes in the very near future.

I think most of them are dumb.

Before we even look at the idea of the DH in the National League, expanded playoffs, and choosing your playoff opponent, I'd love to ask baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred this question:

"Why do you think these changes are necessary?"

Baseball's potential new playoff format might mean we get to see Mike Trout play more October baseball than we have in the past.

I'd love to hear his answer...because I think that would give us a look into his mindset and the others who have their fingerprints on these proposed changes for 2022.

The league announced yesterday that a few changes will be implemented in spring training (starting on March 12) and will carry over into the regular season. These are not the ones I'm referring to above, remember. The one we'll know as the "3 batter rule" is perhaps the biggest game changer. A starter or relief pitcher must now face a minimum of three batters unless the inning ends. This one mostly impacts the LOOGY (left handed, one-out guy) in late game situations, but it could potentially also factor into a team's decision to go with the starter by committee idea that was used frequently in 2019. Relief pitchers -- as they were -- will now have to be better equipped to throw 25 or more pitches on consecutive days.

There are some other nitpicky changes for 2020; 20 seconds to challenge a call instead of 30 and back to the 15-day injured list instead of 10, but the 3-batter minimum is the big one. I don't know if I'm going to like that rule or not. I don't think it's dumb...I just don't know if I like it. Yet.

But the ones on the table for 2022 -- two of those are really dumb.

I don't mind the designated hitter in both leagues. It was always inevitable, I guess, even though it took four decades to finally happen. There's always been a healthy debate about which league is "better" but I think it's obvious that only having half of the teams use a DH is sort of useless. Either all 30 teams use it or zero teams use it.

The other two rules don't make much sense.

Instead of the current five team playoff format (three division winners and two wild card teams who play a best of 1), the proposal calls for 7 teams in each league to qualify for the post-season. The three division winners would still make it, obviously, along with four wild card teams. I'm assuming the thought process there is more playoff teams keeps the regular season important, longer, and increases the chances of bigger TV markets making it into the post-season.

It also increases the chances that an 83-79 team could sneak into the post-season and win the World Series. St. Louis did that once recently, if I remember it right, but they won their division at least. Under the new format, the Red Sox -- at 84-78 in the regular season -- would have made the playoffs last season. Winning six more games than you lose (over 162 games) shouldn't qualify you for the playoffs, in my opinion, but it occasionally does now. In the future 84 or 85 wins will almost guarantee that you make the post-season.

One national media member says baseball is trying to do everything it can to get Mike Trout and Aaron Judge into the playoffs more often. I see that logic but can't imagine that's what's really going on behind the scenes.

I thought the playoffs were supposed to be a reward for outstanding overall play over a 162-game season. 84-78 isn't "outstanding".

Honestly, I thought three division winners and one wild card team making the playoffs was just fine. Those were the old days, of course.

But I'd sign off on 7 teams making the playoffs WWWAAAAYYYY before I'd ever even think about adopting the other dumb rule: The top team in each league gets a first-round bye. I'm all for that. Now it gets weird. The next two division winners and the wild card team with the best record host all three games (best of 3) against a team of THEIR CHOOSING among the remaining three wild card teams. Yes, you read that right. You get to pick the team you play in the playoffs. It might make for good smack talk and internet chiding among fans, but it's a dumb idea.

Little League baseball has often used a first half/second half theme for their schedule. The team with the best record in the first 12 games is automatically in the playoffs and the team with the best record in the second half is also automatically in. I like that idea better than the 7 teams getting in.

Simply play an 81-game "first half" and give the three division winners of the first half a playoff spot. Then do it again in the second half. Add one "wild card" team if you want and base that on the entire season's record and you'd always have a minimum of four teams in the playoffs and a max of seven.

The baseball season is entirely too long. We all know that. If I ran MLB, the schedule would be 130 games. We can fight in court about contracts and money and all that other stuff but the season would be 130 games. Adding playoff teams and best of 3 series' and all that other stuff is only going to push the start of the season up. If these new rules get adopted, you might see a March 20 starting date for regular season games in 2022. March 20 in Tampa or Atlanta or Los Angeles? That's fine. March 20 in New York, Detroit, Cleveland, Chicago? Not so fine.

Baseball would be smart to let everyone in on their secrets. We might be able to tolerate some of these radical changes if we knew why they were being considered.

One national writer suggested the main theory behind it is to keep teams from tanking or going through these massive five-year rebuilding programs where everyone in the league knows those teams aren't trying to win.

Rather than disrupt the playoff format, how about just do this: You are only allowed a Top 5 draft pick twice in a four year period. Once you've used two picks within the top five in a four-year period, you move to sixth in the first round order for the next draft. You could have a situation where two or three teams get moved to 6th, 7th and 8th and teams that would have been picking four, five and six now get moved up to first, second and third. But I like that idea better than re-arranging the playoff format to help persuade teams to get better more quickly.

If it were up to me, I'd keep the playoff format as is and simply make the wild card "game" a best of 3 series. If we're all going to agree that 162 games is too long, I think we'd also agree that it's too long to allow one game or one manager falling asleep in the dugout in extra innings to have your season end with one swing of the bat.

Baseball has one other problem. Most of the country is glued into what's happening from about mid-May through the end of August. Once football begins and more than half the teams are already out of the baseball playoff picture, national interest declines. Baseball's biggest post-season obstacle is football.

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"The Keen Eye" of
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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.


pretty good for valentine’s day


This is the best Maryland basketball team since the 2009-10 squad tied Duke for the ACC regular-season title and came within a sort-of-lucky buzzer beater by Michigan State’s Korie Lucious of reaching the Sweet 16.

*Yeah, I know that Nebraska game was a close one. Hey, a win’s a win.

From the standpoint of “efficiency,” if you want to look at it that way, none of Mark Turgeon’s previous teams has been close to this year’s group. Maryland’s KenPom ranking is 10; in the last five seasons, four of which have ended in the NCAA tournament, the high was just 22. That was the 2015-16 team, which was supposed to be great but was really just pretty good, reaching the Sweet 16 by barely beating noted powerhouses South Dakota State and Hawaii.

You get to the Top 10 by having a decent balance of offense and defense (in Maryland’s case, tilted more toward defense) while playing a good schedule. It became abundantly clear early on that almost every Big Ten win would be a good win this season. Meanwhile, blowout victories against Rhode Island and Marquette keep getting better as the season goes on. Even close wins against Temple and Harvard look pretty good.

As poorly as Maryland played in road losses to Penn State and Iowa in conference play and Seton Hall out-of-conference, those teams are on their way to high NCAA tournament seeds. If the Terps had hung on in the final 15 seconds against Wisconsin in Madison, their résumé wouldn’t even have any minor blemishes.

The Mark Turgeon critics have been silenced this season as the Terps roll into mid-March as a potential 2 or 3 seed in this year's NCAA tournament.

In those “Bubble Watches” that started to appear online in early February, the Terps have already surpassed “should be in” and are a “lock.” There’s nothing to discuss, apparently. What does all this mean, besides a No. 3 seed in the first NCAA tournament committee preliminary ranking that was obsolete the next day? Nothing, actually.

Maryland has seven games left. All but one of them is an “A” game, or a “Quad 1” opponent to say it another way. And the one that isn’t is Northwestern, which was beating the Terps by 14 points at halftime a few weeks ago in Evanston, you may remember.

So, 10 wins in a great conference and 20 wins overall by February 11 is really good. The Terps hold a one-game conference lead. If Maryland simply wins the rest of its home games and can win one game on the road, there’s a good chance they’ll win the regular-season title. And that’s nice…

But even if the Terps continue to play well the rest of the month, and maybe end up with the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament, they’re still going to be judged on how they play, and for how long they play, in Indianapolis. Even if they end up with a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament, they’ll be judged on how long they play in that tournament, and a No. 2 seed ought to win at least two games, and if they lose the third it sure shouldn’t be a blowout.

That’s the way every team gets judged when they play well enough to get a high seed, not just Maryland. And that’s the way it’ll be this year, even though it’s already pretty clear that this is Mark Turgeon’s best team.

This team is more “efficient,” and thus better, for a few reasons. A big one is turnovers, or a lack thereof. No matter how talented Turgeon’s teams have been, or how many games they’ve won, they’ve almost always ranked among the worst teams in the country in terms of the percentage of possessions that result in turnovers. That’s not the case this year, and it’s made a difference that you maybe don’t even notice. Or maybe you did notice that the Terps had just 10 turnovers in a hostile environment at Illinois last week.

Maryland also has an “efficient” player in Jalen Smith. In conference games, the Pomeroy rankings says that he’s been the best offensive player in the league, buoyed by the fact that he is both a great three-point shooter and an excellent offensive rebounder, two things that don’t usually go together. He’s also a great shot blocker, among the 50 best in the country.

Dez Wells and Melo Trimble and Bruno Fernando and Anthony Cowan were/are outstanding players that have been responsible for a lot of wins at Maryland. Others like Kevin Huerter had somewhat brief flashes of greatness. But Smith is Turgeon’s first player to show the kind of efficiency that’s mostly been the province of guys at Kansas and Duke and Gonzaga.

The most important factor in Maryland’s 2020 efficiency is its defense. Turgeon’s teams have usually been good on defense, but this one is just better. It’s statistical, for sure—opponents are shooting just 38 percent, and the Terps have made 70 more free throws than their opponents have attempted. But it’s also anecdotal, I think. The other team may get an ok shot, but it takes them a while to get it.

That wears on a team over a 40-minute game, even the good teams.

Other things? The Terps haven’t lost games by shooting free throws poorly at the end*; each of their top six players is shooting 74 percent or better from the foul line. As poorly as Maryland has shot the ball from three-point range this year, their opponents haven’t done any better.

*So, yeah, so that almost happened Tuesday night with both Eric Ayala and Anthony Cowan.

Problems? It would be nice if Serrel Smith and Ricky Lindo, and even Josh Tomaic, could play a few more minutes per game. With Eric Ayala, Turgeon can take Cowan out of the game and still have a good point guard. With Lindo, they have a guy who can mix it up near the basket, which Jalen Smith doesn’t do. Lindo would be a better compliment to Smith if he could play more and give the team’s star a few more minutes of rest every game.

And I’m sure some fans are still saying that Turgeon is a problem, or at least could be one. But this team seems a little more set in its ability to just go out and play, taking advantage of whatever the opponent is giving them at the time. They can run a bit, and they seem a little more willing to do so. They can play defense well in a few different ways, as they showed at Illinois. And as good as it would be to have more depth, there’s something to be said for a short rotation. There’s not a lot for a coach to think about when he has one.

There are seven games left, so let’s see what happens. There will be time in the future for fans to be disappointed in what happens in the Big 10 and NCAA tournaments. Maybe a decision Turgeon makes will be criticized for days. But right now the record is 20-4 and 10-3, and the team is a lock as early as its been in many years.

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valentine's day reminder!


Men, this Friday is Valentine's Day, in case you didn't know. Most men -- studies show -- are huge procrastinators. I think that's spelled right. I'll check it out at some point today or tomorrow. Or Friday, maybe.

We're doing our part here to keep you in good graces with that significant other in your life. We don't want you getting the cold shoulder when you forget that this Friday is an important day!

Get your Valentine's Day purchase out of the way today by shopping at Flowers and Fancies.

For those men (and our female readers, too, Valentine's Day works both ways!) who are looking for something to give to their wife, girlfriend or significant other or family member this Friday, please consider using our friends at "Flowers and Fancies". They're a local company owned by longtime Baltimore florist Edddie Wingrat. Not only will they put together the best flower arrangement you can find, you can also purchase "fancies" from them like balloons, fruit baskets and much more.

You can visit their website by clicking here. There's also an ad on directly below that will take you there. We'd prefer you use the ad simply because it will best allow us to track our results, but either way works just fine.

Get your Valentine's Day obligations taken care of today by visiting the Flowers and Fancies website. You can also reach them by phone at 410-653-0600. Please tell them you're a Drew's Morning Dish reader!

And....men....don't procrastinate! Get it done now!


Flowers and Fancies banner


Wednesday
February 12
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1997



we have a new leader in the clubhouse...


A few days from now, #DMD will -- with God's grace -- publish for the 2,000th consecutive day. There won't be any national fanfare. Or local fanfare, for that matter. On Saturday, we'll just publish like we always do and the Issue number above will be #2000 and that will be that.

But along the way, there have been some things here worth a gold star. Contributors like David Rosenfeld, Brien Jackson, Dale Williams, George McDowell, Bo Smolka and others have published some remarkable pieces over the last five-plus years. As Buck used to say, "I like our guys."

I'll put "my guys" -- past and present -- up against anyone else in town when it comes to producing strong, engaging commentary.

The Comments section is another story. This isn't the time or place for me to dissect and opine on it. As Elton John said in the song Philadelphia Freedom, "The less I say the more my work gets done."

But there was a submission in yesterday's Comments that is now the new clubhouse leader for "Best Comment in Franchise History". We've had a lot of them since August 25, 2014. Well over 25,000, I'm guessing.

Biff Poggi was a longtime successful coach at Gilman who has recently taken the St. Frances Academy football program to a national powerhouse.

And while I admittedly don't have a precise, etched-in-stone way of determining the order of brilliance for #DMD comments, I can say that I've never read one more spot-on than the one offered by "Such" (Mark Suchy) yesterday.

I'll save you the time that it would take to scroll down and present it here:

I'm continually amazed at the target that's painted on St. Frances Academy when the title article is about an alumnus of a Baltimore public high school leaving his head coaching job. These two issues are not even closely related. And even if the schools are located less than a mile apart, they operate in two completely different worlds when it comes to attracting athletes to enroll.

The broad brush argument of blaming "AAU culture" is a lazy and tired trope. I know plenty of young men who compete at various levels of AAU and at both public and private schools. I can assure you that the majority of young men who choose to participate in AAU programs do so because they love the game of basketball and it provides the opportunity to play in the spring and summer. And contrary to the belief of a frequent poster here, these boys realize that their futures lie at lower levels than Power 5 DI schools. Amazingly, they're happy with that reality!

I find it hilarious that anyone believes that private schools have to recruit athletes "in order to survive". That's incredibly myopic. And this argument only seems to apply when the sports discussed here are football or basketball. Hmmm, why is that? Nobody ever seems to get too worked up about what private schools do regarding lacrosse, soccer, wrestling, swimming etc. Hmmmm again....

I look around Baltimore and see lots of private schools that apparently don't need to "recruit to survive". They've been around for quite a while and it seems that they'll be around for quite a while to come. The decision to turn a school's focus towards athletics, for whatever reasons, lies solely with that school's administration. They don't owe me or anyone else an explanation. And I'm honestly not asking for one anyway because it makes no difference to me.

It's long overdue that the lazy slur "Evil Empire" be retired. Quite frankly, as someone who knows several young men enrolled there, as well as their families, it's quite offensive. These are fine people who chose to send their sons there, and again, it makes no difference to me. But they deserve a smidgen of respect regardless of anyone's opinions. Especially an alumnus of a school that is equally complicit in the modern prep sports culture.

#DMD has never had a comment hit the bulls-eye like that one did yesterday. Now, some might argue that Mark enjoys the benefit of having media/writing experience and that might be true. But it's more the context and not the polished nature of his writing that was the eye-opener.

I have an advantage, if you want to call it that. I'm currently a high school coach. I don't teach at the school, so I'm not around all of the kids at Calvert Hall, but I'm in the facility a lot from January through May. Some might say, rather than having an advantage, that I'm actually "jaded" about high school athletics. Maybe so. I most certainly favor high school athletics and, in this case specifically, the work that private, faith-based schools do in educating young men and women. My son likely will not play sports in high school, but if he's fortunate enough to get accepted, he'll most certainly attend Calvert Hall.

I know very little about the inner-workings of St. Frances Academy, but they, like other schools of their ilk, no doubt take great pride in educating young men and women. They are not, in any way, shape or form, "evil". Is every student and/or student-athlete at that school perfect? Of course not. Here's a news flash: None of us are. No school, no place of employment and no home is without flaws, problems and ongoing tension.

But to suggest that St. Frances Academy is "evil" because they put value in athletics and endeavor to use sports as a growth formula for young men and women who otherwise might not have that same opportunity elsewhere is, at its core, simply not true.

We should be thankful for any school, anywhere, that takes in boys and girls and pledges to teach them and help them grow. Academies that use sports to do that are similar in nature to schools that emphasize dance, music and theater. Perhaps because this is a sports website we don't delve into the real world all that often, but there are thousands of children each year who eschew "normal" high school and instead spend their teenage years at a school learning to perfect their craft at piano or the violin. I don't see anything wrong with that. And I don't hear much arguing about it, either, although I'm admittedly not in that in circle.

And how the schools go about running their business is extraordinarily complex. With all due respect to anyone and everyone here, it's far, far more complicated than you can imagine. There are state and national guidelines to follow, banking and financial issues, and so much other stuff that goes into it that can be adequately explained here. For most of us (me included), it's simply above our pay grade. You just don't know. You think you know and you come around to places like this and try and talk as if you understand all of the complexities of running a multi-million school, but you don't know.

Case in point: I don't know anything about the public school system. I was a public school "kid" and did OK. But my children have been blessed to attend a private Catholic school and that's important to me and my wife in terms of building their faith foundation. I don't know what's happening these days in the public school system because I'm not there. I assume they're doing the very best they can, though.

And I don't need to read some fancy book by a college professor who tells me about the failings of high school and high school athletes. I'm there. I'm around them. I see it for myself. If you want to know about being a high school parent, consult with Mark Suchy, as just one example. He is one. If you want to know about high school athletes, go talk with one who is in high school today.

We live in a world of generalization. You saw it yesterday in our Comments section. Someone once coached a student-athlete who was better than he thought he was and suddenly, "most kids are delusional" about their athletic prowess and ceiling. I have another news flash: My modest coaching experience tells me there are only two kids of athletes: You're either better than you think you are. Or you're not as good as you think you are.

It's a very rare thing indeed when you can find a young athlete who doesn't fit one of those standards. As I tell my golf team all the time: Your goal should be to move from one to the other. For a few months, you're better than you realize. Then, you get into a month or two where you're not quite as good as you think you are. Armed with that information, you go back to working hard and you wind up, again, being better than you realize.

Most kids at the high school level are not, in fact, "delusional" about what they're doing in college. In fact, they know exactly what their limits are. Their coaches typically do a very good job of painting a picture for them of what they're capable of and what they're not capable of. And if their high school coach fails in painting that picture, the number of interest letters and e-mails they receive as juniors and seniors paints an even more accurate picture.

Often times, it's in the presentation. As I've told a number of student-athletes: "It's not that (X-school) didn't want you. It's that they wanted someone else more." And that's the truth. Kentucky can't have the best 25 high schoolers on their team, even though they'd love that. So they pick the 16 best that fit their program and leave 9 others to go elsewhere.

