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!
Ninety nine races to find Victory Lane, but here's betting it won't be the last time. NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series phenom (by blood and skill) Chase Elliott was constantly hounded by "when are you going to win a race). And it was legit, since his debut in 2016, the 24 year old had 28 Top 5 finishes and over 1000 laps led. But none of the Top 10 finishes were first. And none of the 1000 laps led were the last lap. But Elliott looked both aggressive but smart at Watkins Glen, NY, as he constantly pressured the leaders until finally, they were looking at his tailpipe. Elliott finished the race holding off 2017 Cup Series Champion Martin Truex Jr. who was the only other competitor who could give him a run. And he got the run, but ran out of gas, as Elliott accelerated through the finish line for his first victory.
The Tour de France wrapped up an exciting three weeks of grueling mountain top finishes and harrowing crashes. And there was a new winner for the first time in 4 years. Geraint Thomas from Wales beat his own teammate favorite and a stacked field of up and comers to win the 2018 Tour de France. Thomas along-side Froome protected the presumed Team Sky leader but consistently shaved time off in chasing down the other contenders. Then in the decisive stages of the Pyrenees, Thomas accelerated to attack and Froome was cracked. Thomas becomes the third winner from Great Britain in the last 7 years along side Froome and Bradley Wiggins (who combined have won 6 of the last 7). But Thomas defied the odds, kept the title with Team Sky, and is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!
First time major winners are what we love. First time major winner from an entire country is even better. Francesco Molinari fits the bill. Having not won a PGA tour event since 2010 before a win just three weeks ago, the Italian may be the hottest golfer on the planet. In The Open Championship (a.k.a. British Open), Molinari held off prior major winners such as Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, and yes, some veteran named Tiger Woods with whom he was paired on Sunday and at one point had a shot lead. Steady was his hand, as he finished the last 37 holes at par or better. Meanwhile, rivals succumbed to a missed shot here, sand trap shot there, three putt bogey. Molinari just plowed clocked consistent shot after consistent shot and built a 2 shot lead in the clubhouse. Rivals couldn't match. Molinari seems to be getting better with age (now 35) and with this Claret Jug, has stamped his name in golf's elite forever.
To win one of the greatest championships in your sport is quite an accomplishment. To do it after an injury from which few thought you would ever get back to the top? Career defining. Novak Djokovic is already a legend of modern tennis, with 13 majors titles, but it seemed as if father time was catching up to the Djoker. After 5 major titles in 6 tournaments in 2015 and first half of 2016, he seemed to have lost it. The second half of 2017 he sat out recovering from injury. He started Wimbledon as the #12 seed, but ended up number one. His toughest match was the semifinals against #2 seed Rafael Nadal for which he won a tiebreak, then the fifth set 10-8. Other than that, he only dropped 3 sets, none in the final to Kevin Anderson. As Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are toward the end of their careers (against which, he has a winning record against both), it looks like Djokovic isn't going anywhere. And for the second time, he is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week.