Baseball postseason is in full swing and it doesn't take long for stars to emerge. The National League Wild Card Washington Nationals surged from May to the end of the season to overtake the league competition and secure a spot in the postseason. And they took advantage. Stephen Strasburg proved pivotal in the Wild Card game as the Nats came back on the Milwaukee Brewers to win 4-3 Strasburg notched 3 critical innings of relief and got the win (3IP, 2H, 4K). He then followed up with 6 innings of dominant ball (6IP, 3H, 1ER, 10K) to secure NLDS Game 2 for the Nationals to head home with the series even. He's tapped to start Game 5 in LA and may propel his team to their first NLCS. But Strasburg has emerged as a co-ace to Max Scherzer nad is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!
The NFL season is young, and too many times a team is counted out before it has a chance to hit its stride. Such is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Given up for dead after an 1-2 start against suspect competition and double digit underdogs heading to NFC Champion undefeated Los Angeles Rams, the Bucs delivered. Especially Chris Godwin. In racking up 55 points, the Pirates in Pewter Pants went to Goodwin 14 times. He caught 12. All 12 were a first down, two were TDs. And he racked up 172 yards, one of the top performances this year. The Swashbucklers aren't on a lot of radars for the playoffs. But with the Saints QB injury, slow start by the Falcons and Panthers, they may be a team to watch. Thanks to Chris Godwin, the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!
In one of the biggest conference games to start the Big 10, a strong Heisman candidate stepped up and made a statement. Jonathan Taylor of the Wisconsin Badgers plowed through what was expected to be a stingy Michigan Wolverine defense for over 200 yards. 203 to be exact, on 23 carries for two TDs. His longest was a spectacular 72 yard scamper in the first quarter to set the tone for the game. He even missed the 2nd quarter with a cramp, but returned in the second half to help ensure the 35-14 conference opening victory in one of their toughest projected games. The win thrust the Badgers up to Number 8 and solidifies their favorite status in the Big 10 West. Taylor has averaged over 2000 yards his first two seasons and is likely to find himself in New York competing for the Heisman, which he finished 9th last year. Taylor is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!
The Baltimore Ravens have suddenly surged to favorites in the rugged NFC North thanks to the emergence of their quarterback. Lamar Jackson was handed the reigns of the offense this offseason as former Super Bowl Champion quarterback Joe Flacco was traded to the Denver Broncos. And Jackson has seized his chance in two weeks. This week he tallied 392 total yards and 2 passing TDs, including 120 on the ground as the Arizona Cardinals had no answers. Week 1 he notched 324 yards before the offense called off the dogs against the hapless Miami Dolphins. With Division opponents already with 5 losses, the undefeated Ravens seemed poised to breeze to the playoffs. Then it will be even a bigger stage for the former Heisman Trophy winner. But for this week, Lamar Jackson has been the story of the NFL and is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!
Grand Slam majors are hard to win, especially when legends like Serena Williams is in her home country going for her seventh United States Open title. But Bianca Andreescu didn't flinch. The Canadian teenager announcer her presence on the scene with a decisive 6-3, 7-5 straight set victory over Williams. It was her second finals victory over Serena after beating her in the Rogers Cup Final (in her home country) upping her match victory winning streak to 13. It took 3 sets to win in the prior 3 rounds (4th, quarter, semi), but with this victory she's up to number 5 in the world. Is she the next big thing? Maybe, but she is certainly the U.S. Open Champion and the Longhorndave Sportswoman of the Week!
Legends are dominant, and our Sportsman of the Week was dominant again. For the third time. Justin Verlander of the Houston Astros joined elite company in pitching the third no-hitter of his career. The first was 12 years prior, but the 36 year old seems to be getting better with age. Verlander flummoxed the Toronto Blue Jays for only a handful of hard hit balls and just one walk to go with 14 strikeouts. And did we mention no hits? Also no runs. There was drama, as the Astros entered the ninth inning tied as they had yet to cross the plate as well. But rookie Abraham Toro launched a 2-run home run in the Top of the 9th to turn the attention back to Verlander. And he delivered. He may be pitching the best of his future Hall-of-Fame career and he is undoubtedly the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!
The baseball pennant race is heating up, and a new team is starting to look like a favorite. Or at least a team that will be a tough out. The Washington Nationals have been surging and find themselves with the third best record in the National League, good for the top Wild Card. Led by Anthony Rendon, the Nationals offense hasn't missed a beat since the departure of free agent Bryce Harper. The Nationals went 6-1 over the week all in road games, with Rendon notching a hit in all 7 games, going 14-29, with 2 HR, 6 R, and 7 RBI. He suddenly finds himself in contention for a batting title and a 12 game hitting streak. The Nationals let Harper walk away. They may want to think about keeping the free agent to be Rendon in house. But will it be after a deep playoff run? Time will tell. But Rendon will continue to be a tough out, and is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!
One of the best young bats in Major League Baseball is almost forgot how young he is because he's already been around so long. And won a World Series. Rafael Devers of the Boston Red Sox is evolving into one of the elite hitters in the game and he's still just 22 years old. His amazing 2019 campaign (in spite of nothing but disappointment around him for the Sox) is MVP worthy. But this week was over the top. He went 16-27, with 7 2B, 3 HR, 11 RBI, and even had a 6 hit game and 4 hit game. That's an OPS near 2.000. The Red Sox went 5-1, even beating the surging Indians 2 out of 3. If the Sox have a playoff run in them, it'll be on the back of Devers. He's our Sportsman of the Week!
It seems like more than ever, young talent is emerging in Major League Baseball and setting new records. This week he comes in the name of Aristides Aquino. The Dominican Republic rookie was called up August 1 and has done nothing but mash since. In the six games this week, he was 11-22, with 6 HR, with 8 R, 11 RBI while his Cincinnati Reds went 4-2. His 8 HR in 11 games set a record, and his OPS is north of 1.200. Will he keep it up? No. But is he yet another fun player to watch? Absolutely. As the Reds rebuild, Aquino is a big part of it, and he is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!
The future is now. Major League Baseball has a future generation that is mouth watering. We got a taste of our Sportsman of the Week during the 2019 All Star Game Home Run Derby, and now Toronto Blue Jays 3B Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is doing it in real games. The 20-year old phenom is settling into a star player role. Vlad Jr. went .500, with 3 doubles, 3 HR, 11 RBI in just 6 games. But more importantly, the Blue Jays are getting better and went 4-2 this week. Vlad Jr. joins other baseball sons like Cavan Biggio and Bo Bichette and forming a core that will carry the Blue Jays to the top of the AL East sooner than later. But Vlad is already here. And he's only 20. And is our Sportsman of the Week!