This is 2000, not 1980. Kids are very aware of their progress and how it measures up against everyone else. I can say, for certain, every young man who plays for me knows what his level of college golf might or might not be. I'm not speaking for every coach at Calvert Hall, but knowing the ones that I know, they have a similar situation in their sport(s). They are more than ready to give their student-athletes the required information necessary to understand what their level might be in college, if there even is one.

Parents? That's a story for another day. But they can fend for themselves. They're adults. High school coaches and administrators are there to lead, guide and mentor. In the Lasallian Way that we do our best to follow at Calvert Hall, we're there in a high schooler's formative years to give them a foundation that encompasses life lessons that go beyond sports on the field of play. And I've found nearly every student-athlete both understands and appreciates what is given to them.

If you don't know a high school boys or girls athlete in 2020, you should get to know one. They're extrarodinary people. They have incredible personal and educational challenges that, without question, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have been able to handle in 1981. I was a "teen ager" at Glen Burnie High School. The students I interact with at Calvert Hall and the other schools we compete against are "young men".

This likely seems like a blanket, overseeded defense of high school athletes. And it is. But yesterday's post in the Comments section by "Such" deserved some space of it own today. I'm not moved to do it very often, but I was moved to do it today.

So, Mark Suchy gets the #DMD golf clap this morning for his contribution on Tuesday. 25,000 or so comments later, it's the best one I've seen yet.

Give that man a scholarship...or a half one, at least.

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terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his fifth season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2019-20 season.


terps squeak past nebraska


For 20 minutes last night, there was no “D” in Maryland.

As a team, the breakdowns were numerous, mostly in the second half, and they allowed the Nebraska Cornhuskers an opportunity at pulling off the biggest upset in the Big Ten this year. But, as much as Maryland tried to give the game away, the Cornhuskers couldn’t capitalize and the Terrapins walked away with a less than impressive 72-70 home win.

The game came down to the final 23 seconds.

Down by 3, 71-68, Nebraska elected to put Eric Ayala on the foul line for a one and one. They were the first foul shots in the half for Maryland after taking 18 during the first half. Ayala had to be feeling the pressure, as his short miss was closer to an airball than a made shot. "Ugly" is an understatement. "Choke" may not be.

Nebraska grabbed the rebound and set up their potentially game tying play. The Terps, not risking a game tying three point try, put Nebraska on the line, intentionally fouling the ‘Huskers’ Cam Mack with 12.9 seconds left in the game. A sub 60% foul shooter, he hit them both to bring Nebraska within a single point.

Jalen Smith's last second block saved Maryland from an embarrassing home defeat on Tuesday night.

The Terps easily inbounded the ball to Anthony Cowan, who was fouled immediately. With a chance to put his team up by three, the usually reliable senior guard missed the front end. Like Ayala, his shot also came up extremely short, just a small fraction better than the bad miss a few seconds ago by Ayala. Remarkably, Nebraska was now down 1 with the ball, and had a chance to steal a win on a last possession shot.

Mack brought the ball almost straight up the court. He blew by Cowan like Cowan had his feet glued to the floor, and headed directly to the rim. His short, 3-foot floater looked to have a chance of going in for the win before Smith blocked it and came away with the loose ball. Game over. The Terps survived.

Yesterday I wrote about this game being wedged between the big Illinois win and the huge road game on Saturday at Michigan State. It was a typical “let down” situation and Maryland played like it.

Not one Terp was innocent of playing bad defense, but Cowan, Darryl Morsell, and Donta Scott were leading the pack of indifferent defenders. Close on their tails were Ayala and Aaron Wiggins. The Cornhuskers were easily slipping past their defenders on the perimeter, getting into the paint, and dishing off to a wide-open back cutting teammate.

Maryland played defense in the second half without an ounce of passion. They were really lucky that they had a substantial gap in talent and size, because they were out-worked in the final 20 minutes.

There wasn’t anything exceptional or unexpected about the first half. Maryland had a 38-25 lead, Nebraska was horrible from the three-point line, and Jalen Smith controlled the interior. Smith’s 10 rebound, 9-point half provided much of the led for the Terps. A 14-4 advantage from the foul line accounted for the rest.

There was no surprise in the fact that Mark Turgeon gave his bench almost 25 minutes of playing time in the first half, but it was a bit confusing that none of those minutes went to Ricky Lindo, while starter Danta Scott played almost 18 minutes. Lindo never saw the court at all last night.

With Nebraska always seemingly with striking distance in the second half, the substitutions were far less liberal. Maryland went only 6 deep for the final 20 minutes.

The Terps were fortunate to claim the victory last night. It could have easily gone the other way. After two games where they showed immeasurable heart, last night they won simple because they were bigger and better, but just barely.

There is a big clash in East Lansing on Saturday night at 6pm as the Terps take on Sparty. ESPN will carry all of the action.

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valentine's day reminder!


Men, this Friday is Valentine's Day, in case you didn't know. Most men -- studies show -- are huge procrastinators. I think that's spelled right. I'll check it out at some point today or tomorrow. Or Friday, maybe.

We're doing our part here to keep you in good graces with that significant other in your life. We don't want you getting the cold shoulder when you forget that this Friday is an important day!

Get your Valentine's Day purchase out of the way today by shopping at Flowers and Fancies.

For those men (and our female readers, too, Valentine's Day works both ways!) who are looking for something to give to their wife, girlfriend or significant other or family member this Friday, please consider using our friends at "Flowers and Fancies". They're a local company owned by longtime Baltimore florist Edddie Wingrat. Not only will they put together the best flower arrangement you can find, you can also purchase "fancies" from them like balloons, fruit baskets and much more.

You can visit their website by clicking here. There's also an ad on directly below that will take you there. We'd prefer you use the ad simply because it will best allow us to track our results, but either way works just fine.

Get your Valentine's Day obligations taken care of today by visiting the Flowers and Fancies website. You can also reach them by phone at 410-653-0600. Please tell them you're a Drew's Morning Dish reader!

And....men....don't procrastinate! Get it done now!


Flowers and Fancies banner


#dmd comments


unitastoberry     February 17
The 1930 Philadelphia Phillies had a combined team ERA of 6.71 highest of all time per Answers.com. The 2019 Baltimore Orioles had a team ERA of 5.59. I know when many of you read that in the above article you where wondering if we where actually number one in something. Admit it

Delray RICK     February 17
DEAD LAST...WOW

Red Tee Golfer     February 16
@BTG - Yeah "Herman" hates all African Americans so much that he would turn the XFL on instead. I guess because there are no African Americans in the XFL?

The idiocy is strong here today.

Dan P.     February 16
Herman brings the hate and accusations on himself. He's been running this act here for 3 years now at least. If people think he's a racist that's because he's earned that. Just my 2 cents.

Some guy     February 16
Right on @JEFWEL. Seems to me, Herman dislikes Tigermania, not even sure he dislikes Tiger per se, but to Tigermaniacs, him not buying into Tigermania means he hates all African American golfers? Wow, just wow.

unitastoberry     February 16
So the vibe I'm getting from MLB is its ok to cheat. Then fire a few guys and fine the owner who blames it all on the employees he's not responsible for. Even "I love our guys" Buck is on the cheaters side.

Listen to this interview https://youtu.be/w4OKncAj_Ns he had on the YES radio network. Its a club and you aint in it. Don't be surprised if Hinch resurfaces in Baltimore in a year or so. Elias knows him pretty good. Personally my baseball rooting days have been destroyed since the Orioles irrelavance except for maybe 6 or 7 seasons the last 40 years.

jefwel     February 16
#blue tee; Since a certain poster does not like Tiger Woods, in your mind he hates all African Americans?



I think that says a whole lot more about your issues than his.

Joe Gilley     February 16
Hey Drew, just curious why you think overall interest in the Blast is down so much over the last 5-10 years?



Maybe a column on that subject some day soon?



I know a lot of people would be interested to know what you think.

Blue Tee Golfer     February 16
Can you imagine the nickname The Hateful One would come up with for HV3 if he wins today and gets the trophy from TW? Two African American men on the same TV screen would be too much for The Hateful One to stomach. He'd have to switch over to the XFL.

Chris in Bel Air     February 16
Sorry Altuve, I don’t believe you. Shame too because he has been one of my favorite current players in the game to watch. They have certainly placed baseball back in some bad light. I’m also curious when we will hear about the Red Sox or other teams. I also don’t understand all the talk from current players stating they will discipline the Astros players - presumably by plunking them. What does that mean? The first game of the season and then that’s it? Each opposing team gets a crack? So if the Os don’t play them until May do they still “discipline them”? Where does it end? If you don’t like what they did then beat them on the field and move on.

James     February 16
Thanks for the walk down Blast memory lane Drewski! Much appreciated. Those were the days.

Tom     February 16
Right you are "KM". The whole "Playful fist bump" thing is tired. You hate Tiger. We get it. Get a new nickname just to show us all you're creative enough to do it. I have never been much of a Tiger fan and I've found myself rooting for him just knowing how much crying Herman would do!

KM - Owings Mills     February 16
Longtime reader and DF supporter. First time diving in here on the comment part and I realize it might be a mistake. This note is for Herman. What you write might be considered more if you wouldn't stoop to the childish nicknames you use. If you can't write the words TIGER WOODS then it's hard for me to read your work and consider that your point or points might be valid. I am not a big golf fan so my opinion on the subject isn't nearly as keen as yours might be, but your inability to write his name out in full tells me you aren't looking to inform the reader. You're just looking to make sure everyone knows you aren't a fan of his. Just my thoughts. You should do better, as I tell my 16 year old son constantly.

HERMAN     February 16
Could it be possible that last year's Masters was Playful Fist Bump's "Jack '86" moment, and that we can only expect the continued decline that age demands moving forward? Lost in all the constant anticipation of "setting the record" for wins is that the last one was overseas against an abbreviated field. Perhaps his domination at The Memorial, or Bay Hill, or some return to Firestone could give him a temporary "horses for courses" possibility as he has just dominated at those venues. But I'd say those getting all juiced up over his record chase every week he is in the field should temper expectations. Golfers in their mid-40's just don't win very often on tour. Time and tide wait for no man, even the "great" Playful Fist Bump.

Delray RICK     February 16
So MESSIAH said his glutes. did not engage. WOW !!!

Eddie Kelly in Baltimore     February 16
Second what Robert Lenartavage said. Like reading this site, and hate having to endure chickenshit comments to get to the important ones. I've been reading this site for 2 years and like everything about it except the ridiculous and immature comments. Want those people to get a life.

Biff Cantrell     February 16
The comment clowns are what make this place worth clicking on multiple times during the day.

JohnInEssex     February 16
CONGRATS on 2,000 consecutive days Drew and Company! Read it EVERY DAY! KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!

Robert Lenortavage in Frederick     February 16
Sure would be nice if all the clowns who comment here under fake names would just go away and stop posting childish stuff. You really should moderate this section. Who could possibly care if “Red Belly Ed” thinks Tiger is going to shoot 67 or 76 on a particular day? And who only shows up again if he's right and changes his handle when he's wrong. Who cares if you said that a favored team was going to win? Or lose? Its a shame that low intellects dominate the rap here. There are so many good comments and its a shame we have to wade through what dummies post to get to them.

Blue Tee Golfer     February 15
Doing fine over here. Had a party today and we were watching all of Tiger's major wins and we got to 12 before midnight and everyone wanted to go home. Long day.

White tee golfer     February 15
Should we send some one over to Blue Tee's house to check on him??? Hope he's holding up ok

George     February 15
Congrats on 2,000. Thought the streak might end around 1.3 or 1.4K when DF came to NC with the CHC golf team a few years ago. Found him wandering aimlessly around RDU, zonked on painkillers for gall stones. I loaded him and his clubs into the car and we set out. As we circled endlessly down nine levels of the airport parking deck, Drew opened one eye and asked, “Are you sure this is the way to Pinehurst?” Was astounded to read a perfectly trenchant edition the next morning.

Chris in Bel Air     February 15
Congrats Drew. Amazing milestone. I’m looking forward to coming here for another 2000. Really enjoy the work from David and George as well.

Idiot Caller     February 15
Drew, congrats on 2000! Keep up he good work.

In other news, Tiger not looking very good at Riviera today. Can't wait to read the comments tomorrow!

HERMAN     February 15
I'm at a loss to understand the howls of condemnation on the Houston cheating scandal. Cheating has been a part of baseball forever. From moving foul polls or adjusting the home park to suit players' talents, to spit balls, a dab of grease under the cap, a sharpened belt buckle to groove a cut with which to grip a ball better, put more spin, to corked bats and all manner of sign stealing, cheating and baseball have gone together like mom and apple pie. I vaguely remember a pitcher being interrogated on the mound about a nail file and trying to casually drop it in the grass only to be caught on camera discarding the cheating evidence. He got tossed, everyone laughed.

It would appear that Houston just took the whole cheating thing to a highly elevated and technological level.

What's the difference?

If you laugh off a corked bat, or sharpened belt buckle as "boys will be boys" as writers and the general fan public has done for years then the Houston "scandal" shouldn't surprise. They brought a gun to a knife fight.

What do they say in auto racing, if you ain't cheatin' you ain't trying? With all the engine tweaks and design changes to subvert the "stock racing" rules?

Some organizations "cough cough Robert Kraft, Robert Kraft", you just know they'd cheat their own mother at cards if they had the chance.

As for the Houston scandal? Get over it, it's a logical extension from a little thumb grease under the bill of a cap.

And I do say congrats on 2000, it's a difficult proposition to create a site alone, much less one that is monetized and popular. Quite an achievement.

H     February 15
@Radiohead, when do you "pay" for sports talk radio?

Radiohead     February 15
Car dealers, roofers, finance guys, is this the new radio sponsor model, pay for the pleasure of being able to talk sports "on air"?? I'll stick to boring my friends with my opinions, doesn't cost me a thing lol!

Monk     February 15
2,000 is special......



Good work!



Bounced back NICELY after the boss pulled the plug on your and your family..........

That Guy     February 15
I don't listen every Friday either but I think Glenn/Drew together make for an entertaining combo. And I actually listened to the podcast with the Jerry's guy yesterday and thought it was very good. fwiw

Radio Guy     February 15
Don't want to turn this into a Glenn bashing thread but his "I am always right" act was old in 2013. I'm sure it's far worse now.

Tom     February 15
@The Bern must listen to a different show on Friday. Granted I don't catch them all but Glenn is the king of talking over people and shouting people down. He was that way on the air at WNST.



Congrats on No. 2000 Drew! I have been with you since the WNST days! Sat next to you at Free The Birds game and on a bus home from a Ravens-Steelers game. I aways enjoyed your insights.

Feel the Bern     February 15
I’ll pass on the podcast. I’ve listened to this blog host talk over Glenn and ruin his production on Facebook. Talking louder doesn’t make you smarter. It’s unlistenable.

Delray RICK     February 15
Reading paper this am and BALTIMORE big wigs taking turns going in and out prison. (Should be confinement house PC.

Josh     February 15
Congratulations on 2,000! Been here every day. Keep up the good work!!



@CJ- You are a God fearing man, lol

Pratt     February 15
Enjoy the site. Congrats on the longevity. IMO well deserved.

Fireball Roberts     February 15
As soon as I read the fourth sentence, I knew it was going to piss someone off. LOL. I guess CJ never carries cash. Congratulations on the milestone DF.

James - Dundak     February 15
I dont comment everyday , but I read the Dish & the comments everyday. And yes I have checked in everyday from places like Dublin ,London, South Bend In. Hawaii, Seattle ,San Francisco, of course Dundalk (Ireland & MD). Keep up the great work.

Rich     February 15
I'm sure there were "certain people" who both hoped you would fail back in August of 2014 and assumed you'd never get this far. Congrats on proving him wrong. I'm one of those (few?) who have checked in for all 2,000 days of The Dish. Keep on doing your thing Drew and best of luck to C. Hall golf this season.

Hal     February 15
Oh that first point in "Breakfast Bites" is intentionally thrown in the face of @CatonsvilleMike, right? "St. Joe blows 13 point lead in the last 4 minutes". Cruel, DF, just cruel.

Ron     February 15
@CJ, It was actually the 4th sentence not the 3rd. If that stops you from reading you're in sad shape my friend.

CJ     February 15
It only took you 3 sentences to mention God. Congratulations. I stopped reading at that point. Maybe you made a point in the rest of the blog but it misssed me unfortunately.

Mark in Perry Hall     February 15
Congrats on 2,000 consecutive days Drewski! That's quite a feat. Get Gehrig and Cal Jr. next !!!

Red tee golfer     February 14
So now "making the cut" is the bar?? LOLLOL

J.R.     February 14
Another cut made by the GOAT. Maybe this is the year he finally wins the Rivera tournament!!??

Delray RICK     February 14
Praise the Lord, MESSIAH looking BAD. HE HE HE

Chris     February 14
Baseball has had this odd, cozy relationship with gamesmanship (cheating, getting an edge, whatever you want to call it) for years. The 1951 Giants supposedly had an elaborate sign stealing system, Gaylord Perry thowing greaseballs/spitballs, Joe Niekro having an emory board flying out of his back pocket, corked bats by Albert Belle, Gregg Nettles, etal, PED use by multiple players (including Andy Pettitte who "only did it once"), the Astros and their trash cans and buzzers (allegedly), and on and on. It's almost as if it's woven into the fabric of the sport and becomes accepted behavior.



The one thing I have always wondered is how much does all of this really enhance on field performance? Barry Bonds was an amazing player from 1986 - 1997 (before PED's, allegedly). Would he have had the same type of stats from 1998 - 2007 if he had laid off the juice? We'll never know. The Astros play half of their games at away stadiums. In 2017 and 2018 they had more away wins than home wins (53 vs 48 in 2017 and 57 vs 46 in 2018). Makes me wonder how much their sign stealing really aided them. Is it really just a case of the team and players felling like they "need to have an edge" in order to feel comfortable? The results don't seem to indicate the cheating got them an advantage unless you believe they would have been even worse at home (which may be true).

John In Westminster     February 14
Right on, Forrester, with the classic golf call about not being able to do anything with a ball stuck in a bad lie. It's more surprising when the pros actually misplay the shot. More than likely, they stay on course for par or birdie.

RJ     February 14
Talk about LOL....@ Neutral says being a fan of a sports team means you idolize all the players?? Ok buddy. Then again, he is fine with insulting priests so.....

JohnInEssex     February 14
Saw an interview with Bob Costas who said there were at least EIGHT other MLB teams who had some sort of sign stealing system set up similar to the Astros. Why aren't they all unearthed too? Probably because that list includes the Red Sox and Yankees, and would make this all even uglier than it already is. Might that explain the Yankees bajillion home runs hit against the Orioles? Just let the Astros stay front and center and keep taking the hits for the SignGate. Like Rich Eisen said - this sign stealing is the ultimate PED. Chris Davis gets 40 games for PEDs and the whole Astros roster gets NOTHING....Rant over for now.... :O)

Neutral Observer     February 14
I laughed out loud at Father Tom. If "idolizing false gods" was frowned up there'd be 700 people in the football stadium every other Sunday instead of 70,000. No offense Father Tom but you might want to look for another profession.

