Tuesday
February 19
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#1639



"that hundred grand is safe"


As I prepare to unveil my Mount Rushmore of Baltimore TV sportscasters on Thursday, I wanted to share a couple of more funny stories from my days back in the soccer business when I would regularly interact with those guys and gals.

Yesterday, I shared a funny-but-true story about my friend John Buren and his cold-turkey-resignation from the great sport of golf.

Today, I'll release a story that I'm not sure has been told that often in public. I may have given this one away once or twice on the radio, but I'm fairly certain I haven't ever brought it up here at #DMD.

Vernon Glenn was a weekend sportscaster at Channel 11 in the mid 1980's. As the Blast played a majority of its games on the weekends, I developed a friendship right away with Vernon when he arrived in Charm City via Richmond.

In the 1987-88 season, we came up with an idea to promote a new local charity headed up by popular WBAL-TV newscaster, Rudy Miller. The Blast would donate $100,000 to her new project, "Wednesday's Child", if someone could kick a soccer ball from 50 feet away through a small hole in a board that was placed in front of the indoor soccer goal.

Vernon Glenn (right), seen here interviewing a member of the Oakland A's, was once a young Baltimore sportscaster at WBAL TV.

You've seen the between-periods hockey promotion where there's a hole barely bigger than a puck at the base of a board, right? That's what we used, only the hole was in the middle of the board and it was barely big enough to fit a soccer ball through.

We decided to have the whole promotion involve WBAL-TV, so we asked Vernon Glenn if he'd come out and take the big kick.

"I've never played soccer before," Glenn said to me when I asked him to be involved. "But I'd love to be part of it."

Rudy's husband, Chuck Allen, was the sales and promotions director at a popular Baltimore radio station, B-104. He gladly offered to help promote the big night and the fund raising project for Wednesday's Child.

In the weeks leading up to the event, we were having a difficult time getting the halftime promotion insured. Most insurance companies wanted $3,000 or more to insure the kick. Our general manager at the time objected to paying that much for insurance.

A few days before the big night, an insurance company offered to insure the kick for $2,000. That was the best proposal we'd received, by far. I assumed that we'd sign off on it and that would be that.

The day before the game, we moved the board into place during practice and allowed our players to try and kick the ball through the hole from 50-feet away. The Channel 11 TV cameras came out to practice to film it all and we received some great pre-game publicity that helped drive ticket sales.

Interestingly enough, not one Blast player could put the ball through the hole. They tried it from 50 feet, 30 feet and 15 feet. No one could make it. I remember one player, Andy Chapman, trying for the better part of 30 minutes before he finally gave up.

"That hundred grand is safe," he said.

The day of the game, I went into the GM's office and gave him one final opportunity to fax the insurance paperwork to the proposed policy carrier. He didn't bat an eye. "Drew, you're worried about something that can't happen," he said. "Seriously. Stop worrying about it."

A crowd of 10,000 packed the arena that night to see the Blast take on the Dallas Sidekicks.

At halftime, Vernon bounced out to midfield in shorts, a tee shirt and Chuck Taylor hightop shoes. He looked like anything but a soccer player.

The PA announcer revved up the crowd and we briefly interviewed Vernon at midfield. Like a good wrestler, he "guaranteed" victory.

"I'm walking out of here with $100,000 for Wednesday's Child!" he yelled into the microphone as the crowd roared.

I rolled the ball out to the dot on the red line, which was 50 feet away from the goal.

Glenn positioned the ball just the right way. He spent a few seconds "measuring" his run-up to the ball, a la Evel Knievel jumping over 25 cars, and got the crowd cheering to a fever pitch.

"He's really doing a good of selling this whole thing," I said to myself as Glenn playfully stretched his legs near midfield.

Glenn then took off in a mad dash for the ball. But rather than hit it with the side of his foot -- the way a soccer player would make contact with it -- Glenn struck the ball straight on with his toes. Think Mark Moseley of the Redskins attempting a field goal...

The toe-poke kick was perfectly struck.

It bolted off of Glenn's foot and made a straight beeline for the board.

The ball hit the circle in the middle of the board...right, smack in the middle of it.

And then.........

It fell backwards, onto the playing surface, instead of forward, through the hole.

How it didn't go through the hole is anyone's guess. The video tape of the whole thing was in my possession for a long time but I've since misplaced it. I can remember watching it for days, along with other staff members, and everyone saying, "I can't believe that didn't go through the hole."

We were that close to having to fork over $100,000 to Wednesday's Child, which, truthfully, would have probably put the organization out of business.

Later, we let Vernon in on the whole thing, about how it wasn't insured and that not one Blast player could come close to kicking the ball through the hole. And how he almost single-handedly ended the Blast franchise.

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



It wasn't a surprise, and yet the news still felt a little bit shocking all the same.

Joe Flacco was being traded to Denver.

We knew the Ravens weren't going to keep Flacco for the 2019 season, they'd already confirmed as much. But the news itself forced me to read the headline more than once to process it. There was a suddenness and a finality to it. No weeks-long trade rumors, just a news alert on my phone out of the blue one day.

And with that, the Flacco era in Baltimore officially came to an end.

Maybe that's fitting for Flacco, as that bizarre duality reflects the situation that has surrounded him for at least a couple of years now.

The arguments that have been had about him really since his first game are simultaneously hard to understand and perfectly understandable. Like a lot of other Ravens players, frankly, Flacco's abilities and stature never really matched the way some fans, and the organization, thought about him.

For a while that didn't really matter. And then it started to matter a lot.

But at the same time, what's done is done and Flacco exits Baltimore as a key pillar of one of the most successful periods in franchise history and the principal architect of a thrilling and glorious playoff run that ended with a Lombardi Trophy in 2013.

11 years of service and a Super Bowl title are well worth remembering when it comes to the Ravens career of Joe Flacco.

Here's what I think defined Flacco's tenure with the Ravens. In his rookie season the team went 11-5 and made it all the way to the AFC Championship game. This was a team that still had premier talents on the defensive side but, like the 2006 team just two years prior, could be hindered by poor offensive performance at any given time.

In that environment, it was natural for the question about Flacco to be whether or not he was good enough to break the cycle of futility the Ravens had seen at quarterback. And in our modern media environment, that meant hot takes. Many, many hot takes.

Flacco either had to be great, elite, a "franchise quarterback," or he had to be a bum and a bust in waiting.

There simply couldn't be any middle ground when the talking head studio shows and comment sections get fired up.

And what also happens in our modern media/online environment is that people get very invested in being right.

In fact they often get so invested in the notion that they're ultimately going to be proven right that they just keep insisting they were always right and will be conclusively proven so any day now pretty much forever. You certainly see this now in all of the "we don't know if Lamar Jackson can really throw" stuff (you probably didn't notice, but for all of the belly-aching about accuracy and completion percentage Jackson actually had a higher completion percentage last year than higher touted "pocket passers" Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, and Josh Rosen), and Flacco was absolutely victimized by it in the first few years of his career.

No matter how solidly (if unspectacularly) he played, no matter how consistently the Ravens stayed among the league's most consistently successful teams, no matter how many times they made it through the first round of the playoffs, Flacco was still a bum and a bust, and that was going to be obvious to everyone before you knew it.

And it's not hard to see why that prompted an overwrought pushback.

Then, of course, the worm turned. The Ravens didn't have those top defenses anymore. They went from a team where Flacco was an important, but supporting, piece of the puzzle to one where he was expected to be the star of the show.

He wasn't Tom Brady or Drew Brees or Peyton Manning, but he was being paid like he was, and that meant the team was going to have to be built like he was. Obviously that was a mistake and a failure, but just like the people who were convinced Flacco was going to be another Baltimore QB bust in 2008, the people who were convinced that the 2013 playoffs were a true breakout for Flacco rather than an all-time great hot streak that he couldn't replicate again simply weren't going to admit that they had been wrong.

And that's really too bad in hindsight.

While there's something almost poetically appropriate to the image of Flacco plodding along as a stubbornly solid player while everyone around him argued over whether he was amazing or atrocious, Flacco deserved better, and our memories deserve a better appreciation for what he really was during his time in Baltimore.

He was an integral element to a very successful, very fun five year period. He was also a vastly overpaid player whose contract hamstrung the team's cap flexibility and condemned them to a period of mediocrity until they could get out from underneath of it. Both of those things can be true.

And it can also be true that through both ends of that spectrum, Joe Flacco was an avatar for a franchise and a fanbase that you could admire and be proud of. Flacco was gracious, subtlety humorous, and by all appearances and accounts a genuinely good person and teammate and a devoted husband and father.

No matter what the tape from his last game looked like if your son admired Joe Flacco and looked to him as a role model you could always feel good about that.

That deserves to be Flacco's legacy in Baltimore, and why I think it's ultimately best for everyone that he'll spend the rest of his career somewhere else.

Time and distance will give everyone the chance to develop the kind of perspective that they've never really had when it comes to Flacco. With the chronic arguments no longer dominating Ravens discussions game after game and week after week, the frustrations of the past six years will fade. Probably pretty rapidly. And as they do, what we remember most about Flacco's time in Baltimore will be the good stuff.

The Super Bowl 47 run, the playoff games where he went blow for blow with the likes of Brady, Manning, and Roethlisberger, the thrilling upset of the Titans in 2009. We'll remember that for over half a decade every year felt like it could be our year and, yes, Joe Flacco was a big reason for that.

And we'll remember that for a decade, Joe Flacco represented our city and our fanbase as a model citizen and all around good dude. Everything else, including the disappointing mediocrity of the past 6 years, will fade away before Flacco takes his spot in the Ring of Honor.

And maybe, just maybe, we'll even finally acknowledge and accept Flacco for what he was, and is, rather than what we expected him to be.

