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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LHD_PotW (116) MLB (65) NFL (60) NCAA (41) NBA (30) NFL Playoffs (24) NHL (21)
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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sportswoman of the Week Ending 4/13/2014

Just like the tradition as old as The Masters, this blog has a tradition for Sportsman/Sportswoman of the week as major tour "grand slam" winners.  Throw in what is arguably the biggest grand slam event in men's golf, and Bubba Watson is a clear winner.  Again.  Watson outdueled 100+ competitors, including a 20 year-old Masters rookie, a 50+ year old former champion, and everyone in between.  After a shaky back nine on Saturday, Watson was cool and collected on Sunday, as competitors struggled with the course, he made key shot after key shot.  Congratulations Bubba, a deserved Sportsman of the Week!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Sportswoman of the Week Ending 4/6/2014

Despite NCAA March Madness winding down, Major League Baseball opening day taking place, and NBA/NHL playoff push, I always like a tour sport "Major" winner and it's even more exciting if it's a teenager.  Nineteen-year-old Florida native Lexi Thompson distanced herself from the LPGA Kraft Nabisco Championship to secure her first Major title.  She easily outschooled fellow young rival Michelle Wie to win by three strokes.  Ladies and Gentlemen, we could have a golf rivalry not seen since the days of Palmer/Nicklaus.  The 24-year old Wie has yet to win a major.  Even Tiger Woods didn't win a major until he was 21.  Ms. Thompson is the future, we look forward to watching her grow and we honor her with the Longhorndave Sportswoman of the Week!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Eleven strategic decisions that players and coaches always make wrong

If you are like me, you feel like if you just yell at the TV screen louder, maybe the player or coach won't make the incredibly bad decisions that they make over and over again.  It doesn't work.  Here's my list of Top 11 ("This one goes to eleven" - Spinal Tap) decisions that seem to be accepted as "good" that really need to be thought through further.  Just because everyone else does it, doesn't make it right.  If another coach jumped off a cliff, would... nevermind.  Without further ado!


11. Football - Relying on the run too much
If I told you: choose play A and you'll average 6.65 yards per play.  Or choose play B and you'll get 4.17 yards per play.  Which would you choose?  Probably A.  Well, NFL teams don't seem to get this.  Play A is a passing play (2013), Play B is a running play.  Yet teams ran 43% of the time.  I understand the need to establish the run, but it's the numbers.  More teams should just throw the damn ball!

If you have Peyton Manning, why do this?
Exception: Teams that rely on defense and don't have good quarterbacks

10. Baseball - Rolling out a pitcher on short rest in the playoffs
Pitchers are creatures of habit.  They have each of their off days mapped out.  Including their throwing day about half way, and day before their start in which they begin their mental preparation. Let alone the physical rest needed.  Then all of the sudden, in a critical Game 6 or 7 of a playoff series, the manager thinks his best chance to win is to roll someone out there on short rest out of rhythm.  He's not as mentally sharp, he doesn't hit his pitchers as well (arm fatigue) and he ends up blowing through 90 pitches in about 4 innings and you're into the underbelly of your bullpen.  Stick with full rest, and let the chips fall where they may!


Veteran pitchers like Chris Carpenter are willing to go on short rest, but is it a good idea?
Exception: Game 7 and you don't have another viable option

9. Football - Special teams players blocking in the back
You can see it coming a mile away.  Your return guy has broken initial contain.  He's in the open field, he's at full speed, he's going to turn the corner, then some 5th linebacker special teams moron comes out of nowhere and obliterates a defender in the back way away from the play, followed by 4 yellow hankies pelting him in the back and legs.  Why!?!?  You know that's the players back.  Just pull up.  Or don't do anything!

Think how great this would be if there wasn't an illegal block 30 yards away
Exception: A borderline "seal" block that would really break the play and is in the side and might not get called.

8. Basketball - Playing for the last shot of a quarter/half/game
I understand the overall logic here.  You get one chance, the other team gets none.  The overall point differential is wider if you don't give them a shot.  But riddle me this.  Why would you have your point guard stand at the top of the key dribbling pointlessly until there's about 4 seconds left.  Then spinning and penetrating wildly settling for a hairbrained prayer that barely hits the rim?  Why not set up an offense, start running it with 15 seconds left, and if you get a clean look before 5 seconds, go ahead and take it?  If not, do the one last pass and shoot.  But move the ball.