Tuesday
February 11
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1996



booth dismissed at dunbar


Dunbar fired men's basketball coach Keith Booth on Monday, ending his first-season at his alma mater before it even reached its conclusion.

We'll wait for the "official" word so as not to muddy the waters. Depending on whom you believe, Booth's departure was either "in the works for a while" or "a sign of people feeling pressure" after Booth apparently approached the Baltimore school about upgrading the basketball program to better compete with the city's elite high school teams.

"Keith went in there, rolled up his sleeves, and was working his tail off to make that program better," a source close to the school told #DMD on Monday. "You can't make wine out of a water anymore, no matter what your name is or how many years you played in the NBA. The playing field isn't level out there. Keith knows how the game is played. But if the school's not willing to help him out, there's no sense in being there."

Keith Booth was fired at Dunbar on Monday.

Booth's sudden departure is the second area coaching termination in less than a month. In mid-January, Archbishop Spalding fired its women's coach after she made what some people thought were disparaging remarks about a rival player in a private message to a sports website.

In that case, the coach, Lisa Smith, was trying to point out the imbalance of coverage provided to local high school players. When she asked the publication to "highlight some other girls in the conference who aren't as genetically gifted", Smith was deemed to have crossed the line. The former Spalding coach also described the rival player's on-court behavior as "repulsive, unacceptable and unflattering." In closing, Ms. Smith also wrote, "You can have swag without acting like a punk." While she didn't mention the rival player by name with that comment, it was obviously intended to frame the player in that light.

The word and use of "punk" didn't mean much in the '70's and 80's. Its definition has taken on a different tone in the last decade or so.

The issues facing Booth and Smith were different, yet eerily similar in their desired conclusion. Booth apparently wanted his school's basketball standards to improve. Smith wanted the standards of player behavior to improve. At its core, both of them simply wanted "better" for their school and their sport.

Booth might have said the wrong thing to the wrong person or used a tone that was inappropriate. There could be more to the story, too, which is why we'll allow everyone to unveil their part of the story before making a full and final opinion on the merits of dismissing one of Baltimore's biggest basketball names not even one full season into his tenure.

In this instance, though, it would be fair for Dunbar to remember that they brought Keith Booth in because of his cachet in the Baltimore basketball community. They knew Keith Booth wanted to restore Dunbar to basketball greatness. That's why they hired him in the first place. Booth wasn't going to take the job unless he had certain guarantees that the school and its alumni base would help him get the program percolating again.

If Booth wasn't seeing the kind of support he was initially promised, one would expect he'd voice his displeasure at some point. Those of us who were in Baltimore in the '70's and '80's know all about the legacy of the Dunbar basketball program. So, after years of recent underachieving, the powers-that-be decided it was Booth who could lead them back to respectability. It can't be done with magic, though. Decisions have to be made about the upgrading of standards, which occasionally means either an influx of money or improved facilities. Sometimes, it even means both.

If Keith Booth rubbed people the wrong way, it was only because he was doing the job they asked him to do in the first place.

When the dust settles, the questions worth asking are these: Does that coach always have the best interest of his or her team at heart? Does that coach maliciously demean or disparage their own players and/or players from other teams? Does that coach put teaching and mentoring above winning?

I can't answer those three questions for the people at Dunbar.

But if the answers are "Yes", "No", "Yes", you'd be hard pressed to find a reason to terminate a coach, barring some kind of criminal activity, obviously.

I don't know *exactly* what happened with Keith Booth, but I hope Dunbar didn't rob their student-athletes of a high quality coach who believed in those students and was trying to help make them the best they could be.

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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.


preliminary factual findings of a tragedy


I've reprinted below that part of the National Transportation Safety Board's "Aircraft Accident Investigative Update" that describes the flight of the helicopter that crashed and burned, killing all nine souls on board including Kobe Bryant.

I re-paragraphed the Update to allow for clarity and the insertion of explanatory annotation. Anything in brackets is my comment; what's in parentheses is in the original.

ATC communications and radar data indicate the flight departed KSNA [John Wayne Airport; Santa Ana, CA] about 0906 PST. N72EX proceeded to the north-northwest at an altitude of about 700 to 800 feet mean sea level (msl) under visual flight rules (VFR).

[Note the use of both msl {Mean Sea Level} and agl {Above Ground Level} below. MSL is what the aircraft's altimeter will show, and what the cloud ceiling will be reported as. AGL will, in mountainous terrain in a rapidly-moving aircraft, change frequently and drastically.]

[Visual Flight Rules in the airspace where the aircraft was operating required the pilot to be able to see clearly for three miles in his general direction of travel, and that he remain 500 feet below any cloud layer above him and 2,000 feet from any cloud or fog in any horizontal direction.]

At 0920, as the aircraft neared the Burbank class C airspace, the pilot requested to transition the area along Highway 101. The current Burbank weather observation reported instrument flight rules (IFR) conditions. [That is, the airport and vicinity were below VFR minima.] In response to the pilot’s request, the air traffic controller advised that cloud tops were reported at 2,400 feet msl and queried the pilot’s intentions; the pilot then requested a special VFR clearance (an ATC authorization to proceed in controlled airspace at less than VFR weather minima).

[The ATC clearance authorized this currently instrument-rated pilot to fly this currently IFR-certified aircraft "clear of clouds," without other ceiling or horizontal restrictions.]

The air traffic controller advised that the pilot would need to hold for a short time due to IFR traffic, which the pilot acknowledged.

[This is why the aircraft slowed down and circled for a few minutes just east of Dodger Stadium.]

At 0932, ATC cleared the pilot of N72EX to transition the class C surface area following the I-5 freeway, maintaining special VFR conditions at or below 2,500 feet [MSL]. The pilot acknowledged with a correct readback and climbed to approximately 1,400 feet msl (600 feet agl). In response to query, the pilot replied to the Burbank ATC that he would follow Highway 118 and “loop around VNY [Van Nuys Airport]” to follow Highway 101. ATC acknowledged and coordinated.

At 0939, as N72EX was passing west of Van Nuys at 1,500 feet msl, the VNY controller asked the pilot if he was in VFR conditions. The pilot replied “VFR conditions, one thousand five hundred” [feet MSL] and the VNY controller advised him to contact Southern California Terminal Radar Approach Control (SCT) for radar advisory services.

The pilot reported to SCT that the flight was going to Camarillo [Camarillo Airport, CMA; 11 miles by car from the Mamba Sports Academy] at 1,500 feet [MSL]. The SCT controller advised that he would not be able to maintain radar contact at that altitude and terminated services.

[Part of the controller's transmission included the words "too low." This has been widely mis-interpreted. It meant than that the aircraft was beneath the altitude necessary to be acquired by ATC radar, and NOTHING else.]

The SCT controller was subsequently relieved by a different controller. At 0945, the pilot of N72EX again contacted SCT and advised he was climbing above cloud layers and requested advisory services. The second controller was not aware of the aircraft, as services had previously been terminated, so asked the pilot to identify the flight. The SCT controller then asked the pilot his intentions, to which he replied he was climbing to 4,000 feet [MSL].There were no further transmissions.

Radar/ADS-B data indicate the aircraft was climbing along a course aligned with Highway 101 just east of the Las Virgenes exit. Between Las Virgenes and Lost Hills Road, the aircraft reached 2,300 feet msl (approximately 1,500 feet above the highway, which lies below the surrounding terrain) and began a left turn.

This is the most heartbreaking image contained in the NTSB Update. It was taken by a wildfire-alert camera about 30 seconds before the aircraft crashed. The National Weather Service analyzed the photo, and determined from a known elevation that the top of the lower cloud layer was at 2,400 MSL. Had S-76 climbed only 100 more feet, it would have broken through the clouds into clear sky.

[Why the pilot began a left turn will be widely discussed. The reasonable assumption, partially supported by witnesses on the ground, was that the aircraft was in clouds and had no visible reference to earth. The pilot's function in this instance {termed Inadvertent IFR} is to stabilize the aircraft using information from dashboard instrumentation, on a straight course at proper speed in a controlled climb at a proper rate of climb, then declare an emergency and await ATC instructions for course, speed, and altitude.]

Eight seconds later, the aircraft began descending and the left turn continued. The descent rate increased to over 4,000 feet per minute (fpm), ground speed reached 160 knots. The last ADS-B target was received at 1,200 feet msl approximately 400 feet southwest of the accident site.

[There has been much reporting of the fact that the aircraft was not equipped with a device that would have warned that it was too close to the ground, called a Terrain Awareness Warning System. Reputable publications have deemed this system "key," "crucial," and "vital," and have suggested or implied that had the S-76 had such a device, there would have been no crash. This is sensationalism, and grossly misleading. No pilot would ever, under any circumstance, fly on instruments without external visual clues so close to the ground as to have to depend on beeps from a box. A 4,000-feet-per-minute {67 feet per second} turning descent is a 45-mph dive. The S-76's VNE {Velocity, Never Exceed} is 155 knots; at impact its groundspeed was 160 knots. The aircraft was out of control.]

Additional information will be released as warranted.

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dale williams aims the
terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his fifth season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2019-20 season.


nebraska visits college park tonight


In between the end of last year, and the beginning of this season, there has been a radical change in Nebraska basketball. I can’t remember any other college basketball situation where a coach has had just one returning player, and the coach is new also.

The 2018-2019 Nebraska team was one bad injury away from being an NCAA tournament participant. This year’s team of freshmen and transfers have put Nebraska, and coach Pete Hoiburg, near the bottom of the Big Ten with a 2-10 record.

Darryl Morsell and the Terps look to stay undefeated at home when Nebraska visits College Park this evening.

Gone are James Palmer, Isaiah Robey, Isaac Copeland, Glynn Watson Jr and the rest of the Nebraska roster with the lone exception being Thorir Throrbjarnarson.

The Huskers have lost 8 in a row, and even their two wins are somewhat tainted. In Nebraska’s home wins against Iowa and Purdue, the visitor’s combined to shoot 10 of 68 from the free-throw line and scored a total of 4 points from the charity stripe.

Nebraska doesn’t rebound well, are the worst defensive team in the league, and struggle mightily from the foul line. The ‘Huskers big men are no threat inside, but the guard play, offensively, isn’t all that bad.

All three starting guards average scoring in double digits. The group is led by Cam Mack and his 13 points-per-game. Mack came to Nebraska via the Community College route. He was a star at Salt Lake Community College before entering the Big Ten. At this level, he’s more of a slasher than a catch and shoot guy, but he can get a bit out of control. He gets to the foul line more than any other Cornhusker, but he converts just 58% of his attempts.

An even more impressive slasher, in my eyes, is Dachon Burke Jr. Burke played two seasons at Robert Morris before joining Nebraska. He’s the best defender on this team and causes turnovers with his quickness and wiry frame, He’ll play hard all night, but he’s even worse from the foul line than Mack.

Completing the three-guard lineup is Haanif Cheatham. He had stints at Marquette and Florida Gulf Coast before coming to Lincoln for his final season. Cheatham is a decent shooter, but he will struggle defensively tonight trying to defend Darryl Morsell or Aaron Wiggins. Cheatham scores almost 12 points per contest.

This should be a tough game for Nebraska. They play small at 6’2” (Mack), 6’4” (Burke), 6’5” (Cheatham), 6’6” (Throrbjarnarson - and he plays smaller than that) and 6’9” (freshman -Yvan Ouedraogo). Their only hope would be a Terp letdown because the game is sandwiched between Maryland’s emotional win at Illinois and a pending collision at Michigan State on Saturday.

Maryland will never shoot poorly enough to keep Nebraska in the game. I anticipate the Terps to own the boards and dominate with points-in-the paint. Dribble penetration will yield easy buckets because of the lack of a Nebraska rim protector.

A ton of touches down low for Jalen Smith will allow him to maintain his streak of double-digit scoring games. The line is 16 1/2, but I’m thinking that Mark Turgeon will play his reserves as much as possible, even early in the game, in an effort to keep his starters well rested for the big game Saturday night. Because of that, I’m hesitant to predict a huge blowout tonight.

Nebraska likes to push the tempo, so possessions will be available for both teams to score. Maryland dominates, 79-67, in a game that isn’t as close as the final score indicates.

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Monday
February 10
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1995



maybe there's hope yet


It's been a long time since another football league came along to challenge the NFL.

And maybe the newest football entry -- the XFL -- isn't even here to challenge the NFL as much as it's here to capitalize on it. Perhaps that's their angle.

An ethusiastic crowd of over 17,000 in DC saw the Defenders win the XFL's inaugural game over Seattle.

Either way, though, one week after the NFL campaign ended with Kansas City's Super Bowl win, the XFL roared into action with four games over the weekend, including one right down the road in Washington DC.

Nothing's perfect, of course, and any comparisons to the NFL would be off target, but the XFL's debut weekend was well received.

The crowds were decent and so, too, were the TV ratings. They weren't NFL numbers, by any means, but for a start-up league with no juice at all, opening weekend was a hit.

The two Saturday games (in DC and Houston) both drew over 17,000. The DC vs. Seattle game -- played at the DC United soccer stadium, which holds just north of 20,000) -- averaged 3.3 million viewers with a peak high of 4 million. Official attendance numbers for the Sunday game weren't available as of this writing, but they were rumored to also be in the 17,000-18,000 range.

Now, as I tell anyone who listens when the subject of sports attendance comes up, the only "real" number that matters when talking tickets is the "gate", which simply means how much revenue was generated via ticket sales. If you draw 12,000 to your game but your "gate" is only $120,000, I did better than you if I drew 9,000 but my gate was $150,000.

I have no idea how many of those 17,000 seats were sold in DC...or how many were complimentary...and I have no idea how many of those seats were sold at full price and how many were somehow discounted. Thus, the "gate" question looms large in DC and elsewhere throughout the XFL. Despite their partnership with both ABC and FOX, the XFL can't make it on TV and TV alone. People have to be interested enough in the eight cities where teams are located to spend money on the franchise and go to the games. If 2,000 people start showing up, the league's dead.

The on field product, filled with former NFL players, was fine. It wasn't the NFL, obviously, and it never will be. But there was some "good football" in the games I checked out. The rules of the XFL are different than those in the NFL. Some are, in my opinion, improvements. Others aren't. The biggest difference you'll notice immediately is that camera people and sideline reporters are everywhere. You'll get the occasional f-bomb dropped in because reporters are sticking microphones in guy's faces right after a midfield skirmish.

The United States is so football-delirious we'll watch just about anything once. And in cities like Washington DC, where the NFL product has been lousy for so long, the XFL might even have a chance of capturing the local football fanbase for a few months in the spring. If they play their cards right, the XFL's model franchise could wind up being the DC Defenders. That would be a nice feather in the start-up league's cap.

No one's giving up with their NFL season tickets because they've fallen in love with the XFL. That's just not happening. But the first weekend, at least, was a definite success. Let's see what happens once the bloom is off the rose in a month or two.


Speaking of roses, this Friday is Valentine's Day, in case you didn't know. Most men -- studies show -- are huge procrastinators. I think that's spelled right. I'll check it out at some point today or tomorrow. Or Wednesday, maybe.

Get your Valentine's Day purchase out of the way today by shopping at Flowers and Fancies.

Anyway, for those men (and our female readers, too, Valentine's Day works both ways!) who are looking for something to give to their significant other or family member this Friday, please consider using our friends at "Flowers and Fancies". They're a local company owned by longtime Baltimore florist Edddie Wingrat. Not only will they put together the best flower arrangement you can find, you can also purchase "fancies" from them like balloons, fruit baskets and much more.

You can visit their website by clicking here. There's also an ad on the right side of #DMD today that will take you there. We'd prefer you use the ad simply because it will best allow us to track our results, but either way works just fine.

Get your Valentine's Day obligations taken care of today by visiting the Flowers and Fancies website. You can also reach them by phone at 410-653-0600. Please tell them you're a Drew's Morning Dish reader!

And....men....don't procrastinate! Get it done now!


Phil Mickelson sure does love Pebble Beach. He doesn't love it enough to have won a U.S. Open there (0-for-3 in 2000, 2010 and 2019), but Mickelson again put himself into contention at the historic layout before finishing 3rd in this weekend's Pebbble Beach Pro-Am.

Three weeks ago, Mickelson was in a funk, missing two straight cuts on the PGA Tour and then heading over to Saudi Arabia for his first appearance in their big European Tour event that's held there every January.

Two consecutive third place finishes have Phil Mickelson motivated to qualify for this year's U.S. Open at Winged Foot.

After a 3rd place finish there, he jetted back to the States and teed it up at Pebble, a venue where he'd won five times previously. And if not for some stellar golf from Canadian Nick Taylor on Saturday and Sunday, Mickelson might have very well been the repeat champion (he won last February).

Mickelson, who will turn 50 this June, is nothing if not entertaining these days. He went on a bizarre 5-day fasting program in the fall where he drank only a wild concoction that included Ethiopian coffee, promptly lost 15 pounds, started posting his workout sessions on social media, and pronounced himself "fitter than ever" just before Christmas.

Last week, when asked if he would accept a special invitation from the USGA if he fails to qualify for this June's U.S. Open at Winged Foot, Mickelson flatly said "no". Winged Foot was the site of one of Mickelson's closest brushes with winning the only major he's never won. He made a double-bogey 6 on the last hole in 2006 to help hand the U.S. Open to Geoff Ogilvy. As of this weekend, the southpaw still hasn't qualified for this year's event at Winged Foot.

"I'm not taking a special exemption," Mickelson said on Wednesday at Pebble Beach. "I'm either getting in the old fashioned way or I won't play. I have too much respect for the tournament and the process that it takes to play. I either make it on my own or I'll watch it at home."

I'm betting he gets in. Even though he's not the player he once was, Mickelson -- as he showed this weekend -- can still be competitive if the venue is right for his game. Between now and early June, he'll win a tournament or climb high enough in the world ranking to draw an exemption into the U.S. Open. And if he doesn't do either of those things, he can still go through 36-hole sectional qualifying and get in that way.

Don't bet against Phil. He might not be as good as he once was, but he's as good, once, as he ever was.

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consider this


Contrary to emotional belief, the Maryland men’s basketball team has been pretty successful as a member of the Big Ten Conference. Friday’s comeback win at Illinois improved the Terps’ B1G regular-season record to 68-36. In other words, the Terps have won just about two of every three league games they’ve played.

There have been buzzer beaters and near-buzzer beaters. Comebacks from big deficits much later in the game than on Friday. Wins over Michigan State, Wisconsin and Purdue when those teams were among the top six or seven in the country. All good.

The win in Champaign on Friday? I’d say that was the best game Maryland’s played in its six seasons in the B1G, and not by statistics or execution or style points, though there were a few of those, led by Jalen Smith’s left-handed catch and finish on a lob pass that screamed “NBA All-Star.”