He wasn't Brady or Manning or Brees, but he wasn't Kerry Collins either. He was....Joe. Just Joe.

And when we think about him 15 or 20 years from now, we're going to find that "just Joe" left us with a lifetime of happy memories. And for that, there's only appropriate thing to say as Flacco prepares to make his exit from Baltimore.

Thank you, Joe.

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the terps spotlight

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


can terps quiet high scoring iowa tonight?


After much film study and some internal debate, I’ve decided to go out on an early limb and congratulate coach Mark Turgeon on obtaining his first win as Terp on the road against a top 25 team.

Maryland plays Iowa tonight at 8pm in the Carver Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, and despite the oddsmakers making the Hawkeyes a 2-point favorite, the Terps should have the upper hand in this game.

Expect a mixed bag of defenses from Iowa. They’ll play straight-up man, some 1-2-2 zone that morphs into a 2-3, and a 1-2-2 three-quarter-court trap press. You can also expect that none of those defensive alignments will be effective. Allowing 75.9 points-per game, Iowa has the Big Ten’s worst scoring defense. It’s 16 points behind league leader Michigan.

What allows the Hawkeyes to be successful is that they score more points (77.3) than any other Big Ten team and they do most of that scoring damage from outside the three-point line. The percentage of their points that come from the three-point line put them in the top 5 in the country in that category and all three of the Iowa starting guards make more than 40% of their 3-point tries.

Isaiah Moss is the most accurate of the group at 45.3%, but both Jordan Bohannon and Joe Wieskamp attempt, and make, more threes than does Moss.

Iowa's Jordan Bohannon can get hot from the 3-point arc and do a lot of damage, as a number of Big 10 teams have learned thus far in 2018-2019.

Bohannon hits 40.7% of his threes while Wieskamp makes 44.9%. Keep your eye on the 6’6” freshman, Wieskamp. He’s real smooth, plays long, and is headed for some Big Ten notoriety. Darryl Morsell will need to work hard to check this young former Iowa “Mr. Basketball”. Off the bench, Nicholas Baer demands respect when setting up from behind the three-point line.

While the Iowa backcourt is adept at hitting threes, the frontcourt leads the team in scoring. The biggest matchup headache for Maryland is the fluid 6’9” 250-pound power forward, Tyler Cook.

Cook gets 16.3 points per game, tops on the Hawkeye team. He won’t shoot threes, but he can work with his back to the basket or can take his defender off the dribble. He’s big, athletic, energetic, and can put the ball on the floor. Cook works hard on the offensive glass too.

His partner around the lane is 6’11” Luka Garza. Garza will step out and shoot threes, as well as play with his back to the basket. At 240 pounds, he might be a bit too big for Maryland’s Jalen Smith, but matching up Bruno Fernando with Garza leaves Smith on Cook. Those interior matchups are sure to be a major concern for Turgeon.

Offensively for Maryland, look for the visitors to pound the ball down low to Fernando and attack the basket with dribble penetration. Garza is way too stationary to guard Fernando and I can’t imagine Iowa coach Fran McCaffery putting Cook on Bruno. On the outside, Iowa doesn’t possess the perimeter quickness to continually stop the ball.

The lane should be open for business whenever the Hawkeyes play man-to-man defense. As long as Ayala and Wiggins continue to hit threes, then Iowa won’t stay in a zone defense for long stretches of time. Serrel Smith could contribute with some dribble penetration too.

Quick teams really bother Maryland, but quickness is not the strong suit of this Hawkeye team. They have some solid finesse players, but athletically they won’t overwhelm the Terps. Maryland should control the boards and reduce their normally high rate of turnovers.

To win this game, the Terps must limit Iowa’s outside game, control Cook, and get back on defense after every change of possession. Iowa will frequently push the tempo and if Maryland is lazy getting back on “D”, they’ll get burned. I feel Maryland is best served if this game becomes a half court affair.

The Terps are a better half court team than Iowa and will show that tonight.

Bruno Fernando should have a huge game tonight, both in rebounds and in scoring. I expect him to be the focus of the Terp offensive sets, and I expect him to respond.

The Maryland offense will feast in the lane. Without fear of the blow-by from the Iowa guards, the Terp defensive guards can focus on stopping the three-point Iowa bombs. It all adds up to a fast-paced victory for Maryland.

An 84-78 win against a ranked Iowa team will end the road losing streak for Turgeon and the Terps.

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#dmd comments


Idiot Caller     February 19
I never liked that Buren. I always thought he came off as jerky on television. Drew's story kind of confirms what I already thought of him. Jerky.

Plus, I never trust anyone who refers to themselves in the third-person. "Bevo's" last shot, indeed.

JohnP     February 19
This will be old news quick, but I will post it first anyway. Machado to San Diego for 300M.

Alan     February 19
Worth saying again. When Drew writes about golf and Dale W. writes about basketball, no one in town beats their analysis and eye for detail.

jackie moon     February 19
"You've just won a giant check that says Ten Thousand Dollars". I think old Drewski may have had the same solution. Funny scene in a semi-funny movie.



In college I was pulled on to the court at half-time by a cheerleader friend of mine to attempt the half court shot. I played lots and lots of horse and used that shot often. Not that I made many, but I had tried a ton of them. On this night I hit it.....and won the greatest prize that a 19 year old college student could at that tiny D3 school. 10 free pitchers of beer at the student union snack bar. A terrific prize...for a guy who put himself through school and didn't have very much money. I was a semi-big shot as "I'm buying" for my other drunken buddies.



AS a kid one of the coolest promotion that the O's did was between games at a doubleheader Sunday. 5? guys picked out of the stands attempted to hit a homerun off of Billy Hunter[one of the all time great batting practice pitchers, rubber arm]. No one came close. $1,000 was the prize. Shallow fly to left was the longest ball hit.



After "Dukes"[played by a Mt. Rushmore movie athlete, Kelly Leak[Jackie Earle Haley]] made the shot. Fr. Pat says "Don't worry Jackie, the beer company will pay it" and Jackie says "They are not really a sponsor, I thought it sound more professional".

Three of the worst promotions I've seen were at a Delmarva Shore Birds game. They had a guy throwing candy into the crowd, he had one bag of tootsie roll midges. Later in the game, your group had to be the loudest, there was a group of high school kids[about 20] won the contest....and split ONE pepperoni Pizza. Later they had one of those cash grabs in the booth with wind tunnel. When the wind was turned on....there was VERY little pieces of cash floating in there. When it was turned off, the announcer says....it looks like you got a couple of bucks. He was dead right, the lady came out with TWO DOLLARS. Three promotions...total cost about TEN BUCKS.

Tom J     February 19
I had season tickets for the Blast in the glory years. I absolutely love when you tell these stories. Keep them coming..!!!! I've felt like "Bevo" many, many times on the golf course. Maybe he was on to something.......

Garry     February 19
My top four local sportscasters are ones who I thought cared most about the local community and did their jobs in an entertaining way. Everyone may have different criteria so I am interested in what other people’s criteria are. They are sportscasters I made a point to choose when I wanted a recap of the day’s sports. My top four are Bruce Cunningham, Vince Bagli, Keith Mills and Chris Thomas.

JohnInEssex     February 19
I remember another BLAST pre-game promotion - a banner was hung along the top of the stage side goal, that said Win This TOYOTA, with the second O being a hole just big enough to fit the distinctive MISL orange and black soccer ball. I believe the kick was taken from the top of the arc spot. It was done before every home game and it seemed an impossible feat...

But I was there when some guy out of the stands actually did the seemingly impossible, and the crowd went bananas. Then Bill Roth the PA announcer told us that he didn't actually win, but was placed in a drawing to be held at the end of the season.

Was left wondering how all that turned out...

David Rosenfeld     February 19
Greatest contest thing I ever saw was at a Princeton women's basketball game in 1996.

Dude came out of the stands at halftime to participate. He had 3 chances to shoot from half court...once at center court and once each where the half court line meets each sideline. If you make 2 of 3, you win a car. A Saturn, I believe.

Anyway the guy makes the one from the right side and the one at center court. Place goes nuts. Unaware that he's already won the car, he goes over to the left side and makes that one too.

The marketing guy was running around like a maniac making sure the team manager was filming at the time. This was before games were all over the internet.

HERMAN     February 19
Lists are a nice distraction while sports is on hiatus. With football over, baseball over a month away, and no playoffs yet in hockey or basketball, it's a quiet time. Even March Madness is weeks and weeks away.

Days like this I think back to the Squealers pooping the bed and missing the playoffs, and everything feels good in the sports world again. Just reading about their troubles with the best wide receiver in the game can make your day.

Yinzer tears are sweeter than grandma's sugar cookies.

unitastoberry     February 19
Your promo for the Blast could have ended up like an episode of WKRP. You could have told the press after the kick."As God is my witness I thought that kick was humanly impossible".

Imagine the headlines? Indoor Soccer team declares bankruptcy after 100 grand free kick makes it with no money in the bank. Oh the humanity!

Josh     February 18
Tough Mt Rushmore... I guess we just haven’t had really good sportscasters? Mt Rushmore of weathermen might be easier

Captain Chesapeake     February 18
Baltimore, I love ❤️ you madly, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Bruce Cunningham has mentored some competent sportscasters with the usual Fox requirements thrown in. Amber Theoharis, Kristen Berset, Amy Fadool and Morgan Adsit all were enjoyable.



Mt. Rushmore lists are like hush puppies. Filler. Let’s. Move on to best locally produced TV sidekicks. Mondy the Seamonster, Do-Bee, Bruce the Bird and Miss Spiderweb.



How many weeks until baseball starts???