Unless this guy's name is Jordan or Durant or James, he should move the ball
Exception: If that player is Kevin Durant, just let him do what he does.

7. Hockey - Over passing during power plays
The excitement when your team gets a key power play in a close hockey game.  Oh the possiblities.  The deflation when at the end of 2 minutes, they got one shot on goal, a textbook goalie kick in the last 10 seconds.  You can't score if you don't shoot.  Yet you see teams flip the puck along the blue line, then try to get a guy in the corner, who passes it back out, looking for the perfect shot.  Pepper the goalie!  He'll get flustered and it will create chances.

Great set up.  Now SHOOT!!!!
Exception: Don't do it carelessly, find your spots, but don't hesitate to shoot!

6. Baseball - Removing a pitcher doing well for a matchup
Managers like Tony LaRussa have made pitching matchups a science more than art.  Lefty-lefty, ground ball pitcher for a slugger, etc.  But how many times do you see a right hand reliever blow through two big hitters by hitting corners and lighting up the radar gun.  Then a left hand hitter comes in, and you bring in that wacky, screwball lefty from your bullpen.  Who promptly throws a wild pitch, another ball at the eyes, then gets lit up for a double the other way?  If you have a known quantity who is in a rhythm, stick with him!  My momma always told me "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush"

This would be a great matchup if the lefty could throw strikes
Exception: Resident pitcher has been stretched longer than you would expect

5. Football - Punting on fourth and fewer than two yards
This is a more complicated analysis not fit for this brief format, but trust me.  You should just about always go for it on 4th and less than two.   This study shows that anything less than 3 yards is over 50%.  Possession of the ball is important in football.  Turnovers are a big stat.  If you punt, you lost the ball 100% of the time.  If you go for it under 2 yards, it's more than 60% success.  So that's less than 40% chance of a turnover.  Chances are if you punt, you won't get the ball back in the same position (or worse, the other team scores).  Keep the ball.  My grandmother used to say "Why are thy kicking, that's just giving them the ball." Wise lady.
Not much bad can happen if you go for it in enemy territory

Exception: Deep in your own territory, if you have a good defense, or a solid lead. Then you become more risk averse.


4. Hockey - Not pulling the goalie until the very end of the last period
Hockey sees an average of 5.3 goals per game.  That's 2.6 per team per 60 minutes.  On a power play (man advantage) it's about 4.5 goals per game (15% success rate per 2 minutes more or less averaged between majors/minors/2-man advantage).  If you're losing, you need to force scoring.  The sooner you pull the goalie, the better.  No harm if you give up a goal, all the harm in the world if you don't get one.  I'm saying 5 minutes or so, you should force the action.  And let the chips fall where they may!
Get this guy to the bench ASAP

Exception: Only if you can't control the puck or execute the pull, otherwise, start doing it sooner!

3. Football - Calling timeout to save a 5-yard penalty
You can see it coming a mile away.  Your team is 3rd and 12 from your own 23 yard line.  The huddle breaks late because there aren't that many good plays for this.  You ran on extra receivers, took out your TE.  The offense seems confused.  The play clock reaches 10 and offensive players are standing around not lined up.  The QB instictively calls for the timeout to get organized.  WHY??  The success rate for 3rd and 12 and 3rd and 17 is just about the same.  Timeouts are gold for either team in major game situations.  And you're going to use one now???  Situation applies for breaking the huddle wrong, illegal formation, anything five yards.
Discretion is better than reaction.  Don't call it!

Exception: Third down and 1 or 2, and anywhere near the goal line in which you are trying to score.

2. Baseball - Walking the lineup's 8th hitter to face the pitcher with two outs
We'll call this on the "Bob Brenly protocol".  You've got a runner on 2nd (or 3rd or 2nd and 3rd).  The eight hitter in the lineup is coming to the plate.  He's not a big threat.  Yet, if in the National League, you walk him, you get to face the pitcher.  Easy decision, right?  Wrong.  The 8th hitter probably bats around .250.  The pitcher probably hits about .150.  So for a 1 out of 10 advantage (i.e. nine times out of ten the outcome is the same for either).  But, note, that you have to get 27 outs per game.  You want to get those weaker hitters to the plate to get them out.  And now you're passing on that weak hitter for one of those outs for probably a stronger bat later in the game.  He's the eighth hitter for a reason.  Take your chances!
The mighty Pete Kozma is walked. Pete. Kozma.