Mark Turgeon had his best coaching game I can remember. He adjusted his defensive strategy, for sure, and he never tried to strangle his team into playing a certain way. When they needed to run, the Terps ran. When they needed to be judicious, they were. He showed a lot of trust, which I’m sure he understandably didn’t have earlier in the season.

As for the guys that really matter, the players, they were composed in a difficult environment. In the first half, they were more composed than Turgeon, by a long shot. With Anthony Cowan and Darryl Morsell, and a group of experienced sophomores, Maryland is honestly somewhat unusual among the country’s top teams. The Terps might lose, or miss shot after shot, but they won’t panic.

These last two road wins for Maryland, at Indiana and Illinois, were not games the majority of fans believed the Terps could win. They were not games that Turgeon’s other five B1G teams would have won, despite their overall success. Against the Illini in particular, the Terps exhibited a combined sense of calm and effort that’s a good sign for the rest of the season.

I woke up Saturday morning looking for the Baltimore Sun game story from Maryland-Illinois, only to find Associated Press copy instead. It was odd, since beat writer and Sun vet Don Markus would usually have been there. Perhaps he had a couple days off, or maybe the long trip to Champaign wasn’t on his schedule this year.

It came as a surprise, then, when Twitter gave me the actual reason for Markus’s absence. After 35 years at The Sun, Friday was Markus’s last day. Like so many others before him, he finally “took the buyout” from the paper.

Always one to show his sense of humor, Markus tweeted about Maryland’s win in Champaign, noting that the Terps were now 1-0 in the post-Markus era, and that “Mark Turgeon will never let me near the Xfinity Center again.”

There used to be lots of men and women in this city, and lots of other cities, that “covered” sports. They didn’t blog about them or tweet about them or “create content.” They covered them. That might have meant a beat like Maryland basketball, but it also might have meant simply looking for stories wherever they were.

People like me used to spend some of our time doing what was (and still is) called “pitching,” and sometimes it would even work! That great soccer player or the swimmer with the unique family story was enough for a person like Don Markus to spend a day reporting, by which I mean actually doing interviews and showing interest in a story.

These people were (and are) actual journalists. At the very least, they pretended that the local college basketball game mattered to them. Maybe they had only 10 or 12 column “inches,” as they used to say, but they really tried to make the most of them.

People like Markus aren’t being replaced, obviously. The world of sports journalism works differently now. But I really appreciated all of them, even if they sometimes wrote something I didn’t like. They were good at what they did.

I’m not sure I realized until the release of the Orioles’ promotional schedule for 2020 that it’s now been 25 years since Cal Ripken’s 2,131st consecutive game played. I believe that was before “load management” had entered the sports vernacular.

On the exact 25th anniversary, Sept. 6, the Orioles host the Yankees at Camden Yards and the first 25,000 fans 15-and-over will get a Cal Jr. bobblehead. I’m interested in seeing what era of Cal Ripken will be chosen, and whether or not the bobblehead will feature one of the 132 batting stances Cal used during his career.

As Cal Jr. approaches his 60th birthday this year, almost 20 years since he retired from baseball, it’s worth mentioning that, as a baseball player, Cal’s consecutive games streak was nothing but a sidebar.

Cal changed the notion of what a shortstop was supposed to be. Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter have him to thank for that. I don’t know how sincere A-Rod is in general (I’m guessing not very), but his insistence on Ripken moving to shortstop in that last All-Star Game was absolutely sincere.

He was the smartest baseball player of his time all the time, though he was only the best player of his time in short spurts. He was a unique and quirky player, and not just with the batting stances. There was a certain genius to him that was innate, or maybe just gleaned from spending his childhood in baseball clubhouses like Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes did.

Cal’s son Ryan attended Gilman School when I worked there. One day I walked out the back door of the new academic building, which was right behind the baseball field. I looked up and saw someone throwing batting practice 400 feet away, and I immediately knew who it was. Only Cal threw a baseball like that, and it must have been a dream for many of those kids to step into the box against him even for a few seconds.

So this report came out from the USGA and R&A, the “Distance Impacts Project,” and I suppose what it said was predictable. “In summary,” the report noted, “we believe golf will thrive over the next decades and beyond if this continuing cycle of ever-increasing hitting distances and golf course lengths is brought to an end.”

This brought out the usual solutions, such as more club regulations and “tournament balls,” and also the typical thoughts from professional tour players like Dustin Johnson (so what?) to Graeme McDowell (on some courses I feel like I’m two shots behind standing on the first tee).

As I read about the study, and thought about this issue that’s been at top of mind in professional and top amateur golf for years, I thought back to a round I played last May.

My usual group, for various reasons, wasn’t available. So I stood on the first tee with a nice man and his son-in-law. The younger fella walked back to the back tee box, the one that began the 7,100-yard course with the course rating of 74.0 and the slope rating of 137.

And the speed with which this man hit the ball was frightening. Even standing even with him or behind him, I’d often lose the flight of the ball almost immediately. But he had no idea where it was going. I can’t imagine he was having fun, though I could imagine he’d have fun if a bunch of those 320-yard drives were going straight that day.

My point? Being able to hit the ball “too long” is okay, but being able to hit the ball “too long” and in play is actually really hard. Being able to hit the ball “too long” and in play and also having the skills to play delicate 85-yard wedge shots and beautiful rhythmic chips around the green is even better. So why would we want to take that away from a high-level golfer, pro or not?

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we're heading to new york!


We have 14 people signed up for this trip so far!!! It's going to be a blast!

Maybe the O's aren't going to be all that good in 2020. We know that going in. But what you might not know is how much fun a #DMD road trip can be in the summer! And what better place to visit and take in a couple of games than New York?

Join us in NY on June 23-24 to see Trey Mancini and the O's take on the Yankees.

We're going to the Big Apple to support our Birds, June 23 and 24. And we've love to have a bunch of O's fans join us in the Bronx for a couple of days in New York and two baseball games.

We'll leave on Tuesday, June 23 around noon and check in at our Manhattan hotel sometime around 4 pm. The game that night is at 7:05 pm. We'll have upper deck seats for that, with unlimited food and drinks for everyone in our group.

The next night, June 24, we'll have a pre-game bullpen party and awesome left field seats close to the field.

Once the game's over, we'll head back home, arriving in Baltimore after midnight.

If you're interested in going on the trip, send me a quick email so I can start building the trip list: 18inarow@gmail.com.

I Am Catholic
Sunday
February 9
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1994



ten things you should know...


If you watch today's final round of the PGA Tour event at Pebble Beach, here are a few nuggets for you that could give off the "smartest guy in the room" vibe.

Even though I only played Pebble Beach once during my recent four-day trip out there, I soaked in a lot of information, both just from my own observations and from caddie lore that was shared throughout the trip.

The TOUR event actually isn't very popular -- While everyone absolutely loves Pebble Beach and the area around the course, the tournament itself is one of the most unpopular on the PGA Tour. To wit, this week's event has one of the weakest overall fields of the year. Why? Three reasons. First, the Pro-Am format lends itself to 5.5 hour rounds. Each TOUR player gets paired up with an amateur. The amateur is typically a decent player (handicap ranges this week go from 0 to 22), but there's a difference between a 10 handicap playing at his/her home course and teeing it up in a national competition at three tough venues.

Second, the tournament uses three different courses; Monterey Peninsula CC, Spyglass Hill GC and Pebble Beach. That means you have to learn three courses instead of one, have to get your bags and equipment to three courses, etc. A tournament is hard enough when it's played on the same course for four days. Expecting a TOUR player to hop around to three different courses in three days and actually like the format is asking a lot.

Third, it's "party first, golf second" for a lot of people this week. It doesn't really resemble a golf tournament, except for the guy who gets the trophy Sunday afternoon. The entire week is filled with dinner, drinking, concerts, shows, etc. Most of the top players who have their financial security handled don't need to go out and schmooze at night. But the mid-tier players and rookies who are playing in the event feel compelled to go out and entertain and hang with their amateur partners. And ultimately, that takes away from why they're there in the first place. To play golf.

The 7th hole at Pebble Beach plays 105 yards. Players have hit lob wedges and 5-irons into the green throughout the years of the Pro-Am tournament.

Pebble Beach isn't very difficult -- Like any course, Pebble can be toughened up, as it was last summer in the U.S. when Gary Woodland posted 13-under for 4 days. But all in all, Pebble is not very difficult. There are some tough holes, for sure. #7 is a tricky 105 yard hole. #8, #9 and #10 are three holes where you really have to hit it straight (and long, helps, too). But other than the dangerous 14th hole -- a par 5 with a crazy green -- the back nine is fairly easy.

There's expensive, and then there's Pebble Beach -- Everything costs a lot of money at Pebble Beach. Coffee: $5.00 Bagel: $7.50 Burger: $18.00 Wine: $20-$25 glass, minimum. I tell anyone who goes out there to expect to pay $200 a day for food/drinks. No matter where you go, no matter what you eat (assuming you're going to eat regular meals), you'll wind up spending $200 per-day on food and drinks. And $200 is a minimum number.

The practice facilities are bland -- We played three courses on our trip out there; Pebble Beach, Spyglass and Spanish Bay. None of them had practice facilities worth a hoot. The one at Pebble Beach was "decent", but certainly nothing like you'd find, say, at Caves Valley. Property value being what it is in that part of the region, a huge, 10-acre driving range wouldn't be nearly as smart as selling two or three houses on that same parcel of land. So they're really "warm-up" facilties rather than "practice facilities".

It really is that beautiful -- You'll hear Jim Nantz wax poetic throughout today's final round about the beauty of Pebble Beach and the quaint town of Carmel. Nantz should know all about it...he lives there, now. Unlike Augusta National, which in person looks very different from what you see on TV, Pebble Beach looks exactly like what you'll see on TV. The views and the beauty of the area surpass the quality of the golf course, if I'm being honest. It's a great golf course, don't get me wrong. But the piece of land it sits on and the Pebble Beach are remarkably gorgeous. I haven't been to many places in my life where I said, "Boy, I'd live here in a heartbeat." I'd live at Pebble Beach in a heartbeat. If I had $30 million, that is.

The greens aren't great -- One of the reasons why they play the TOUR event there every February is that it's the best time of the year for them to be able to cut the greens on a daily basis and not have the poa annua take over by 12 noon. Poa annua greens are great to putt on for about six hours every day. But the small flowers start to pop up once the sun hits its peak and by mid-afternoon, putting can be tricky. Regular golfers don't mind it much or even notice the real difference. TOUR players don't care for bad bounces and putts that should break a half-ball to the left but instead actually wiggle a touch to the right. They used a special chemical on the greens last June when they held the U.S. Open to keep the poa at bay, but the maintenance required to apply it and control it would be too much to do on a daily basis.

The caddies know -- I guess if you've lived there your whole life, you know the differences in wind, air temperature, etc. If you do make it out to Pebble Beach, listen to your caddies. They tell too many stories and jokes, in all fairness, but I assume they figure that's half of what you're paying for. But when they tell you the shot you're facing has a carry of 145 but it plays more like 175, you'd be well served to just believe them. Or you can try and hit your 160 club there because you don't believe there's a 30 difference in carry vs. wind and you'll come up 15 yards short. We played a par 3 at Spanish Bay that was 145 to the hole from a slightly downhill tee box. I assumed it played 140 or so. "This is actually uphill," the caddie said. "Or at least it plays like that. It's 155 to the hole." My well hit 9 iron came up about 50 feet short of the hole. I listened the rest of the way to my caddie's advice.

You're not getting a tee time at Cypress Point -- Lots of people make the trip to Pebble Beach and wonder, "How do I get my foursome on at Cypress Point?" Answer: You don't. You can actually see Cypress Point from several holes at Spyglass Hill. But they're worlds apart, in reality. No one plays Cypress Point unless they're invited, and even then, a guest can only play on Monday or Tuesday morning at 7:00 am. Even the TOUR players who are in town for the tournament this week know the drill. You don't just "phone the pro shop" to see if you can get on. Ian Poulter apparently found that out once.

Pace of play moves along -- Roughly ten years ago, the biggest drawback at Pebble Beach was pace of play. The rounds would take six hours, mainly because of photo and video opportunities that each group took it upon themselves to create. That's no longer the case. You're told before you start to keep photography to a minimum and it's strongly suggested that you allow caddies to do the picture-taking. Our round in October took exactly 4 hours and 20 minutes to complete. Our caddie knew the spots on the course for photos and he'd announce it ahead of time. "Next hole we'll take pictures right by the 7th tee so get a phone out for me." Sure, groups without caddies (and there are some of those) wouldn't have that luxury, but caddies and groups playing up on them would send the message right away to pick up the pace. Or, the caddies simply go up and tell them to get moving or skip a hole, one of the two.

It's expensive, but you should do it. -- A 4-day trip with golf at the three big courses is going to run you $5,000-$6,000. It just is. But if you love golf and you have that sort of money to spend on something like a guy's trip to Pebble Beach, you will not regret it. I had this discussion with a friend back in January when the prospect of the Ravens playing in the Super Bowl was still a reality. I told him I probably wouldn't go to the game if they got in. He wondered why. "Because I'd rather spend $5,000 to go back to Pebble Beach than to spend $5,000 on a ticket to a game I can watch from a bar in Miami." I'll be going back someday. Maybe soon, in fact. It's worth the money. But it is, for sure, an expensive trip.

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we're heading to new york!


We have 14 people signed up for this trip so far!!! It's going to be a blast!

Maybe the O's aren't going to be all that good in 2020. We know that going in. But what you might not know is how much fun a #DMD road trip can be in the summer! And what better place to visit and take in a couple of games than New York?

Join us in NY on June 23-24 to see Trey Mancini and the O's take on the Yankees.

We're going to the Big Apple to support our Birds, June 23 and 24. And we've love to have a bunch of O's fans join us in the Bronx for a couple of days in New York and two baseball games.

We'll leave on Tuesday, June 23 around noon and check in at our Manhattan hotel sometime around 4 pm. The game that night is at 7:05 pm. We'll have upper deck seats for that, with unlimited food and drinks for everyone in our group.

The next night, June 24, we'll have a pre-game bullpen party and awesome left field seats close to the field.

Once the game's over, we'll head back home, arriving in Baltimore after midnight.

If you're interested in going on the trip, send me a quick email so I can start building the trip list: 18inarow@gmail.com.

JERRY'S TOYOTA banner



Saturday
February 8
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1993



saturday stuff


During Friday's edition of Glenn Clark Radio, the show host asked me if the Red Sox/Dodgers trade (still not officially confirmed) in any way bothered me.

"Bothers me?" I asked. "How so?"

It's still not a done deal yet, but the Red Sox are on the verge of shipping Mookie Betts to the L.A. Dodgers.

Clark went on to ask if it bothered me that one really rich franchise (Boston) that could easily afford the contracts of both Mookie Betts and David Price would dump them for a couple of hotshot prospects and shave nearly $60 million off their payroll, giving away one of the game's best offensive players and a still-decent-but-no-longer-great left handed starting pitcher.

It doesn't bother me in the least.

First of all, we can't really complain when the rich teams overspend (which they do) and then counter-complain when they decide they want to spend less. The luxury tax does matter in baseball, even though most of the really wealthy franchises sorta-kinda ignore it for a while in their quest to win a World Series.

If Boston doesn't want to pay Mookie Betts $350 million and they know that right now, why not just trade him and get a couple of kids who might help you win again in 2024? I don't see a problem with that. Unloading David Price as part of that deal was really smart, if you ask me. It would be akin to the Orioles trading away their only good player, Trey Mancini, and "adding" Chris Davis to the deal. We'd all applaud that move.

That the Dodgers are the ones scooping up Betts and Price could be looked at as an issue. I mean, why not just give the Dodgers Scherzer, Arenado and Judge too? At some point, we should all hope the Dodgers win a World Series just so their team payroll will get in under the $500 million mark. Right?

I don't have an issue with Boston getting rid of Betts. Sure, they have the money to pay him (now and in the future), but perhaps they don't want to pay him. I have no idea, because I'm not there every day. Maybe he's not the greatest locker room guy. Maybe he's already started telling people he can't wait to leave the organization. I couldn't tell you why the Red Sox wouldn't want to keep him around as a lifetime Red Sox player, but that's their call.


This year's NCAA Final Four will be held in Atlanta, Georgia.

Maryland, you might remember, once did themselves proud down there in the 2002 Final Four.

Mark Turgeon's Terps are now ranked #9 in the country.

And with last night's win at Illinois, it's more than fair to start at least looking at flights and hotel rooms for that first weekend in April.

Make no mistake about it, the Terps are getting hot at just the right time. Dale Williams does the heavy lifting from Friday evening's win in his review below. I'm just here to look at it from 35,000 feet and tell you a few things I see.

I wasn't around at practice, obviously, but there's little doubt that something changed with the Maryland program when the Mitchell twins departed in late January. It might have taken a few weeks to come together after their abrupt exit from the program, but I'm adding two (Maryland's massively improved play) and two (the Mitchell twins leaving) and I'm coming up with four.

Jalen Smith's play has been extraordinary over the last month. So much so, in fact, that he's officially now in the running for Big Ten Player of the Year. Others have more scoring numbers on their side (overall) but there's little argument that Smith has essentially carried the team on his back of late. Even last night when he was only good for 11 points, he still snagged a game-high 11 rebounds. Smith is all but done at Maryland, of course. He'll be a NBA draft pick in June and will not return for his junior year at College Park. But he has a lot of basketball left to play for Mark Turgeon still.

Barring something bizarre happening, the Terps are going to get the double-bye in the Big Ten tournament and might very well lock down the #1 seed in the next three weeks. They still have to face Michigan State twice, including at East Lansing next Saturday, and there's a road trip to take on pesky Rutgers still looming, so the Terps can't put it on cruise control just yet. But Maryland's rolling now and it sure looks like they're getting hot at the right time.

FYI, I checked on flights last night. There are gobs of Baltimore-Atlanta options for Friday, April 3 and hotel rooms for that weekend are plentiful in Atlanta. Just sayin'...


The match-up I dread the most in the NHL is front and center tonight as the Capitals host the worst franchise in the history of the sports. It will be the first regular season visit by the Flyers this season, with the series tied 1-1 after the two teams split a pair of games in Philly earlier in the season.

This one's titled: Miserable in Philadelphia. Also known as: The best picture in all of sports.

The one saving grace from tonight's game is that Alex Ovechkin is sitting at 698 career goals. Wouldn't it be glorious if he dumped two into the net tonight and hit the historic 700 goal mark with the Flyers and their fans having to endure the celebration that would unfold on the ice? Ahhhhhh, just thinking about that gives me goose bumps.