H     February 18
Chris Thomas, Vince Bagli, John Kennelly, Jack Dawson

Crab boy     February 18
Mt Rushmore locally must unclude Thomas and Bagli, really liked Buren too But I think Jerry Sandusky. please exclude The Viv.



John Saunders and Gail were great too but they hit the big time and weren't here long enough.



Chris Thomas left for a bigger job, can't blame him, Vince wasn't going anywhere at the time Jerry waited his turn and has done a great job.

JohnInEssex     February 18
There was a weekend sports guy on Channel 13 (back in the 80's I believe), Jim Brinson. He arrived at WJZ I believe the same time as Deb Stone, and they both may have came from the same place (the folding or revamped CNN2?). He did the Chris Berman stuff during the highlight reels (maybe before Berman was doing that?), but he was better than Berman. Referred to Kirby Puckett as Gary Puckett's brother. He was informative and entertaining, while seemingly taking his broadcasting craft seriously. Would always joke with the on-air staff - he had a good line with Deb Stone, but cant remember what it was...

FWIW, IMO, Jim Brinson was the best on-air sports guy in Baltimore.

John Saunders and Gayle Gardner made it nationally so I guess they should get on there...

John Buren was entertaining...

Keith Mills was another underrated on-air sportscaster.

Chris Thomas was good, and he should have been allowed to take Vince Bagli's place.

TV Guyde     February 18
Extremely odd that in describing Buren, there was very little mention of his talent on TV???

Hard to quantify him as anything but as a guy who really wasn't into it or thought the whole idea of sports was pretty silly.

He might have been great at looking like he wasn't working very hard.

Mt. Rushmore? If he is in and people buy into it, well I guess this is a real CRAP town when it comes to TV Sports Anchors. Really weak field.

Didn't Professor Kool[Stu Kerr] fill in on WMAR? as the sports guy? I was a kid then or was he the weatherman?

George     February 18
If a player makes $30 million a year on a team that draws a million fans a season, that means $30 from each ticket sold goes to pay the player.

That seems like a lot to me.

Phil     February 18
The late, great Chris Thomas, all others are second. Not the longest tenure here but WHAT A GUY!

Rob Really     February 18
I was flying home from New Orleans in 1982 following the UNC over Georgetown final of the NCAA basketball tourney. The guy in the seat next to me was holding his head in his hands. He told me why. He had UNC -2 points. After Jordan hit the jumper with 16 seconds left to put UNC up by one, Fred Brown throws the errant pass to James Worthy, putting Worthy on the free throw line for two shots. Worthy MISSES both free throws, UNC wins but by just one point 63-62. Hence, my new friend's migraine. Never again, he moaned all the way home. I bought him a drink.

Brien Jackson     February 18
@Chris



What's that got to do with one year <$5 million deals?

Neutral Observer     February 18
@Chris in Bel Air



That's what a reasonable person thinks. A staunch liberal like Brien will always blame it on the rich people. It's not GM's getting smarter, it's rich owners getting cheaper. That's the way the liberals see it anyway.

Chris in Bel Air     February 18
Giancarlo Stanton is under contract to make $25M per year for 9more years, Good contract? Miggy Cabrera is set to make $29M / year for 5 more years. Good contract? Pujols is set to make $24M / year for 3 more years. Cano, $24M / year for 5 more years. Price, $30M/ year for 4 more years. And let's not even get started on our 1B here in Baltimore. Perhaps the GMs and owners are just more cautious with the ridiculous contracts that were doled out previously.

HERMAN     February 18
The bet that seems the easiest to win is the over-under. Since a push is no harm no foul it's a 50/50 bet.

But trying to beat the odds and juice will drive you insane.

A few years back a buddy from Charlottesville came into town for a Ravens game. Talked me into leaving at halftime to head to AC. Getting into the car we got the bookie on the phone and he convinced me we should place a decent sized bet on the over in the SF-NYG game. Back then we took the old black horse pike to AC.

Two hours later and halfway through south Jersey we were clicking channels trying to find the score when we heard a scratchy, barely audible "San Francisco three, NY nothing in the third".

Last over-under bet I ever made.

Action     February 18
In 2007, I bet Notre Dame on the money line to beat Navy. I believe at that time the last time Navy beat Notre Dame was 1963 (44 years). I bet a lot to win a little and I ended up losing a lot as Navy won in triple OT.

Mount Realville     February 17
Gamblers are the biggest conspiracy nuts ever. At the track you find guys who EVERY race is fixed except for the ones that they figure out and get right or they stumble upon the right bet. Mutterings of failure and set ups and other absurdities. I tell guys often if you think these things are fixed and out of your control you should never bet again. If you do you see the very definition of a fool

Just this week a jockey at Tampa Bay Downs fell off 50 yards from the finish, the horse was tired and veered out to the right suddenly. That his horse was even money and the horse that ended up winning was 99-1 had all of Twitter abuzz. At least the horse racing part.... If you think a guy would jump at 40mph with 10 other horses right behind him, you are nuts. He got dinged by a trailing horse but almost got stepped on.... that is when jockeys die. People should be ashamed for calling for an investigation.....kind of like all those who thought that "Empire" was telling the truth

George     February 17
@DF – Funny you should feature an article on bad beats today. You’ve got plenty to groan about in a follow-up piece tomorrow about Xander’s tire tracks all over Kevin’s back at Riviera.

And the rout begins!

unitastoberry     February 17
I knew a guy who told me when he was young he was a jockey and paid to fall off certain horses in the early 1960s all over the USA. He says he was one of the best at it too was paid royally until injuries and Vietnam ended it. He told me this in 1996 that 3/4 of horse racing is fixed.

I told him I don't bet except on Wall St. He was an employee of mine and he was an insane hard worker we got to be friends. One day he comes up to me and says boss there's a sure thing going off at Laurel. I said forget it. He said couple hundred will probably win you double or triple. I told him tell me the horse and I will check the paper . Next day I looked and this horse wins.

A few months go bye and he comes up to me and says I got another sure thing for you. So I made my first and only bet on horses in my 65 years and tripled my money. I celebrated later that day with a steak dinner at the inner harbor then bought more shares of a mutual fund that pays sweet dividends to this day.

A few months later he told me he left to work as a manager on a race horse breeding farm and I have never seen or heard from him again. True story.

Delray Rick     February 17
Years ago in VEGAS, ( I very seldom bet pro bb and after this I do not) I took the BULLS laying 6. That's right, MICHAEL JORDAN had the ball with 15 seconds left and up by 5!!! What did he do was stand there and dribble the ball and not shoot while everybody in the SPORTS CLUB yelled " shoot the ***** ball. They won by 5.

HERMAN     February 17
I'm not saying there was an issue with that particular Duke game, only that in human history anything humans can find a way to cheat to win cash, they will cheat. From sports gaming to insider trading, to the poker room at the casino, and even at the old Tuesday night club poker game, I've seen it.

I loaded up on chalk once on a Pimlico race where only two horses in the eleven horse field had any chance. One threw the jockey coming out of the gate, another came up limp and the jockey jumped off. Leaving me to watch the two minute race with nine horses and zero chance. I don't load up on chalk anymore.

Chris     February 17
I had Seattle the year they didn't run the ball to win the Super Bowl. That's the worst bad beat of all time. Period.

Regis     February 17
I live bet Maryland earlier this season against Minnesota and lost because a stupid kid from MINN missed two foul shots in a 12 point game with something like 15 seconds left. If he makes either one of them I win.

Dennis     February 17
Definitely a "strange" end to the Duke-NC State game. Makes you wonder sometimes.

Corn on the Cobb     February 16
My top 4:



1. Gerry with a G

2. Anita Marks

3. Thryll

4. Jenn Royale- “she smelled nice”

John S. Cobb     February 16
The Kuchar story shows that guys can be greedy, tone-deaf pigs no matter how much they are worth. And that Kuchar's 'people' are dumb as dirt. Only two real choices: Pay the guy what you would have paid your Tour caddy, or pay him what you agreed on, and WALK. Paying him $50k proves what? You think he's half the man your regular caddy is? He did 10x the job you thought he'd do? And, don't forget, the caddy turned down $20,000.00 and told everyone it 'wasn't enough'. Unreal PR fiasco, for nothing.

Brien Jackson     February 16
@RJ



Because the bar for proving collusion is REALLY high, it makes no sense for the NFL to avoid a hearing that they would win. Don't be as ridiculous as the Kaepernick defender who spent hours trying to tell me that he's not helping the NFL cover something up last night: It's obvious that Kaepernick had the goods on the league and they're paying to make sure that whatever it is isn't made public.

Neutral Observer     February 16
Mount Bushmore should stick to politics.



He left off two guys who would make the Mount Rushmore of Baltimore sports TV.



Must not really be from Baltimore if he doesn't know those two.




Mount Bush..more     February 16
A Mount Rushmore of TV guys...in this town?

Vince Bagli may have been a nice guy, but he was below average on TV. Lots of ums, clunky words and not very smooth...and I knew him pretty well. FOLKSY.

John Buren? He was a clown. I think he "got it" in that sports wasn't very important, and his delivery was always joking and non serious. TIRESOME.

Jack Dawson? Oh..was he a bore. SNOOZY

Randy Blair? He was the weekend guy...and is most famous for dropping dead. AVERAGE

John Saunders? So plain and ordinary. tough to be called vanilla when you are a black guy.

Nick Charles. Pretty good, Pretty Boy...was more famous in another role nationally.

Garceau..... a pro's pro. But as a Mount Rushmore. Just not enough pizazz. Like him a lot.

Viviano...Okay, male model. Again, good for this city, but the tale of Baltimore Sports TV could be written w/out him.

Bruce Cunningham? Nope. Done a ton of good work in mentoring. But is just so-so.

