While much of this issue of PressBox is about looking back on 2018, it is imperative that we attempt to simultaneously look forward to what could come in 2019. There is much to look forward to. Well … for some area teams it's certainly difficult to imagine it being any worse, anyway!
With that in mind, The 15 takes a look at some of the top local sporting events on the calendar for 2019.
Jan. 26: St. Frances vs. Poly boys' basketball
If you'll remember, last year's non-conference matchup between the Panthers and Engineers created such a mob scene that Villanova head men's basketball coach Jay Wright was reportedly among the hundreds turned away from Goucher's Decker Sports and Recreation Center. The venue for this year's game -- which features Maryland targets Justin Lewis (Poly) and Adrian Baldwin (St. Frances) -- might need to be a little bigger.
Feb. 9: Gervonta Davis vs. Abner Mares
Davis, a Baltimore native, is set to defend his WBA super featherweight title against the veteran Mares, a former three-division titleholder. It is set to be Davis' first major main event fight. No word yet on if he'll bring back his amazing Cookie Monster robe, but we can only hope.
Feb. 21: Vermont at UMBC men's basketball
UMBC's history-making upset of Virginia would have never happened if the Retrievers hadn't pulled off an upset at Vermont in last year's America East championship game. The two are again among the favorites to win the league this year, and you have to imagine it doesn't break the Catamounts' hearts that Jairus Lyles graduated.
March 3: Michigan at Maryland men's basketball
The best home game of the Terps' Big Ten slate comes late in the season as they welcome last year's national runner-up, a Wolverines team that has to be considered a favorite to return to the Final Four. You've gotta imagine Maryland players haven't forgotten getting pasted at home by 24 points by Michigan last year.
April 4: Orioles Opening Day vs. New York Yankees at Camden Yards
Want to play a fun game on Opening Day this year? Wander into various bars and bet Orioles fans that if they can name 15 players on the Opening Day roster you'll buy them four beers but if they can't, they have to buy you one. Enjoy your many free beers. It'll probably be a tough season for the Birds, but Opening Day should still be lots of fun, even if the season technically starts three days earlier in Toronto.
April 27:Johns Hopkins at Maryland men's lacrosse
The Terps and Blue Jays are thought to be two of the top teams in the nation again this season and also, seriously, this is Johns Hopkins-Maryland we're talking about. These teams have been playing each other since Grover Cleveland was in the White House.
May 3-5: Big Ten Women's Lacrosse Tournament, and May 22-24: NCAA Women's Lacrosse Final Four
Johns Hopkins' Homewood Field plays host to the national semifinals (May 22) and championship game (May 24) for the first time since 2001 and to the Big Ten Tournament (May 3-5) for the first time since … ever. For the record, while this year's NCAA men's lacrosse tournament quarterfinals are in Hempstead, N.Y., and Hartford, Conn., the Final Four is back in Philadelphia, meaning a more manageable drive for local fans.
May 18: 144th Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course
We've been playing the “could this be the last Preakness at Pimlico?” game since … well, since the last time Johns Hopkins hosted the women's lacrosse Final Four, more or less. But this year is the first time there's a real feeling that we all kinda know it definitely could be the last time, with a move to Laurel Park seeming inevitable at this point.
June 3-5: MLB Draft
Unlike the NFL and NBA Drafts, the MLB Draft isn't really a fan-friendly event that you can attend. The draft is actually broadcast from the MLB Network studios in New Jersey, so unless you know a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy, you're going to have to watch from home like the rest of us. That, of course, is a bummer since the Orioles have the No. 1 pick, which is expected to be Texas high school shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. or Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman. The moment they use the pick, that player likely becomes the most significant player in the entire system. But no pressure or anything.
June 18: Carolina League All-Star Game in Frederick, Md.
Nymeo Field (the home of the Frederick Keys, the Orioles' High-A affiliate) plays host to the All-Star Game this year, which could provide an awesome opportunity to take a look at some top prospects. Orioles outfield prospects Ryan McKenna (2018) and Austin Hays (2017) recently played in the game. This might be a good year to check out a lot of minor league baseball in general, particularly to watch the development of prospects acquired at last year's trade deadline.
Aug. 3: Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony
If you skipped Ray Lewis' induction in Canton, Ohio, and watched your friends post pictures and videos of the weekend all over social media, you probably thought to yourself, "Man, do I regret not making the trip." Good news! You're probably going to get a shot at a do-over this year. We'll find out Feb. 2 if legendary Ravens safety Ed Reed is part of this year's class. If he's not, we might know what Robert Mueller's next job could be.
Sept. 28: Towson at Florida football
For Towson fans, this year's FBS matchup provides an amazing opportunity to visit Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, one of the great venues in all of college football. If you're worried about a trip to “The Swamp” in Gainesville, Fla., because you think quarterback Tom Flacco and the Tigers might get blown out, keep in mind that in 2012, Towson traveled to LSU and had a second-quarter lead. The Tigers ultimately only lost by two scores against a team that featured Odell Beckham Jr. And Jarvis Landry. And Jalen Mills. And Deion Jones. And Kwon Alexander. And La'El Collins. And Spencer Ware. And I could go on.
TBA: Ravens at Miami Dolphins and Ravens at Los Angeles Rams
We won't know the dates until April, but the Ravens' trips to Miami and Los Angeles (a game that will be played at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum) look to be the most popular “road trip” games on the schedule in 2019. There's also a trip to Buffalo, N.Y., which might be worth considering for the people watching alone.
Nov. 28: Loyola vs. Calvert Hall football
This year's annual Turkey Bowl game is actually the 100th all-time meeting between the Dons and Cardinals. There's been some bluster that perhaps if the Ravens' schedule were to break the right way, there could be an opportunity to again play the rivalry contest at M&T Bank Stadium.
TBA: Veterans Classic (November) and Military Bowl (December)
While we don't know the teams yet (outside of Navy's annual participation as host of the Veterans Classic), these annual college basketball and football events have been some of the better dates to circle on the local sports calendar annually. A tip from a friend: If you tell her you want to go to Annapolis, Md., during the holiday season to take adorable selfies at Snowflake Alley, she might be more inclined to sit in the cold to watch football with you while you're there.
This has been updated with the date of the Davis-Mares fight.
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox
Issue 250: December 2018 / January 2019
Originally published Dec. 19, 2018