Who am I?

I'm from Houston, a graduate of the University of Texas, a fan of the Houston Astros and Houston Texans. But this blog will be about the "greater sports", whatever that means.

Follow me on Twitter: @lhd_on_sports


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Thursday, January 27, 2022

K&D NFL Picks (Ep02)

Four teams remain on the path to Super Bowl LVI, and there are some surprises.  In an action packed Division Playoff Weekend, four out of four games were decided on the final play, and three out of four road teams one.  Both number one seeds lost.  This means all the teams playing this weekend will be their third playoff game in three weeks.

Once again, one of the coolest Social Media sports fans Kimberly Moten (@kimberlymoten1), who joins @lhd_on_sports to help you walk through the games and let you know who wins!

Check out the second episode of the K&D NFL Picks!

Enjoy the games!


Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Sportswoman of the Week Ending 1/23/2022

An all-time performance garners honors from someone you perhaps didn't know before this week.  Kansas State center Ayoka Lee scored 61 points in an impressive fashion in defeating the Oklahoma Sooners 94-65.  And this was no exhibition over a smaller, overmatched school.  The Sooners entered the game ranked number 14 but quickly found themselves down to the Wildcats 15-0 (with 12 of the 15 scored by Lee) and never recovered.  Lee added 12 rebounds, a steal, and three blocks to her impressive box score tally.  This was over 35 minutes of play, indeed almost scoring two points per minute is a feat that is difficult to match, especially since all her shots were inside the 3-point arc.  Lee demonstrated greatness and is our worthy Longhorndave Sportswoman of the Week!

Monday, January 17, 2022

2022 National Baseball Hall of Fame Vote

In a blog tradition, I am once again conveying my thoughts on who I would vote for if I had a BBWAA ballot for the 2022 National Baseball Hall of Fame.

The Hallowed Halls of Cooperstown Await greats to join them

The BBWAA vote will be revealed on Major League Baseball (MLB) Network on Tuesday, January 25, 2025.  The Hall of Fame vote reveal remains one of the most anticipated moments on the baseball calendar and certainly of the offseason.  Here is the 2022 National Baseball Hall of Fame Candidates Eligible for vote (via Baseball Reference with prior year percentage total for returning candidates).  75% of all ballots cast must include the players name for induction.

As most readers probably know, the actual voting committee is the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA).  Prior to 2016, once a member, always a vote.  In 2016, several changes to the voting process were made (see my related Blog here) culling the list of voters to those who had covered the game in the prior 10 years.  This played out to remove a number of small vote ballots and increase percentages for those on the bubble.

Inductees join the "Original 5" Class of 1939

There are a few overarching factors that cannot be ignored when it comes to voting to cover before we get to the specifics.

1) A major, controversial specter over the Hall will continue to be how to handle candidates associated with Performance Enhancing Drug (PED) use in baseball primarily in the 1990s and early 2000s, an era for which many players accused are now appearing on the Hall of Fame ballot.  There are players whose on-field performance clearly merits first ballot election, however because of their associated with substances that enhanced their performance, some members of the BBWAA have been hesitant to cast votes their way at least in the 75% needed for induction.  Because the official voting rules include the words "integrity, sportsmanship, and character," their reluctance is justified in my mind.  For my selection, I will not presume guilt, but if there is legal, eyewitness (including Mitchell Report) or strong anecdotal evidence of PED use, I will strongly weigh against voting for the candidate.  You can count me in the "The PED STJ" type here in a blog a few weeks ago.  That means, I absolutely think Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, and Roger Clemens (and Manny Ramirez) are Hall of Famers without PEDs but I hold them accountable (just like the person who did lots of good things but committed a crime...he still committed a crime)

2) A change in consideration for me is how to assess pitchers.  Whereas the 300-win plateau with a low ERA reflective of the dead ball, or pitcher dominated, eras prior to 1970 used to be a norm, it's become increasingly more difficult to get wins in the era of specialty relievers with starters leaving the game before the end of the sixth inning many times in close games.  Conversely, however, one would think this would benefit starting pitchers ERA by seldom going through a lineup more than twice in some cases, rarely more than three times.  Also, after many years of closers not being strongly considered, Mariano Rivera became the first and only to date unanimous inductee to the Hall, along with Trevor Hoffman and Lee Smith in recent years.  The doors have opened a bit in that regard.  In the end, I strongly weigh dominance over a reasonable period of time, along with Cy Young Awards, All-Star games, win titles, career saves, and ERA.

