Monday
November 21
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVIII
Issue 21
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mistakes, lack of offense again doom ravens in loss at dallas


Only the eternal optimist -- and Joe Flacco, perhaps -- was surprised by Sunday's Ravens loss at Dallas.

Heck, some dummy from Glen Burnie actually picked the exact final score yesterday here at DMD. That's how sure I was that the Cowboys were going to win...I had them coming out on top, 27-17.

The Ravens coulda, shoulda, woulda beat Dallas on Sunday, but too many things had to go right for that to happen and most of those things, unfortunately, didn't work out in Baltimore's favor.

John Harbaugh's team needed to stay away from penalty flags. Instead, they were penalized 12 times for 136 yards.

The Ravens needed to limit Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott, the two Dallas super-rookies. Prescott threw for three touchdowns and Elliott ran for 97 yards on the day.

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You can't blame John Harbaugh for being mad about Sunday's loss at Dallas. It's tough to win when your players get flagged 12 times for 136 yards in penalties.

Baltimore's offense needed to show up in a big way. It didn't. Despite having one more offensive series (10 to 9) than Dallas, the Ravens had nine fewer first downs and fifteen fewer offensive plays.

There's the telling stat of the day: The Ravens' offense had one more possession than the Cowboys and wound up with nine less first downs and ran fifteen fewer plays.

And in the second half, Baltimore stopped running the ball, a familiar phrase to those who have followed the team over the last few years. The Ravens carried the ball just six times in the final two quarters, turning a 10-10 halftime nailbiter into a 24-10 fourth quarter deficit.

It wasn't a bad "performance" from the Ravens overall, but a loss is a loss is a loss.

And again, facing what I think we'd all characterize a "good" team, the Ravens couldn't find a way to come out on top.

Depending on your analysis of the Steelers, here's what Baltimore has done this season when facing a solid opponent.

Oakland: lost

Washington: lost

N.Y. Giants: lost

Pittsburgh: won

Dallas: lost

Here's the good news: everyone has to play the bottom feeders, too, and that's where the Ravens have made their meal ticket this season, beating Cleveland (twice) and Jacksonville for three of their five wins.

But losing games to these good teams is getting to be old hat for the Ravens, who can't seem to come up with the big play on offense when they need it, unless they're playing the Browns.

The other dose of good news? The Bengals are now done, falling to 3-6-1 yesterday and likely losing wide receiver A.J. Green for the rest of the season with a hamstring injury. Just in time for Thanksgiving this Thursday and their visit to Baltimore next Sunday, you can stick a fork in Cincinnati. They're cooked.

That leaves the Ravens and Steelers fighting it out for the AFC North title and the home playoff game that comes along with it.

And Pittsburgh doesn't look that much different than the Ravens, as their 5-5 record so indicates.

Dallas, quite clearly, has a very good team. There's no shame in losing to the them, a 9-1 side with the best record in the league.

But once again on Sunday, the Ravens couldn't get out of their own way. They led twice, 7-0 and 10-7, but couldn't tack on an additional score that would have put some distance between themselves and the Cowboys and forced Dallas to play out of its comfort zone, perhaps.

And then the refs got involved, and you know what happens at that point.

I'll stick with what I said this time last week when looking ahead at the rest of the regular season schedule.

We knew yesterday was going to be a loss -- or at least I did, anyway.

The three remaining home games are the critical contests that will keep Baltimore alive and well in the playoff picture. If they beat Cincinnati, Miami and Philadelphia, they'll need to win at least one of their remaining road games, if not two: at New England, at Pittsburgh and at Cincinnati.

They're not winning at New England, obviously.

So that leaves going to Pittsburgh and Cincinnati and winning there.

That can be done, for sure.

Flacco and Harbaugh have won a number of times in Pittsburgh and, unlike New England, the Steelers are not one of the league's better teams at this point. The Bengals will be ready to head south for the winter when the Ravens get their for the final regular season contest.

Winning those three remaining home games is what the Ravens need to do to make the playoffs.

Stealing that one yesterday would have been nice, but Dallas is 9-1 now for a reason. They have a very good offense and a pretty decent defense, too, although I think we'll all agree they're going to go as far as Prescott and Elliott take them in January.

The Ravens very much resemble about eight other teams in the league. They're good one week, not-so-good the next week.

It generally depends on who they play.

If the Ravens play "up", they lose.

If they play "down", the win.

Fortunately, they're playing "down" more than they're playing "up" for the rest of the season, with the exception of (possibly) Miami and New England.

The Ravens are still very much alive in the playoff race. I'd say today that I'd bet the Ravens to make it, in fact, as long as Flacco stays healthy.

Hold serve at home and steal a road game or two in the final six weeks.

It shouldn't be that hard.

Fortunately, it will be much easier to do that than it was to beat Dallas yesterday.

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around the nfl in thirty seconds


REDSKINS 42 - PACKERS 24 -- Wow, how the mighty have fallen. Green Bay's defense is just horrible and the Packers (4-6) look like they'll be home in January. Don't look now, but Washington (6-3-1) is poised to make a playoff run over the final six weeks.

STEELERS 24 - BROWNS 9-- Pittsburgh gets one of their two "gift" wins while the Browns fall to 0-10. I said back in week four the Browns could go 0-16 and they're closing in on that, with only home games against the Giants and Chargers giving them a semi-realistic chance of winning a game.

LIONS 26 - JAGUARS 19-- Detroit (6-4) is pretty good, particularly at home, when they're now 4-1 after yesterday's win over hapless Jacksonville. I was one of the guys who thought the Jaguars were going to step up in class this year and be a competitive team. I was one of the guys who was wrong.

COLTS 24 - TITANS 17-- Don't look now, but the Colts are suddenly 5-5 and in the thick of the AFC South playoff picture, especially if Houston loses to the Raiders tonight. That the Colts could make the playoffs shows you bad the league is this season; Indianapolis stinks.

BILLS 16 - BENGALS 12-- I think this one tells us more about the Bengals than Bills, but either way, Buffalo (5-5) is still giving it the old college try despite having no chance to win the division and only about a 25% chance of securing a wild card berth. The Bengals? Their season is over.

BUCCANEERS 19 - CHIEFS 17 -- Kansas City was 17-2 in their last 19 regular season games. And they lost at home to Tampa Bay. You figure it out. And the Bucs are now 5-5 and quietly still with a puncher's chance to challenge for the NFC South title.

GIANTS 22 - BEARS 16 -- Reason #104 that you don't bet on NFL football. Giants favored by 7. Giants kicker misses two extra points. Giants win by six. You can't make that stuff up. Unreal.

VIKINGS 30 - CARDINALS 24 -- A nice, much-needed win for the Vikings (6-4) and just about a season-ender for Arizona (4-5-1).

PATRIOTS 30 - 49'ERS 17 -- This one was actually close deep into the second half before New England broke open a 13-10 lead and won easily. San Francisco remains stuck on one win. That might be as far as they get this season.

SEAHAWKS 26 - EAGLES 15 -- Seattle continues their roll with an easy win over Philadelphia. The Seahawks might be the only team to have what it takes to beat Dallas in Dallas. I know the Giants did it earlier this season, but that was then. This is now. A Dallas-Seattle NFC title game would be a barnburner.


show me the money, week #11


I wrote in yesterday's #DMD "Game-Day" edition that a few of those games looked too good to be true.

And, naturally, they were.

I also got my fair share of "bad beats" on Sunday as well.

Cleveland had a chance to score a late TD and give me a back door cover over the Steelers. They didn't score.

The goofy Giants kicker missed two extra points (against his former team, no less) and turned an 8-point cover over the Bears into a 6-point loser. Oh, and I lost my "Best Bet of the Day" with this one, too. Thanks a lot, Robbie Gould.

The freakin' Bengals couldn't score a 4th quarter TD to win 19-16 and give me a half-point cover, instead losing 16-12. Losers...

So, with that, I produced a 2-4 mark on Sunday, winning on the Cowboys and Lions, and losing on the Bengals, Browns, Chiefs and Giants.

SEASON RECORD TO DATE: 29-37

LAST WEEK: 2-4

GAMES INVOLVING THE RAVENS: 4-6

BEST BET OF THE DAY: 4-6

Still trying to get back to that elusive .500 mark.

KELLY
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stay away from the 4-letter network and come here for the good stuff


I told you in "Fact and Opinion" on Friday that Maryland basketball might have a difficult time with Towson University yesterday and they did, pulling out a 71-66 victory. The game was deadlocked at 66-66 with a minute left, in fact, but Melo Trimble (27 points) and Anthony Cowan hit key foul shots in the game's final sixty seconds to give Maryland the win.

Mike Morsell and Arnaud William Adala Moto, Towson’s leading scorers this season, accounted for 28 of Towson’s points, though they did so on just 7-for-26 shooting from the field.

