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Peter Schmuck’s 2020 vision: Five things that would make the New Year bright

Clearly, the past year has been a very mixed bag for sports fans in Maryland.

The region remains awash in Lamar-mania, which has made it easy to forget that the Orioles lost more than 100 games for the second straight season and the Maryland Terps football team came unglued again after opening the Mike Locksley era with a pair of uplifting nonconference wins.

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So, now seems to be a good time to rip off the rearview mirror and march fearlessly into a new decade. Here are five things that would get 2020 off to a great start:

The Super Bowl, of course

Lamar Jackson will be rested and ready when the lowest seed emerges from the AFC wild-card round and heads for M&T Bank Stadium for the Ravens’ postseason debut Jan. 11.

The Ravens could draw the Tennessee Titans, Houston Texans or Buffalo Bills, any of which would be a formidable opponent, but who are we kidding? The Ravens just trounced the Pittsburgh Steelers with the nucleus of John Harbaugh’s revolutionary offense relaxing on the sidelines.

The Texans probably are still having nightmares about their trip to Baltimore in Week 11. The Bills made a game of it in Buffalo three weeks, but they couldn’t handle the lowly Jets on Sunday without Josh Allen. The Titans probably won’t get past the Patriots, but if they do, they’re the one team in the first round that has not seen the fully formed Jackson attack.

They saw last year’s warm-up act, and lost 21-0 at home in a game that featured 11 sacks by the Ravens defense.

The Ravens might not be taking anything for granted, but I am. The Super Bowl will hang in the balance the following week, when they are almost certain to face either the New England Patriots or the Kansas City Chiefs.

Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman is pictured on the field before the Patriots game on November 3 at M & T Bank Stadium.
Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman is pictured on the field before the Patriots game on November 3 at M & T Bank Stadium. (Kenneth K. Lam)

Ravens keep their coordinators

No one could have been the least bit surprised when the Cleveland Browns asked for permission to interview Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman and the New York Giants asked to interview defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale for their vacant head coaching jobs.

That’s what happens when you rock the football world and head into the postseason as the Super Bowl favorite.

It might seem unlikely that the Ravens can keep both of them, but owner Steve BIsciotti has been known to open up his wallet to persuade prized employees to pass up a big promotion.

The team is already positioning itself to remain a strong Super Bowl contender next year, and it would be really nice if it could keep the band together.

The Orioles' Trey Mancini is congratulated by teammates after hitting a solo home run off Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Adam Plutko on Saturday, May 18, 2019, in Cleveland.
The Orioles' Trey Mancini is congratulated by teammates after hitting a solo home run off Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Adam Plutko on Saturday, May 18, 2019, in Cleveland. (Tony Dejak / AP)

Orioles continue rebuild without trading Trey Mancini

There’s no point wishing for the Orioles to be a surprise contender this coming season. Baseball operations chief Mike Elias has made it crystal clear that the team is still in the addition-by-subtraction phase of his long-term rebuilding plan.

He already has traded veteran infielder Jonathan Villar and starting pitcher Dylan Bundy for prospects, but we can still hope that he throws the fans a bone by holding onto popular team Most Valuable Player Trey Mancini.

It would be nice to keep Mychal Givens around, too.

Ricky Lindo Jr. and Eric Ayala of Maryland look to rebound in front of Adam Grant of Bryant during the first half at Xfinity Center on December 29, 2019 in College Park.
Ricky Lindo Jr. and Eric Ayala of Maryland look to rebound in front of Adam Grant of Bryant during the first half at Xfinity Center on December 29, 2019 in College Park. (Will Newton/Getty)

Maryland realizes its hoop dreams

This was projected to be a big year for both the Maryland men’s and women’s basketball teams, and the athletic program could really use the boost that a couple of deep NCAA tournament runs would provide.

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Mark Turgeon’s team got off to a 10-0 start and reached No. 3 in the AP Top 25, but has slipped to 15th in the rankings after losing two of the past three games and announcing the departure or 6-foot-10 twins Makhi and Makhel Mitchell, who have entered the NCAA transfer portal.

Brenda Frese’s 10-2 women’s team was ranked No. 4 in the AP poll, but has lost two of its three games against ranked opponents and slipped to No. 12.

There’s no reason to panic. Both are talented teams and the conference seasons have just begun.

It would be nice if football coach Mike Locksley’s second season featured a big turnaround, but the way the team totally collapsed last year, that’s probably too much to wish for.

Chris Davis of the Orioles celebrates a home run in the eighth inning with Alberto Hanser against the Seattle Mariners at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 22, 2019.
Chris Davis of the Orioles celebrates a home run in the eighth inning with Alberto Hanser against the Seattle Mariners at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 22, 2019. (Mitchell Layton/Getty)

Chris Davis has an epiphany

Long-struggling Orioles first baseman Chris Davis is at home trying to find the answers that will allow him to arrive at spring training next month with a chance to turn his flagging career around.

That would appear to be a tremendous long shot after three seasons in steep decline, but he’s almost nine years younger and makes $8 million per year more than Tom Brady, so who really knows?

Happy New Year.

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