Washington is rolling along with the best record in the Metropolitan Division while the Flyers are in the thick of the playoff race with 65 points. Much to everyone's chagrin, Philadelphia is actually on the upswing. They'll likely do enough to squeeze into the post-season and they could be a tough out in April if their goaltender gets hot, which is always the primary factor in any team's Stanley Cup run. I hate to even think about it, but the possibility does exist that sometime in April or May the Caps and Flyers could meet in a 7-game series. I might have to disconnect myself from the internet for those 10 days if, in fact, the two teams face one another.

In the meantime, I'm hoping beyond hope that Ovechkin can score twice tonight and hit that 700 goal mark. That sure would be sweet. And doing it against the Flyers.....oh, man, that would just be about the best thing that's happened thus far in 2020.


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DALE WILLIAMS returns for his fifth season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2019-20 season.


terps roar past illinois for big road win


I’ll label last night’s Maryland win at Illinois as “impressive".

The Maryland Terrapins withstood some torrid early shooting by the Fighting Illini, and they showed massive poise and determination thereafter, beating Illinois 75-66 on the road. The Terps may have lost the first ten minutes of the game, but they won the last 30 impressively, outscoring Illinois 58-35 after falling behind by 14 points in the first half.

Anthony Cowan was masterful while scoring 20 points on 11 shots and Darryl Morsell added 18 on just 10 attempts. Jalen Smith had another double/double with 11 points and a team high 11 rebounds.

The first half featured some great basketball and a massive momentum change. Illinois came out on fire. They were knocking down threes and finishing inside. The Terp defense wasn’t exactly horrible, but the Illini were just that good. Illinois forged a 14-point lead while their shooting hand was hot (5-7 from three). They led 31-17 with just under 10 minutes left in the half.

After leading Maryland with 17 points in Tuesday's win over Rutgers, Anthony Cowan again led the way last night with 20 points in Maryland's road victory.

Mark Turgeon tried almost everything to change the course of the game. He called timeouts and drew a technical foul. Nothing worked until they changed defensively philosophy.

Illinois was on pace to score 60 points in the half when Marc Turgeon decided to go with some light full court pressure and a zone defense. The switch worked, as the Illini offense stalled for the rest of the half and the Terps got back into the game.

When the Illinois three pointers dried up and the Maryland threes started to fall, the Illini lead began to shrink. Maryland also started to push the tempo and get inside. By the time Aaron Wiggins hit a three just before the first half ended, Maryland was solidly back in the game, down by just 2 points at intermission, 42-40.

Each team’s featured guard, Cowan for Maryland and Ayo Dosunmu for Illinois, dominated their team’s scoring in the first half. Cowan poured in 13 while Ayo Dosunmo tallied 10 points in the first 20 minutes.

The momentum stayed with Maryland as the second half began. Illinois went without a field goal for the first 8 minutes of the second half and by the time they finally broke the ice, the Terps had a seven-point lead. Although Illinois twice hit three pointers to cut the lead to one point, Maryland was able to answer with a three of their own to immediately extend the gap back to 4. The Terrapins would lead for the rest of the game.

Turgeon eventually went back to his staple man-to-man defense, but the Illini had lost their offensive mojo, and the crowd had been hushed. Also, Maryland was playing some inspired defense.

This was the second straight game that I thought Maryland showed some great heart. It would have been easy for them to panic early and get blown out. That may have happened if this game had been played in December. But this team has grown, and every player seemed to play with emotion, and yet with poise. Eric Ayala still needs to hit more shots, but there’s not one Terp who I would say had an off night or didn’t play with urgency.

The only concerns about last night’s game were the exposure of a real depth issue and the 5 turnovers by Morsell. Once thought to be a strength, depth now looks to be an issue as the Terps last night were effectively 6 deep. Outside of the top 6 plyers, the others logged just 13 minutes without getting a single point or rebound.

Morsell played such a strong game, but his 5 turnovers hurt the Terps. That being said, it’s much easier to accept the miscues when Morsell is being as aggressive and effective as he was last night. He was really good.

The Terps were impressive last night. Their poise, heart, and intensity were all on display and they earned their number 1 spot in the Big Ten. Things should get a bit easier for the Terps when Nebraska comes to the XFINITY Center on Tuesday for an 8:30 tip-off.

Friday
February 7
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1992



saving the preakness (for the 12th time)


I don't really know if this current attempt to save the Preakness is the 12th such occurrence or not. But it definitely feels that way.

Stop me if you've heard this story before.

Roughly $180 million of work in and around Pimlico Race track is about to be waved in front of the Maryland General Assembly in Annapolis. There are still plenty of hoops to jump through, but if that money finally gets approved and the work actually gets done, the Preakness will survive and thrive at Pimlico and Baltimore will have one-upped Laurel in the fight for one of horse racing's three triple crown races.

I know what you're thinking: I'll believe it when I see it.

I feel the same way.

Rather than bring in tents and temporary buildings for the Preakness every May, the new Pimlico facility would have most of those structures permanently in place in the infield so other events could take advantage of them.

I trust the whole process about as much as I trust the Orioles to rebound and once again dominate the American League East by 2025. In fact, I probably trust the Orioles more than I trust Maryland lawmakers and horse racing enthusiasts to get this Pimlico project off the ground.

When you trust the Orioles to win, you know you're taking a leap of faith.

The Preakness is the centerpiece of the redevelopment plan for Pimlico. Without the Preakness being held at Pimlico, there'd be no reason at all for the track to exist. Under the plan being presented to the General Assembly, the grandstand will essentially be gutted and rebuilt, the track itself shifted slightly in direction, and monies will also be poured into the Park Heights neighborhood that borders the race track.

Detractors of the whole idea will point to the $180 million and wonder if that money shouldn't be better spent somewhere else. Yes, perhaps it should. But do you really trust the state of Maryland and Baltimore City government to appropriately spend $180 million of "found money" on something sound? I sure don't.

The blessing of the money being spent on the Pimlico project is that the plans will be displayed for public consumption and we can all generally follow along to make sure it's coming together as promised.

Not that we'd have the power to do anything about it otherwise, but there's a checks and balances opportunity that exists as far as the race track goes. If we just handed over $180 million to Baltimore City and said, "Do some good with this, please" we might wind up with a dozen new children's books in unopened boxes in the basement of City Hall.

Better the devil you know than the devil you don't, as the saying goes. I'm not sure spending $180 million on the Preakness is actually the smart, prudent thing to do. But it's probably better to do that than rely on government officials to spend it elsewhere.

Horse racing in Maryland is pretty much dead. And that's not to say it couldn't work, because for a while, circa 1975, it was an important part of the Baltimore sports landscape. Here's one that's hard to believe: All three local TV sportscasts -- back then -- used to spend 20 seconds or so giving daily results of the 7th, 8th and 9th races at Pimlico.

But that was back when they actually ran a full 200-day schedule at Pimlico. In those days, people went to the track and wagered. Today, you can bet on every race in the country from your cell phone.

People don't go to watch "live" horse racing any longer, which is why Pimlico barely has a competitive racing card these days. It's the Preakness and nothing else, for the most part.

And before anyone jumps up and down and claims I'm "anti horse racing", you should know that's far from the truth. In my days on the radio, I was one of the only people in town who actually gave a rat's rear end about the sport and the industry. I would routinely do shows -- and series' of shows -- on racing and the track(s) and how to "fix" all of it. I cared.

But that was then and this is now, with all credit going to S.E. Hinton for that cliche. Like most everyone else who has been paying attention for the last couple of decades, I've lost faith in our political powers-that-be to get anything done and get it done the right way. It's like asking you to pinch hit in the 9th inning at Camden Yards. Back in the old days you were a pretty good hitter...but that was then and this is now. William Donald Schaefer isn't coming back to see this project through to its completion, in other words.

I always contended the only natural way to revitalize racing was to build a new track somewhere downtown. Horse racing -- or any sport, for that matter -- can rarely be saved just by polishing up the old jalopy and putting it back on the road as is. Everything in sports is typically saved by one thing and one thing only: a new facility. That's why they don't play baseball and football up on 33rd Street any longer. And, absent a new, 20,000 seat state-of-the-art indoor arena in the 1980's or 1990's, that's one of the biggest reasons why Baltimore never garnered a NBA or NHL franchise to call its own.

A new track downtown somewhere might have had a chance. "Might have" being the two key words there. A refurbished/rebuilt Pimlico? It will help the Preakness, which is good. But it's not doing anything else for Maryland's horse racing industry.

While the detractors of the $180 million will bellyache about those funds being used for entertainment instead of education, supporters of horse racing will contend that this is precisely what the industry needs to get it back up and percolating again. But that's just fantasyland stuff.

The Preakness is a viable, one-off entertainment day that's great for Baltimore and Maryland. Horse racing in general, though, is done. At least here, anyway.

Let's hope the General Assembly sees the bill through and Baltimore and Pimlico gets its $180 million. The folks at Laurel will get $175 million, by the way, to line their pockets and "boost" that ratty old track down there. But the real winner in the whole thing -- if it all faces into place -- will be Pimlico.

I'm not convinced the people in charge are trustworthy enough to move this project from the planning room to the point where shovels go in the ground. Our state local government isn't really well known for smart, proactive work, in case you haven't noticed.

I'll believe it when I see it.

Until then, I'm going to assume somewhere along the way it's going to get fouled up.

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DALE WILLIAMS returns for his fifth season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2019-20 season.


terps face big test at illinois tonight


While watching a replay of the Illinois and Maryland game from early December, it became very evident to me that Maryland is a far different team right now than the one that defeated the Fighting Illini in that early conference test.

There are no Mitchell twins, Hakeem Hart is seeing almost no action, and Jalen Smith is playing at a whole different level. This all should bode well for the Terps tonight.

Well, maybe not.

Kofi Cockburn had a solid first half in College Park back in December, then ran into foul trouble and wasn't a factor in the final 20 minutes.

In the first half of that first meeting, Illinois dominated. They lead 39-25 after 20 minutes and looked like a quicker, bigger, and stronger team than their Big Ten counterparts. Maryland had little answer for the massive Kofi Cockburn or the speed and power of Andres Feliz.

Fortunately for the Terps, Cockburn played less than six minutes in the second half and Maryland made a dramatic comeback to win by a single point, 59-58.

There will be no similar comeback in Champaign’s State Farm Center tonight. If Maryland gets behind by 15 points, like they did in December, this game will be over.

Illinois and Maryland have identical 8-3 conference records and sit atop the Big Ten. However, the Illini have yet to beat any of the top 5 conference schools. They lost to Iowa, Michigan State, and Maryland while having yet to play Penn State. All three of Illinois' losses have come on the road.

As I wrote in the pre-game analysis of that December contest, I really like the guard rotation of Illinois. Starters Ayo Dosunmu, Trent Frazier, and Damante Williams are a formidable trio. Reserves Feliz and Allan Griffin offer little drop off. Inside, Cockburn and Giorgi Bezhanishvili (Bez), are stout and strong.

The fashion by which Illinois lost the first game will have them ready for redemption tonight. They should have the fresher legs, as they haven’t played since Sunday. The Terps played a tough game against Rutgers on Tuesday, and then have to travel.

If Illinois can knock down a few early threes, it will be tough for the Terps to answer. I look for a very physical game with both teams playing aggressive basketball. With the strong guard play and big interior lineup Illinois boasts, plus the home court, I don’t see the Terps walking away with the sole lead in the Big Ten.

Bez and Cockburn will avoid the foul trouble that limited both of them in game one. Maryland continues to struggle from the outside, and Illinois wins a hard-fought game, 70-64.

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we're heading to new york!


We have 14 people signed up for this trip so far!!! It's going to be a blast!

Maybe the O's aren't going to be all that good in 2020. We know that going in. But what you might not know is how much fun a #DMD road trip can be in the summer! And what better place to visit and take in a couple of games than New York?

Join us in NY on June 23-24 to see Trey Mancini and the O's take on the Yankees.

We're going to the Big Apple to support our Birds, June 23 and 24. And we've love to have a bunch of O's fans join us in the Bronx for a couple of days in New York and two baseball games.

We'll leave on Tuesday, June 23 around noon and check in at our Manhattan hotel sometime around 4 pm. The game that night is at 7:05 pm. We'll have upper deck seats for that, with unlimited food and drinks for everyone in our group.

The next night, June 24, we'll have a pre-game bullpen party and awesome left field seats close to the field.

Once the game's over, we'll head back home, arriving in Baltimore after midnight.

If you're interested in going on the trip, send me a quick email so I can start building the trip list: 18inarow@gmail.com.

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Thursday
February 6
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1991



"fixing" golf


On the heels of yesterday's piece here at #DMD, where I broke down some of the ways I think sports is "missing it" these days, I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to pontificate about golf.

Like the sports I zeroed in on yesterday, golf has some issues. A recent report -- 18 months in the making -- was released that focused on how "length" has become such a dominating factor in the sport, in terms of the distance the golf ball travels. To that end, the increased length in terms of distance has led to golf courses of 7,500-8,500 yards being built throughout the country.

But golf's issues are far greater than this overhyped subject of "length". Sure, professional players are hitting the ball incredibly far off the tee, but the average golfer (15.7 handicap in 2019, according to Golf Magazine) hasn't seen the same percentage of increase as the pros have over the last decade or so.

Golf participation is down. Fewer people are picking up the sport, more people are giving it up, and the general summary of golf right now is that it's losing its appeal with the younger generation.

So I'll fix it today.

With night golf, you could tee off at 6:00 pm and play until 10 pm or so in mid-summer.

I won't really fix it, of course. My ideas, while sound, would require either too much of a shift in tradition or course owners wouldn't be willing to sink capital into a few of the projects that I believe would make the game more enjoyable for everyone.

And here's the thing. I'm not going to tamper at all with the game. We're not going to make the hole bigger (stupid idea...been bandied about for decades). We're not going to make the holes shorter (another dumb idea, hole length is critical to a fair score of "par"). And we're not going to allow you to move the ball into a "beneficial playing area" no matter if you're in the fairway or rough (the entire theory of golf is based on playing the ball as it lies...nothing should ever change that.)

The changes I'd put into play if I "ran" golf or owned a course are all submitted with two things in mind: Get more people interested in golf (1) and make it more enjoyable when they do play (2).

Let's understand a couple of things right away about golf. A) It's incredibly difficult. B) It takes too long.

"A" plays into "B" and "B" plays into "A". The more shots you hit, the longer you take to play, for the most part. If you take 100 shots and I take 75, I'll finish my 75 before you finish your 100. And the more shots you take and the harder it is, the less likely you'll want to spend 4.5 or 5 hours of your time out there being unsuccessful at something.

With that in mind, I'd do two things right away: Make the golf course 12 holes. Remove all of the sand traps/bunkers.

I'm not saying this just because my Calvert Hall team plays 12 hole matches in the MIAA...but let me stress to you how "perfect" 12 holes is. It takes no more than 3 hours to play, for starters. It's still a large enough sample size to have a fair competition with someone. Sure 18 holes tells a better story -- talent wise -- than does 12 holes, but if you made courses 12 holes we'd figure out how to play 12-hole matches in no time.

Golf's slow play issue would essentially be gone. No more 5 hour rounds. No more half-days of work used for client entertaining.

12 holes is perfect. Get to the course by 4:00 pm, done by 7:00 pm. How good would that be?

Why remove the sand traps? There's an easy explanation. They're tough to play out of, for starters. And if you removed the bunkers, your maintenance crew would have far less work to do each morning.

You can still leave the bunker imprint there and even let the grass grow to mid-calf length in those "bunker areas" if you want to keep some of the integrity of the hole intact. But there's no valid reason to have sand bunkers on any golf course any longer. All it does is slow things down and cost a lot of money to maintain.

Want more golfers? You need more daylight. And since we can't functionally add more daylight, let's just add more light, in general.

If each course added some kind of lighting on the incoming four holes, for example, you could get an extra hour of play out of each day. At 10-minute tee time intervals, that's roughly 24 more players you could add, per-day, if your timing works out right. If your greens fees are $80, that's almost $2,000 in additional daily revenue. Pull that off for 200 days a year and that's $400,000.

I don't know enough about electricity costs to tell you if burning those lights for an hour or hour and a half each day would eat up all of the $400,000 you generate. But that's an issue that can be addressed in a variety of ways, including a surcharge of $5.00 per-person to play under the lights, increased food and beverage sales on the course, etc.

The money you save by not having to worry about sand in the bunkers, maintaining it and replacing it, for example, would help defray the lighting costs. What would get you more players and make them enjoy the sport more....bunkers with sand or lights on the last few holes? You know the answer.

Lights on the last few holes of the course makes great sense. Originally it would be a novelty and the courses with lights would be a major attraction. I know it's not easy to do (or people would be doing it now) and it would take some serious financial backing to make it work, but we're in 2020 now. Nothing is impossible. All things should be considered.

Music should be encouraged and played. I occasionally have friends as guests at Eagle's Nest and I give them all fair warning before we start. If you have a tough time playing golf when music is being played, you won't care for my course/club. Music is constantly on. It's not played at a loud volume or anything like that. You can't hear Van Halen on the 7th fairway if my group has it playing in the first fairway.

But, music is very much a part of the Eagle's Nest golf culture. And it's that way at a lot of places these days.

People like to have fun. Music is fun. Music should be part of golf.

Those are my four starting points.

Courses should be 12 holes. I know Brandel Chamblee of The Golf Channel has promoted this idea in the past. I think it's a no brainer. You can still have 18 hole courses, obviously, and true golf "competitions" will likely still be played out over 18 holes, but a course with 12 holes only would be a massive invitation for more people to take up golf and/or play it more regularly.

No more sand traps. They're silly. Grow the grass mid calf-high and maintain it once a month instead of every day.

Have some kind of lighting on the last 3 or 4 holes of the course. You'll be able to get more feet on the course with that extra hour of light.

Play music throughout the course and/or encourage people to bring their own music (even better).

Golf should resemble an outdoor neighborhood party. Or there should at least be courses in the area who focus on that sort of "brand".

You can still belong to a club that honors the longstanding traditions (18 holes, sand traps, no lights, no music or outside "noise") if you so choose. I'm not saying we should do away with those clubs and/or that approach to golf. But I am saying that alternative approaches should be considered in an effort to get new people interested and, hopefully, keep them interested.

Make golf easier, quicker and more fun and you'll see a new wave of interest almost immediately.

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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.


news and views


As often happens in the wake of a divorce, Larry King and his ex-wife Shawn recently sold their house. It went for nearly $17 million, so they made a nice profit after reportedly buying it for just under $12 million in 2007. The house has seven bedrooms and nine(!) bathrooms, a pool and a gym, and a guesthouse of course—does any abode in Beverly Hills not have a guesthouse?

King had a rough 2019…he revealed in November that he had a stroke last March and was actually in a coma for a while prior to heart surgery, and that he doesn’t really remember much of what went on for months. He’s 86 now, though he’s back at work at least part-time on his internet talk show.

Back in his somewhat younger days, King wrote a column in USA Today. “News and Views” was its name, but it was really just a seemingly random, stream-of-consciousness list of celebrity shout-outs, personal likes and dislikes and references to his childhood in Brooklyn. It was Twitter well before Twitter, but without most of the cyberbullying.