I don't know much about the Maryland team yet, but I can tell you, for sure, that Towson is going to be right in the thick of the CAA race in 2016-2017. Could this be the season Pat Skerry finally steers the Tigers to the big dance in March? It sure looks like it, if the early-season games are a fair indicator of things to come.

I'm not a NASCAR follower, but I know enough to know that what Jimmie Johnson did on Sunday is pretty daggone special. Johnson captured the season-ending race in Miami for his 80th career victory and secured his 7th points title at the same time, tying him for all the all-time NASCAR lead with a couple of guys who were pretty good at driving a car around a track; Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

I'm not sure it's quite like Tiger Woods catching Jack Nicklaus at the 18-major mark, but in NASCAR circles, maybe it is. Winning seven points titles? That's some awesome stuff right there, dadgummit.

The Capitals suddenly can't beat the Columbus Blue Jackets, as Washington fell at home on Sunday, 3-2.

A late penalty to Nicklas Backstrom gave Columbus a power play and they cashed in for their second one-goal win over Washington this week. They beat the Caps in overtime last Tuesday in Columbus, remember.

Washington's offense, already not hitting on all cylinders this season, save for Wednesday's 7-goal outburst vs. Pittsburgh, is down a signficant contributor with T.J. Oshie out for an indefinite period with an upper-body injury. Oshie was injured in Friday's 1-0 home win over Detroit.

The Maryland men's soccer team lost one game all season, but unfortunately it happened last night. And it ended the Terps season. Maryland, ranked #1 in the country at 18-0-2, led Providence 4-1 early in the second half of their second round NCAA playoff game last night at College Park, but gave up four goals in the final twenty minutes to lose, 5-4.

In football terms, that's like being ahead 28-7 with ten minutes left in the fourth quarter and letting the other team score four late TD's to beat you, 35-28.

It's always tough to have your season end with a home playoff loss. But when you're up 3-1 at the 70 minute mark of a 90-minute game? A major kick in the family jewels, there.

LYNCH
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get that winter apparel ready for us!


For the seventh year in a row, I’ll be involved in a great holiday project that requires YOUR help.

Back in the old days when I was on the radio, my pal Glenn Clark and I started a winter apparel drive to benefit the good men at Helping Up Mission in downtown Baltimore.

That first year, we took 400 coats, jackets, hats and gloves to HUM.

Last December, six years later, we took nearly 5,000 pieces of clothing down there.

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Our friends at Jerry's Toyota will once again serve as the title sponsor of our Winter Apparel Drive. Look for drop-off dates soon at Jerry's Toyota at 8001 Belair Road where you can donate your unused winter clothing and receive valuable coupons and merchandise just for helping out!

Helping Up Mission is a wonderful facility in Baltimore where men go to get their life back together. While they are there for a variety of reasons, their goal is the same: Get back on their feet, get themselves straightened out, and return to their family and friends a better man, free of the issues that brought them to the facility in the first place.

Our Winter Apparel Drive provides the men with clothing and items for themselves, but also gives them a chance to have a gift item or two for a family member during the holiday season.

That, perhaps, is the best thing about the drive. The men who are there have little chance – almost none at all – to provide their loved ones with a gift during the holiday season.

Each man visits a pre-arranged room with the clothing we (you) donate and is allowed to pick out 3-4 items. Most of them select an item for themselves, and several items they can use as gifts for the holiday season.

We are proud here at #DMD to have our friends at Jerry’s Toyota serving as our title sponsor of the Winter Apparel Drive for a second straight year.

Last year, Jerry’s Toyota donated over 500 items themselves and will once again have a drop-off location at their store at 8001 Belair Road.

We’ll also have several “public” events in early-mid December where you will be able to visit and donate your unused winter apparel.

We will have events at Chick fil-A Nottingham Square, Glory Days Grill, and other local establishments who are also excited to be involved with the Winter Apparel Drive.

My pal Glenn Clark is still involved and continues to be a driving force with this effort. I couldn’t do this without him, for sure.

And we can’t do it without you, too.

Please take a few minutes one of these days to go through your closets, dressers, etc. and grab as many pieces of winter clothing as you can – that you no longer use, of course.

We’ll take jackets, coats, sweaters, hats, gloves, shoes, socks, etc.

And, yes, we’ll take men’s clothing, women’s clothing and children’s items.

We’ll have more details on the Winter Apparel Drive shortly.



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Sunday
November 20
#DMD GAME DAY

week eleven

Volume XXVIII
Issue 20
Baltimore Ravens vs. Dallas Cowboys

1:00 PM EST

AT&T Stadium (aka "Jerry World")
Arlington, Texas

Spread: Cowboys -7½
Over/Under: 45


we’ll learn a lot about the ravens today


One way or the other, we’re going to learn a little something about our Ravens this afternoon in Dallas.

Lots of people in town actually think the Ravens are a pretty good team.

Others aren’t convinced of that.

I’m in the latter group, I’m sort of ashamed to admit.

Two weeks ago today, Baltimore was 3-4 and hosting the Steelers with a four-game losing streak hanging over their heads.

Five days after that, the Ravens were 5-4, in first place in the AFC North, and a lot of folks thought the hometown team had turned the corner.

We’ll see about that today in Dallas, where John Harbaugh’s team takes on the club with the best record in the NFL.

I’m not ready to anoint the Cowboys the league’s “best” team, but they do have the best record of all 32 teams in the NFL.

And it’s apparently not a fluke.

Baltimore’s big challenge today will be stopping the Dallas offense, something most of their nine opponents haven’t been able to do with any degree of success so far in 2016.

And, while the Ravens do boast the NFL’s #1 ranked defense, those numbers have been bolstered by two games with hapless Cleveland and a season-opening win over a ragged Buffalo offense.

Oakland and the New York Giants didn’t have much trouble carving up the Baltimore defense in earlier meetings.

But the last two wins over the Steelers and Browns have given the Ravens an injection of confidence they didn’t have during the midst of that 4-game losing skid last month.

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Rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott has been virtually unstoppable this season, but the Ravens #1 ranked defense intends to change that this afternoon in Dallas.

Is that enough to overcome the Cowboys today?

Only if the Baltimore offense comes to play.

Given what we’ve seen from the Cowboys in 2016, it’s unlikely the Ravens can completely clamp down on Ezekiel Elliott and the Dallas offense today.

The Ravens are more likely to win 27-23 than 17-13.

And that means Joe Flacco will have to come through this afternoon.

The offensive line in front of him is going to have one back-up in a starting role, as Alex Lewis will miss the game with an ankle sprain. And with Marshal Yanda listed as “doubtful”, it’s likely another back-up will have to step in and play right guard.

If that’s the case and the Baltimore offensive line has two newcomers in place today, Flacco is going to be in the crosshairs all afternoon.

Can he overcome that situation and make plays? Game-changing and game-winning plays?

He’s going to need to do that in a big way if the Ravens are going to keep pace with the Cowboys.

This game isn’t all about Flacco this afternoon, but the Ravens can’t win if he doesn’t step up with a big performance.

He hasn’t had many of those this season.

Today would be a good day to produce one.

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show me the money, week #11


Slowly but surely, I’m climbing back near the .500 mark on the season, just in time for Christmas and that long shopping list I’ll need to honor.

For the season, I’m now 27-33 through ten weeks, going 3-3 last week after posting a 5-1 mark on November 6th.

I’m 4-5 in my “Best Bet” games and 3-6 in games involving the Ravens.

One more big week overall, though, and I’ll be right back in the thick of things.

Let’s hope it’s this week.

STEELERS AT BROWNS (+8.5) -- Pittsburgh is reeling. The Browns are terrible. I think the Steelers are going to win, but I don’t trust them at all, not after the egg they laid in Baltimore two weeks ago. I have zero faith that Cleveland can do anything except hang around by accident. I’m going to swallow the Buck Showalter-dumb-pill and take the Browns to cover here, as Pittsburgh win, 24-17.

JAGUARS AT LIONS (-6) -- This one almost seems too easy, as the stinky Jaguars are on the road to face the suddenly-surging Lions. Something about the number seems odd, as six points means all Detroit needs to do is win by a touchdown. Anytime I see a “weird” number, I tend to think it’s there for a reason, but in this case, I’m simply going with the Lions to win and cover, 28-20.

BILLS AT BENGALS (-2.5) -- This is pretty much Cincinnati’s season today. At 3-5-1, the Bengals are in virtually must-win territory. Buffalo is a typical NFL team. Good one week, lousy the next. I’m assuming this is one of their “bad” weeks. I’ll take the Bengals in a tough one, 23-19.

BUCCANEERS AT CHIEFS (-7) -- This one definitely looks “odd”. Tampa Bay isn’t very good and the Chiefs are playing as well as anyone in the league right now. And K.C. is only a one-touchdown favorite? Seems strange. Let’s go with the Chiefs to cover late, as they beat Tampa Bay 26-17.

