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!
The summer sports season is never complete without the three-week bicycle ride through the French country-side. Better known as the Tour de France. The 106 year tradition is renewed every year throughout the flat lands of the country, the coast, the hills, the Alps, the Pyrenees, and ending in Paris. But the more things are the same, the more they change. Once again, a rider from Team Ineos (formerly Team Sky) won. But the who wasn't expected. Egan Bernal of Colombia exceeded his high expectation to (relatively) easily take the Maillot Jaune on the 19th stage and hold it through Paris. Whispers around the team buses had him as having better form than team leader and 2018 Tour winner Geraint Thomas. But who would the team protect? It never was an issue. Bernal stormed through the decisive stages when he needed to and took a 1:00 gap into the final Alps stage and could not be challenged. At 22 years old, Bernal was the youngest rider out of ~200 in Le Tour. And he is the winner. It's was never a matter of if he would win a Tour. But how many. The count is on. Bernal is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!
In the last major golf event of the year (which is early for me, considering it's not August), a (relative) hometown favorite won. Ireland's Shane Lowry won The Open (known New World as the British Open) for his first major of his career and first Tour win since 2015. After two positioning rounds of 4 under par the first two rounds, it was his third round of 63 (-8) that sealed the victory. He played an even +1 round on Sunday as he still won by six strokes (none of the Top 5 finished under par in the last round either). Lowry has been trending up, with a number 2 finish at the Canadian Open, and now the biggest victory outside of the United States. The 32-year-old Lowry will not be forgotten, and is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!.
In a busy time of the sports calendar, it was at team facing tragedy that won the week. The Los Angeles Angels faced the worst thing possible as a team. Losing a player. Tyler Skaggs passed away on July 1 from unknown cause. On the road in Arlington, TX, the team had a day off to mourn, but trudged through the rest of the road trip into the All-Star break. It was the first game after the break that was legendary. At home with every player wearing Tyler Skaggs #45, Taylor Cole and Felix Pena faced 28 batters, retiring 27. The one that wasn't retired? Walked. That means no hits. It was a game designed for Cole to get through the first part, then have Pena take over. And both executed perfectly. The game was never in doubt as the Angels beat the Mariners 13-0, but after a rough week, the Los Angeles Angels are the first Sportsteam of the Week!