3) There is also first and last ballot bias.  First ballot candidates some BBWAA voters seem reticent to vote in to protect some sort of integrity of being a "first ballot hall of famer".  Evidence, three voters who did not include Ken Griffey Jr. in 2016.  Likewise, when a player is on his last ballot (as Tim Raines was in 2017Edgar Martinez in 2019, and Larry Walker in 2020) voters who previously withheld a vote tend to pay a bit more attention to their candidacy considering it's a final shot and vote favorably.  This year the normal last ballot bump bias is overcome by number 1 (Clemens and Bonds) or other factors (Schilling asking not to be on the ballot).  Unlike prior candidates listed above who were very likeable players, these three created more chasms than fans.  They won't see a big bump.  Everyone is set in their ways and in the case of Schilling, are more apt to go the other way.

Sportsman of the Week Ending 1/16/2022

What a season and what a story for the Georgia Bulldogs in winning their first football National Championship in 40 years.  Having fallen just short in years past, especially to the dynastical Alabama Crimson Tide, Georgia finally put it all together in the title game to secure the College Football Playoff trophy.  They were led by senior quarterback Stetson Bennett who, coming into the season as a backup to much more highly touted talent J.T. Daniels, wasn't expected to be a significant contributor.  However, as Daniels could not recover from an early season injury, it was the former walk-on Bennett who kept the team going through a tough SEC schedule and came out the other end a champion.  In the College Football Playoff Championship Game, Bennett threw for an efficient 224 yards, but protected the ball well with no interceptions (and just one, unusual looking fumble that many thought was a pass).  His two touchdowns came on his last two completed passes.  It was old school tough Georgia football, both in grinding out rushing yards and keeping the vaunted Crimson Tide defense in check that put the Bulldogs on the championship podium.  Led by unlikely local hero Stetson Bennett, the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week! 

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

K&D NFL Picks (2021-22 Wild Card First Round) (Ep01)

The NFL playoffs are a highlight of most sports fans calendar year providing a crescendo of excitement after the College Football Bowl Season and Playoffs and before the Winter Olympics, Daytona 500, March Madness, and MLB Opening Day which is a gateway to the full summer of outdoor sports.

The expansion of the playoffs starting in the makeshift 2020-21 season has loaded the first weekend with six games, wall to wall action.

So how do you break it down?  You bring in one of the coolest Social Media sports fans Kimberly Moten (@kimberlymoten1), who joins Longhorn Dave to help you walk through the games and let you know who wins!

Check out our K&D show debut!

What are your picks?


Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Sportsman of the Week Ending 1/9/2022

In a thrilling final weekend to the NFL season, lots was on the line for borderline playoff teams needing to "win and get in" and the format of all Division games just added to the drama.  One of the most unusual finishes settled the AFC playoff race, in which the Pittsburgh Steelers secured a spot with an overtime win over rival Baltimore Ravens but had to wait out a dramatic OT thriller on Sunday night to confirm their ticket.  However, it was the Steelers superstar, and now record setting pass rusher that was the story of the day.  T.J. Watt tied an NFL record by recording his 22.5 sack of the season to tie Michael Strahan for the single season record.  And before you throw the "17th game" card, Watt missed 2 full games with injury so it's as legit as it comes.  In winning our Sportsman of the Week, T.J. receives an honor his brother J.J. never achieved!