Exception: Not many, I'd say late game except that a pinch hitter would be queued up.  Go for the eighth hitter just about every time.


1. Football - Using the Prevent Defense
This is the all time champion of stupidity.  Your defense has performed at a level of (mostly) stopping the other team to a point you have a lead late in the game.  Then your decision is to change the alignment and approach late to "bend but don't break" to leverage a draining clock to your advantage.  And the offense licks it up.  Their only chance to win is to score.  And you let them.  If your defense is that good, just line up and stop them.  It's worked all game!?  If you're afraid of the long pass, then shame on the other team for not throwing longer earlier (if that is going to be so successful).  Crazy things happen, "Dance with who brung you" (Darrell Royal).

Nineteen seconds and a timeout for a FG, why not just play regular defense?
Exception: Two score leads with very little time left.  There is a time and place to make sure a 90 yard pass doesn't happen, but not nearly as much as we see.

So there you have it, look for these in each game and call a spade a spade.  Wrong decision.  Every time (exceptions excluded).

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sportsman of the Week Ending 3/30/2014

It's March, and that can only lead to Madness.  And this year's NCAA Men's tournament hasn't disappointed.  As the field was whittled down from 16 to 4, one team seems to have come from nowhere to be in the mix, led by our Sportsman of the Week.  Shabazz Napier is an enigma in the tournament.  He's a senior.  In leading the Connecticut Huskies to two wins over the weekend, he poured in 44 points, 11 boards, and 9 assists.  Shooting 44% from the field, but 93% from the line and 53% from beyond the arc.  Including three key free throws in the last 30 seconds to oust Michigan State.  Senior leadership does matter in the tournament, and having Napier on your bench might mean a championship.  He is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Sportsman of the Week Ending 3/23/2014

This one is probably overdue from a few weeks ago when he was on a ridiculous streak, but that was during the NFL playoffs so it was hard to work him in.  No fear, the projected 2013-14 NBA MVP has had another worthy week.  This week Kevin Durant went off for 40.3 PPG (bolstered by a 51 point performance, including a go-ahead 3-pointer in the last two seconds to beat the Toronto Raptors).  He also chipped in an average of 11.7 rebounds and 6 assists.  And his Western Conference 2-seeded (at the moment) Oklahoma City Thunder went 3-0, all on the road in the midwest.  He doesn't seem to be tiring, and raising your level of play this time of year usually bodes well.  Congratulations to Kevin Durant, he's the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

NFL Free Agency Day One

The Bloggers at Sports-Kings have your NFL Free Agency covered, check out the roundtable discussion (I'm the guy in the pink tie):

)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Sportsman of the Week Ending 3/9/2014

The PGA tour is heating up as we head toward The Masters, and there is a new name that the sports world needs to become familiar with.  Patrick Reed became the youngest winner of the World Golf Classic (at age 23) by carding a hard-earned -4, one of only three golfers below scratch.  But who is this kid? He's a two-time NCAA D2 team National Champion at Augusta State (yes, Augusta, Georgia) and has won three of his last 14 tournaments.  And he's unphased by the big names, with nerves of steel.  And all he does is win.  We'll see how much noise he makes in the 2014 Majors, but he's this week's Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Sportswoman of the Week Ending 3/2/2014

Spring sports frequently bring by a surprise Sportsperson of the week, and this one might be no exception.  Spring also means golf!  Why not ladies!  The LPGA's Paula Creamer distinguished herself from a world class field in Singapore in the HSBC Women's Championship, on the second playoff hole.  Locked in a battle with Azahara Munoz, she made the green in two, then sank an incredible 75-foot EAGLE putt to win an improbable title, her first since the 2010 US Women's Championship.  Congrats to our third LPGA winner of a Sportswoman of the Week, Ms. Creamer!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The sad plights of Alex Rodriguez and Lance Armstrong. Greed, Denial, and Tainted Legacies

As a big fan of competitive cycling (particularly the Tour De France) and baseball (particularly Major League Baseball), my sports innocence has taken a huge, sobering hit the past couple of years, with the undeniable guilt of former heroes Lance Armstrong and Alex Rodriguez.  It's insightful to evaluate how parallel their plights have been.  Each did things that no other human in their sport have done.  Each didn't want to just be one of the best, they wanted to be THE best.  Each denied well beyond the time period in which their guilt was obvious.  Both suffered humiliating suspensions and their legacy is forever shattered.