As I’ve done a few times before, here’s another attempt at King’s News and Views, #DMD style. Best wishes to King for a better 2020…

This Patrick Mahomes character is ok, but he’s no Leonard Ray Dawson. Let’s see Mahomes host Inside the NFL for 25 years…The time’s finally yours, Andy Reid…Can we go to “AFC-NFC World Championship Game?” Super Bowl just isn’t cutting it for me…Up with People was terrific at halftime, weren’t they?...The best quarterback to play for both the 49ers and Chiefs? Has to be Steve Bono, by a nose over Elvis Grbac…How a team can be successful without running the Packers’ sweep is beyond me…64 degrees Sunday at game time in South Florida? We need a warmer place for these games. I’m thinking Palm Springs. Hey, it was good enough for Sinatra.

Former Loyola lacrosse star Pat Spencer is enjoying an outstanding grad-student season with the Northwestern men's basketball team.

Looking forward to the NCAA tournament in a few weeks. If CCNY can’t win it, give me West Virginia. That Bob Huggins is a class act…Those Terps really love the three-pointer! They’d rather shoot contested 22-footers with one second on the shot clock than score layups on the fast break. Analytics, they tell me…The game really misses another class act—Rick Pitino…Boy, when I get upset, I only wish I was as calm as Iowa’s Fran McCaffery…I saw that Kansas and Kansas State got in a fight. Someone told me that Kansas State is in Manhattan. And I thought it was in Missouri…Those Cameron Crazies are just the best. What’s better for a fan than being told what to say off a prepared script?

Non-sports…If you’re looking for a place to get the real scoop on the coronavirus, you won’t do better than Chinese state TV…Is this “Impossible” burger guaranteed to keep me from having a heart attack? If not, I don’t want it…Let’s have another 1980 TV show remake, like Hawaii Five-0 and Magnum, P.I. I vote for “Bosom Buddies.”…When I’m looking for a quick laugh and hoping to feel better about the world, I head right to NBC’s “This Is Us”…I’m glad Tom Brady did that whole thing for Hulu. It just wasn’t right going more than four hours without talking about him…Kudos to all those guys who predicted a cold, snowy winter around here. Spot on, fellas.

Shout-outs...Lamar Jackson won the NFL MVP award unanimously. He was my choice too, just ahead of Jameis Winston, whose “30-30” season was quite an accomplishment…Webb Simpson birdied three straight to win in Phoenix. His full name is James Frederick Webb Simpson, while his wife’s name is Taylor Dowd Simpson (she goes by Dowd). I think they’ve spent a few days at the country club…Novak Djokovic won the Australian Open for the eighth time…has anyone in the U.S. actually been awake to watch any of those matches?...It’s amazing how good Pat Spencer is at basketball, but it says something that he’s probably Northwestern’s best player.

The greens fee at Pebble Beach moves to $575 per round April 1. Jim Nantz’s backyard par-3 is part of the deal, right?...The AT&T pro-am is there this week. If I were playing, I’d like my celebrity partner to be either J-Lo or Shakira…The best college basketball player in Baltimore is Loyola’s Andrew Kostecka, and he’d be even better if Spencer had decided to play point guard at Loyola for one year instead of Northwestern…The best young player in the NBA is from—you guessed it—Slovenia…The Terps were ranked No. 5 in the RPI earlier this week. It figures that the NCAA no longer uses that metric…Is it even necessary for the Orioles to have Spring Training? What difference is it going to make?

Philadelphia stories...Flyers’ mascot Gritty has been cleared of any wrongdoing in an alleged November assault of a 13-year-old. That does not make he/she any less frightening…Love the revisionist history on Andy Reid in Philly. We loved him the whole time! Spare me…St. Joe’s fired legendary coach Phil Martelli after last year. If they were looking to lose their first nine conference games by double digits under the new coach, then well done!...Some rich guy who sits courtside at Xfinity Center actually believed Jay Wright might leave Villanova for Maryland in 2011…I’m thinking Bryce Harper might be able to lead the Phillies to 83 or 84 wins this year as opposed to 81 last season.

Mike Trout update...he still hasn’t won a playoff game. I’m thinking Anthony Rendon might help…North Carolina lost to Boston College on Sunday. How many more years can Roy Williams take?...Loyola’s Kevin Lindley has taken over the No. 7 from Pat Spencer this year in case you’re wondering who that is out there…San Diego State might go undefeated in men’s basketball this year…Watch out, this year’s Duke team might be subject to another Mercer or Lehigh upset…This year’s Summer Olympics are in Tokyo—didn’t remember that until I looked it up…Personally, I was rooting for Almaty, Kazakhstan, for the next Winter Olympics, just for Borat appearances.

And finally…Expect Chiefs-Patriots as the Thursday season opener in September. Good luck Jarrett Stidham...I’m also betting on Ravens-Jaguars for Week 1, televised to 4.7% of the country…I can’t be the only one looking forward to the continuation of this preseason winning streak…I have an idea for the Baseball Hall of Fame. Instead of inducting an extra 15 guys for a Centennial year, just induct an extra 15 guys for a Steroid year. Great publicity!...Reading the Golf Digest equipment issue right now. Every one of these drivers flies completely straight and feels great off the face, apparently…And you heard it here first—your Masters winner is not Tony Finau.

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I Am Catholic


Wednesday
February 5
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1990



nothing remarkable about seeing it live


I ventured down to College Park with our intrepid basketball analyst, Dale Williams, last night.

The best part of the night was, by far, catching up with him.

Maryland's basketball experience is, to put it bluntly, bland. Maybe it's just me and my expectations. It could have been that the game featured a lot of bad basketball. Or maybe it is what I think it is -- that the production of putting on a live sporting event lacks imagination these days.

And this isn't really an attempt to pick on Maryland basketball, per se. It will be, as you'll see in the context below, more about every sport and a lot of teams. Maryland just has the recency bias because I've been there twice in the last two months.

I used to be a set-list-peeker when I'd go to a concert. By that, I mean I'd venture to the internet a week or two out to see the set-list of the various shows the performer I was going to see had utilized in previous shows. I eventually stopped peeking once I realize a lot of the set lists don't change from show-to-show.

I love Billy Joel to death, but on the most recent monthly run of his Madison Square tour, he opens with the same song -- The Natural -- every night.

Another one of my favorite bands of all-time, Rush, had the same habit. They'd play 18 songs on Tuesday night in Chicago, the exact same 18 songs two nights later in Cleveland, and the exact same 18 songs in Philadelphia the very next evening. I get it. Nearly everyone in Chicago is different than the folks watching the show in Cleveland. Therefore, they don't know the difference, set-list wise. But it speaks to a higher issue, in my opinion.

It speaks to their comfort level. "I'll just play The Natural, Big Shot, Just The Way You Are and I Go To Extremes again because the band knows that flow really well." Fair enough. The band's flow is important. But it's incredibly flat if you are a concert goer who knew going in they played those same four songs two nights earlier in Buffalo. You almost expect more...even though you weren't actually in Buffalo. You feel slighted, somewhat, by Billy's lack of effort to mix things up.

Back to the Terps...

To the athletic department's credit, they didn't bite the apple last night when the game wasn't sold out. In other words, they announced the "real" crowd (15,855) instead of a sellout (17,950). But as I sat and watched the game, it made me wonder, naturally, how the Terps couldn't sell out a Big 10 game against an opponent with a fan base just three hours away? Oh, and this isn't Rutgers 2016, the league pushover. Despite their tepid performance last night, this Rutgers team has been ranked in the Top 25 this season and look like a 70/30 bet to make the NCAA tournament in March.

As we drove home last night, Dale brought up the attendance. "Pretty disappointing crowd," he said. "Anytime I see empty seats like that, I wonder if the attendance would have been better if the opponent was Virginia or Clemson or NC State?"

To wit, the discussion about the Big Ten move has been discussed ad nauseum, but still bears mentioning. It's just not as exciting as was the ACC. The style of basketball is different. And other than Penn State, which is clearly not really a football rivalry, the only in-the-blood rival the school has in the Big Ten are the Nittany Lions. No one else in the Big Ten gets the fan base's blood boiling.

Point to any of the external circumstances you want about last night's crowd. Early game (7:00 pm). Rutgers isn't the most inviting opponent. Lots of folks just went hard on Super Bowl Sunday and aren't yet ready for another night out. The Capitals were home last night playing the Kings before a sellout crowd. All four of those factors might have been part of the equation.

But to my eyes, a bigger part of the issue, at nearly every sporting event, is the lack of seeing something new.

In one of his (many) great books, marketing mastermind Seth Godin talks about the importance of what he calls, the Purple Cow. He uses the purple cow as a metaphor for doing something remarkable. And as I watch live sporting events, nothing about them really stands out as all that remarkable. It's the same thing, game after game, pigeon-holed into the exact same time during the game.

Either that or the production crew totally misses the point.

I went to the Towson-College of Charleston basketball game on Saturday afternoon at SECU. During the pre-game warm-ups, loud rap music blared from the speaker system. I might have been one of the only 57 year old white guys in the crowd to know several of the artists and lyrics, but I've had an affection for certain types of rap music for two decades or so. But, based on a scan of the audience, I can say for certain the majority of the folks in the stands would have preferred something a little more soft than say, Rick Ross.

So exactly who was the music being played for before the game? The players? Sure, it might have been their music of choice, but a lot of them had on their listening gear to start with. If the 750 people sitting in the building are largely older -- and it's VERY easy to scan the arena seating and figure that out -- why wouldn't you play something a little more connected to their likely musical interests? This.....I've never really understood. Are you playing music for 16 basketball players or 750 people in the stands who paid money to enter the facility?

I think the unfurling of the big Maryland flag (if that's the correct terminology) is a cool idea. But here's the thing. There's nothing at all new about it. Game in, game out, the video they play on the screen is the same. The music is the same. In fact, they do it at exactly the same time. Every. Single. Game. And while it's cool to see the kids in the upper deck get it started and help lower it down to the floor, it's incredibly boring to have it all happen in such a cookie-cutter fashion.

The player introductions? Incredibly boring. "A six-nine sophomore from Baltimore, Maryland, Jalen Smith..." And out he comes, meeting a benchwarmer at the end of the line to do some sort of fancy handshake or skit. Doing that once or twice a season? Really cool. Doing it for all 18 home games. Zzzzzzzzzzzzz...

Here's a thought. Introduce every guy. Just say their name. They're all on the team, right?

How about bringing each player out with his favorite professor/instructor? You can insert the joke here, but that would also be a nice touch for the educators.

Bring out a different Maryland coach with each player. Who is the swimming coach? Golf coach? Tennis coach? Give them a small slice of the limelight one night.

I could come up with 18 different introduction ideas in about two hours.

Unfurl the flag at a different time.

The Ravens are guilty of this, too.

I get it. There are probably only so many ways to introduce the football team. But this week it's the defense, next week it's the offense, and so on. Same music, same smoke, same lights, etc.

There's nothing "remarkable" about any of it. Not if you go often, anyway.

So while most of the blame these days goes to television as the easy "way" to watch sports these days, I'm not so sure that's entirely the problem. I could have stayed home last night instead of fighting 5 o'clock traffic. I could have watched it from the comfort of my living room. But I wanted to go, so I went.

And the product was, by and large, very forgettable. I've found myself thinking the same thing at Capitals games, Orioles games and Ravens games, too. "This was fun...but it was almost 'forced fun'."

Last week's PGA Tour event featured, without question, the most unique set-up in all of golf. An "arena" is basically built around the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale, where upwards of 30,000 people jam their way into seats to watch the players play ONE hole.

It started in the 90's. There were no stands or arena settings in place back then.

Then in the 2000's they built a small 5,000 seat configuration to give it a "distinct" feel.

Then they added more seats and suddenly 10,000 were there.

Now, there are 30,000 people sitting around one golf hole screaming and making a scene.

It's not something that would fit in at every tournament on the schedule, which is what makes it unique. I just had four friends go out there for the tournament because seeing the 16th hole live was a sports "bucket list" item for all four.

There's nothing at all "bucket-list" worthy about Maryland basketball or the Ravens or the Capitals. It's generally "well done" -- to their credit -- but it's also generally very predictable.

Either that or I'm just getting old and I'm the only goof who thinks about this kind of stuff.

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dale williams aims the
terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his fifth season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2019-20 season.


terps win: cowan, smith, morsell shine


There’s a saying regarding a golf score that states, “They don’t ask you how, just how many”.

The same might be said of Big Ten wins this year. It really doesn’t matter how you get them, just keep ringing up those victories. And Maryland did just that last night when they defeated Rutgers, 56-51, in a less than packed XFINITY Center. Both defenses played hard, but both offenses played ugly ball.

It was a 7-2 run over the last 2:12 that propelled the Terps to the win. Four of those points were scored by Anthony Cowan and Daryll Morsell accounted for the other three. All of the points came from the foul line. Rutgers missed their last five shots, helping Maryland to advance to an 8-3 Big Ten record, tied for tops in the league.

Three Terps scored in double figures, led by Cowan with 17 while Jalen Smith and Morsell both tallied 14.

Jalen Smith (14) and Darryl Morsell (14) scored half of Maryland's 56 points on Tuesday night in the win over Rutgers.

Maryland raced out to a 14-6 lead after 7:11 had been played in the first half. Then, in what I thought was a bizarre coaching move, Mark Turgeon elected to pull out his core group of starters and insert Chol Marial, Serrel Smith, and Ricky Lindo. Rutgers immediately went on a run that eventually reached 19-4.

During that run, the Scarlet Knight’s Akwasi Yeboah scorched Maryland for 9 points on three triples. The Terp defense started breaking down, and Maryland, even after the starters returned, never regained their offensive confidence or continuity. They shot just 2 of 17 for the remainder of the half. Even for a team that struggles offensively at times, playing the last 9:21 without making a field goal is mind boggling. But the Terps managed to pull it off.

Luckily for the Terps, Rutgers proved that they too could be offensively inept, as they failed to score at all during the last 5 minutes of the half. The end result of all this offensive futility was a 25-20 halftime lead for the Scarlet Knights.

For the half, Maryland shot 24% from the floor, and had 4 shots blocked. Their spacing looked awful, with the lane too crowded to allow for dribble penetration. It was a bad half triggered by the questionable substitutions by Turgeon.

Early in the second half, Maryland would cut the Rutgers lead to 1 by scoring 8 points in the paint. A layup by Danta Scott and 3 buckets by Morsell, including a monster dunk, would get the Terps within one possession, 29-28. Shortly after the last Morsell dunk, a Jalen Smith 3 gave Maryland a two-point lead, 31-29.

The Terps would grow the lead to 8 points by outscoring Rutgers 24-11 during the first 13:17 of the second half. It was at this point that Rutgers began pounding the offensive glass and racking up second chance points. 7 of the Scarlet Knight’s 8 offensive rebounds came in the second half. Most of those 7 happened during a 13-5 run that allowed Rutgers to knot the game at 49 apiece.

The score was 49 all when Cowan began the Terp run of free throws that secured the win. The first three were made after Cowan was fouled while shooting a three-point shot. He converted them all, and Maryland never looked back.

I will give some credit for Rutgers defensive success to their game plan. They frequently slacked off of the Terp perimeter players, and chose to crowd the lane. This made it extremely difficult for the Terp ball handlers to dribble penetrate.

In the second half, Maryland began to get inside with the dribble, and the results were positive. It’s what allowed them to get back into the game.

With the two teams combining to miss 78 shots, this game really didn’t come down to size, speed, or skill. It came down to heart. Maryland had the heart last night to stay tough despite being frustrated on the offensive end of court. They had the heart to make foul shots with the game on the line. And they also had the heart to play tough defense, and get stops, during the critical last 2:12 of the game.

If you are a Terps fan, you have to be encouraged with that effort. It wasn’t pretty, but when you look at the 8 conference wins, nobody asks, “How?”.

On Friday, first place in the Big Ten will be on the line when the Terps travel to Champaign for a rematch with Illinois. Game time is 8PM and the contest will be covered by Fox Sports 1.

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Tuesday
February 4
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#1989



wrapping up the nfl season


In honor of the 21 points the Chiefs scored in the final 8 minutes of Super Bowl 54...

1. If there was any one coach in the league who deserved a Super Bowl ring, it was Andy Reid. This theme might have been overplayed a bit, but that's only because it's undeniably true. He's been oft-criticized for some of his clock management skills, but the reality is every coach in the NFL has occasional issues getting it right. Reid is a great coach.

2. The Miami victory at New England in Week 17 really twisted the AFC playoffs in an unthinkable way. It meant the Chiefs only had to win one game to get to the AFC title game and it also meant -- by the fact they went to New England and won -- that the Titans wound up playing the Ravens in Baltimore. And, when the Ravens lost that game, Kansas City hosted the AFC title contest and their march to the Super Bowl was on clean pavement.

3. Speaking of "17", I can't for the life of me figure out what the owners are thinking about by playing 17 regular season games. I mean, I know it's all about money, money, money, but why wouldn't they try and put together an 18-game schedule as a way of making it even? The players will bellyache about it right up until......they get another $50 million added to the salary cap. 17 games -- such a stupid number. Drop the four pre-season games down to one and add two regular season games with another "bye" week in the schedule somewhere.

4. Why isn't the Super Bowl on a Saturday? I don't have any logical reasoning behind the question. But I've always wondered that. Why play the game at 6:30 pm on Sunday night? Why not play it at 8 pm on Saturday evening?

Could Josh Allen be a MVP candidate in 2020?

5. Lamar Jackson was the NFL head-turner this season. If the Bills help their quarterback, Josh Allen, with a couple of pass catching upgrades, I think he could be the 2020 head-turner. Not saying he's ready to be the MVP or anything, but I think he's due for a big season in '20.

6. Kyle Shanahan got roasted pretty good by the national media on Monday, but here's my question: Where's the critical eye for 49'ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh? I mean, he was the guy who was gifted a 20-10 lead with 8 minutes remaining. Where are all the hot takes surrounding Saleh?

7. The team that turned out to be the biggest disappointment in 2019 had to be the Los Angeles Rams. Some folks might say the Browns, but they weren't really beating anyone when it mattered. Others might say the Steelers, but they weren't doing anything of note without Roethlisberger. The Rams were a Super Bowl team 12 months ago and couldn't even sniff the playoffs in 2019. And if they're not careful, they'll be the 4th best team in the NFC West next season.

8. My "official" prediction with Matt Judon is: franchise tag. I don't think the Ravens are willing to fork over $80 million or so for him. And I also don't think they want to lose him, either. So they'll give Judon $16 million and ask him to have another great season and then can revisit the long term deal next spring. I'm still not completely sold on him. I think he's a good player who had a great season. I'm not sure he's a great player.

