The Chicago Bears seem to have finally got past rebuild mode to compete mode, and it started with what appears to be a smart draft pick at the QB position. Mitch Trubisky is growing into the role of superstar QB, and he might have made a big leap on Sunday. Trubisky is leading the NFC North Division leaders to a 6-3 record, including an impressive victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday. Trubisky accounted for four of the Bears TD's, 3 through the air and one with his legs. His 76.7% completion percentage and 355 yards were season highs as the Bears throttled the Lions 34-22. For the season, Trubisky is sporting a 19/7 TD to INT ratio, including 17-4 in his last six games. Huge games left with Minnesota (2) and Green Bay (at home) will decide the North, but Trubisky is finally reaching that point of being mentioned with the elite QBs. And is our Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!
It's getting to be the part of the NFL season where the men separate from the boys, and when two men battle, you put the women and children to bed and go looking for dinner. The New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams have emerged as the best two teams in the NFC and the schedule gods had them square off in Week 9. And it did not disappoint. Two prolific offenses went toe to toe for 80 points and 970 yards. There were only 6 penalties and 3 punts. And there was a 200 yard receiver. The Saints Michael Thomas torched the Rams seeping secondary for 211 yards on 12 catches, including a back-breaking 72 yard TD from 3x Sportsman of the Week Drew Brees with 3:52 that put the Saints up for good. Will we see a rematch in January? If so, the Rams better come up with a better game plan to stop Michael Thomas, the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!
The Boston Red Sox definitely proved they were the best baseball team in 2018, but it wasn't necessarily their best player that carried them to the title. In fact, it was a very unlikely one. Steve Pearce was an afterthought at the trade deadline. But he wasn't in the final stretch of the World Series. Three of the biggest hits in Games 4 and 5 came from the unlikely hero. In Game 4 in the 8th inning with the Red Sox trailing 4-3, he hit a solo home run to tie the game, then followed it in the 9th inning with a 3 run double to push the Red Sox ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers for good. And then shift to Game 5, where he gave the Red Sox a lead 2-0 lead they would never relinquish in the first inning on a home run, then got another solo shot in the 8th in what ended up being a 5-1 win over the Dodgers. So keeping score at home, that's 8 RBI in 11 innings of batting for his team, or 8 AB total. The World Series MVP was just that, clearly the best player among a team of All Stars and is our Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week! one might be surprised, this is his second time for the honor.
The Boston Red Sox are poised for their fourth World Series Title in 15 years and it's an unlikely hero that helped slay the defending World Champions. Jackie Bradley Jr., batting out of the number 9 hole, swung more like Babe Ruth than Spike Owen. In a crucial Game 3 (with the series tied) against the Houston Astros, he broke the game open with a grand slam off of closer Roberto Osuna to put the Sox 5 runs ahead. Then he came back in a see-saw epic Game 4, he gave the Red Sox the lead for good with a 2-run homer off of fireballer Josh James who had been baffling Boston. The homer broke the back of the Astros which never led a game in the series again as they folded in Game 5. The unlikely hero won the ALCS MVP and is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week.
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!