Monday, January 3, 2022

Sportsman of the Week Ending 1/2/2022

What a fun crescendo to the end of 2021 highlighted by the usual high level College Football Bowl Games, not the least of which was the College Football Playoff.  However, where the playoffs lacked in excitement, the Rose Bowl made up for in action and competitiveness.  A see saw affair ended up landing on the Ohio State Buckeyes side, much due to a record-breaking receiving performance.  Buckeye receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba dominated the game in a way no receiver had ever before.  Not the Rose Bowl.  Any Bowl.  Smith-Njigba hauled in 15 passes for a record breaking 347 yards and 3 TDs as Ohio State beat the scrappy Utah Utes 48-45 in one the great classics of the "Grandaddy of them All".  It was Smith-Njigba's 5th straight 100 yard game and by far his most productive in a 1600+ yard season.  The Buckeye's sophomore leading receiver is a worthy Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Monday, December 27, 2021

PEDs and the Hall of Fame. The final judgment.

Credit: National Baseball Hall of Fame

Nothing seems to get baseball fans, especially those who focus on the history of the game, more invigorated in disagreement than the annual Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) vote for recently retired players eligible for the greatest honor in the sport, induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.  And over the past 10+ years, there has been no more polarizing an issue than how to handle players who were known to have used Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs, a.k.a. steroids) during the 1990s and early 2000s until testing began in earnest in 2002.  The debate has probably reached its crescendo, as two of the most famous (or infamous depending on how you look at it) PED users enter their 10th and final year of eligibility on the BBWAA ballot.

Iconic facade of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

The two players of debate are, of course, Barry Bonds, the all-time and single season home run king, and Roger Clemens, who won a record seven Cy Young awards and sits third on the All-Time Strikeout list (trailing only Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson).  Both have been on the ballot for nine full years, the last three voting results sitting stagnantly at between 59% and 62% of the writers' votes well short of the 75% needed for induction and no meaningful indication of increasing.

In addition to the final stand for Bonds and Clemens, two interesting cases in their first year of eligibility are Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz.  The former was once suspended for an entire year for PED violations, the latter never suspended but admitted to a positive test prior to enforcement with suspension.  How will voters who omit Bonds and Clemens from their ballots treat A-Rod and Big Papi?

The NBHOF has provided no guidance in terms of how they expect voters to handle the PED complexity specifically, which shouldn't be a surprise.  But this stance draws the ire of BBWAA voters who want to do the right thing but aren't sure what the right thing is.  The complex nature of PEDs with relation to a vote for induction brings about polarizing opinions that will be explored below.  

This Blog is not intended to pick a side or draw a conclusion. There's no perfect answer and arguments can and are being made on both sides.  I seek to clarify people's thoughts and hope to get respect for opinions other than your own.

Before we delve into the logic behind voting for, or withholding a vote for, a player who either tested positive for PEDs or is beyond a reasonable doubt to have used PEDs, there are some clarifications about the Hall of Fame and its voting that should be introduced for context.

Clarification #1) Major League Baseball does not own/or operate the NBHOF.

Major League Baseball has no official authority over the National Baseball Hall of Fame, which is a non-profit (unlike MLB) governed by a Board of Directors (of which MLB has no oversight or input).  It is worth noting that MLB commissioner Rob Manfred is on the Board but not in a Chair role.  So, the NBHOF operates independent of MLB and has its own authority to decide on how it governs itself regardless of what MLB desires or wants.  MLB certainly has influence and an overwhelmingly collaborative relationship, note that it is the NBHOF that does not allow individuals banned from baseball (including the deceased) to be inducted, not a decision that MLB imposed.