9. I also remain unconvinced on Hollywood Brown. And by "unconvinced", I mean as a long term, #1 receiver. I think he's very capable. He obviously has speed to burn. But until he goes through a couple of seasons playing 16 games and is available for all the offensive snaps, I'll hold off on a full appraisal.

10. Three teams that weren't very good in 2019 who could be decent enough to be in the playoff hunt next year: NY Jets, Miami Dolphins and Atlanta Falcons.

11. I think Joe Burrow was a great college quarterback. But there's no telling if he can go to Cincinnati and be a great professional quarterback. They are the Bengals, after all. He would have been much better off being picked by just about any other franchise. Think he'll lead the Bengals to the playoffs by year three of his career? I don't.

Matt Ryan and the Falcons...can they rebound and be a playoff contender in 2020?

12. Dustin Colquitt nearly fouled up the opening coin toss on Sunday night. After Richard Sherman called "tails" and it came up that way, the 49'ers cornerback quickly said, "We'll defer." The referee then said to the Chiefs, "The 49'ers have deferred, what do you want to do?" Colquitt said, "We'll kick..." and the referee quickly shot back, "You'll what?" just as another member of the Chiefs blurted out, "We want the ball!". Here's what needs to happen in 2020 (and beyond). The team that wins the coin flip gets their choice of kicking or receiving to start the game. Whatever they choose, the other team gets the opposite "benefit" to start the 3rd quarter. Easy enough. No need to ask anything of anyone. You kick to start the game, you get the ball to start the 2nd half.

13. The Chiefs may have themselves a scheduling problem. The Royals play at home on Thursday, September 10 at 12:35 pm (CDT). That's also the opening game of the NFL season, which traditionally features the defending Super Bowl champion opening at home. This past season, the league went away from that tradition in order to have the Packers and Bears play the opener as a way of celebrating the NFL's 100th anniversary. The Royals also play at home on Sunday, September 13. Will the Chiefs and Royals be able to work out a suitable solution, since they both share the same parking lot and facility staffers?

14. While on the subject of the schedule, my early guess is that Kansas City's visit to Baltimore next season will be a NBC Sunday Night game. CBS would probably like it for one of their late season 4:25 pm national games, though. You just know those two networks are going to be fighting like heck over that one. I assume Baltimore at New England will be a Sunday Night or Monday Night game as well.

15. I'm not a mock draft guy in the least, but a bird on a tree out at Owings Mills tells me the Ravens are very high on A.J. Epenesa, the edge rusher from Iowa.

16. This year's "deserving coach" was Andy Reid. Who takes over that title now that Reid finally has his ring? Kyle Shanahan makes the most sense, although his biggest heartbreak was when he was the offensive coordinator for the Falcons and they squandered that 28-3 Super Bowl lead. Still, it would be good to see him win a title soon. The other guy already has a ring. After seeing the Saints get ripped off at home in the NFC title game two years ago, I wouldn't have a problem with Sean Payton winning a Super Bowl again. As long as neither Shanahan or Payton win at the expense of the Ravens, I'm cool with one of those guys winning a title.

17. Michael Pierce to the Packers. Jimmy Smith to the Eagles. Tony Jefferson to the Steelers. You heard it here first.

18. Count me in as someone who thinks the Steelers can be a threat next season -- but only if Roethlisberger is healthy. They're not beating anyone with Rudolph or Duck under center. They need some help offensively, obviously, but if they get a couple of pass catchers and a decent running back, Pittsburgh could be good. My guess is the Derrick Henry rumors are just blogger-fodder from the Steel City, but he would clearly help them.

19. Philip Rivers? Tampa Bay, Nashville, Charlotte. One of those three. I can't imagine the Titans are ready to turn the team over to Ryan Tannehill for the long haul. What if Cam Newton pulls an Andrew Luck? And haven't the Bucs seen enough of Jameis Winston to know he's good-but-not-great? My guess? Rivers in Tampa Bay in 2020.

20. Terrell Suggs is a Hall of Famer. That's a done deal. Marshal Yanda should be a Hall of Famer, but as Tony Boselli is showing, offensive linemen have their work cut out for them. Yanda's career will wind up being much longer than Boselli's, who played just eight seasons. The other Raven who should get into Canton someday: Justin Tucker. But we know how it goes with kickers.

21. I have the Ravens going 11-5 next season and winning the AFC North for the third straight year. I know...I know...we haven't even seen the draft, free agent signings or the schedule, for that matter. But I'm going with 11-5 no matter happens between now and September.

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dale williams aims the
terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his fifth season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2019-20 season.


rutgers rolls into college park tonight


At almost the exact mid-point of the Big Ten regular season, Mark Turgeon’s Terps are just a half game away from the top spot in the conference.

With a 7-3 record, only Illinois and Michigan State (both 8-3) are ahead of Maryland. The Terps opponent tonight, the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers, are just a half game behind Maryland at 7-4.

The Rutgers record is not a fluke. They are a legitimate NCAA Tournament caliber team this season.

With wins over Wisconsin, Penn State and Seton Hall, Rutgers already has defeated three teams that topped the Terps. However, all three of those wins came inside the cozy confines of the Rutgers home court known as the RAC. Tonight they’ll play in College Park, where Maryland is 12-0 so far in '20-21.

#DMD basketball analyst Dale Williams sees another big night for Jalen Smith when the Terps take on visiting Rutgers this evening.

Rutgers has an assortment of big guards that play a relentless style of basketball. Ron Harper Jr is the epitome of this group. At 6’6” and 245 pounds, Harper has seen stints guarding the other team’s point-guard, and their 4-man. Offensively, on a team without a dominant producer, Harper is the leading scorer at 11.6 points-per-game.

Caleb McConnell is a 6’7” guard who plays pretty “long”. Montez Mathis --- from John Carroll High School in Bel Air -- is a strong 6’4” guard who can be expected to score tough buckets in the paint. He’s a real competitor.

One thing all of the Rutgers guards do is rebound. They are the main reason why Rutgers is in the top 3 in rebounding, both offensive and defensive, in the Big Ten. Off of the bench, Jacob Young and the athletic Geo Baker are both capable substitutes but I think Young is more of a scoring threat, as Baker tends to miss a large percentage of his shots.

Akwasi Yeboah and Myles Johnson do most of the work on the interior for the Scarlet Knights. Yeboah is a bit undersized at the power forward position, being just 6’6”. But, he’s a sturdy 230 pounds and the team’s best three-point shooter, at 38%.

This isn’t a stellar shooting group that head coach Stephan Pikiell puts on the floor. They have many players who could get hot, but on a nightly basis, there’s no sharpshooter of which to be afraid.

McConnel will struggle defensively. He’s long, but not quick at all. If Maryland’s Daryll Morsell gets the start, he’ll have a big night getting into the paint. Aaron Wiggins could beat McConnel also, but I think Morsell is tougher in the paint. Whoever is McConnell’s assignment, that Terp needs to attack.

I’m not sure what Rutgers starter is quick enough to guard Cowan. Maybe Baker or Young off of the bench, but none of the starters can handle Cowan’s bursts. Quickness should be a real issue for the visiting Scarlet Knights.

Defensively for Maryland, the keys are to keep Harper in check, and rebound well. Every Maryland defender, especially the guards, needs to put a body on a man. Keeping Rutgers off of the glass will be key, as I expect the Knights to miss a ton of shots.

I have much respect for this Rutgers program, and anticipate seeing their name when the brackets are announced come March. However, playing three home games in a row and then coming into the XFINTY Center to face a pumped up Maryland team, might not be the best scenario for a squad without a “go-to” scorer or a top line post game.

Rutgers has had success guarding on the perimeter, but tonight their lack of speed and the absence of a true rim protector will hurt them.

I think four Terps get into double figures tonight. Cowan, Smith, Morsell, and Donta Scott will lead Maryland to a 70-59 win. Game time is 7pm and can be seen on FS1.

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Monday
February 3
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#1988



super fourth quarter saved the day


Christmas was six weeks ago, but I was feeling very "bah-humbug" throughout most of the Super Bowl.

Commercials? Eh. A few were really well done. Most of them were very forgettable. Not many were worth their six million investment, plus production costs.

Google and Hulu won the night, I'd say. Google's ad was the most memorable and Hulu's, by far, drew the most social media reaction. Hulu's ad featured Tom Brady and served as a blend-in-moment for his earlier cryptic tweet during the week, where it looked like Brady might have been retiring or "saying goodbye" to the NFL.

Instead, Brady was merely saying goodbye to cable TV. Nicely done, Hulu. And give Brady credit. Even when his team wasn't there playing in the game, he figured out a way to make himself a topic of conversation nonetheless.

Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes having fun after last night's Super Bowl win.

Halftime show? Embarrassing. I mean, those two women can definitely sing, but I had to send my two children up to take a bath. Actually, my 12 year old son needed a cold shower. I have no idea what the NFL really wants to do with the halftime show. My guess is they're looking to keep the men glued to the set and craving -- uh, who was the sponsor, Pepsi? -- product of some kind. But last night's halftime performance should have been rated-R. I'm aware it's 2020 and all and there are very restrictions in our world today, but that Shakira/J-Lo episode was borderline pornographic.

The game? It was a chess match for three quarters, and despite my personal fondness for the great game of chess, we all know how boring it is watching two people play. The 49'ers defense did a great job of putting the heat on Patrick Mahomes early on and the San Fran offense did an even better job of keeping Mahomes off the field by chewing up the clock and executing their game plan.

But a 10-10 halftime score in the Super Bowl is like 5-under par winning the Masters, which is what Danny Willett did back in 2016 when Jordan Spieth gift-wrapped the Masters for him. In other words, it's not what we expected. Or wanted, even.

The end of the first half was a comedy of coaching from the 49'ers. They got the ball at their own 20 with 59 seconds remaining, armed with all three time outs. They ran a pedestrian play for three yards and called time ou -- wait, no they didn't. They let the clock keep running for some bizarre reason. Apparently afraid of their own shadow (insert Groundhog Day joke here), the 49'ers then ran another play into their own line for two more yards. Kansas City, coaching unafraid at this point, then called their own time out with 19 seconds remaining.

On 3rd and 5, Jimmy Garoppolo connected on a 20-yard pass. San Francisco now decided to play football again, so they called their first time out with 14 seconds remaining in the half.

Garoppolo then found George Kittle on a 42 yard throw down to the K.C. 13 yard line. The 49'ers, at worst, were going to kick a field goal and go into the locker room up 13-10, which would have made folks with "3" and "0" in the block pool world very happy indeed. Except Kittle got called for pass interference (ticky tack) and the half ended at 10-10 after San Fran took a knee.

Kyle Shanahan sprinkled those two time outs he didn't use on his halftime orange slices.

The 49'ers didn't lose the game because of what happened at the end of the second quarter, but it was further proof that some coaches stay engaged throughout the entire game and others are just happy to still be in the game for sixty minutes.

Kansas City couldn't do anything throughout the third quarter, but in fairness to Patrick Mahomes and their offense, the AFC champs only got the ball twice. Mahomes threw a terrible pick on K.C.'s first possession of the 3rd quarter, then Tyreek Hill had a ball bounce off his hands early in the 4th quarter on a drive that started late in the third. Those two interceptions looked as if they were going to seal the deal for Andy Reid. Another Super Bowl trip, another year of missing out.

But then, what we assumed would eventually happen did, in fact, happen.

Kansas City's offense got hot, the 49'ers defense ran out of gas, Richard Sherman got exposed, and the referees got involved.

All four of those things led to an epic 21-point explosion by the Chiefs in the final eight minutes of the game. K.C. went from the team that was starting to have a monkey on its back to world champions.

Mahomes wasn't great in the first 52 minutes of the game. Not by a longshot. Some of that, of course, was due to the San Francisco defense. The other team tries, too. And the 49'ers did a great job of pressuring the K.C. signal caller and keeping him uneven throughout the first three and a half quarters of the game.

But a long throw on 3rd and 15 kept a drive alive and Travis Kelce collected a TD pass a minute later to make it 20-17. You could see the 49'ers starting to wobble.

After a 3-and-out from Garoppolo and the San Fran offense, Mahomes went right back to work. He hit Sammy Watkins on a beautiful 38 yard throw where Sherman looked like he had cement feet. Moments later, the K.C. quarterback soft-tossed one to Damien Williams and he scored the go-ahead TD with 2:44 remaining.

Or did he score?

It was awfully, awfully close.

It was so close, in fact, that anyone who adamantly says "He was in" is just saying that to say it.

The call on the field was a touchdown, so now the officials had to decide if there was enough evidence in place to overturn the call. Even though it looked like his right foot might have hit the sideline before the ball touched the plane of the goal-line, there was no change in the call. Touchdown Chiefs -- game over.

It was really, really close. Personally, I thought he was out of bounds shy of the goal-line. But I'm not the guy making the call.

At that point, it was all over but the shouting. Now, the 49'ers suddenly had to get the bit between their teeth and do something magical in the last two and a half minutes. And that just wasn't going to happen. Jimmy Garoppolo might very well turn out to be an excellent quarterback someday, but that moment, in Super Bowl 54, was far too big for him. Montana? Sure. Young? Sure. Garoppolo. Not a chance.

K.C. tacked on a touchdown to make it 31-20 and Andy Reid had his Super Bowl, finally. And despite a ragged first 52 minutes, Patrick Mahomes came up big when it mattered most. The MVP award he won probably should have gone to Damien Williams (or even San Fran's Deebo Samuel, who was a wrecking ball all night), but the quarterback always gets the nod in moments like those.

The Chiefs and 49'ers gave us a memorable Super Bowl, even if the action didn't really heat up until late in the game.

In the end, the right team won.

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2:30 p.m., Super Bowl Sunday

People want to know how Ravens’ fans are feeling about the Super Bowl, considering their team was the best in the NFL this season and didn’t get there. Personally…I’m just rooting for a good game, as opposed to last year’s slog.

I’m over the Ravens. That Titans’ debacle was 23 days ago, but it might as well have been 123 days ago. Conference championship weekend was disappointing, and downright depressing. But now this feels a lot like any other Super Bowl in which the Ravens haven’t played, which is 22 of the 24 since the beginning of the franchise.

The 2019 season was a dream. As mentioned here time and again since September, the Ravens accomplished things statistically that rank among the best seasons in the history of the NFL. As a matter of wins and losses, the 2019 Ravens are one of a very small percentage of teams to have won 14 games—only the 2007 Patriots and six 15-1 teams won more.

The Ravens will enter the 2020 season having won 12 consecutive regular-season games. I’m not predicting another 11 in a row to tie the top number of 23, set by Peyton Manning and the Colts in 2008 and 2009, but it’ll be fun to see how long they can keep it going. Perhaps it will be best if the Chiefs aren’t on the schedule until later in the year.

Lamar Jackson said that he sat in his room for two days after the loss to the Titans…and understandably. If some of us did the same thing, imagine how he was feeling, whether any of it was really his “fault” or not. But did you see him at the Pro Bowl, and check out his enthusiasm (and outfit) when winning the MVP award at the NFL honors ceremony?

He’s ready to go play again. Unfortunately, it’s not in the Super Bowl. But September’s only seven months away!


5:00 p.m., Super Bowl Sunday

I don’t watch as much golf as some of you guys, but it’s really odd to listen to a CBS golf broadcast and not hear the voices of Peter Kostis and Gary McCord. Honestly, it’s still odd for me to hear CBS golf without David Feherty, who left for NBC a few years back now.

With FOX owning the Super Bowl rights this year, CBS was left with airing golf up until about 6:15 pm, where Webb Simpson won in a playoff over Tony Finau.

The Phoenix Open — excuse me, the Waste Management Phoenix Open — concludes on Super Bowl Sunday every year. It’s even finished on Super Bowl Sunday the last two times the game has been played in Phoenix—in 2015, when the Patriots held on to beat the Seahawks, and in 2008, when the New York Giants pulled off one of the great upsets of all-time in keeping the Patriots from a perfect 19-0 finish.

Under the present PGA Tour contract, the tournament is a CBS tournament, except when CBS is televising the Super Bowl once every three years as part of the NFL television contract. In that case, the golf tournament has been televised by NBC, and the Honda Classic in Florida, usually an NBC broadcast, is instead shown by CBS.

Got all that?

Here’s something else. Continuing the order from the NFL contract, next year would have been NBC’s year to televise the Super Bowl, with the year after that going to CBS. This past March, however, the networks agreed to switch years, because CBS didn’t want to compete with NBC’s broadcast of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Now NBC will just be competing with itself, as Super Bowl LVI is on February 6 and the Olympics officially begin on February 4.

Got all that?

Anyway, back to the Phoenix Open, it’s really cool that the PGA Tour decided to place the pin on the famous par-three 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale 24 paces from the front and 8 from the left of the green to honor the late Kobe Bryant, and equally cool that some of the players took to wearing his jersey when playing the hole.


7:30 p.m., Super Bowl Sunday

Somewhere in a hypothetical fantasy world, Ravens’ fans would have been on Twitter urging John Harbaugh to kick the field goal on 4th-and-1 on the 49ers’ 5-yard-line late in the first quarter, in order to “keep the momentum” going and tie the game, as opposed to “losing the momentum” by failing.

So, for the final time this season, I’ll give you something that’s not even my opinion as much as it’s common sense. In the first quarter, losing 3-0, with 4th-and-1 on the 5-yard line, an NFL team should keep its offense on the field 100 percent of the time.

Equally as much common sense…with 4th-and-1 on the 19-yard-line early in the second quarter, ahead 7-3, an NFL team should also keep its offense on the field 100 percent of the time.

Anyway, a football game can always surprise you, especially one that comes after an extra week of preparation for both teams. The Chiefs, for instance, called a run on 11 of their first 25 plays, which must feel like an anathema to Andy Reid. Meanwhile, the power-running, traditional-type 49ers twice ran trick plays with wide receiver Deebo Samuel, one of which went for 32 yards and another which was meant to be a pass.

Despite all the things you might like to change about the NFL, especially the rules and officiating, it’s never been more fun to watch NFL teams play. For years, college teams have listed their offensive systems as “multiple,” which was always kind of a joke. These days, however, professional teams have so many ways to gain yardage in big chunks. It’s not always about a traditional pocket passer making his reads. In other news, this one’s already a much better game than last year’s stinker. These teams are both so…um…multiple. We’ve got one of those teams here in Baltimore as well. Which reminds me…seeing Hard Rock Stadium does kind of remind me of that 59-10 thrashing of the Dolphins in Week 1, so maybe I’m a little bit annoyed, despite what I said before. 10:00 p.m., Super Bowl Sunday Patrick Mahomes did not have a good second half, to state the obvious. He did things bad quarterbacks do, like not seeing a linebacker standing directly in front of what he thought was an open receiver and consistently throwing the ball behind and at the feet of his receivers. He’s always in motion, maybe more than most quarterbacks in the pocket, but he seemed a bit panicky overall.

Until, of course, the play that made all the difference, the long pass to Tyreek Hill on a 3rd-and-15 play right after another terrible pass to Hill that was originally called a completion, only to be rightly changed after replay review.