BEARS AT GIANTS (-7) -- One of these no-brainer games is going to haunt me today, I’m sure, but I don’t think it’s this one. Chicago is awful. The Giants, at home, are pretty decent. I can’t see the Bears scoring enough points to hang with New York, who will score a lot this afternoon. I’ll take the Giants in a bit of a laugher, 34-17.

BEST BET OF THE DAY -- I’m feeling pretty good about the Lions beating up on the Jaguars, but that Bears/Giants game is even more appealing. One of those two is the best bet. Let’s do the famous coin flip. It comes up tails, so I’ll take the Giants (-7) over the Bears as today’s Best Bet.


HOW DREW SEES THE RAVENS/COWBOYS GAME: I realize the Ravens are coming into this one with two straight wins, but Dallas is better than Pittsburgh (as they showed last week) and, of course, tons better than Cleveland. This is a varsity game for the Ravens, and so far in 2016, those haven’t been to kind to John Harbaugh’s team. Washington? Ravens couldn’t beat them. Oakland? Ravens couldn’t beat them. Giants? Ravens couldn’t beat them. All three of those teams are over .500. If Baltimore’s defense rises to the occasion today, they have a puncher’s chance, but that’s only if Flacco comes through with a big game. And this year, on the road, he hasn’t been able to do that very often. Look for Ezekiel Elliott to continue his outstanding rookie season and Dak Prescott to throw a couple of first-half TD’s to put the Cowboys up 17-10 at the intermission. Dallas makes it 24-10 in the third quarter, the Ravens cut it to 24-17, and the Cowboys tack on a 4th quarter field goal to finalize the scoring. Dallas improves to 9-1 with a 27-17 win.

KELLY
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Poll Results

Question: Which golf commentator most makes you want to jam ice picks in your ears?

Congratulations to Brandel Chamblee, who was named on 41% of the ballots cast. Here are the complete results:

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  • Brandel Chamblee 41%
  • Jim Nantz 36%
  • Gary McCord 11%
  • Johnny Miller 8%
  • Nick Faldo 3%

ABC
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Saturday
November 19
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVIII
Issue 19
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let’s not forget, flacco once
took a dig at ray lewis


As soon as I heard the Ray Lewis comments about Joe Flacco, I knew it would fan the flames.

For those who didn’t catch it on Thursday, the former Ravens linebacker discussed Flacco on Fox Sports and had this to say about his former quarterback:

”Gifted? Absolutely. Passionate about what he do? I’ve never seen that. I don’t know what that looks like.”

"I don't know how many times you'll hear somebody just really go out on a limb to defend he's the greatest teammate I've ever had," Lewis continued. "I don't know how many times you'll hear that. Maybe it's because his personality just isn't that personality. He's not a rah-rah guy. He won't say much. But, in the game of football, there has to be some burning fire behind you."

Lewis knows about passion, of course. That was perhaps his biggest benchmark as a player. Great linebacker? Sure. A better cheerleader than player? You’re darn tootin’.

And that’s saying something, obviously, since #52 will be a first ballot Hall of Famer in two years.

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In February of 2013, these two were VERY happy to be teammates.

Flacco isn’t Ray Lewis. Period.

Lewis is always in 3rd gear. Flacco has the engine in neutral and he’s drifting.

Ray’s the guy who demands everyone yell “Ravens!” in unison during the pre-game huddle. Joe’s the guy who left the group moments before to go chew on some ice before the warm-up.

The national media made a big deal about Ray’s apparent criticism of Flacco.

That’s understandable. What else are the going to talk about now that Tony Romo has been officially relegated to a back-up?

You know who shouldn’t make a big deal about Ray’s comments?

Flacco, that’s who.

I’m not saying Lewis intentionally waited for this past Thursday to even the score with Joe, but let’s not forget that a few years back during Ray’s famous “farewell tour”, the quarterback took a good-natured — but perhaps accurate — jab at the former linebacker when asked to discuss some of Ray’s more well-known pre-game speeches.

”Yeah, it definitely gets you fired up,” Flacco said. “I don’t know what he’s saying half the time, but it gets you going.”

The media tried their best to make a big deal out of that, too, since anything said about Ray back then that wasn’t 100% in praise was looked at as an attempt to damage his wonderful career.

Flacco’s personality is well-documented.

He is NOT Ray Lewis. Not even close.

I think most people would like to see Joe be a bit more, shall we say, “lively” on the sideline.

But to even remotely suggest that Flacco’s tepid demeanor is keeping him from performing at a high level in 2016 is silly. And Ray should know that.

Flacco has been the same guy you see today since he arrived here in 2008.

He was like this in high school, and at Pitt, and at Delaware.

A leopard’s spots never go away, they just fade a little.

In other words: you are what you are.

If Lewis came back today and played, he’d be the same guy now that he was in 2012.

He’d come out of the tunnel like a madman, hop around in the end zone like Kevin Bacon in Footloose, and yell and scream after every big play in the first quarter, let alone in the last three minutes of a tie game.

That’s just who Ray is.

”Passion” in sports is a dangerous word. We tend to look at it like we saw Ray Lewis for 15 years -- the guy with fire in his eyes and a sound to his voice that says, “That guy really wants to win.”

Passion might also be getting to the facility at 6:30 am on a Thursday morning when the team itinerary says you don’t have to be there until 8:00 am.

Passion could be definied as “staying until 6:30 pm when the day for everyone else ended at 5:00 pm.”

Passion is when you get together with your wide receivers for one hour after practice to work on a select route that has just been put into the playbook for next week’s game and you say to the group of them, “No one leaves until we’ve made this play work twelve straight times.”

Passion isn’t just yelling and screaming.

Passion is, really, just “loving what you do”.

I think Joe Flacco loves football.

I think Ray Lewis did, too.

I see this latest episode as nothing more than Lewis finding the perfect time to perhaps even the score with the quarterback, who once questioned Ray for being “too passionate”, if such a thing even exists.

”Ray’s passionate. I’m just not sure anyone knows what he’s saying…”

”Joe’s not passionate. I’m just not sure he realizes how much that holds him back….”

Both guys were just answering a question posed to them.

I think they both realize the value of the other.

Ray certainly knows how much Flacco meant to his career. Lewis would have been a one-ring guy if not for Flacco’s play in the playoffs and the Super Bowl in 2013.

Lewis remembers losing 19-10 week after week in 2004, 2005 and 2007 when scrubs like Kyle Boller, Anthony Wright and Chris Redman were trying to lead the Ravens to victory and couldn’t.

And Flacco knows that Lewis wasn’t just a great player, he was an icon, a once-in-a-generation performer who made people around him play better.

I think we’d all agree that watching Ray jump around like a goof started to become “old hat” around 2010 or so.

And I think we’d probably all like to see Joe look a little more pissed off after throwing an interception or failing to connect with a receiver on an easy 3rd-and-11 pass across the middle.

But you are what you are.

Flacco’s not going to jump up and down after a missed throw and Ray was never going to go on the sideline and shuffle a deck of cards after missing a key tackle.

It’s just who they are.

The national media tried to stir the pot yesterday when the story made the rounds and Flacco was asked to comment, but even Joe knows the truth about this whole thing.

It’s just Ray being Ray.

Sometimes you have no idea what he’s trying to say.

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from the desk of
brien jackson

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

In relative terms, the Orioles are flying high in Major League Baseball these days.

No, they didn't win the World Series, but 29 other teams also own that particular disappointment in any given year. But the O's remain one of the game's most successful teams over the past five seasons, and boast three playoff appearances and a division title in that span as well.

But as these things go in today's market, there's a major (and expensive) crisis looming on the horizon.

Specifically, the days Baltimore fans will get to see Manny Machado, Zach Britton, and Chris Tillman plying their trade on their pre-free agency contracts are quickly coming to an end.

If no new deals are made, Machado and Britton will be eligible to file for free agency after the 2018 season, while Tillman actually has just one more year of team control left until he's free to sign with the highest bidder. In short, the window to win with this nucleus is rapidly closing, unless Peter Angelos comes up with a sudden influx of cash with which to sign multiple monster contracts to keep this group together.

The realization that these guys may be on the verge of skipping town has provoked some disparate reactions, and plenty are even suggesting the Orioles ought to shop these players around in an attempt to jump start the rebuilding process early.

While I appreciate the desire to think outside the box and look long-term, this is the sort of idea that sounds much better in a blog post or in the comment section at MLB Trade Rumors than in real-life practice.

While the theory is sound, in execution it's almost impossible to get the price to match up between two teams when players of this caliber are involved.

Realistically, two years of Machado at this stage in his career should be worth at least two to four high-level prospects, or maybe one or two young players already making an impact at the big-league level. That's a ton for any organization, even a near-term contender, to give up for one baseball player, and it hasn't happened much in recent history.