Keith Mills....more impact on Radio. tough to look at.



Tough to put anyone else in the last 15 years as local TV devotes about 2 minutes to sports coverage., sometime less.

Take your sculpting tools, dynamite and guys willing to do super dangerous work and erect another Mt. Rushmore of something worthy....like the Four Faces of the LF.


Delray Rick     February 16
Here's hoping JIM PALMER comes back to liven the broadcast


RJ     February 16
@Brien says the NFL settling is"a straight-forward admission that Kaepernick's lawyers had the goods on them and could prove, conclusively, that they were guilty"

Then later admits that without knowing the $ amount involved, we have no idea why either side agreed to the settlement.

The second sentiment is the correct one.

The NFL could have felt the amount paid was less than lawyers fees and continued loss of "goodwill", and had nothing to do with the other side "having the goods". @Brien even admits, if Kap had the goods, why settle?

The NFL wanted this to go away, that they paid for that is in no way an admission of anything.

But Brien does bring up a good point, Kaepernick has likely made way more money from this than he ever would from a career in the NFL, there is no doubt about that. Kind of makes that whole "sacrifice everything" marketing plan a little odd, eh?


unitastoberry     February 16
Who in their right mind gets rid of Jon Miller? The same guy who got rid of Davey Johnson. The stench of both those moves still resonates with the old timers. Just like the Colts trading Ted Hendricks and putting Mike Curtis on the expansion draft list.

HERMAN     February 16
While Chuck Thompson was absolute broadcasting perfection, and we were blessed to have him as our local announcer, no one could entertain and keep you glued to a game like Jon Miller. I recall a game we were losing by 11 by the fourth inning but his stories and humor made it impossible to turn off the game.

That current ownership ran him off for not being enough of a "homer" is on the laundry list of reasons I have no interest in the team any longer.

Who in their right mind gets rid of Jon Miller?

The man was an absolute treasure.

Ian     February 16
Drew,



Can you clarify the criteria of your latest Mount Rushmore? You seem to be limiting it to sportscasters who were or are part of the daily local TV news. But, from the responses, people are including play-by-play announcers and even sportswriters.



By the way, if it's limited to TV news sportscasters, my votes are: Vince Bagli, Chris Thomas, John Buren and Randy Blair.

H     February 15
John Steadman, Chuck Thompson, Vince Bagli, John Miller

H     February 15
Drew: Is it possible for a PGA tour pro to win a tournament with a lousy caddie?

MicMac     February 15
Well, C.J. called it. Kuchar is apologizing and paying the caddie the $50k he requested. He said he was going to call him tonight to let him know. Of course he issued a official statement which can be read on ESPN.com. Kuchar is also making a donation to the organization that is sponsoring this week's golf tournament.

clayton     February 15
i think your spot on. kuchars team already hired a crisis management firm and they will probably offer the caddie 50k if he goes on air and says kuchars a warm and wonderful fella. it doesn't take much to move a star worshiping and adoring public who believe kuchar cares the slightest bit about what they think except how it affects shoe sales.

C.J.     February 15
Prediction: Kuchar will give the guy a $50,000 check sometime soon and his sponsors and PR firms will broadcast it everywhere.

Chuck Petty     February 15
Are people here really defending Matt Kuchar?



I'm sure glad I don't work for you.

Blue Tee Golfer     February 15
Kuchar will never be viewed the same by golf fans and / or sponsors that's for sure. He's made his bed on this one.

Neutral Observer     February 15
FYI there was no "signed legal contract" between the player and caddie. So you can throw that out @Roo. They had an agreement that the caddie would get $3,000 and then an additional $1,000 if Kuchar made the weekend cut. There was no discussion about a "winning bonus". Kuchar decided himself that giving someone $1,000 after winning $1.3 million was the right thing to do. There was no contract.


Monday
February 18
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1638



baltimore's mount rushmore of "tv sportscasters"


This one might wind up being more difficult than last week's Mount Rushmore of "Baltimore Sports Moments".

There are a lot of qualified candidates for this category, as this week we try and come up with Baltimore's all-time top TV sportscasters. We need four of them.

Let's first clarify what we define as a "TV sportscaster". It is not someone who did play-by-play or color analysis on TV. That means "Gary Thorne", as an example, is not a "TV sportscaster".

A TV sportscaster is someone you watched deliver the sports on TV, mostly during the 5 pm, 6 pm and 11 pm hours.

My personal Mount Rushmore of TV sportscasters will be published on Thursday of this week. I hope you contribute yours down below in the Comments section. Over the next few days, though, I'm going to give you a few personal stories of experiences I shared with various TV sportscasters in town. I'm honored to say I worked with every single one of them at some point during my 18 year tenure with the Blast soccer team.

So, keep in mind when I share a personal story about one of the TV guys (or gals) in town that I'm not saying they're part of my Mount Rushmore. They could be. Or not. These are just memorable experiences of mine. My official list of the top four comes out on Thursday.

In all of my years interacting with the media, John Buren was definitely a favorite of mine. Buren was the longtime Channel 13 sportscaster, coming to Baltimore via Atlanta and San Francisco, arriving circa 1986. We hit it off almost immediately because of our fondness for golf. Buren was an outstanding player when he first arrived in Baltimore, sporting a 2 handicap after a lengthy tenure at the famed Olympic Club in San Francisco.

When he arrived in town and got settled, I invited him out to play a round of golf with coach Kenny Cooper and I. We had an enjoyable day together at Hunt Valley, shared some laughs over lunch, and Buren grew to admire Cooper. His accent and easy going nature made for good TV, Buren would often tell me.

Former WJZ-TV sportscaster John Buren.

Over the next year or so, I played with Buren -- whose nickname was "Bevo" -- on a handful of other occasions, including the occasional charity scramble in the summer. I was always impressed with his game. He sported a nice, flowing swing and had a good touch around the greens. He was a legit 2 handicap player.

One July day, we met up, again at Hunt Valley, and played 18 holes. Almost...

Early in the round, Buren was struggling with his swing. He was a few over par on the 3rd tee when Kenny Cooper offered a quick tip about John's grip. It didn't help. Buren made another bogey at the third hole. He was starting to get agitated.

On the fourth tee, he ballooned a tee-ball that landed well right of the cart path that borders the green and bounded into the woods. John wasn't happy. It was the first time I'd ever really seen him play poorly. Or, if nothing else, it was the first time I'd ever seen him get openly angry about his golf game.

A double bogey at four and a bogey at five didn't help Buren's mindset.

After a decent drive on #6, he hit a duckhook 7-iron for his approach shot. "I've been playing like garbage for a month now," he said. "I can't shake it."

He made a bogey at the 6th and then butchered the 7th hole, fanning his drive and his second shot and coming up woefully short of the green on his third. I could see him muttering to himself as he approached the putting surface. He was still very upset with his game.

The eighth hole, as it turned out, would be very memorable in the life of John Buren.

After a decent drive out to the right on the par-5, he had 260 to the hole for his second. "I'd love to bash a 3-wood right up the gut here and try and get close to the green," John said to me as he stood behind the cart near his bag. "But I need to figure my golf swing out. I'm just going to lay up with a 6-iron."

Made sense to me. He wasn't getting there with a 3-wood anyway.

John shanked his 6-iron shot directly into a grove of trees that border the right side of the par 5 eighth hole at Hunt Valley.

It wasn't a push or a mishit or anything else but a shank, that sickening shot that occurs when the hosel of the club hits the ball first. It's the worst shot in all of golf. And every single person who has ever played the game has shanked a ball. It's akin to standing at the foul line and throwing an airball. Over and over and over.

Buren looked at me. I looked at him. "That was a dead shank," he said. I didn't know what to say. I mean, it was a shank. But I didn't know if I should have agreed with him or tried to perhaps coax him into thinking it was something else.

And then it happened.

John walked to the back of the cart. "Drewski," he said, as if were making an announcement in front of the General Assembly. "You've just witnessed the last golf shot of Bevo's career."

He dropped the 6-iron into the bag. I heard it rattle against a couple of clubs in his bag. I looked over at him as he got in the cart. "Let's go," he said. "Hit your next shot."

And that was it.

John Buren never played golf again.

Never.

He rode around with us the rest of that day, comfortable, it seemed with his earlier decision. He watched Cooper and I play, enjoyed lunch with us, and hopped in his Jeep and headed for the station.

"Give him a call in a couple of weeks and invite him back out," Cooper said to me. "Everyone goes through a period where they want to give up the game," the coach remarked. "Golf is like an onion...it makes you want to cry."

A few weeks later I called John at the station and asked him if he wanted to join Kenny and I later in the week.

"I'm done, my friend," he said. "I told you the last time we played you'd just seen the last shot of my career and I was serious. I'm done."

And he was serious. And he was done.

John and I remained good friends after I left the soccer business and he was no longer at Channel 13. We still share a breakfast together three or four times a year and it's inevitable that the Hunt Valley story will come up in our conversation. It was a defining moment in his life. And I was there for it.

Buren would go on to become an outstanding "scratch" tennis player and has won several tournaments as a senior.

He could have been a really good competitive golfer as well.

If not for that shank on the 8th hole at Hunt Valley...

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yesterday, today and tomorrow


This Week’s Subject: So long, Joe Flacco

Yesterday…

I’ve said this here before, and I’ll say it here again now that Joe Flacco is apparently out the door and headed to Denver when NFL trades can become official in March.

Joe Flacco was a good quarterback in Baltimore. Nothing more. Nothing less.

He started for 11 seasons in a row, and he deserved to be the starter every one of those years except the first one, when injury and bad luck plopped the starting job in his hands. The Ravens never considered drafting Flacco’s replacement until 2018, and even the choice of Lamar Jackson was (and still is?) a bit of a shot in the dark. It’s a shot in the dark that has to be fleshed out, of course, which (besides money) is the biggest reason Flacco is gone.