Clarification #2) The NBHOF (and its museum) ignores the PED issue altogether

A good chance to note the separation of the entities of the NBHOF and its museum.  The NBHOF is the community of players inducted by various means (not the least of which is vote of the BBWAA) which are celebrated by plaques in the Hall of Fame Gallery of the museum.  The museum proper is the co-located space spanning multiple floors celebrating the achievements of the sport, including countless items of memorabilia, various media (photos, jerseys, gloves, hats, videos, narratives, statues) that provide fans context to the history of the game dating back to the Mid 19th Century.  It would be highly unlikely that at any time a reference to PEDs would be included on a plaque of an inducted member.  However, the Museum contains a display case in its history showing the controversy, with numerous artifacts and items as a lesson to fans of what took place, who the characters were, and how it played out. 

NBHOF display telling the story of PEDs

Barry Bonds Home Run #756 on Display with historic Clemens strikeout memorabilia in the background

Clarification #3) By not inducting PED users, the full story of baseball is not presented in the museum

The NBHOF museum shows all the great players, moments, records, regardless of whether plaques are included in the gallery.  It would make no sense to only show things by those inducted.  In fact, Pete Rose has a very prominent place in the museum with jerseys, videos, etc. showing his all-time hit record.  The hit king is in the Hall of Fame.  Museum.  No, his plaque is not in the gallery because of other reasons.  But he is not ignored.

Pete Rose full display of hit record

Barry Bonds HR record celebrated 

Clarification #4) The BBWAA voting members are at fault for keeping PED players out

A majority of BBWAA voters are checking the box FOR Bonds and Clemens.  There isn't some big conspiracy that the writers don't want them in.  Most of them do. However, 75% is a difficult threshold under these circumstances.  As will be discussed below, there are rational reasons to exclude known PED users (however you determine what defines "known").  A reaction from fans is recently "I hate the writers".  No, you hate 40% of the writers, not most writers.

Clarification #5) The NBHOF provides no guidance whatsoever to BBWAA voters

I mentioned above that the NBHOF is silent on the PED issue, which is true.  However, there are rules provided which, like any legalese, can be interpreted by the end user (but in this case, not challenged in court).  This is what opens up differing opinions.  Specifically, rule #5 which cites an integrity clause is overwhelmingly cited as contentious.

5. Voting: Voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.

Bluntly, "Integrity, Sportsmanship, and Character" come into question on the issue and are left to the eye of the beholder.

Sportsman of the Week Ending 12/26/2021

It's getting down to crunch time in the National Football League with just three games left coming into the weekend and log jams at the top of several Divisions as teams vie for playoff berths.  No Division is more tightly bunched than the AFC North in which the best team was 8-6 and the worst was 7-7.  Anybody's division.  The Cincinnati Bengals stepped up on the rising right arm of their top overall draft pick in 2020, Joe Burrow.  The former Heisman Trophy winner torched the depleted Baltimore Ravens for 525 yards and 4 touchdowns in a dominating 41-21 thrashing of their Division Rival.  The win puts the Bengals up a full game on the entire Division including tiebreakers on all teams except the Browns.  They will likely make their first playoffs since 2015 and seeking their first playoff win since 1990.  For the second time, Joe Burrow is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Sportsman of the Week Ending 12/19/2021

Nothing less than the most productive season in Division 1, Football Bowl Subdivision history.  That is what our Sportsman of the Week earned in 2021.  Bailey Zappe of Western Kentucky sealed his season with a 422-yard, 6 TD performance in a Boca Raton Bowl romp against Appalachian State.  The Hilltoppers torched the Mountaineers for 52 points through 3 quarters in the record-breaking performance.  overall, Zappe ended the season with 5,967 yards and 62 touchdowns, breaking records of Texas Tech's B.J. Simons 5,833 in 2003 and Louisiana State's Heisman and National Champion Joe Burrow's 60 TDs in 2019.  Zappe's Hilltoppers started the season a meager 1-5 with competitive losses to bowl teams like Michigan State, Army, and Texas San Antonio.  But they then went on a run through the second half of October through the end of the season winning 8 out of 9, dropping only a rematch to UTSA in the Conference USA Championship Game.  Zappe's name is etched in college football lore and he is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!