Much more common are teams deciding they need to move a player and getting a return that seems like a discount on his perceived value. And this is what's likely to happen if the Orioles look to trade one of their best players this winter: By committing to getting a prospect in return for him, they'll almost certainly bring back an underwhelming return that won't significantly help the club this year.

It's also worth keeping another thing in mind, something that tends to get forgotten when "smart" fans start playing out these just-so perfect trade possibilities: The goal of professional sports is to win championships.

The Orioles have been in that hunt for a few years now, and with the best reliever in baseball, an MVP-caliber player just coming into his prime, and a lineup that will likely be packed with big-power bats once again, they ought to be in that conversation in 2017 as well.

Whether or not the Orioles can resign Machado, or Tillman, or Britton, the primary goal ought to be to win the World Series in the next year or two while they're still here.

Beyond that? Well, things might be bleak . . . or they might not.

By that point the team certainly hopes that Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy will be anchoring the rotation, Jonathan Schoop is an All-Star, and new faces have stepped in to play a productive role and keep the team in the postseason hunt.

Losing big-name players is never fun, but it's hardly unheard of to lose an All-Star or even MVP-caliber talent and remain competitive anyway. And, believe it or not, the Orioles are surprisingly well positioned for a quick rebuild.

Specifically, Yovani Gallardo, J. J. Hardy, and Adam Jones have current contracts that will all be coming off of the books after 2018 at the latest, barring any further extensions, meaning that the team's only significant long-term obligation is Chris Davis.

That means that the franchise will have cash available to add free agents to the roster . . . or maybe even to make a play to keep Machado in town after all, lock down Bundy/Gausman for the long term, etc. If they give up their tendency to sign mediocre-at-best free-agents attached to draft-pick compensation, they might even be able to add to their own prospect base in the meantime.

But that's a long way down the road in baseball terms, and a lot can change. What matters now, though, is that the Orioles know their window, and they need to be focusing hard on doing their absolute best to win it all while Machado and Britton are still under their control.

KELLY
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Sports Announcing

by George McDowell
(still without his own #DMD masthead)

Baltimore has been blessed with the best sports announcers in the country over the last half century. The Orioles have had Ernie Harwell, Bailey Goss, Herb Carneal, Chuck Thompson, and of course, the best baseball broadcaster of all time, Jon Miller, to call their games.

Miller was so good that he could make listening to rain delays on the radio an enjoyable experience!

Harwell and Thompson also broadcast the Colt games, joined by Bill O'Donnell and John Steadman, until Mayflower moved the Six Tons of Fun out of The World's Largest Outdoor Insane Asylum to someplace called Indiana on that dreary and treacherous night in March of 1984.

The Baltimore Bullets [name changed because politically incorrect] had a most mellifluous voice who was also an adept student of basketball, Jim Karvellas. Karvellas was so good, he was the only one who could describe in anywhere close to real-time the spectacular moves of Earl "The Pearl" Monroe on a fast break. Young readers will dismiss my memories of the good old days as those of an irrelevant man of bygones times, but after watching some of Earl's moves preserved on YouTube, should ask themselves why the sublime individuality of Monroe on a fast break has been "coached out" of all the alleged stars of today. Monroe made Bob Cousy look like a novice. Monroe would make all of today's backcourt heroes look like novices as well.

To me, today, one basketball game looks like another, and every player looks and moves like every other player. The voices that describe what they do all sound the same, too.

Karvellas' skills were recognized by the executives who tried to bring major-league outdoor soccer to the United States. The league paid a tremendous amount to bring an aging Edson Arantes de Nascimiento, aka Pele, to play for New York's Cosmos. In order to make the Beautiful Game's sublime artistry, personified even by an aging Pele, understood and appreciated by the unsophisticated American masses, Karvellas was brought in to announce.

You have read enough of the legendary Charlie Eckman from his friend and colleague on these pages so that anything I say about him would be unimportant. But his voice on a Bullets, Orioles, Blast, and Colts broadcast was distinctive, and riveting. Give me character over accuracy any day of the week!

We've moved, without being aware of the transition, from a local system of broadcasting to a national model. The sports model has followed the model that defines the universe of our modern lives. Virtually everything we buy today is from a national, or international chain. There are no more, or few, local hotels, motels, haberdashers, shoemakers, five-and-dimes, banks, pharmacies, grocery stores, or sub shops. Even strip clubs are franchises. And we are the poorer for it. There will not be another Eckman heard over the airwaves. Feherty and McCord might aspire to individuality, but the Establishment [translation: the Masters chairman and those who worship him] cannot tolerate it, and simply won't allow it. Someone, somewhere, might be offended. And the "brand" would be tarnished.

So all that is left is to rate and rank the "national" broadcasters. The choices are suitably narrowed. Hence this poll. The choices are as limited as the candidates in the recent election for president.

Addendum

I just looked at the Baltimore Orioles website. It is a generic template, one apparently forced on all the teams in major-league basball. The background is the same for all teams in the majors. The links are identical and universal: News, Videos, Links, Tickets . . . , the only differentiation is the info found in the links. "© 2016 MLB Advanced Media, LP. All rights reserved." Who, other than those with a frontal lobotomy, would want to duplicate ANYTHING on any of these sites?!?!


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Friday
November 18
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVIII
Issue 18
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never confuse a useful fact
with a useless opinion


FACT: -- The Yankees traded catcher Brian McCann to the Houston Astros yesterday. The Astros also signed outfielder Josh Reddick on Friday.

OPINION: -- Both of those Houston acquisitions could affect the Orioles. They were rumored to be interested in Reddick, who is now off the free-agent table, and McCann’s departure means the Yankees need someone to catch in 2017. Could that put Matt Wieters in the Big Apple next season? They could do worse, I suppose.

FACT: -- Max Scherzer won the N.L. Cy Young award on Wednesday, becoming just the sixth pitcher ever to win the honor in both leagues. Who are the other five?

X

OPINION: -- You didn’t get this one right so I’ll help you out. It’s good water-cooler fodder. The other five: Gaylord Perry (that’s the one you didn’t get, I’m guessing), Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson and Roy Halladay. Three of those five are already in the Hall of Fame. Halladay will get in sometime soon and Clemens might get in someday when the media forgets about his steroid use. In other words – Scherzer is on the fast track to Cooperstown.

FACT: -- Towson University is off to a 2-0 start in men’s basketball after Tuesday night’s 78-72 win at Morgan State. The Tigers travel to Maryland on Sunday afternoon to take on the Terps.

OPINION: -- Do not be at all surprised if Sunday’s game is a nailbiter for the Terrapins. Maryland is 2-0, yes, but it’s been an unsettled start, with a tough home win over American and a half-miracle comeback victory over Georgetown. Towson IS going to be a challenger for the CAA crown, but they might also be a legit mid-major in 2016-2017. I’m not saying they’re going to win on Sunday at College Park, but don’t be shocked if it’s a one or two bucket game.

FACT: -- Speaking of 2-0, the U.S. men’s national soccer team WISHES they had that record, but instead, they’re 0-2 in the early stages of the 10-game CONCACAF qualifying series.

OPINION: -- U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati continues to insist that coach Jurgen Klinsmann is “safe” and not in danger of losing his job, but sources tell The Washington Post otherwise. If Klinsmann does lose his job, there’s only one guy worthy of replacing him: Bruce Arena. And that’s who would get the gig if Klinsmann gets the heave-ho before the team’s next two-game series against Honduras (March 24) and Panama (March 28).

FACT: -- The Capitals are off to a nice start at 10-4-2, but Alex Ovechkin hasn’t hit on all cylinders yet, with 8 goals and 4 assists in 12 games to date.

X
It is difficult to play good hockey when injured, and even more difficult to play it with a five-iron.

OPINION: -- I’ve watched 12 of the 16 games to date and something isn’t right with Ovechkin. I’m not sure if he has a minor injury of some sort that’s bothering him or if he and coach Barry Trotz have had a recent spat, but I don’t see the same energy level from #8 that I’ve seen before. And in Columbus on Tuesday night, he didn’t even see 15 minutes of ice time.

FACT: -- Tiger Woods is returning to competitive golf two weekends from now when he tees it up at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas. It will be his first taste of “real golf” since August of 2015.

OPINION: -- The field is only 18 players deep, but there aren’t any chumps teeing it off in the event. No bottom feeders, no guys trying to keep their TOUR card, etc. Woods won’t win, but he won’t finish last, either. My official call? Tied for 14th.

FACT: -- Woods hasn’t won a TOUR event since 2013, when he won five times.

OPINION: -- If he’s healthy in 2017 and plays in at least 15 tournaments this coming season, Tiger will return to the winner’s circle in ‘17.