What Joe Flacco was not in Baltimore was Aaron Rodgers, or Tom Brady, or Drew Brees, and not just statistically. As good as Flacco could be on any given day, he couldn’t pull guys up to a higher level by the sheer force of his own talent.

There’s a case to be made that the Ravens expected Flacco to be able to do that, particularly after the 2012 Super Bowl season, and he never could. There’s also the case to be made that the Ravens knew that Flacco couldn’t do that, yet the front office never found enough offensive guys that could lift him up. There’s a case to be made that the Ravens have always cared more about finding stars on defense than on offense.

There may be some truth to all of those, and there’s definitely some truth to the fact that Flacco didn’t live up to the contract he signed following the Super Bowl run. But he’s not the first veteran to fall short, and he won’t be the last.

It’s worth mentioning some of Flacco’s numbers one more time, and not the obvious ones of passing yards and touchdowns and interceptions, or even his record as the team’s starting quarterback of 96 wins and 67 losses.

According to Pro-Football Reference, Flacco led the Ravens to 19 fourth-quarter comebacks and on 26 game-winning drives.

The Ravens were a Super Bowl caliber team in 2010, 2011 and 2012. They won 34 games in those three years, and Flacco led them on a game-winning drive in 11 of those games, almost a third of the time. Eight of those 11 were fourth-quarter comebacks.

There would have been no good reason for Flacco to be a member of the Ravens going forward. There was a time during his career, perhaps not a long enough time, that he was one of the main reasons the team was as good as it was.


Today…

So, the Ravens might go into the 2019 season with Lamar Jackson as the presumptive starting quarterback and Robert Griffin III as the backup quarterback. What the team will do as far as finding other backup options before training camp is hard to say.

I don’t think the team should have kept Flacco, obviously. And I’m excited to see what Greg Roman and staff can do with Jackson, based mostly on the success that Marty Mornhinweg had with Jackson at the end of 2018.

Still, you can’t help but be a little bit wary of the team’s offensive fortunes going forward, and not only because of the playoff performance against the Chargers.

Whether you liked Joe Flacco or not, you knew what you were going to get with him most of the time. There was a comfort in that, a comfort not every team has. Just look at the Broncos over the past few seasons (read below).

And don’t forget…thanks to Jackson, the Ravens won the AFC North in 2018. They’ll be playing a first-place schedule in 2019. That means games against the Chiefs and Texans, in addition to the one they already knew they’d be playing against New England. Oh, and they’ll also be playing the other Super Bowl participant and the Seahawks, both on the road.

It’s the kind of schedule you’d like to have in front of an experienced quarterback that’s won big games before. The Ravens will have to hope that Jackson’s ability to win a big game or two trumps his lack of experience.

Anyway, this isn’t really about Joe Flacco. We knew he’d likely be gone, and we maybe thought that even before the 2018 season started.

This is about uncertainty. There’s been good play on offense and mediocre play on offense and, like every NFL team, a tremendous amount of turnover. What we’ve been missing until now is the sense of “where do we go from here?”

We can look at that in two ways of course. Uncertainly can be really exciting, even if the quarterback isn’t as “exciting” as Lamar Jackson. The Ravens tried something different with Jackson and had success; it’s possible they could create something sustainable for a long time.

Then again, uncertainty isn’t want fans want. It remains to be seen what kind of a player Lamar Jackson will be remembered as. There is no sure thing, and if he does succeed it will frankly be kind of a surprise.

Of course, about 10 years ago, it remained to be seen what kind of player Joe Flacco would become too. History, no matter what type of quarterback you have, tends to repeat itself.


Tomorrow…

Ok, Denver fans, and I know there are a lot of you. I saw a bunch of you at M&T Bank Stadium on a rainy day this past September.

You should be happy that, assuming good health, Joe Flacco is going to be your quarterback when the 2019 season opens this September.

Here’s why…

In 2018, Case Keenum was the new guy after your front office signed him as a free agent. Fact is that the signing came on the belief that Keenum could be the quarterback he was for one season in Minnesota, as opposed to the journeyman backup he was for five seasons in Houston and with the Rams. I think “backup” won out.

In 2016 and 2017, your front office tried to make you believe that Trevor Siemian was a potential star in the making. They wanted you to believe that Brock Osweiler was more than just a tall guy. Maybe they even thought you’d fall for Paxton Lynch, who was drafted in the first round. Hopefully, you weren’t that gullible.

In 2015, your team won the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, you had to watch a mildly decrepit Peyton Manning start only nine games, where he threw nine touchdowns and had 17 interceptions. I believe that, here in Baltimore, we’re also familiar with a team whose defense won it the Super Bowl.

What I’m saying is…you Broncos fans haven’t really had a legitimate starting quarterback since 2014, when Manning had his final Hall of Fame-type season. Five years later, you should at least have that going for you, which is nice.

It’s possible that some of the reaction to the Flacco trade (and even the Keenum signing) by Denver fans is still in response to Peyton Manning. John Elway had the unique opportunity to sign one of the best of all-time who had been cut by the team for which he had played 14 seasons. Then, for three years, Manning played like the star that he’d always been.

Obviously a player like Manning isn’t walking through the door anymore. What the Broncos did get was, at the very least, a successful NFL starting quarterback. Not to oversimplify it, but that’s not what Trevor Siemian or even Case Keenum were.

Now, there’s a chance that Flacco is not just mediocre but also at the point where his health will be fragile. The last few years make that seem like a real possibility. If he’s out there, though, Broncos fans will get to see at least a few games where their quarterback looks like he knows what he’s doing, even if he’s not John Elway or Peyton Manning.

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



Baseball's hot stove season has to yet to actually heat up, but the tension between teams and players is getting downright combustible. And over the weekend, our old friend Brad Brach might have unwittingly tossed a match into the gasoline.

According to MLB.com reporter Jordan Bastian, Brach revealed that the offers he received as a free agent were not only strikingly similar, but so were the pitches he heard from teams. "We talked to certain teams and they told us that, 'We have an algorithm and here's where you fall,'" Brach said. It's just kind of weird that all offers are the same, they come around the same time. Everybody tells you there's an algorithm."

If Brach is telling the truth, this is nothing short of a smoking gun for the case that the teams are once again actively colluding against free agents.

One major tell is the repeated and silly invocation of "analytics" to explain the state of the market. Before there were flatly inaccurate claims that "analytics" says that long term contracts to mid-20 somethings MVP contenders are bad investments. Now there's apparently a bizarre perversion of the entire point of analytics being used to explain the apparent homogeneity of the league's front office. Put simply, the entire point of "analytics" is to analyze the market to find a competitive advantage in being different from what everyone else is doing. If your supposed algorithms are producing the exact same results as everyone else then you're just wasting your time and money on the whole enterprise.

But even then, this still isn't how competitive bidding systems actually work, nor does it make sense from any logical foundation for team construction. In baseball, value is in some part a function of where a team is in the competitive cycle. Think of the difference between the Orioles and the Indians right now. If we presume that both could use a right-handed middle reliever in the abstract, the same free agent is not going to have the same real value to both teams even if they use identical algorithms to figure out what he's worth all else being equal. Because all else isn't equal.

The fact that the Indians are a strong playoff contender who presumably want to win a World Series before their competitive window closes and the Orioles are going to be a very, very bad team regardless makes the marginal value of added wins much higher for Cleveland than Baltimore. Therefore, Brad Brach would be much more valuable to the Indians than to the Orioles even if both teams used the same algorithms as claimed.

How is it that the Phillies haven't signed one of these guys yet?

And finally there's the fact that Brach just isn't making that much money in the grand scheme of things. He'll make $3 million this season while carrying a mutual option that brings the guaranteed portion of his deal to $4.35 million. Suffice it to say, that's not a lot of money for a free agent pitcher who's been outstanding for years now and finished out last year by posting a 1.52 ERA in 23 innings for Atlanta.

I'm honestly supposed to believe that at less than $4.5 million in guaranteed salaries he couldn't play teams off of one another? Everyone said "you're worth $3 million this year and that's all we're offering," while no one said "well if the Cubs are offering you $4.35 million we'll pay you $5 million this year to play for us instead?" C'mon now.

And that brings us back around to a glaring truth about MLB at this point that more and more people (and more and more players) are being forced to accept: The teams just aren't trying to get better.

In the most eye-popping scene, a fan at the Pirates' fan fest event recently accused his favorite team of not caring about winning directly to general manager Neal Huntington's face. In fact, enough people have been saying that openly that commissioner Rob Manfred had to address it head on, declaring on Sunday that he doesn't think it's fair to look at payroll totals as a measure of how much the teams are trying to compete.

Manfred's case wasn't wholly without merit, but ultimately they were wrong simply because they elided the sheer scope of what's going on, and how galling so many teams low payrolls or outright payroll reductions are in context. The Pirates won 82 games last year. Not great stuff, but respectable. Add some quality free agents and they might be playoff contenders. Instead they've done nothing of note this winter, and they're going to enter the 2019 season with a total payroll that just barely surpasses the amount of revenue they get solely from MLB's national television contracts.

That's a team that doesn't care about winning, and there's no other way to say it.

Meanwhile you have multiple teams, like the Mariners and Braves, who were pretty good last year and had payrolls well within the range (compared to other teams) that they've typically sat in for 12-15 years now. In the Braves' case, they won their division and had a big cash windfall from their fancy new stadium. Guess what they're doing? Cutting payroll.

But the most appalling example of all, unless things change between now and Opening Day, is the Phillies. Philadelphia has undergone a long term rebuilding project that was certainly warranted, and they're almost ideally positioned to pay that process off big time thanks to the stocked free agent market and the ridiculous amount of money they had available. It was borderline textbook, in fact.