I thought back to the 2018 season in Kansas City, when the Ravens were going to beat the Chiefs until Mahomes made a ridiculous play on a 4th-and-9 with under two minutes left in regulation. You could argue that San Francisco played better than Kansas City for most of Super Bowl LIV. At the very least, they played much like they had the whole year, while making the Chiefs look mediocre.

And then, Mahomes and Kansas City did the same thing they did in all three of their playoff games. Looking back, has any team played three games in a row like that? And in the playoffs, for good measure.

Kansas City was losing 24-0 to Houston. In a flash, they led 28-24 at halftime. By the end of the game, they’d dropped 50 on the Texans. It was an astonishing game, one only the Chiefs could have won. The Chiefs twice trailed the Titans by 10 points. In a flash, a 10-point deficit turned into a halftime lead. In a game that was still tight in the fourth quarter, a four-point lead turned into an 18-point lead quickly.

And then Mahomes and the Chiefs trailed the league’s best defensive team by 10 points in the fourth quarter and came back to win.

We had an epic playoff run a few years ago around here, but this one was pretty good too.

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soccer: youngsters shine in u.s. win


The US came out with a 1-0 win over Costa Rica in Carson, CA on Saturday in an international "friendly".

While not a dominant performance, the US did what they needed to do to win the game and were never put on their toes by Costa Rica. The US lineup was a mix of first teamers from MLS and newcomers from the U23 and U20 teams. They faced a Costa Rica team that was nearly full strength, minus a few European stars like GK Keylor Navas.

The two standout players for the US were Ulysses Llanez and Reggie Cannon. Llanez started on the left wing and consistently threatened the Costa Rican defense with his skill and pace. The 18 year old was the youngest player on the field but looked completely comfortable in international competition. When he was surprisingly called upon to take the penalty kick he calmly dispatched it in the corner. For a player who has yet to play a first team minute for his club he showed he belongs and likely raised his stock for both club and country.

Reggie Cannon provided an offensive boost and held down his defensive responsibilities along the right side. His overlapping run drew the penalty for the US goal and he also popped up for key stops on defense.

The right back spot is one of the deepest positions on the team with Sergino Dest at Ajax and Deandre Yedlin at Newcastle in the Premier League, but Cannon’s performances in the US shirt have made the case for him to be included in the starting XI, perhaps with Dest moving to left back.

The rest of the US team was solid on the night without standing out. Paul Arriola perhaps best encapsulates the current state of the team. He showed both his good and bad qualities. His hard work and resourcefulness helped earn the penalty that the US converted for the only goal.

However, they may have had several more if Arriola had a higher quality finishing touch, as he missed several good chances to add another goal. Arriola is a fine player who can help the US qualify against CONCACAF competition, but if this team wants to reach the next level they need players such as Llanez and Gio Reyna (18 year old who subbed on for the third straight game for Borussia Dortmund today) to reach their full potential and replace the Arriolas on the team.

This victory will go down as a success for the US and this January camp. Berhalter saw the team play with poise and integrate some young players who could be key in Olympic qualifying and the next round of World Cup qualifying. Due to the restraints on the roster during this camp it’s hard to give a full grade to the performance.

The US will face its first real tests of the year in March when it has the full team available for friendlies against Netherland and Wales. Those games will give a true glimpse at the tactics and lineup Berhalter intends to use going into the Nations League Semifinals and World Cup qualifying.

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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Sunday
February 2
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1987



it's only "super" when your team is in it


You might have heard, they're playing a big football game tonight at 6:30 pm in Miami.

I'm going to watch it, like the rest of you, but I couldn't really care less who wins. If you pressed me to pick a team, I'd be rooting for Kansas City, mainly because of Andy Reid. But if San Francisco winds up winning, I'll sleep the same as I would if the Chiefs come out on top.

I can't help but feel this Super Bowl malaise I'm experiencing is connected to the Ravens sudden departure from the post-season. We lost to the Titans, remember. They were 9-7 in the regular season and just lucky to make the post-season in the first place. And we couldn't beat them when the chips were down.

Can Andy Reid finally capture that elusive Super Bowl title and earn his way into Canton in the process?

It's been a tough three weeks. I'll be watching tonight's game and thinking about how fortunate those folks are in Kansas City and San Francisco who have been planning for this event for the last fourteen days.

Just when I start to really get aggravated, again, I remind myself that football fans in Detroit, Cleveland, Jacksonville and Houston have never felt the euphoria of watching their team play in a Super Bow. Not one. Never. I know the Bills are 0-4, but at least they played in four of them. The Lions, Browns, Jaguars and Oilers/Texans have never made a Super Bowl.

And when you think of that, it does tend to lessen the impact of losing at home to the lowly Titans when all we needed was a win to host the AFC championship game.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, the awards won by the Ravens last night do nothing at all for me. Lamar was the MVP. That's great. Harbs was the Coach of the Year. Nice.

But neither of those honors comes anywhere close to being as important as beating the Titans and Chiefs and making it to the Super Bowl. They're wonderful honors for the two individuals, naturally, and both will make more money someday soon in part because of those accolades, but I personally couldn't care less about them.

You can tell...I'm still a little bitter.

Perhaps the only real saving grace about tonight's game is the fact that it doesn't include New England. Can you imagine having to sit through another 4-hour Brady/Belichick love fest? Holy cow.

I also have little to no interest in the halftime show, but that's more because I'm an old man than anything else. I respect the work of Shakira and Jennifer Lopez, but it's just not my thing. If I'm watching at halftime, it's only because I'm too full from taco salad to get up and do something else during those 20 minutes.

The commercials will be the most interesting sidestory to the whole broadcast, and I admit to being one of those people who "rates" them. It's amazing to me that folks will spend upwards of $6 million to try and reach 100 million viewers and 30 seconds will go by and we'll say, "What was their message supposed to be?" If you're selling a car, show us the car, say something important about it, and make us remember the car. Sounds easy enough, but the folks designing the ads make it incredibly more complicated than that for some weird reason.

Other than the commercials, the other "interesting" things about the game are those that we can, in no way, predict might happen. Like, for example, the lights going out for 25 minutes in New Orleans back in 2013. Or one of the musical guests accidentally showing a body part we shouldn't be seeing on national television at 8:30 pm.

When your team isn't playing in the game, these are the things that capture your interest!

And because I have no reason at all to really be interested in tonight's contest, I came up with ten prop bets I'd be willing to wager if I could find someone to take my money. It would also help if I actually had the money to wager with, which I don't. But just like it's perfectly fine to sit back and dream about your team being in the game, it's also fine to dream about big wagers, too.

So, here we go.

I'd bet $1,000 each on these prop wagers.

Will someone other than either of the two starting quarterbacks throw a pass in the game? -- "Yes"

Will there be a turnover of some kind in the first quarter? -- "No"

Will a player from the winning team drop an audible f-bomb during the post-game celebration? -- "Yes"

Will play-by-play man Joe Buck mention Tom Brady's name during the broadcast? -- "Yes"

Will there be a missed field goal during the game? -- "No"

Will the winning team reach 20 points before the losing team reaches 14 points?" -- "Yes"

Will there be a touchdown pass of more than 39 yards? -- "No"

Will either team attempt a fake punt and/or onside kick? -- "No"

Will a call on the field -- of any kind -- be reversed by instant replay? -- "No"

Will there be more penalties than scoring plays? -- "No"


Oh, right, the game itself. Who wins?

I've been wishy-washy on this one for two weeks, as most of America seemingly is if you've paid attention to the wagering line. Everyone seems to think it's going to be a tight one.

I liked San Francisco for a while, but I think I've come to my senses now. I don't think the Chiefs offense can be stymied. The 49'ers have an excellent defense, of course. But I don't see how they're going to contain Mahomes and his plethora of offensive options. If the San Fran offense was a lot better, I think we'd be in for an old fashioned shootout. But it seems to me that Kansas City's "just OK" defense has a better chance of slowing down San Francisco's "just OK" offense.

I'm going with the Chiefs in a little bit of a blowout. I know what they say about defense and how it travels and how it wins championships, but I don't see K.C.'s offense coming up short tonight.

Kansas City 33 -- San Francisco 20

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we're heading to new york!


We have 14 people signed up for this trip so far!!! It's going to be a blast!

Maybe the O's aren't going to be all that good in 2020. We know that going in. But what you might not know is how much fun a #DMD road trip can be in the summer! And what better place to visit and take in a couple of games than New York?

Join us in NY on June 23-24 to see Trey Mancini and the O's take on the Yankees.

We're going to the Big Apple to support our Birds, June 23 and 24. And we've love to have a bunch of O's fans join us in the Bronx for a couple of days in New York and two baseball games.

We'll leave on Tuesday, June 23 around noon and check in at our Manhattan hotel sometime around 4 pm. The game that night is at 7:05 pm. We'll have upper deck seats for that, with unlimited food and drinks for everyone in our group.

The next night, June 24, we'll have a pre-game bullpen party and awesome left field seats close to the field.

Once the game's over, we'll head back home, arriving in Baltimore after midnight.

If you're interested in going on the trip, send me a quick email so I can start building the trip list: 18inarow@gmail.com.

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Saturday
February 1
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1986



saturday stuff


I'll be heading over to Towson University today to see the men's basketball team take on College of Charleston at 2 pm. The Tigers have won 7 straight games after starting conference play at 0-3.

College of Charleston also comes into today's game at 7-3.

Might this finally be the year the Tigers work their way through the CAA tournament and give Towson its first NCAA March Madness appearance since 1991? In a year where there are a lot of "good" teams in the CAA but no outright dominating squads, Towson might very well be a legit contender for that mid-March trip somewhere.

William and Mary leads the CAA at 8-2, but Towson just beat them in their own building down in Williamsburg. Towson, Hofstra and the College of Charleston are next at 7-3.

Editor's note: For the Flyers fans out there, "William and Mary" is one school, not two separate schools.

Pat Skerry is one of the area's best "sports people". Yes, sure, I'm saying that because I know him, but ask anyone who has worked with him during his nine seasons in Baltimore. He's a good man.

After inheriting a bag of pillows in 2011-2012 and going 1-31, Skerry's record since then is 21 games above .500. An injury riddled campaign last year was Towson's first losing season in five years.

UMBC had their run-in-the-sun two years ago and it was awesome. I was on the air back in the days when four area schools -- UMBC, Loyola Morgan State and Coppin State -- all made it to the NCAA tournament by virtue of winning their conference tournament. I haven't seen Towson play in the NCAA tournament (no, I wasn't watching back in '89-90 and '90-91). It would be cool to see Skerry and the Tigers win the CAA this season.


They have themselves a weekend shootout at the Phoenix Open on the PGA Tour, with five players already in double figures through 36 holes, including the midway leader, J.B. Holmes, who is 13-under par.

One guy who won't be playing on the weekend is Jordan Spieth, who has fallen to 51st in the world rankings and is danger of costing himself exemptions into two significant upcoming World Golf Championships events.

Jordan Spieth continues to struggle on the PGA Tour and he's now moved outside of the Top 50 in the world rankings.

Spieth posted a 3-over round of 74 on Thursday, then rebounded with a 2-under 69 on Friday, but his +1 total for 36 holes left him outside of the 1-under par cut line.

The 3-time major champion -- with $40 million in career on-course earnings -- hasn't won a PGA Tour event since the British Open in July of 2017. Someone named Adam Long has won more golf tournaments than Jordan Spieth over the last three years. So, there you go.

Unless something completely crazy happens, like winning a major championship and/or at least two or three other events this spring/summer, Spieth will not make the Ryder Cup team this Fall and would have to rely on a captain's pick from Steve Stricker to make the team. It seems almost unthinkable that Spieth might potentially miss back-to-back American teams because of poor play, but that's what it's looking like right now.

What's happened to him? Well, his golf swing has never been all that great in the first place. Useful? Sure. You don't win like he's won without having a useful golf swing. But he was never long off the tee and once this new group of big bombers came along and started having wedges into 75% of the par 4's and 5's, Spieth wasn't able to keep up with them. That put some pressure on the former Masters champ to try and find some extra distance and swing problems started creeping in.

Funny enough, though, some of the swing changes have actually yielded some fairly positive results over the last six months. But the numbers and the cuts made aren't showing it yet. Spieth's biggest current issue is his putting. He hit 16 of 18 greens in Friday's round at the Phoenix Open but shot just 2-under par. A handful of costly three putts over the first two days kept him from playing on the weekend. Spieth and "putting issues" were words you'd rarely ever see in the same sentence before the last couple of years.

American golf is in fine hands these days, what with the career resurgence of Tiger, the awesome 3-year run of Brooks Koepka and the emergence of Justin Thomas, Xander Schauffele, Patrick Cantlay, Collin Morikawa and Matthew Wolff, just to name a few.

But it doesn't feel the same without Spieth being involved. Truth of the matter, long before someone coined Patrick Reed "Captain America", Spieth was the guy that American golf could rally around. His swing wasn't perfect, his on-course temperature occasionally ran hot, and he was a guy who had a flair for making the big shot at just right the time. No one -- at least not in this generation of golfers -- will ever be "the next Tiger", but Spieth was on his way to being the most visible and perhaps dominating American golfer of his time.

And he hasn't been heard from in almost three years now.

Let's hope that changes soon. He deserves it and so do we.


Alex Ovechkin scored two goals for the Caps in their 5-3 win at Ottawa last night and in the process, moved past Mark Messier into 8th on the NHL's all-time goal scoring list with 695.

But Ovechkin has sights on far more than passing Messier, and next, Mike Gartner on the scoring list. Ovi is gunning for Wayne Gretzky and his 894 career tallies, the most in league history.

Ovechkin needs 200 more tallies to pass The Great One on the scoring list. The 34-year old now has 37 goals on the season as the Caps continue to own the top record in the entire National Hockey League.

200 more goals? Can it be done?

The key, as it usually is with older athletes, is health. People keep asking if Tiger Woods can win more majors. Sure he can, if he stays healthy. People wonder if Roger Federer can win another Grand Slam singles title or two. Sure, if he stays healthy. One of the reasons why Tom Brady continues to enjoy a prolonged NFL career is because of his health, with only one major knee injury in his almost two-decade career.

If Ovechkin can stay healthy and play into his late 30's, he can chip away at Gretzky's mark and eventually catch him. He'll score at least 15 more goals this season, I'd suspect. That will give him 52 for the season and he'll be at 710 heading into 2020-2021.

Let's pretend he "dips" a tad next year and only scores 40 for whatever reason. That's 750.

If he enters the 2021-2022 campaign with 750, he'll only need 145 more goals to surpass Gretzky. That's a lot of goals, obviously, but if Ovi can chip away at it with four more seasons of 35-40 goals, he'll get there.

The only qualifier to all of this is age and health. And, yes, it seems likely that when Father Time finally catches up to Ovechkin, he'll do so with a hard knock on the door, not a timid touch of the doorbell. In other words, you'll know it's over if Ovi posts a 27 goal season sometime in the next two or three years.

It's almost a given that Ovi will pass everyone else on the list and eventually settle in at #2 on the list. He'll need to score 802 goals to pass the great Gordie Howe for that 2nd spot.

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soccer: u.s. men play costa rica tonight


The US Men’s soccer team plays their first game of 2020 on Saturday night against Costa Rica. This game is a friendly that concludes their annual January camp.

This period has generally been used by US coaches to evaluate new players and experiment with new tactics. Since the camp and the game do not fall within a FIFA sanctioned window, many of the regular first team players are not available. All players in European leagues are currently in-season, so there is no Christian Pulisic, Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie, etc, available for this game. Instead, the roster features a mix of MLS veterans, under 23 players eligible for the Olympics, and a few under 20 players with big potential.

Gregg Berhalter and the American team start preparing for their World Cup qualifying schedule with a friendly tonight vs. Costa Rica.

Gregg Berhalter will use this game to build some cohesion among the under 23 players who will be key in Olympic qualifying this Spring and to give a few younger players a chance to get acquainted with the system and international competition. The veteran MLS players have been brought in to stay sharp and serve as mentors for the younger core. Berhalter will not stress much over the result of this friendly with Costa Rica. He will be more interested in seeing his system executed successfully and evaluating the potential of the new faces on the roster.

Here’s a look at tonight's roster:

GOALKEEPERS (3): Sean Johnson (New York City FC), Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Matt Turner (New England Revolution)

DEFENDERS (8): Julian Araujo (LA Galaxy), Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas), Chase Gasper (Minnesota United FC), Justen Glad (Real Salt Lake), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Mark McKenzie (Philadelphia Union), Sam Vines (Colorado Rapids), Walker Zimmerman (LAFC)

MIDFIELDERS (6): Brenden Aaronson (Philadelphia Union), Christian Cappis (Hobro/DEN), Bryang Kayo (Unattached), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Brandon Servania (FC Dallas), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes)

FORWARDS (5): Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Jesus Ferreira (FC Dallas), Jonathan Lewis (Colorado Rapids), Ulysses Llanez (Wolfsburg/GER), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew SC)

Notes: There are a few players who can seize this opportunity in the spotlight with many regular starters missing and enhance their profile with the team. Jackson Yueill is the top player to watch. He is in competition with Michael Bradley and Tyler Adams for the starting defensive midfield spot on the full first team. He’s the favorite to be the starter at that position for Olympic qualifying as well (Adams will likely not be released by his club). This is a great chance for Yueill to shine and instill confidence in his coach and teammates that he is up to the task of filling this key role in Berhalter’s system.

Brandon Servania is another player to watch. The box-to-box midfielder had a good showing for the U20 team last summer and followed that up by gradually integrating himself into the FC Dallas starting XI. He could position himself as an Olympic starter with a solid game on Saturday.

Two final players who could turn heads are Jesus Ferreira and Ulysses Llanez. Ferreira had a good 2019 season as a young player at FC Dallas bouncing between Striker and Attacking Midfield. He just recently gained his US citizenship and could provide depth in the attack for the first team and be a top option for the Olympic team. Llanez is one of the youngest players on this roster and will be eligible for the U20 team in the next cycle. He is a quick and technical winger who possesses skills that are in limited supply in the US player pool. He has impressed for the Wolfsburg (Germany) youth team this season and could raise his stock further with both club and country with a good performance.

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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breakfast bytes

NBA: Kawhi wins the MVP award as Team LeBron edges Team Giannis in All-Star Game, 157-155.

Daytona 500 washed out, will resume today with hopes for clear skies.

Big Ten hoops: #21 Iowa wins at Minnesota, 58-55.

PGA Tour: McIlroy, Varner falter, paving the way for Adam Scott (-11) to win on TOUR for first time since 2016 with final round 70 at Riviera.



SCOREBOARD
Saturday, February 15
AT COYOTES
3
CAPITALS
1
GOALS: Hagelin (5)

GOALTENDER: Holtby

RECORD: 37-16-5, 1st place

NEXT GAME: 2/17 at Las Vegas