FACT: -- There’s only one team in the NFL with one loss now and that’s the Dallas Cowboys.

OPINION: -- It’s far from a done deal that the Cowboys are destined to play in the Super Bowl in Houston. For starters, they’re the Cowboys. Their recent history suggests they could finish 13-3, earn home ice for all of the playoffs, then lose to Seahawks in the second weekend of the playoffs. Washington and Atlanta could also play the Cowboys tough come playoff time.

FACT: -- Jim Palmer never gave up a grand slam. And Wilt Chamberlain never fouled out of a game.

OPINION: -- The Chamberlain accomplishment is far more impressive than Palmer’s noteworthy stat. In every game Wilt played, it was reasonable to think he could possibly foul out. Palmer could go five starts or more without facing a bases loaded situation.

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this weekend in
english soccer


Contributed by #DMD's English Premier League Reporter
MATTHEW CARROLL


We are back from the final international break of the calendar year and we have a new leader at the top of the table as Matchday 12 of the English Premier League readies to kick off with the surging Liverpool, winners of three in a row and seven of their last eight (D1), holding a one-point advantage over Chelsea and two points ahead of both Manchester City and Arsenal.

With over two-thirds of the season yet to run, this will surely not be the last time that the top spot in the league changes hands, so be sure to tune in this weekend, with every game available live on the NBC family of networks or online at NBC Live Extra, to see if the Reds can maintain their slight lead at the top.

Saturday, November 19 (all times eastern)

7:30am – Arsenal @ Manchester United – Old Trafford, NBC Sports Network

X
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho (right) and Arsenal skipper Arsene Wenger (left) aren't the best of friends, something probably inspired by the fact that Mourinho has never lost to Wenger in 14 lifetime matches.

A busy slate of Saturday games wastes little time getting started with a bang when Arsenal and manager Arsene Wenger, who failed to take all three points for just the second time in their last nine games (D2) in a 1-1 draw with Tottenham in the North London Derby, travel to Old Trafford to renew their longstanding and personal rivalries respectively with Manchester United and Jose Mourinho, after the Red Devils picked up their first win in the league since the end of September in a comfortable 3-1 victory over Swansea City to stay within striking distance of the fourth-place Gunners in the table.

Losers of just one of the last ten league meetings (W6 D3) and taking all three points in seven of the last nine encounters at Old Trafford (D2), Manchester United’s recent dominance over their longtime rivals extends past the pitch and to the touchline where Mourinho, although likely to be without his entire starting backline through injury and without striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic through yellow-card-accumulation suspension, is unbeaten in eleven previous league meetings with the Gunners (W5 D6) and head-to-head all time against his longtime rival Wenger (W8 D6), with no love lost between the two.

10am – Manchester City @ Crystal Palace – Selhurst Park, NBC Live Extra

After getting past Spanish giants Barcelona for the first time in six tries in the midweek, Manchester City were unable to replicate their Champions League form when Sergio Aguero’s first-half opener was canceled out by Marten de Roon’s last-gasp injury-time equalizer in a 1-1 draw with near bottom-of- the-table Middlesbrough.  The shared points dropped City out of the league’s top spot for the first time since the opening week of the season ahead of their trip to Selhurst Park and Crystal Palace, who continued their dismal run of form in a 3-2 defeat to the up-and-coming Burnley.

Following an unbeaten month of September (W3 D1), their recent four-game skid has once again highlighted the Jekyll and Hyde nature that Crystal Palace fans have grown accustomed to over the last year and a half since manager Alan Pardew took over, as they find themselves just a point above the drop zone.  They are unlikely to turn that form around against City this weekend, with the Citizens winners of seven of the last eight league meetings between the sides (L1) and four of the last five at Selhurst Park (L1), keeping the Eagles off of the scoresheet in five of the last six meetings.

12:30pm – West Ham United @ Tottenham, White Hart Lane, NBC/USA

Back from injury and making his first start since the middle of September, Harry Kane from the penalty spot just after halftime pulled Tottenham level and eventually salvaged another point, their fourth draw a row, in the stalemate with Arsenal in the North London Derby.  They will have another London Derby lined up for the weekend when West Ham United makes the short trip across town to visit White Hart Lane, with the Hammers earning points for the third time in the last four league games (W2 D1) to maintain their place outside the bottom three in a 1-1 draw with Stoke City.

West Ham have now lost just one of their last six games across all competitions (W3 D2) and, despite sitting only a point above the relegation zone, look to have overcome their shaky start to the campaign just in time for their visit to Spurs, whom the Hammers have beaten in four of the last seven meetings across all competitions (D1 L2) though managing to win only one of their last fourteen league visits to White Hart Lane, which will begin a daunting four-game stretch that includes away trips to Manchester United and Liverpool and a home matchup against Arsenal.

KELLY
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who are the putative stars of
sports broadcasts — or — why are announcers so certain that we viewers give a rat's behind what they think?


My name is George McDowell. I wrote the following piece. You might have seen some few pieces of mine over the last few years in #DMD editions.

My role in the grand scheme of #DMD operations is that of the second-string scrub, called in off the bench only in garbage time or when the stars are injured. Like, for example, the next three days, when Drew is off cavorting in luxury on the grounds of Pinehurst #4 and #2 in some glamorous golf event, communing with the ghosts of Donald Ross and Ben Hogan while I work my fingers to the bone on a computer keyboard to keep alive an increasingly impressive consecutive-days-published streak. I also do some of the technical work on the website, creating audio and video clips. I code the articles written by Drew and the rest of the front-line scribes, but my own pieces are inserted only when the big dogs haven’t taken up all the space. C’est la vie. And it just ain’t fair.

But I’ve got the keys to #DMD for the next three days, and intend to joy-ride!

I have run my piece through a The-New-York-Times-class adverb-removal program, so to avoid what seems extensive criticism for their over-use, and have proof-read it through a spell-check program and by reading it backward, word-for-word. Truth be told, I dread Commentary criticism, and those issues seem to top the list of negative comments. But there is one thing that I know, for just about damn certain, is that feedback, either positive or negative, improves the product. So please use the Comment section over the next few days, until the adults return, to say what pleases or displeases you about this organ.


I had a dear friend years ago, Big Walt, who had a novel idea. He wanted to create an app that would broadcast his voice while the Masters Golf Tournament was on television. His idea was that folks could watch the video on muted TVs, and listen to his own play-by-play and commentary as he streamed it live in real time onto the Internet. I didn't invest in his idea, in part because Walt's words would likely have gotten him arrested — the profound protections of First Amendment notwithstanding — and in any case would have revealed him to be the world's most profane, racist, intemperate, callous, and vindictive cad. (Ironically, these are all the reasons that we, Walt's circle of friends, found him interesting and provocative, and because of which we called him Sunshine.) Looking back, I wish I had backed Walt's proposal. If so, we'd have an honest and interesting, albeit politically incorrect, audio track to listen to in place of the mindless, obvious, self-serving, falsely-patriotic, superficial, banal, and just-plain-wrong pap our ears are battered with now.

Here's but one of a thousand examples. This is commentary on a putt a solid top-ten player [but not one celebrated for garish clothing or early-in-the-round fist-pumps] is preparing to hit from about 15 feet.

X
Where's Curly?

Announcer A: This putt breaks left-to-right and must be hit firm.

[Note: there is NO hint in his voice of the possibility that he could be wrong. His pronouncement is one of absolute and uncontraverted fact.]

Announcer B: Have any others golfers made this putt today, A?

Announcer A: Some have, B, some haven't. The ones that missed were either short or long. Or right or left.

[Note: 43 million viewers, in unison: Duh!]

Announcer B: Looks like he's aiming to the right.

Announcer A: Well, he's had trouble finding the line all year long, B. It's kind of sad to see, really. He just can't seem to pick out the right lines anymore.

Announcer B: That's a shame. If he would sink more putts, it's possible he might finish higher up the leaderboards in tournaments he enters.

Announcer B: This putt breaks AWAY from the mountain, doesn't it?

Announcer A: Correct!

The confident golfer strokes the putt gently. It rolls slowly, and with four feet to go, begins a gentle break to the left.

[It appeared to this, admittedly majorless, viewer that the ball broke from HIGHER ground to LOWER ground and thus, the location of the mountain notwithstanding, in full conformity with the Law of Gravity.]

The putt curls perfectly into the center of the cup.

Announcer B [increduously]: Did that putt break right-to-left?

Announcer A: It did . . . I think . . . Maybe . . . I don't know . . . . Perhaps he aimed wrong, or maybe he mis-hit it, or maybe there's a little patch of grain there that threw it in. I guess he just got lucky. That's a left-to-right putt, every single time. I would always play that as a left-to-right break.

Announcer B: I know what you mean. I would always read it and play it that way, too. I roll some putts before I come to work every day, and I agree, that's a left-to-right putt.