Greatness:
Armstrong - Seven Tour De France Titles.  By huge margins.  On dominating teams.  With flair.  
Rodriguez - Tallied 518 home runs before his 33rd Birthday.  Was the highest paid player in baseball, won a batting title, five home run titles, and three league MVPs.

At 18, Alex Rodriguez had the potential to be known as the best ever

Greed
Armstrong - In a sport in which everyone was bending rules one way or another, Armstrong's ego got the best of him.  He wanted to do it for his (still honorable) Live Strong cancer campaign.  He wanted to do it for the United States.  He wanted to thumb his nose at Tour de France organizers that he knew would never be able to catch him.
Rodriguez - He watched other users (Bonds, Sosa, McGwire) juice up and shatter what had been hallowed home run records. He was probably the best clean player, but the others were getting all the attention and spotlight. It wasn't fair.
Lance gives Jan Ullrich "The Look" as he easily pulls away from the champion

Denial
Armstrong - For a decade, he kept saying "no positive test, all speculation, I didn't cheat."  What he meant to say was "they can't prove it."  Finally, with the French authorities stripping his titles away with what they considered enough evidence (including eye witness accounts from former teammates), he ran out of friends and everyone knew the inevitable.
Rodriguez - Despite being suspended 50 games for prior use in 2009, then having his name all over the infamous Biogenesis clinic documents with another 162 game suspension, plus eye witness testimony of his patterned use, to this day, Rodriguez is trying to paint baseball as being on a witch hunt, implying that it's personal vendetta between MLB commissioner Bud Selig and him, and that the truth will come out.  Once again, only his own lawyers are believing him at this point, and they stand large financial gain from keeping the fight going.

Rodriguez admits to past mistakes, but says he's clean (to Katie Couric)


Humiliation
Armstrong - Now banned for life, Lance Armstrong can't even compete in sanctioned triathlons or be in any way associated with Professional Cycling.  A pariah of the sport, he can only do what he can to raise money and awareness for cancer, and mostly stay out of the spotlight.  Still a popular figure it seems, his legend is forever tainted.
Rodriguez - He may never play in the major leagues again. He will fall short of all the home run records that seemed so easily within his grasp at age 31.  Even when playing, now clean, his power is gone and he breaks down physically.

Armstrong confesses his sins at the church of Oprah

Reconciliation
Armstrong - He seems to paint himself as the victim, one of many, and as if he was unfairly made an example.  Well, yes, you are the one who won seven straight TDF title.  You were the one who insisted you were clean.  To our faces.  No sympathy.  Perhaps he can negotiate some way to pay back the sport.  In the meantime, that decade of the Tour never happened.
Rodriguez - Has accepted full season ban (quietly), has not publicly apologized or shown any remorse.
 
Both of these guys fought to be the best.  They cut corners, bent rules, and ruined what could have been an incredible legacy on merit, hard work, and talent.  Great American heroes became great American shames.

- David Whitlock

Monday, February 24, 2014

Sportsman of the Week Ending 2/23/2014

Week two of the Olympics, and in one of the most visible team sports in the Sochi Games, one individual stood out.  You can't win a hockey game if you can't score.  And in the knockout round of hockey during week 2, Team Canada goalie Carey Price took that to heart.  He allowed but one goal to Latvia's Lauris Darzins, then proceeded to shut out the number 2 seed United States, and number 1 seed Sweden over 160 minutes scoreless by the end.  Overally, Price stopped 70 out of 71 shots for a 0.33 GAA.  Against the most elite competition hockey has to offer.  Two of the games were slight one goal wins, so it wasn't that his perfect services were not needed.  Congratulations to Carey Price for being the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!