For all of the hand-wringing people have engaged in over "tanking," it's worth remembering that the logic of "intentionally losing" like Houston did for years was never actually about getting higher draft picks. Rather, it was an acknowledgement that the vast majority of free agents are worth 2-3 wins and not, say 10-12 so if you're a 100 loss team you simply can't get drastically better by adding a bunch of second and third tier free agents.

And then once you do start to get better, since most free agents are in their early 30's those signees will likely be on the downside of their career by the time those extra wins could propel you into the playoffs. And what Houston embodied was that this was a complete waste of money that would be better utilized by saving it to spend later when it would help you a whole lot more.

Which is where the Phillies should be now. For years they were consistently in the top 3 or 5 league wide in payroll, which is where you'd expect them to be given their market size. Then they plummeted to near bottom as they started to rebuild. So now with a loaded free agent class and a roster that won 80 games last year, they've got the much coveted "financial flexibility" to increase their payroll to its traditional levels and a boatload of cash saved up from the years in which they weren't spending much at all.

This is a team that ought to be throwing around its financial might in this market and they're just not. As it turns out, teams don't actually care much about financial flexibility for competitive reasons at all. It's just a code word that provides cover for throwing more money into their bank accounts rather than spending it on improving your team.

And people are catching on. Fans are, players are, and even reporters whose main asset is access to team sources are having a hard time ignoring the current state of things or concocting innocuous explanations for them. But the teams seem dug in all the same, and there's no sign anything is going to change soon.

The whole thing is one giant powderkeg, and at this point it looks like it might explode sooner rather than later.


this weekend in
college lacrosse


Contributed by #DMD's college lacrosse analyst
John Pusateri


weekend college lacrosse review


#2 Loyola 18 - #17 Johns Hopkins 12

In front of a crowd of 4,600+, the visiting Greyhounds justified their bump in the polls with a dominating effort against the Blue Jays. Loyola's offense, led by Pat Spencer (3g, 4a), budding, freshman midfield star Chase Scanlan (4g,2a), and attackman Kevin Lindley (4g) struck with special ops-like precision and efficiency against an over-matched Johns Hopkins defense.

Charley Toomey and the Loyola Greyhounds are off to a 2-0 start with impressive wins over Virginia and Johns Hopkins.

The Blue Jays did give much more of a fight as I had predicted, and climbed to within 3 goals at the half after trailing by as many five (9-4) with just 2 minutes left in the half. But the superior Greyhounds were not to be denied, piling on another 7 goals in the 3rd to take a commanding 16-9 lead.

Watching Loyola work on offense was a thing of beauty, including a few dazzling behind-the-back assists from Spencer. Ball security continues to be a bugaboo for Hopkins, who turned the ball over 16 times and were only 8 of 15 on clears.

The Blue Jays did have some bright spots, though, including #1 freshman recruit Joey Epstein tallying 3 goals (and 3 assists) and Kyle Marr finally getting untracked with 5 goals and 1 assist. Sub-par goalie play, which affected Hopkins last year, is rearing its head again this season as netminder Ryan Darby made only 11 saves (38%) including letting in some longer range shots that should have been stopped.

It's worth noting these takes were from wide open looks in which Ryan's midfield defense didn't exactly help out. Also worth noting the Blue Jays defense allowed 29 shots on cage this week after allowing 32 on cage last week which puts a lot of pressure on any goalie.

Takeaways:

We need to temper our thoughts because it's still only the 2nd week of February. However, some patterns are starting to develop that are worth mentioning. First, and as previously noted, Loyola is really, really good. Their attack is one of the best in the country and it should be noted that one of their starters, Aidan Olmstead, was a late scratch for the game after injuring himself in practice this week.

If they continue to get consistency with Scanlan from the midfield, the sky's the limit. Throw in one of the best goal keepers in the country in Jacob Stover and it's not a stretch to think Loyola might just cut down the nets come Memorial Day. Loyola should move to the #1 spot in the country with the current #1 Yale losing this weekend.

On the flip side, Johns Hopkins isn't really, really bad after losing to two top 10 teams. But they are in trouble early and will face a significant challenge in digging out of their current hole. They have a brutal upcoming schedule in which they face UNC, Princeton and Syracuse, all on the road, and will most likely need to win 2 of 3 to keep their tournament hopes alive.

Get through these games and then we can start discussing the challenge of playing in the B1G, aka the toughest conference in the land. Usually, the Blue Jays show up with better talent, athleticism and strength over their Charles Street rivals, and against most of their opponents.

But in watching their first 2 games, its almost like watching the JV take on the varsity. Finally, the ordained offensive leader from last year, Cole Williams, has only 2 goals and 3 assists in 2 games. He either needs to step it up or Coach Pietramala will need to hand the reigns over to the talented freshman Epstein.

Last takeaway: the new 80-second shot clock has had a clear impact on the game. Frankly, it's just been much more fun to watch with consistent action back and forth, all over the field. The days of 3 minute offensive sets featuring "possession shots" to extend the unofficial play clock are thankfully over. It's rewarding teams like Loyola and Towson who are pushing transition, have skilled personal on offenses that attack the cage early and often, and have talented 2-way midfielders who can defend but are also scoring threats.

And its punishing teams like Johns Hopkins and Maryland who's offenses were designed to hold the ball for long periods and wear defenses down which ultimately puts viewing audiences to sleep. And it's also punishing teams who can't catch and throw under pressure which has caused a noticeable uptick in turnovers. But great to see the game is once again looking like the fastest on two feet!

Other Notable Games

#3 Maryland 13 - Penn 12 OT : The Terps squeaking out 1-goal wins against respectable, but unranked, Penn and Richmond teams is hopefully a sign of February rust. Maryland's offense was paced by Logan Wisnauskas (4g, 2a) and Jared Bernhardt (2g, 4a). But it was an 18 save effort by goalie Danny Dolan that kept the Terps out of the L column. Will the recent trend of midweek upsets continue when #18 Colgate comes to town on Tuesday?

#7 Towson 12 - Mount St. Marys 7 : The Tigers seemed to handle success pretty well in comfortably taking down the Mountaineers. But they needed goalie Tyler Canto's 18 saves to do so. Junior attackman Brody McLean followed up a good performance against Hopkins with a great one against the Mount in recording 5 goals and 1 assist.

Navy 11 - UMBC 6 : The Midshipmen, who were in the discussion for making the NCAAs last year seem to be the forgotten team with a lot of returning producers on offense. The Retrievers made this a contest which required a 3-0 shutout by Navy in the 4th as well as a stellar 14 save performance by Midshipmen goalie Ryan Kern for the Mids to put this one away.


Sunday
February 17
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1637



a hall of fame "bad beat"


I can give you lots and lots of reasons not to gamble on sports.

Sure, the thrill -- and profit -- of winning when you bet on a game is intoxicating. But the simple credo is this: Don't Gamble On Sports.

Yesterday's Duke vs. NC State basketball was expected to be a snoozer. Duke (11-1 in ACC) is perhaps the best team in the nation and NC State (6-7) can barely play .500 basketball in the ACC. The line was Duke (-17).

There's a relatively new thing in gambling called "live betting", where the line floats at several points during a game and you can "re-bet" the game or bet it for the first time, even. It's a little bit like a "press" in golf. If, say, you took Duke (-17) before the game, you could potentially bet NC State during the game if you thought things were swinging in their favor. Or, you could bet more money on Duke during the game.

It's just another way to get you to -- wait for it -- bet more money. Gambling houses figured it out a long time ago. People will bet on anything. So "live betting" is a great feature. It really works well in golf, actually, where you can see a guy get hot with the putter late on the front nine and bet him all the way to the trophy presentation behind the 18th green.

Yesterday, there was a live-betting "bad beat" for the ages in Durham.

Zion Williamson and Duke beat up on NC State yesterday, but it was how the game finished that drove some fans crazy.

At the TV timeout in the first half, with 9:45 remaining, a new line for the game came out and it had Duke a 14.5 point favorite. At the time, Duke was up by eight points.

Let's pretend you liked what you'd seen early on with the Wolfpack. Let's further pretend you liked it enough to wager, say, $500 on North Carolina State to cover the "new line" of 14.5 points.

OK...here's what happened.

Duke toyed with NC State the whole game, basically. The Blue Devils went up at the half, 48-40, and then led by a dozen or more points thoughout most of the second half. NC State tried to hang in there, but they just couldn't do it. The game was a foregone conclusion, when, with two minutes to go and trailing by twelve points, NC State called a time out.

With 0:40 remaining and still down by a dozen at 90-78, NC State called timeout again.

Coach K went to the clipboard and immediately started drawing up a play. He was still coaching. Duke players looked interested in the huddle. I glanced at a friend who was watching the game with me in a sports bar and said, "What the heck is going on? Why are these two teams still calling timeouts and drawing up plays with forty seconds left in a 12-point game?"

Duke inbounded the ball with 40 seconds remaining, milked 23 seconds off the shot clock, like they're supposed to do, and attempted a shot with 17 seconds left that was no good. But Tre Jones was there for the put-back, and Duke was up by 14 points with 14 seconds left. Game over, right?

NC State could have just dribbled out the clock. That would have been the prudent thing to do, although there's no harm in trying to go down and score a garbage time bucket, right?

That depends, I suppose, on which team you wagered on earlier in the game during that live-betting opportunity.

NC State's Markell Johnson brought the ball to midcourt and went to squeeze his way through a couple of Duke players. He lost the ball with six seconds remaining. A tussle ensued and Tre Jones was on the floor with the ball in his hands. Game over, right?

No. Game not over.