Announcer A: Oh, well. Sometimes the golf gods chuck you a bone.

Announcer B: Amen! Sometimes two wrongs do make a right!

Announcers A and B: "Blah, blah, blah . . . "

SHUT UP! For the love of all that is sacred, please just SHUT UP!

Renton, where are you?


Since the cat's away, the mice are going to play. We publish the Poll below. Just maybe, a name on the list will be one of your favorites, and you'll want to carp about his inclusion on such a list. Great! That's what the Comments section is for. I'm happy to fight with you. [And those who think that certain content is spitballingly inserted in order to generate three, or five, or 10, or 20, or 50 extra clicks on the site's Comments to bump #DMD's Alexa rankings are morons — these few clicks simply don't nudge the needle.] Rather, in my view — perhaps and probably Quixotic — the networks might take some notice of this small but independent journal, and adjust their broadcasts in accord with grass-roots opinion. None of the hacks on ESPN have the stones to criticize the networks to which they aspire to be promoted.

I promise to publish the Poll for a day or two more, and to publish a brief piece reporting the results on Saturday or Sunday.

Chase Fitzgerald
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Thursday
November 17
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVIII
Issue 17
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed


"mr. mountain, meet mr. molehill"


I like LeBron James.

I think he's one heckuva of a basketball player.

I appreciate the fact he's lived his NBA life free of scandal, police blotter news and 3 am mugshot photos with bloodshot eyes.

And it's well worth mentioning that while he botched "The Decision" to bolt from Cleveland to Miami in 2010, he more than made up for it by the way he carried himself with the Heat and then by returning to Cleveland two years ago to stitch up the wounds he made six years earlier.

I don't own a jersey or anything, but I have great respect for James.

But this week's situation involving Phil Jackson is not only sad, but makes LeBron look more than a tad petty. And it once again shows the ticky-tack nature of professional sports, where athletes are entirely too quick to play the "disrespect" card these days.

X
It's not good to see two icons of the sport get into a media-driven fight over one word, but that's what happened recently with Phil Jackson and LeBron James.

I'm not sure I'd classify LeBron as a snowflake like thousands of these college kids we're seeing around the country who are so consumed with heartbreak over the recent election that they can't even go to class, let alone take a test.

But if James is truly that outraged over Jackson's use of the word "posse", maybe something really is wrong with our country.

Here's an honest-to-God newsflash about the word: posse.

I thought it meant "a group of people who hang around together".

That might very well be the 53-year old white guy coming out in me, one that hasn't ever watched ONE episode of shows like "Modern Family", "The Sopranos", "Game of Thrones" or "House of Cards". I have a 9-year old and a 6-year old, remember, so my TV for the last decade has filled with cartoons more than anything else.

It may just be that I'm out of touch, yes, I'll admit that.

But I honestly had no idea "posse" was an offensive word in the world these days.

Maybe Phil Jackson didn't, either.

In case you missed it, here's the quick lowdown.

Jackson was interviewed by ESPN The Magazine recently and somehow the topic of James and his move from Miami to Cleveland in 2014 came up. Here's what the former Bulls and Lakers coach had to say, in part, about LeBron:

"It had to hurt when they lost LeBron," Jackson said. "That was definitely a slap in the face. But there were a lot of little things that came out of that. When LeBron was playing with the Heat, they went to Cleveland, and he wanted to spend the night. They don't do overnights. Teams just don't. So now [coach Erik] Spoelstra has to text Riley and say, 'What do I do in this situation?' And Pat, who has iron-fist rules, answers, 'You are on the plane. You are with this team.' You can't hold up the whole team because you and your mom and your posse want to spend an extra night in Cleveland.

James flipped out when he saw that Jackson referred his group as a "posse". So did his business manager, Maverick Carter, who was part of that contingent back in 2014 and was outraged that Jackson use "the p-word" to reference James and his hanger-ons.

"It's the word 'posse' and the characterization I take offense to," Carter said. "If he would have said LeBron and his agent, LeBron and his business partners or LeBron and his friends, that's one thing. Yet because you're young and black, he can use that word. We're grown men."

Maybe it's this simple: Maybe Jackson didn't realize "posse" was deemed offensive these days.

I know I sure didn't.

Oh, and here are three "official" definitions that you'll find on the internet:

Posse: a body of men, typically armed, summoned by a sheriff to enforce the law. (OK, we know Jackson didn't mean it like this, since James isn't law enforcement).

Posse: the body of men in a county whom the sheriff could summon to enforce the law. (Nope, not this one either).

Posse: a group of people who have a common characteristic, occupation, or purpose. (Hmmm, could be this one. After all, they were all "men" and all involved some way in basketball.)

I realize I'm not as worldly as Phil Jackson and he's far more connected to the lexicon of the NBA than I am, but I thought it was completely fair and non-harmful to refer to a group of people who hang together or travel together as a "posse".

I don't think Jackson would have intentionally used "posse" if he new it was code word for something off-color in the world today.

James and Carter seem to think otherwise, which is their right, but this whole thing might just be one big misunderstanding.

That said, there's a lot of this kind of stuff going on these days in our country.

People are constantly getting overly offended by something someone says. It's getting to the point where you can't really say anything, for fear it's going to sting someone, somewhere.

We've lost our toughness, our thick skin and our ability to say, "sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me".

When we get mad now, we take it to Twitter or Instagram.

In the 1970's on Biddle Road in Glen Burnie, if someone said something you didn't like, the most serious reaction they might get is not getting picked until last for the neighborhood football game in Miss Kay's front yard.

In 2016 if someone says something you don't like, you go to Human Resources and try to get them written up, where the company is likely to force the offending party to attend sensitivity training every Tuesday night from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm for six weeks.

Times have changed. Not for the better, either.

Phil Jackson was asked a question about LeBron James leaving Miami for Cleveland and happened to use the word "posse".

He didn't say "thug", "gangster", "wild man", "punk" or "outlaw".

I know what those words mean. Their definitions and connotations are easily deciphered.

But "posse"? I had no idea it was such a heinous term.

Maybe Phil Jackson didn't either.

Heck, I'm such an old-timer, I thought it was kind of "cool" to have a posse. Remember that scene in "Catch Me If You Can" when Leonardo DiCaprio is walking through the airport in his pilot's uniform, with five or six flight attendants at his side? That was his "posse", I thought.

Apparently, "posse" is on the x-list of things we no longer say in the United States.

If we're paying attention, we learn something new every day, huh?

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"people helping people" still going strong with #dmd and jerry's toyota


I was like a proud father last night at Jerry's Toyota on Belair Road in Fullerton.

When I first started this #DMD venture in 2014, one of the concepts I used as a defining element of what we hoped to do here was "people helping people".

I borrowed the phrase from a really funny scene in the movie "Wedding Crashers", truth be told, but what I wanted #DMD to become was a place where people in our community helped other people in our community.

If I, through a daily sports website, could bring those people together, all the better.

X
Kris Sharrar (left) of Helping Up Mission was on hand last night to accept a generous $2,000 donation from Jerry's Toyota, represented by Bill Bolander (right).

Last night at Jerry's Toyota, I was fortunate enough to see two of "my" people get together and help one another. It was like being the proud dad.

As part of their "New Owner's Celebration" last night, Jerry's kicked off their "Season of Giving" by donating $2,000 to my friends at Helping Up Mission.

Director of Philanthropy Kris Sharrar was on hand from Helping Up to accept the check from Jerry's Toyota marketing kingpin Bill Bolander, who served as the night's emcee and did a bang-up job, as did the fine folks at Silver Spring Mining Company, who provided the food and drinks.

On a side note, I got to talk hockey for 15 minutes with former Capitals forward Gary Rissling, who owns the three local Silver Spring Mining Company restaurants. That was a great thrill for me!

Jerry's Toyota is a wonderful member of our local community. Get this: In 2016, they will donate $300,000 to local non-profit groups, charities and Baltimore County-based civic organizations. There isn't an extra zero in there, friends. It's $300,000.

Whether it's a little league team that needs uniforms, the Overlea-Fullerton 4th of July fireworks display that needs a sponsor, or my friends at Helping Up Mission, Jerry's is right there to help.

They've been involved with my Calvert Hall Golf program over the last couple of years as well, for which we are extremely grateful.

And last night, they gave Helping Up Mission $2,000 to assist with their meal program at the Baltimore Street location.

Jerry's will also serve as a drop-off point for the annual "Winter Apparel Drive" that Glenn Clark and I host every November and December. We'll be out at Jerry's on December 15 with some great stuff to give away for those of you who will bring your gently used pieces of winter clothing to us, which, in turn, will be delivered to the men at Helping Up Mission on Tuesday, December 20.

"People helping people". It's what Helping Up Mission does and it's what Jerry's Toyota does, too.

