The MLB playoffs chug on to the League Championship Series round, and superstars are emerging. The Los Angeles Dodgers are looking to take their second straight National League pennant and if they do so, it might be behind someone unexpected on opening day. Manny Machado was acquired just after the All Star game, and is paying dividends. During the week (clincher against the Braves, plus first two games against the Brewers), he took over two key games for wins. He finished the 3 games 5-13 (.385), 1 2B, 2 HR, 7 RBI and 3 R. The Dodgers have their hands full with a hot Brewers team, but Machado is looking all the part of the difference between a World Series or not.
The Houston Astros are choo chooing to another World Series title, and it's a different hero this year than last. Alex Bregman has been the one steady force on a team that already featured a reigning Most Valuable Player plus two former Cy Young Award pitchers. But it was Bregman who gave the Astros a stranglehold on what turned out to be an easy sweep of the Cleveland Indians in the American League Division Series. In the first two games at home, he was 3-6, with 2 HR and 2 BB. Add 3 runs and 3 RBI and he was basically in the middle of everything. The next day when the Astros closed it out, he was on base six times (2 hits, 2 walks, 1 HBP, and reached on error). Unstoppable. And he's only 24. He's a big reason the Astros are poised to repeat as World Series Champions and is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!
Our Sportsman of the Week is for the last week of October. But he's been playing baseball like October. Milwaukee Brewers all-everything outfielder Christian Yelich has put his stamp on this season with an amazing last week to force a one-game playoff with the rival Cubs. A game in which his team won. Yelich led his team to seven straight wins to end the regular season. They needed every last one. He then led them to an improbably win on the road in the one game playoff. The Brewers now have home field advantage throughout the National League Playoffs. Yelich for the last eight games/wins: 11-24, 5 HR, 17 RBI, and was walked an Bonds-like 12 walks. That's a .639 on-base percentage. Yelich won the National League batting title and finished 2 HR and 1 RBI away from the first NL triple crown in 80 years. Pretty good, huh? Not to mention he played 9 games fewer than the HR/RBI leaders due to an injury in April. He's the best player in the National League, and our Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!
The NFL is quickly becoming a league of up and coming quarterbacks, and there is one who is already in the MVP conversation. Patrick Mahomes II stepped into the Kansas City Chiefs starting QB role and doesn't look like he'll leave for a while. The Chiefs are 3-0, and this week Mahomes II made a statement against the San Francisco 49ers. A flawless performance of 24-38, with 3 TD, 314 yards and 0 INT. In fact, no INT for the year with 13 TDs. The Chiefs have already won two road games in the AFC and look like the potential class of the AFC. Mahomes II was the 10th overall pick in 2017 while the front office game him a year to acclimate, it looks like it's paid off. Is he the Chiefs QB to take them to their first Super Bowl since Super Bowl IV? A proud franchise hopes so. Mahomes II is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!
The unlikeliest of NFL heroes has emerged as a leader for a 2-0 team. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were expected to be a third tier team this year, and the prognosis only got worse when star Bucs QB Jameis Winston was suspended for the first three games. Enter Ryan Fitzpatrick. A.k.a. Fitzmagic. The Harvard star has more resembled Johnny Unitas than fellow Harvard graduate John F. Kennedy in defeating the Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles. Fitzpatrick only threw 6 incompletions in 33 attempts (that's 27/33) with 4 TD passes and an amazing 402 yards. This followed a victory over the New Orleans Saints with 4 TD and 417 yards the week prior. That's two of the six NFC playoff teams. The 35-year-old Fitzpatrick's career has been given up for dead many, is now an MVP candidate at worst. And is a deserving Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!
Doing something in your sport that nobody else in your country has ever done. Winning your first major / grand slam title. And beating one of the, if not the greatest player to ever play your sports. Check, check, check for our Sportswoman of the Week. Naomi Osaka of Japan (actually from Osaka, Japan) defeated Serena Williams in straight sets to win the United States Open. The 20 year old future star only gave up six games total (6-2, 6-4) to the American legend in the final, and throughout the two week tournament, only dropped a set. It was amazingly only Osaka's second tour win as she rose to number 7 in the world. Fans are already excited for a potential rematch in future major tournaments, but for now Osaka can enjoy being the Sportswoman of the Week!
College Football is back! And with all the excitement and pageantry that fans love. One of the big marquee matchups of the first week featured Big 12 power West Virginia facing off against SEC traditional power (but not so much lately) Tennessee. It was West Virginia and their Heisman hopeful Will Grier that dominated for a 40-14 trouncing. Grier lit up the Vols defense for 429 yards on a 25/34 performance and an astounding 5 TD with no INT. He found 11 different Mountaineers open in the Vols secondary and made quick work of the rebounding Tennessee program. Note that the SEC claims the Big 12 can't play good defense. Well when you have a QB as good as Grier, it's tough to stop him. Will Grier is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!
Hitting home runs is hard so they say. But our Sportsman of the Week seemed to have no problem doing just that this week. Six games in a row. Seven home runs total. Toronto Blue Jays slugger Kendrys Morales went on a tear with at least one home run per game every game played this week. The Jays went 5-1 against NL playoff contending Philadelphia Phillies along with the struggling Baltimore Orioles. Overall, Morales went 11-23, 6 HR with 12 RBI. The Jays are not in postseason contention, but they certainly have a franchise memory and the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!
Young players with unlimited potential are what sports fans dream about. And our Sportsman of the Week fits that bill. The Atlanta Braves Ronald Acuna has come of age. Fast. On a Braves team that has lost 90 or more games the last 3 seasons looks like it is most likely to win 90 this year. And the NL East. Acuna wasn't on the Braves roster out of camp, but got here as fast as he could. By April 25. In 284 AB he's hit 19 HR for the season. That's 73 games. Less than half a season. Easily 40 for a season. And we haven't mentioned yet that he's only 20. But this week, he hit .484 with 4 HR, 9 RBI, and even 3 SB this week (I mean he's young). Going back to the week before, he homered in 5 straight games, and 7 out of 8. The Braves are a surprise N.L. East leaders, with the Mets/Nationals fading away, look out for Acuna. This Venezuelan could be Mr. October 21st Century. But he's our Sportsman of the Week for sure!
Back to baseball, as the busy sports summer season hits it's peak with the pennant race. And no team is in more control than the Boston Red Sox. Led by an unlikely hero. Unlikely because he was an unsigned free agent until late in the offseason. February 26. Now he's an odds on favorite for the American League Most Valuable Player. J.D. Martinez has earned every dollar of his contract. This week, Martinez batted .464 with 4 HR and 11 RBI in seven games. Games in which the Red Sox went 6-1. Piling on to their 4 game sweep of the rival Yankees last weekend, the Sox are 10-1, literally just one loss in August. But back to Martinez, his season totals are staggering, batting .333 with 37 HR and 104 RBI. The last Red Sox hitter to hit for the triple crown was Carl Yastrzemski, who finished at .326, 44, and 121. J.D. is on pace to shatter those numbers, although the triple crown may remain elusive due to teammate Mookie Betts amazing batting average. Either way, Martinez has been the offseason signing of the year, and is a worthy Sportsman of the Week!