Army hosts Ball State hoping to stop skid

Army hosts Ball State hoping to stop skid

WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP) At least Army coach Rich Ellerson has something positive to lean on as his reeling Black Knights prepare for the critical stretch run of the season.

``They haven't canceled the season and my key still worked to the office this morning, so the arrow is up,'' Ellerson said. ``Let's go get after somebody.''

That next somebody is Ball State (5-3) on Saturday at Michie Stadium, and Army (1-6) desperately needs a win. There's really more to each season than simply beating Air Force and Navy for supremacy among the service academies.

``We're trying to get better,'' said Ellerson, 16-28 in three-plus years at West Point. ``We know if we want to play better, we need to coach better and practice better. We're going to keep the arrow up.''

That's not so easy when victories keep slipping away despite the impressive offensive numbers Army's triple option has produced.

Army, which leads the nation in rushing at 389 yards per game, ran for 412 last week at Eastern Michigan as senior quarterback Trent Steelman had a record-setting day.

Steelman had 212 yards rushing, the most ever in a game by an Army quarterback, eclipsing the old mark of 208 by Tory Crawford in 1986. Steelman also had a crucial fumble late in the second quarter at the Eastern Michigan 6 as Army was driving for a go-ahead touchdown.

``He made some great plays on Saturday, but we need a couple more plays,'' Ellerson said. ``We need to eliminate the negative plays. (Steelman) nodded his head and knows it's on him to get it done.''

Steelman scored touchdowns on runs of 73 yards and 75 yards, the longest rushes of his career. It marked the first time in Army history that a player had two 70-yard touchdown runs in the same game and gave him 38 career TDs, just five shy of the school record set by Heisman Trophy winner Glenn Davis in the mid-1940s.

And yet Army lost 48-38 as Tyler Benz, in just his fourth start, threw a career-high five touchdown passes to lead the Eagles to their first victory of the season.

``Obviously, we're hyper-sensitive to the scoreboard when the game is over,'' Ellerson said. ``During the course of the contest, we have to be completely focused and absorb those things that correlate with success. That needs to be reflected in how we practice and coach with a sense of urgency.

``We're a long way from where we should be or where I want to be. Nobody is saying, `Boy, are we good.' We know we're behind the curve, but there's good stuff that we can build on. We're just trying to find a way to win a football game. We have our heads down.''

Ball State will be the third straight Mid-American Conference foe for Army, and so far the Black Knights are batting zero. They lost to Kent State two weeks ago and carry a seven-game losing streak against MAC foes into Saturday's game.

The Cardinals promise to provide another challenge. Offensively, they are averaging 480 yards and 34 points per game and rank in the top 40 nationally in total offense (19th), passing offense (31st), rushing offense (33rd) and scoring offense (38th).

Cardinals coach Pete Lembo remains on pins and needles, nonetheless. The option can have that effect on teams that rarely see it, and his team is allowing 476 yards and nearly 35 points per game.

``In an ideal world, if you're going to play Army, you want to play them early,'' Lembo said. ``These option teams are deep and they work at this stuff all the time. Week to week to week, they just keep working on execution and timing, so they tend to get better as the year goes on.

``There are some coaches that quite frankly don't want to schedule these academies, and I understand that. The bottom line is, can you beat them?''

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Everything you need to know about the new and improved MLB Trade Deadline

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Everything you need to know about the new and improved MLB Trade Deadline

For a long time, Major League Baseball had the best, most exciting trade deadline among the four major sports. In recent seasons, that excitement has been eclipsed by the popularity of the NBA, but baseball still stands ahead of football and hockey in terms of in-season movement.

In an effort to shake things up a bit, baseball’s trade deadline underwent some changes in the offseason.

Notably, while July 31 has always been deadline day, in past years it was a bit of a misnomer. July 31 was technically just the Non-Waiver Trade Deadline in years past. The month of August has always allowed trades to be made as long as players pass through waivers. If a player is claimed off waivers, his team can either pull him back, let him go for nothing, or negotiate a deal with his claiming team only.

This obviously made for much more limited movement in August, but it was always an option. 

Not anymore. Now? July 31 the *only* deadline.

The August revocable waivers trade deadline was always a bit convoluted, and it never made much sense to have more than one deadline. So it’s logical to think the powers that be would want to simplify things for the league.

Reportedly, Major League Baseball is hoping the change will not only help simplify in-season moves, but also help jumpstart offseason activity. The thinking is if teams have even just one fewer option to improve their roster midseason, then contenders will be forced to get aggressive in the offseason.

It remains to be seen if that will come to fruition, but one forthcoming change does seem pretty obvious. The singular trade deadline should make for a much more active July.

Both buyers and sellers have to commit to a direction earlier in the season now. Last year, for example, the Nationals executed their mini-firesale in mid-August, once it had become clear they were not going to compete for the postseason. At the end of the July they were still undecided, which is why they held onto Bryce Harper.