Last night, Jerry's Toyota did the helping and Helping Up Mission did the receiving.

And I was the proud papa.

KELLY
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four quarters of
college football


Contributed by #DMD's College Football Reporter
KEN GREELEY


four quarters of college football


First Quarter: Lions – Chaos reigned last weekend with the #2, #3, and #4 teams losing, resulting in multiple scenarios where the playoff selection committee may need to decide between a two-loss conference champion and a one-loss non-champion.

As #2 Michigan lost its first real road test at Iowa, the biggest winner was Penn State. The biggest loser was Ohio State.

If Ohio State beats Michigan, the Nittany Lions capture the Big Ten East with wins over Rutgers and Michigan State (combined conference record 1-13). This would leave Ohio State on the outside of the playoffs for the second consecutive year as a one-loss team.

The Big Ten West winner is likely a two-loss Wisconsin team, which would guarantee a two-loss Big Ten champ.

Another scenario is Michigan beats Ohio State but loses to Wisconsin in the championship game. The committee would have a handful of two-loss Big Ten teams vying for the playoffs.

Second Quarter: Tigers – #3 Clemson suffered the most surprising defeat as defense-less Pittsburgh went into Death Valley and pulled off the upset. Turnovers finally doomed the Tigers, but their path to representing the ACC in the playoffs is still intact.

Clemson is in the same situation as Michigan – win out and a playoff ticket goes to them.

Louisville may be in the same situation as Ohio State – one loss, no conference title, and needing help to get their playoff ticket.

An interesting question though develops if Clemson suffers another defeat – would the committee take a one-loss Louisville over a two-loss Clemson that beat the Cardinals and played in the conference championship?

Third Quarter: Cougars – Washington was undefeated and held the fourth playoff spot for one week before being dominated at home by USC. Now the Pac 12 could produce some strange playoff bedfellows if the Huskies do not win out.

Would the committee pick a team that was defeated by a FCS team? Doubtful -- but Washington State could present that dilemma. After starting the season with two losses, the revitalized Cougars have run the table and only Washington stands in its way to the North title.

The South also has a resurgent team in the Trojans. USC has won six straight after a 1-3 start but still needs help to win the division title over two-loss Colorado or Utah.

The Pac 12 nominees for the playoffs could be even worse than the Big 12.

Fourth Quarter: Oh My – When Oklahoma lost to Houston and Ohio State in September, the Big 12 was basically written off from playoff consideration. Now the conference and the Sooners have hope due to the chaos.

Oklahoma starts their “playoff push” as they travel to third-place West Virginia, before playing second-place and in-state rival Oklahoma State in the Bedlam game to end the season. By winning both, Oklahoma is the conference champ as a two-loss team.

The Mountaineers and the Cowboys have a chance too but more issues to overcome.

If Clemson, Michigan or Washington continues to stubble, the playoffs will have a first – a two-loss team, a non-conference title winner, or even two teams from the same conference.

However it ends up, Alabama will be the #1 seed in the playoffs and cruise to their fourth title in six years.

STECCO
banner ad

get that winter apparel ready for us!


For the seventh year in a row, I’ll be involved in a great holiday project that requires YOUR help.

Back in the old days when I was on the radio, my pal Glenn Clark and I started a winter apparel drive to benefit the good men at Helping Up Mission in downtown Baltimore.

That first year, we took 400 coats, jackets, hats and gloves to HUM.

Last December, six years later, we took nearly 5,000 pieces of clothing down there.

X
Our friends at Jerry's Toyota will once again serve as the title sponsor of our Winter Apparel Drive. Look for drop-off dates soon at Jerry's Toyota at 8001 Belair Road where you can donate your unused winter clothing and receive valuable coupons and merchandise just for helping out!

Helping Up Mission is a wonderful facility in Baltimore where men go to get their life back together. While they are there for a variety of reasons, their goal is the same: Get back on their feet, get themselves straightened out, and return to their family and friends a better man, free of the issues that brought them to the facility in the first place.

Our Winter Apparel Drive provides the men with clothing and items for themselves, but also gives them a chance to have a gift item or two for a family member during the holiday season.

That, perhaps, is the best thing about the drive. The men who are there have little chance – almost none at all – to provide their loved ones with a gift during the holiday season.

Each man visits a pre-arranged room with the clothing we (you) donate and is allowed to pick out 3-4 items. Most of them select an item for themselves, and several items they can use as gifts for the holiday season.

We are proud here at #DMD to have our friends at Jerry’s Toyota serving as our title sponsor of the Winter Apparel Drive for a second straight year.

Last year, Jerry’s Toyota donated over 500 items themselves and will once again have a drop-off location at their store at 8001 Belair Road.

We’ll also have several “public” events in early-mid December where you will be able to visit and donate your unused winter apparel.

We will have events at Chick fil-A Nottingham Square, Glory Days Grill, and other local establishments who are also excited to be involved with the Winter Apparel Drive.

My pal Glenn Clark is still involved and continues to be a driving force with this effort. I couldn’t do this without him, for sure.

And we can’t do it without you, too.

Please take a few minutes one of these days to go through your closets, dressers, etc. and grab as many pieces of winter clothing as you can – that you no longer use, of course.

We’ll take jackets, coats, sweaters, hats, gloves, shoes, socks, etc.

And, yes, we’ll take men’s clothing, women’s clothing and children’s items.

We’ll have more details on the Winter Apparel Drive shortly.


Wednesday
November 16
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVIII
Issue 16
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gutless performance at costa rica leaves u.s. men's soccer in shambles


For all of the development and glory that United States soccer has seen -- at the national team level -- over the last 25 years, it only took one clump of 90 minutes of horrendous soccer last night at Costa Rica to send everyone back to square one.

And square one is where the Americans are this morning in the wake of perhaps the worst crucial-game performance of the last four decades, a 4-0 thrashing on Tuesday evening that coulda, shoulda, woulda been more like 7-2.

The loss leaves the U.S. side at the bottom of the 6-team "Hex" standings -- tied with Trinidad, who is also 0-0-2 -- and now faced with the task of likely having to win at least five of its remaining eight games in order to automatically qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Some say losing 4-0 is just like losing 2-1, but they're wrong.

X
U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann was given the dreaded "vote of confidence" after Friday's 2-1 loss at home to Mexico, but last night's 4-0 drilling by Costa Rica might change that thought now.

They're wrong when the process to that 4-0 score included some of the worst individual play we've seen from an American team since the dark ages of the 70's and 80's when the men's national team had little to no chance of qualifying for the World Cup.

Thomas Rongen, a former player and championship-winning MLS coach with D.C. United, summed it all up best on the TV broadcast with five minutes left in last night's loss at Costa Rica when he said: "If I'm being honest with you, it's been amateur hour tonight. I'm sorry to say that, but it's true."

Indeed, Coach Rongen, indeed. As I tell my high school golf team at the beginning of every season, the number one responsibility of the coach is to be honest with the players. Some think the number one task of a coach is to get the team ready to play, scout the opponent and create a game plan, recruit and secure better players, etc.

No, no, no. The number one responsibility of the coach is to be honest with the players. And if Jurgen Klinsmann still has a job today -- and it's looking more and more like the U.S. Soccer Federation has a tough call on its hands -- he can easily go around the room, privately, and deliver the gospel to a handful of performers who looked like Saturday afternoon Patterson Park'ers in Friday's 2-1 loss at Mexico and Tuesday's 4-0 fiasco at Costa Rica.

Jermaine Jones: "Sorry, Jermaine. It's over. We appreciate your service, but your legs have left you."

John Brooks: "John, the time has come, my friend. You're a good soldier, but we have to move on."

Michael Bradley: "Captain, you've been a terrific contributor to the program over the last decade, but we have to end it now."

Those are the easy ones, three decisions that stick out like a sore thumb.

There are others, too, like worker-bee Matt Besler who gives it everything he has when pressed into occasional duty, but just isn't good enough for 90 minutes.

Jozy Altidore has had more chances to shine than Nolan Reimold, but for every good game he contributes, there are three forgettable outings.

You get the picture.

The U.S. needs better players, plain and simple.

Tuesday night's drubbing in Costa Rica -- a good team and program, nothing more -- started off reasonably well, as the Americans tried to buckle down defensively and get their feet under them in a country where they had never won a World Cup qualifying game in nine tries.

There wasn't much offense from the U.S. in the opening half, but they weren't going for beauty last night, they were going for points.

Just when it looked like the first half would come to a close and neither team would score, the Americans coughed up the ball at midfield, the play quickly shifted into the U.S. defensive end, and Omar Gonzalez lollygagged his way into the corner, where his man calmly sent a cross into the box that was nodded home for a 1-0 Costa Rica lead.

As he has done time and time again, John Brooks was trailing his guy, a step behind, and the tally in the 44th minute mark could again be hung on the rugged defender, who was also victimized a handful of times on Friday night in Columbus when the U.S. lost 2-1.