Duke, already up 14 at 92-78, wasn't finished. Jones somehow slipped the ball to Jordan Goldwire, who drove unattended to the basket and laid in a 2-pointer at the buzzer to finalize the scoring at 94-78.

Huh?

Why wouldn't Goldwire just run to the corner with the ball?

Note: These are the questions you scream at the TV if, in fact, you had NC State (+14.5) on the live-betting line earlier in the game.

Why did NC State insist on calling a timeout with 40 seconds left, down 12 points?

These questions, and many like them, are always left unanswered.

If you had NC State (+17) at the beginning of the game, you still won, by the way. But if you live-bet the Wolfpack at (+14.5) and thought you stood to win two wagers instead of one, you wound up not winning anything at day's end.

It's much better to write about gambling and snicker about these bad beats than it is to actually bet on the games, trust me.

If you have a particularly bad beat you'd like to share in the Comments section below, please do.

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


terps' road woes continue in loss to michigan


Thirteen first half turnovers, Bruno Fernando’s early struggles, and some horrid Terp guard play dug a hole for Maryland that proved far too deep to overcome as the Michigan Wolverines beat the Terrapins on Saturday, 65-52, in a game that was much closer than the final 13-point margin of victory, but one in which Maryland never had a chance to lead.

Michigan stormed to an 8-0 lead to start the game and never trailed. Their largest lead was 15 points and they had that lead on three separate occasions in the opening 20 minutes.

The Terps had one chance to tie the game in the second half, but an Anthony Cowan three-point attempt missed its mark with 9:29 left in the game and the Terps trailing 42-39. It was their only chance to tie or lead. Another Cowan miss, this time on an uncontested layup, could have cut the Wolverine lead to 3 with 6:55 left. After that miss, Michigan’s Ignas Brazdeikis hit a transition that all but drained the energy from the Maryland team.

Maryland followed perhaps their best half of basketball (the second half against Purdue) with what may be their worst half of the season. The Michigan pressure, combined with some shaky Terp ball handling, led to 13 Maryland first half turnovers and some head scratching shot selections.

In the early parts of the half, Michigan’s transition game was in full effect as the Terps failed to get back quickly enough after their turnovers and Michigan repeatedly made them pay. For the game, Michigan enjoyed a 14-2 advantage in fast break points.

Eric Ayala has now gone scoreless in two of Maryland's last three losses, including yesterday's loss at Michigan, where he failed to score in 33 minutes of action.

Fernando really struggled in the first half. He was able to get position down low, but was stymied when trying to work and score against Michigan’s Jon Teske. The resulting shots by Fernando were highly contested and of the low percentage variety. Most were from awkward angles and never had a chance of success.

Fernando was 0 for 4 from the floor in the opening half and turned it over twice. Things went so badly for the Terp center that he spent much of the later part of the half riding the bench. He logged just 10 first half minutes.

Darryl Morsell added 4 turnovers in the half, as he and his teammates never looked comfortable against an aggressive Wolverine defense contesting most passes and putting constant pressure on the ball.

Although they built a formidable first half lead, Michigan was far from spectacular on the offensive end. They made just 3 of 15 shots from the three-point line and hit just 37.5% from the field. The Michigan half-court offense produced very little, but the breakaways and transition buckets carried the Michigan offense to their 27-18 halftime lead.

In the second half, Maryland just couldn’t get enough stops to overcome their first half deficit. Although they put up 34 second half points, they surrendered 38. Transition defense was still an issue, but the larger issue was Terp fatigue from struggling to get back into striking range and then the emotional cliff from which they fell after the two Cowan misses.

The Maryland guard trio of Cowan, Darryl Morsell, and Eric Ayala once again were outplayed in a Terp loss. During the tell-tale first half, those three players, collectively, had four points and seven turnovers. For the game, they shot 5 of 20 from the field, 2 for 12 from the 3-point line, and turned it over 8 times. Their Michigan counterparts posted 34 points against just 4 turnovers. It was the difference in the game.

Guard play is tremendously important in college basketball and the Terp guards frequently get outplayed against the best teams in the country. In the 7 Terp losses this year, Cowan has hit just 25 of 75 shots from the floor (33%) and only 13 of his 47 three-point attempts (27%). He’s averaged just 9 points in the Terps last 5 games. That’s not good enough from the guy who takes the most shots on the team.

Morsell found the going so tough yesterday that he only managed to get 15 minutes of court time. He had 1 rebound, 2 points and 4 turnovers in yesterday’s loss to Michigan. His defensive skills are strong enough that he needs to be on the court at times, but he’s not much of a threat offensively and when he turns the ball over like he did yesterday, his net effect is negative.

Ayala has gone scoreless in 2 of the last 3 Terp losses and has proven he can’t check quicker 2 guards. He has made dramatic improvement over the season and made significant contributions to the team’s success, but if Maryland wants to compete with, and beat, the elite Big Ten teams, he’ll need to up his consistency. He’s just a freshman, and it might be asking for more than he is capable of delivering right now.

Guard play has proven to be the separator between where Maryland is and where they want to be.

The Terp guards are capable of some quality games, but not against the top tier teams. I don’t want to beat this group up because I believe they have accomplished so much this year and they have a chance to win a few NCAA tournament games this season. However, guard play separates Maryland from the Michigans, Michigan States, and Virginias of the college basketball landscape.

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Saturday
February 16
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#1636



saturday musings


Orioles first baseman Chris Davis think it's time for a change.

He said it himself on Friday at spring training in Sarasota.

Finally, right?

My stance is too upright. He's finally figured it out. And making a change.

Been trying to hit it to left field to beat the shift. Just go back to pulling everything now. Need to make that change, too.

Gotta stop looking at strike 3 so much. Start going up there with "just make contact" being the objective. That's another good change.

Chris Davis is making some changes.

He's on the record.

Actually, that's not true.

Davis did say "It was time for a change" on Friday when someone asked him a question. But it wasn't about his own performance. Instead, he was commenting about the departures of Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette.

"It was time for a change," was part of his response when asked about "new management" in the Orioles clubhouse.

“I’ve always held myself to a really high standard, maybe in some people’s eyes, an unrealistic standard at times. I think, as far as having a new staff, having a new voice in the clubhouse, it was time for a change. I said it at FanFest. ‘I was very appreciative and grateful for everything that Buck and Dan did here.'"

Just in case the "I'm glad Buck's gone" sentiment wasn't clear with that statement, Davis doubled down and kept on rolling. “We had a lot of good memories and a lot of good times that we can look back on. For the future, for the present, it was time for a change. I think it’s going to be good. I think it’s going to be good to hear a new set of pipes in the clubhouse, to see a little different landscape, and I’m looking forward to it.”

Interesting.

I think a lot of people around Baltimore agree with Chris Davis. It is indeed "time for a change".

How about you change your batting average from .168 to .268?

How about you change your home run total from 16 to 36?

How about you change your WAR from -2.8 to 2.8?

Talk about making changes. Those sure would be nice, chief.


Matt Kuchar got smart on Friday and "made good" with caddie David Ortiz after a week's worth of media and internet scorching about his $5,000 payment back in November when Kuchar won $1.3 million at the Mayakoba Classic in Mexico.

While he didn't say specifically how he paid Ortiz, Kuchar issued a statement on Friday, apologizing for his earlier comments about the situation and stating he has, in fact, paid Ortiz the initial sum he wanted ($50,000) in exchange for being on Kuchar's bag when he won in Mexico.

This was the best thing Kuchar could do at this point. It would have clearly been better to take care of this issue a month ago when it first perked up. By letting it flap in the breeze, it only fueled the story even more. And then this week, Ortiz was again critical of Kuchar for not giving him a more fair bonus for being the "winning caddie".

Kuchar then said, "A $5,000 week is really good for someone who's used to making $200 a day."

And that got non-golfing media types interested. As is usually the case in situations like these, things started to get overblown. The whole story became an indictment of rich, wealthy golfers and not just a cheap PGA Tour player who thought he'd get by without having to pay a fill-in caddie a reasonable bonus for being part of his victory.

So with the media vulture'ing away (vulture'ing? - not sure it's really a word) at Kuchar and weighing the relationships he has with some significant companies like WorkDay, Skechers and Bridgestone, the veteran move was to cough up $50,000 and try and get everyone to move on to wondering if Tiger really has a chance at Augusta this year.

But this is now Kuchar's "Wiki moment". He can win a Masters or a British Open someday, maybe both, like Mark O'Meara did in 1998. He could put together a great August this summer and wind up winning the FedEx Cup. He might someday be a Ryder Cup captain, even.

He can do all of those things, but the David-Ortiz-got-stiffed story will always appear on his Wikipedia page. It's "on the record", so to speak.

Six weeks from now, most of the golf world will no longer care about this story.

Six weeks ago, though, Kuchar could have handled the whole thing the right way and saved himself a lot of embarrassment. And brand damage.

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


michigan hosts terps today


There will be some intriguing matchups on the floor today when Maryland tries to hand the Michigan Wolverines their first home loss of the season. At every position there exists a question as to what player has the advantage. These matchups could go either way.

Game time is at noon and the contest will be broadcast by FOX.

Let’s start with the small forward position and the battle of Jalen Smith vs Michigan’s Ignas (Iggy) Brazdeikis. Both are freshman, but contribute greatly to their team’s success.

While Smith comes at you with length and finesse, Brazdeikis plays a more driving, physical game and is also a better outside shooter. Iggy leads Michigan with 14.6 points-per-game, but is subject to the occasional klunker. In his last two Big Ten games he is 4-13 from the floor with just 8 points scored.