Considering how long it can take major deals to come together, teams have to essentially decide by the All-Star break if they are in or out on competing for October. It will be especially difficult for teams to read the writing on the wall when they are hovering around .500.

As of this writing, there are 10 teams within six games of .500 in either direction, and that doesn’t include organizations like the Red Sox, Nationals and Athletics who have quality records but are way behind runaway division leaders. Will they want to trade away controllable assets for a shot at a one-game Wild Card berth?

General Managers who can forecast their team’s likelihood of competing, and respond accordingly, will be rewarded under the new system. Orioles GM Mike Elias already began his team’s sell-off, trading Andrew Cashner away weeks before the end of July. By contrast, in 2018 both Jonathan Schoop and Kevin Gausman were moved by the Orioles with under an hour to go on deadline day.

It’s hard to perfectly predict all the ways rule changes can affect a sport, but in the case of the singular trade deadline, it’s obvious that teams are now required to commit earlier, with fewer games of information from which to work.

That’s exciting for a sport that could use some more player movement-related excitement.


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Summer Guide: The top restaurants and bars for before and after Baltimore Orioles games

Summer Guide: The top restaurants and bars for before and after Baltimore Orioles games

Last summer, NBC Sports Washington put together guides that detailed the best bars and restaurants to watch the Capitals' Stanley Cup run and FIFA World Cup. Earlier this summer we gave you some spots around Nationals Park too.

With summer 2019 halfway through and baseball in full swing, it's time to highlight the go-to spots to eat and drink around the ballpark that forever changed baseball. 

In no particular order, consider these: 

Pickles Pub, 520 Washington Blvd, Baltimore, MD 21230

  • Across the street from Oriole Park at Camden Yards
  • Always packed, it's the number one go-to bar for Orioles fans before and after the games 
  • A dozen beers on tap, both local and national brands
  • Great deals throughout baseball season

Sliders Bar and Grille, 504 Washington Blvd, Baltimore, MD 21230

  • Another bar adjacent to Camden Yards
  • Less crowded than Pickles, but just as good when it comes to snacks and drinks
  • Bottle, canned, and draft beer options
  • Gameday specials built around the Orioles season

Abbey Burger Bistro, 1041 Marshall St, Baltimore, MD 21230

  • A bit further (about a mile walk) but well worth it
  • Famous for, you guessed it, their wide selection of crafted hamburgers
  • Endorsed by Oriole legend Adam Jones, who even created a burger for their menu
  • Also make spiked milkshakes for adults looking to cool off with a tasty treat

The Yard, 110 S Eutaw St, Baltimore, MD 21201

  • Inside the Marriott Inner Harbor 
  • Quieter, less-crowded option compared to more popular pregame locations
  • Crab-based breakfast options for fans looking for an early start

Camden Pub, 647 W. Pratt St, Baltimore, MD 21201

  • Two blocks from Camden Yards
  • Special discounts with game tickets
  • Variety of food options, including well-known wings

Quigley's Half Irish Pub, 633 Portland St, Baltimore, MD 21230

  • Federal Hill location, a block away from the stadium
  • Another less-crowded option, with standard bar fare
  • Just as likely to host baseball fans and neighborhood regulars alike

Pratt Street Ale House, 206 W Pratt St, Baltimore, MD 21201

  • Three blocks from Oriole Park at Camden Yards 
  • Dozens of beer options, plus signature cocktails and wine choices aplenty
  • Well-known nightlife spot for postgame celebrations

Seafood Options:

L.P. Steamers, 1100 E Fort Ave, Baltimore, MD 21230

  • Have to drive instead of walk (9 minutes by car)
  • Considered a go-to spot for Maryland-style seafood 
  • Mentioned specifically by Manny Machado upon his return to Baltimore

Phillips Seafood, 601 E. Pratt Street, Baltimore, MD 21202

  • 20-minute walk to Camden Yards, right in the heart of the Inner Harbor
  • Huge letters outside the building a part of the local skyline
  • Famous for their crabcakes, but serve all kinds of seafood and non-seafood options

Rusty Scupper, 402 Key Highway, Inner Harbor Marina, Baltimore, MD 21230

  • Another slightly further, pricier option for local seafood
  • Beautiful view right on the water
  • Live patio entertainment
  • Happy hour from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. every Monday through Friday

Postgame Dessert Options:

Insomnia Cookies, Federal Hill, 1059 S Charles St, Baltimore, MD 21230

  • 20-minute walk from the stadium
  • Wide variety of deluxe cookie options, plus brownies, ice cream, cake and dessert sandwiches
  • Open until 3 a.m. every night

Polar Roll Creamery, 600 E Pratt St Suite 105, Baltimore, MD 21202

  • 20-minutes from Camden Yards, on the Inner Harbor 
  • Rolled ice cream
  • Watch yourserver roll the ice cream in front of you