Things unraveled in the second half when Costa Rica scored three times, including two goals within a few minutes apart (74' and 78') that featured horrendous individual mistakes from Brooks and Jones.

Klinsmann even participated a smidgen in the puzzling second half display when he removed the team's only solid offensive threat, Christian Pulisic, with 20 minutes left. There for a minute, I wondered if I might see Buck Showalter on the U.S. bench holding a clipboard and giving Klinsmann advice.

The 2-1 loss at the hands of Mexico on Friday night was unsettling, but only because the Americans had seemingly figured out a way to beat El Tris on American soil in World Cup qualifying, having defeated them four straight times in Columbus.

Tuesday night's 4-0 loss at Costa Rica was disastrous on a number of levels and in ways that no one expected.

Losing at Costa Rica? OK, that's not a shock. They're a decent side, for starters, and no one goes down there and plays well, for whatever reason.

Getting run out of the gym and giving up in the final twenty minutes of the game? Unheard of from the Americans, who looked a lot like the 1998 World Cup team that desperately tried to get their coach, Steve Sampson, fired after a pathetic 0-0-3 display in France.

I'm not saying the U.S. was trying to get their coach fired last night. But it sure did look like it.

That will be the big story to come out of Costa Rica. Should Klinsmann stay or go?

To me, the more pressing question -- by leaps and bounds -- isn't about the coach, but the players.

It's always easy to suggest that lineup changes need to be made, but where are the replacements coming from if those changes do occur?

One thing for sure. The roster we saw on Friday night in Columbus and Tuesday night in Costa Rica has no chance of qualifying for World Cup 2018 in Russia.

Go get a new coach if you want, but you better be ready for the same results if the players aren't going to be different on March 24 when qualifying resumes with a home game against Honduras.


Player Grades --

Brad Guzan, 6 -- Seems kind of weird to give the guy who gave up four goals a solid grade of "6", but if not for Guzan, it would have been 3-0 or 4-0 at the half.

Omar Gonzalez, 3 -- From excellent on Friday night to bush league vs. Costa Rica. Just a dreadful outing.

John Brooks, 3 -- Victimized time and time again. A brutal effort, for all the world to see.

Matt Besler, 5 -- Improved from his Friday night debacle in Columbus, but still woefully out of his element.

Timmy Chandler, 5 -- His man beat him on the second goal, but all in all he stuck with it for 90 minutes.

Michael Bradley, 4.5 -- Looked scared to death from the opening whistle, retreating as far as he could to stay out of the spotlight. It's time to move on.

Jermaine Jones, 4 -- Turned the ball over about every four minutes, it seemed. Get that cement out of his shoes, please.

Fabian Johnson, 5 -- Another nice night for Johnson, who earned the right to play in 2017 with his last two outings.

Jozy Altidore, 4 -- Nothing to show for his work. Let his man go on the 4th goal and essentially had no impact at all in the game.

Christian Pulisic, 5.5 -- Showed some life in the first half but no one would give him the ball, so what damage could he do?

Bobby Wood, 5.5 -- Like Pulisic, when given a moment to shine, he did, but never got the chance to be involved.

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from the desk of
brien jackson

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


orioles need pitching help, but where are they getting it?


It's no secret that the Orioles need help in their starting rotation before Opening Day rolls around next year.

You know it, I know it, heck I'm pretty sure my dog just blinked "Wade Miley stinks" to me in Morse code. Dan Duquette surely knows this, too.

The string-and-rubber band group ended up with some of the worst numbers in the American League across the board, and by the season's last months was essentially an updated version of "Sphan and Sain and pray for rain," with Chris Tillman and Kevin Gausman standing in as a (very) poor man's version of the Braves' famed aces. Dylan Bundy has some room to grow, but Miley, Ubaldo Jiminez, and Yovani Gallardo are more "basket of deplorables" than Nasty Boys.

And yet, Duquette recently told local baseball scribe Dan Connolly that the team didn't anticipate making any major changes to the rotation, or going after any significant additions to the rotation. That brought out some knives on Twitter for the O's GM, but he tellingly left off the other end of the statement; because there aren't any impact pitchers available this winter.

Don't believe me? Go to MLB Trade Rumors, browse through the list of free agents, and tell me who you want to demand the team sign.

Andrew Cashner and Ivan Nova are the only two pitchers even approaching the level of impersonating an impact big league starter, and beyond that you've got a bunch of end of the rotation type arms and guys you've heard of who are either a total mess now or battling back from serious injuries. I'll even jump into Drew's territory here and give you some free betting advice: None of these guys are going to finish in the top five of Cy Young voting in either league in 2017.

That doesn't mean things can't change though. The team is signaling publicly that improved outfield defense is one of their top priorities this offseason, which will help the pitching staff a lot.

Though it wasn't necessarily the plan, last year's additions gave them a glut of corner outfielders whose defensive abilities ranged from bad to atrocious. If Hyun Soo Kim solidifies himself an everyday job in left field there's some limited ability to improve here, but some more range in right field and maybe even replacing Joey Rickard with someone who takes better routes and makes sounder plays in the field could definitely help the pitchers at the margins.

Also of note, the Orioles are somewhat quietly rearranging the approach to pitching on an organizational level.

Pitching coach Dave Wallace has already moved on to Atlanta, and yesterday it came out that organizational pitching director Rick Peterson is out of his job as well. Peterson's diminished role, in particular, could be an important harbinger of a massive change to the pitching development program, as at this point he's most notable for his religious fanatic level of opposition to the cutter, even as more and more pitchers are using it and hitters swear it's a devastating weapon.

For crying out loud, during a World Series pregame show Alex Rodriguez called it the single hardest pitch to hit and Pete Rose(!) agreed that it would have totally wrecked his approach to hitting.

I would imagine that that philosophy played at least some role in this move, and won't be surprised if the cutter starts creeping in to the Orioles staff really soon.

Gausman, in particular, could really benefit from developing one and Bundy's stuff would become near unhittable around the zone with a quality cutter.

And with so few available upgrades there to be had, it's good to see that the organization is taking a serious look at taking the development of their two young studs, and even that larger mass of really unimpressive starters, so seriously.

There won't be any big additions, but there's real, legitimate, room for some pretty big improvement from within, and the outline of a rotation that ought to be good enough to get the team back to the postseason, or at least not make the climb back to October an insurmountable one.

KELLY
banner ad

get that winter apparel ready for us!


For the seventh year in a row, I’ll be involved in a great holiday project that requires YOUR help.

Back in the old days when I was on the radio, my pal Glenn Clark and I started a winter apparel drive to benefit the good men at Helping Up Mission in downtown Baltimore.

That first year, we took 400 coats, jackets, hats and gloves to HUM.

Last December, six years later, we took nearly 5,000 pieces of clothing down there.

X
Our friends at Jerry's Toyota will once again serve as the title sponsor of our Winter Apparel Drive. Look for drop-off dates soon at Jerry's Toyota at 8001 Belair Road where you can donate your unused winter clothing and receive valuable coupons and merchandise just for helping out!

Helping Up Mission is a wonderful facility in Baltimore where men go to get their life back together. While they are there for a variety of reasons, their goal is the same: Get back on their feet, get themselves straightened out, and return to their family and friends a better man, free of the issues that brought them to the facility in the first place.

Our Winter Apparel Drive provides the men with clothing and items for themselves, but also gives them a chance to have a gift item or two for a family member during the holiday season.

That, perhaps, is the best thing about the drive. The men who are there have little chance – almost none at all – to provide their loved ones with a gift during the holiday season.

Each man visits a pre-arranged room with the clothing we (you) donate and is allowed to pick out 3-4 items. Most of them select an item for themselves, and several items they can use as gifts for the holiday season.

We are proud here at #DMD to have our friends at Jerry’s Toyota serving as our title sponsor of the Winter Apparel Drive for a second straight year.

Last year, Jerry’s Toyota donated over 500 items themselves and will once again have a drop-off location at their store at 8001 Belair Road.

We’ll also have several “public” events in early-mid December where you will be able to visit and donate your unused winter apparel.

We will have events at Chick fil-A Nottingham Square, Glory Days Grill, and other local establishments who are also excited to be involved with the Winter Apparel Drive.

My pal Glenn Clark is still involved and continues to be a driving force with this effort. I couldn’t do this without him, for sure.

And we can’t do it without you, too.

Please take a few minutes one of these days to go through your closets, dressers, etc. and grab as many pieces of winter clothing as you can – that you no longer use, of course.

We’ll take jackets, coats, sweaters, hats, gloves, shoes, socks, etc.

And, yes, we’ll take men’s clothing, women’s clothing and children’s items.

We’ll have more details on the Winter Apparel Drive shortly.


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