Iggy is a plus defender, but can he handle the long arms and height of Smith? There just aren’t many guys like the Terps' Smith. For Smith, the defensive question is: can he defend the perimeter game, movement, and penetration of Brazdeikis? It’s a toss-up to me, and a part of the game that I’m really anxious to see.

Maryland could use a big game today from guard Anthony Cowan, as the Terps try and hand Michigan their first home loss of the season.

At the center spot, 7’1, 260 pound, Jon Teske will lock horns will Bruno Fernando. Teske leads the Big Ten in blocked shots and is a proficient defender on the low post. Penn State neutralized his defensive skills by going at him with the smaller, but much quicker, Lamar Stevens.

The result was a big game from Stevens and a Penn State win.

The Terps won’t (and shouldn’t) do that, and it will up to Fernando to put pressure on Teske at both ends of the court. Teske gets 9 points per game and leads the Wolverines with 6.5 rebounds per contest. The matchup questions here revolve around Teske’s ability to handle Bruno down low, compared to Fernando’s ability to stay with Teske’s movement off of set screens.

My guess is that Michigan coach, John Beilein, will elect to let Teske handle Fernando without double teams, but will be forced to reconsider that plan after Fernando proves he can score on Teske. Advantage Maryland.

I will spend some time today not following the ball, but watching Charles Mathews and Darryl Morsell. Mathews is only the second leading scorer on the Michigan team, but he is the one who, offensively, scares me the most.

Mathews is a 6’6” transfer from Kentucky and can take over a game at crunch time. He is the “go-to” guy for the Wolverines when they absolutely need a bucket. He is a quality slasher who can finish at the rim. Mathews will take a few threes, and hits 33% of them. He is really tough to guard one-on-one.

Morsell has his hands full trying to check this guy. Morsell plays tough defense, but I expect Mathews to exceed his 13.2 points-per game average. Advantage Michigan.

Zavier Simpson mans the point guard position for Michigan and I expect him to be joined at Anthony Cowan’s hip for most of the day. Simpson (and his 3 o’clock hook shot) only gets 9 points per contest, and hits just under 28% of his three points attempts, but he is quicker than Cowan and has an assist to turnover ratio of almost 3 to 1. He is a tenacious defender and could give Maryland’s offense some trouble with his ball pressure.

My main concern with this matchup is that the turnover-prone Terps could have issues getting into their offensive sets consistently enough with Simpson pressuring the ball. Maryland has had issues with teams that play deny defense and pressure the ball. They could see a bunch of that today. Advantage Michigan.

Each team’s best three-point shooter will try to shut down the other when Jordan Poole (39%) takes on Eric Ayala (47%). On shooting percentage alone, one might conclude that the advantage here would go to Ayala. However, Poole possesses a more complete offensive arsenal and like the rest of his teammates, defends his position extremely well. Because he can get into the lane and score off of the dribble, I’ll give Poole and his defensive ability a tiny edge here.

Unless Michigan sees foul trouble, most of their bench players will only get up to cheer. The lone exception to that is Isaiah Livers. Livers gives the Wolverines decent production off of the bench. He is the best Michigan three-point shooter (44%) and also grabs an average of 4 rebounds per game.

When Livers finally hits the court he can’t be left alone. He must be guarded closely or he’ll be instant offense for the Wolverines. If I had to rate the benches, clearly the advantage goes the Maryland. However, our bench will be playing against their starters. I expect each Michigan starter to get well over 30 minutes of action.

Michigan is back at home at the Crisler Center after getting beat by a Penn State team that had only one conference win. I expect the Wolverines to be hungry and they’ll have the advantage of a loud home crowd. Maryland’s lack of success against ranked teams on the road is well documented, and the defensive pressure they’ll see tomorrow will cause some problems.

Penn State had some success slowing-down Michigan with a 1-2-2, three quarter court, press. I’d like to see Maryland incorporate some of that on made baskets. Penn State also has success taking the ball right to Michigan. I think that would be wise for the Terps to do as well. Whenever an opening exists, they need to penetrate strongly and look to work the offense from inside.

The more time Maryland spends on the perimeter, the more chance for a mistake to happen. Get the ball inside ASAP by either dribble penetration, or by dumping it low to either Fernando or Smith.

If Maryland can do all of the above, and shoot well, they might make this game interesting.

If they don’t, they could suffer a bad loss. The line currently has Michigan as a 6-point favorite. Personally, a short-term investment seems less than prudent here. But, if forced to, I’d grab the six points and hope that Bruno Fernando gets 20 points and keeps Maryland within striking distance. In a low scoring affair, I see the Wolverines holding on for a 63-60 victory.

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



In a major and shocking development that I never saw coming, it was announced mid-afternoon on Friday that the NFL had come to agreement with Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid on a settlement of their pending grievance against the league for illegally colluding against them.

Terms of the settlement were not disclosed due the parties agreeing to a non-disclosure agreement, which is interesting in its own right (and I'll get to later).

There's multiple levels of interest to the information we do have, but here's what we can absolutely say for sure: The very fact that the NFL settled the case is a straight-forward admission that Kaepernick's lawyers had the goods on them and could prove, conclusively, that they were guilty.

Collusion is a very specific action with a very specific threshold for proof that is very hard to meet. The most likely outcome of the case was always that Kaepernick's lawyers could build a good circumstantial case for their claims but wouldn't be able to come up with enough straight forward evidence of an "agreement" by the teams to blacklist him, in which case he'd lose his grievance.

The deck was heavily stacked in favor of the league, so the only reason to even entertain settling before a hearing is the knowledge that you've been caught red-handed and were going to lose.

What exactly is in the settlement would matter a lot, obviously, but we can't know that for sure now. We won't know how much the NFL agreed to pay Kaepernick and Reid, although at least one report says that league sources "speculate" Kaepernick got something in the $60-80 million range. We'll also never know what evidence Kaepernick had against the NFL, or why the league was so eager to suppress that information.

And since Kaepernick pursued his grievance with outside counsel rather than the NFLPA, the union won't know that either. I strongly suspect that that's not an accident here, and from the outside looking in it sure appears as though the NFL is buying the silence of Kaepernick and Reid, and the players who drew notoriety, fame, and infamy for "speaking out against injustice" are happily clamming up for the right price.

It might surprise you, but I don't have a particularly high opinion of Kaepernick. In fact, I can't shake the impression that he's a bit of a huckster.

I'm not going to say that he deliberately and consciously concocted all of this in order to make himself a boatload of money, but if he had, how much different would it have turned out? Kaepernick's Nike contract was not only an endorsement deal, it included his own line of branded apparel and a top-tier contract with Nike. Think LeBron or Jeter level stuff. That's a level of money he was never going to make as an otherwise generic NFL quarterback.

Moreover, the fact that Nike had apparently entered into the deal with him soon after his protest began, only waiting years to launch the line but paying him all along, rendered the entire campaign a fraud from the beginning: Kaepernick hadn't sacrificed everything for his beliefs, he'd gotten fabulously rich for them.

And along the way, for as much as Kaepernick became a cultural touchstone of sorts, he completely hijacked a nascent movement to protest police brutality against people of color, and more specifically police immunity for that brutality, and turned it into a national controversy about him.

Almost immediately the entire discussion around "Black Lives Matter" shifted away from police interactions with communities or the fact that cops could kill completely innocent people like John Crawford or Tamir Rice with impunity and centered on Kaepernick's "right to protest."

His supporters would typically remind everyone that it "wasn't about Kaepernick," but rather police brutality, but at the same time never seemed to grasp that the fact that they had to say that over and over was itself proof that Kaepernick's actions had done more harm than good to the cause of bringing awareness to the problem of police brutality.

Meanwhile, the Kaepernick story blew up big time. It dominated not only sports talk media, but hard news programming as well. It was a flashpoint issue in a Presidential election. The President of the United States addressed Kaepernick by name at a press conference from the G20 summit!

Almost overnight, a guy who was previously most notable for signing a precedent setting terrible contract and pouting about it (or maybe for doing a McDonald's commercial with Joe Flacco) was one of the most recognizable faces in sports.

I guess that's fine. It's not really my place to say whether Kaepernick championed Black Lives Matter and the larger movement ir embodied....or if he exploited it. Or even if he did both simultaneously. It's not really my concern either.

But something doesn't add up about the end to this story. There simply wasn't any real reason for the league to settle this case. Maybe they think they're settling for a lower number than they would have had to pay, but if Kaepernick would agree to that then you'd wonder how strong his evidence really was, wouldn't you?

If his case was really airtight, why wouldn't he take the NFL to the cleaners? And why agree to keep your evidence a secret through a non-disclosure pact?

I don't want to speculate too much given the circumstances, but my strong suspicion is that Kaepernick's lawyers obtained evidence of something that the league doesn't want to be publicly known, or maybe specifically known by the NFLPA.

The settlement essentially amounts to the league buying the silence of Kaepernick and Reid....and the two of them going along with it for the right price. Which, good for them I guess, but it doesn't do much to alleviate my skepticism about their status as true warriors of social activism.

In any case, maybe now that this process is over and Kaepernick is riding off with even more money from this saga the whole story will finally end. Probably not, but we can hope right?

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breakfast bytes

College hoops: #3 UVA wins in-state showdown, 64-58, at Virginia Tech.

PGA Tour players now allowed to wear shorts in practice and pro-am events, but still must wear long pants in competition.

Ovechkin scores twice, Caps hold on for 3-2 win at Los Angeles over struggling Kings.

Baseball: Rockies moving All-Star Blackmon to right field.



SCOREBOARD
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 18
CAPITALS
3
AT LOS ANGELES
2
CAPS GOALS: Ovechkin 2 (42), Connolly (14)

GOALTENDER: Copley

RECORD/PLACE: 33-20-6 (2nd, Metropolitan)

NEXT GAME: February 22 at Toronto



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