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 (169) MLB (79) NFL (77) NCAA (65) NBA (39) NFL Playoffs (32) NHL (28)
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Saturday, April 25, 2015

Apology not accepted?

Every single person except maybe Jesus Christ, Buddha, Vishnu, or Mohammed has done something wrong and needed to apologize (more on Jesus in a minute).  From the time we can speak as toddlers, we are taught by our parent, guardian or teacher that if you do something wrong, you are supposed to say "I'm Sorry."  And you are supposed to mean it.  And in general at that stage of life, it's for something like spilling a drink or punching your sibling.  And usually, the apology is accepted.  Meaning that both parties move on and it is no longer held against the offender.  Until the next time your parents are looking and the sibling smacks you back.

Jesus took his ministry so far as to forgive the sins of all, for in the end all that believe in him will have everlasting life.  But I digress.

How does this relate to sports?  Newsflash.  Athletes (and in some cases, the media that covers them) are not perfect.  Far from it.  In fact, their stature, fame, and lifestyle lend itself to doing things wrong.  In a phrase: "Mo' Money, Mo' problems."  Be it people taking advantage of you, marriages that are far from traditional, or a feeling of entitlement (thou can do no wrong and if you do, someone will cover it up).  The cover up part is not happening as well in these days of social media and the hypersonic speed of the news cycle.

Over the past several years, we have had extremely egregious transgressions by athletes or sports media (the charge is my opinion of accusation, not an indication of legal guilt).  Here is a sampling that span the range of all sports, transgressions, genders, and fame.  The link for each offers a video or article on the apology.

Lance Armstrong (PEDs)
Steve Bartman (interference with catch)
Todd Bertuzzi (assault during a game)
Ryan Braun (PEDs)
Kobe Bryant (rape and infidelity)
Riley Cooper (racist comments)
Josh Hamilton (substance abuse)
Marion Jones (PEDs)
Jim Joyce (bad umpire call)
Mark McGwire (PEDs)
Britt McHenry (verbal assault)
Joe Namath (intoxication)
Adrian Peterson (child abuse)
Ray Rice (domestic violence)
Alex Rodriguez (PEDs)
Tony Stewart (wrongful death)
Rick Sutcliffe (intoxication)
Tim Tebow (losing football game
Mike Tyson (cannibalism during bout)
Michael Vick (dogfighting)
Tiger Woods (infidelity)
Don Zimmer (fighting)

Just read through those names.  These athletes and sports figures have literally all been at the top of their game or profession at some point.  But one action or statement and it all came crashing down.  It can happen to anyone; we all make mistakes.  So an apology is offered.  In some cases, seemingly showing legitimate remorse (Jim Joyce, Tim Tebow, Don Zimmer).  In others, more forced (Ray Rice, Mike Tyson, Ryan Braun) or disingenuous (Lance Armstrong, Tiger Woods, Britt McHenry).  There's been tears, there's been significant others next to them, there's been their organization supporting, sometimes not.  But not all apologies are created equal.

As a courtesy to athletes and frankly anyone in life who messes up (that's you unless you are a diety), here are a few criteria to consider if apologizing

1) Do it soon.  The longer you wait, the more it will seem forced and disingenuous.
Examples good: Tim Tebow, Jim Joyce, Don Zimmer
Examples bad: Mark McGwire, Ryan Braun, Lance Armstrong
Examples never: Pete Rose, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa

Tim Tebow apologizes to Gator Nation right after losing to Ole Miss

2)  Say it like you mean it.  People can see fake.  Reading a statement doesn't come across as sincere.  It comes across as doing it to meet a requirement.  Look into the camera and speak from the heart.
Examples good: Marion Jones, Tim Tebow, Mark McGwire
Examples bad: Tiger Woods, Britt McHenry, Mike Tyson, Michael Vick
Mark McGwire is genuine in this apology for use of PEDs (albeit late)

3)  Let your actions do the talking.  Whatever you did wrong, try and fix it, preferably without fanfare.  If you are truly sorry, you will act to reconcile.  A phone call (not a tweet) to someone who was affected goes a long way.  Volunteering to help a cause that does good in the area you committed a transgression (battered women's shelter, animal causes, etc.)

Examples good:  Tim Tebow (won title), Don Zimmer (quit brawling), Michael Vick (Humane Society)
Examples bad: Ray Rice, Tiger Woods, Britt McHenry
Detractors thought Michael Vick's campaign for the Humane Society was less than genuine

4) Do something extra.  Find a new way to interact and win back your fans.  Volunteer your time, be visible in a positive way, but be genuine about it.

Examples good: Ryan Braun (answered ticket phone), Josh Hamilton (personable with fans)
Examples bad: Todd Bertuzzi, Alex Rodriguez, Tony Stewart.
Josh Hamilton "photobombs" Rangers fans

Ultimately it is up to the fans to accept an apology.  I find myself in each case having trouble forgiving some (Britt McHenry, Lance Armstrong) but easily accepting others (Steve Bartman, Jim Joyce).  Human emotion is a tough thing to reconcile with.  But one thing is for certain.  Athletes will keep messing up and keep apologizing.  But will we accept it?

Friday, April 24, 2015

Sportsman of the Week Ending 4/19/2015

Baseball is back and this week's Sportsman started where he left off last year.  Seattle Mariners slugger Nelson Cruz bashed in his opponents for six home runs and 10 RBI over the six games of the week.  His team only scored 27 runs in a disappointing 2-4 team finish.  He was 12-24 with a slugging of 1.125.  With NBA and NHL playoffs in just the early round games, baseball takes the stage this week.  Next week, it's more likely playoff time as heroes are emerging!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Sportsman of the Week Ending 4/12/2015

There is no question this week which athlete stood head and shoulders above the rest.  Arguably the most renown of the PGA Majors was held and a 21 year-old set an all time course record.  Jordan Spieth dominated a star-studded field to finish at -18 tying a Masters record with Tiger Woods. And he had a make-able putt to break the record but didn't quite nail it.  Spieth became the first golfer to lead the tournament after each of the four rounds since 1976 (Ray Floyd).  And he set a number of records for "first by age 21" throughout the way.  To say the sky is the limit for Spieth may be an understatement, there seems to be nothing this kid can't achieve.  A worthy sportsman of the week.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Sportsman of the Week Ending 3/29/2015

Another week of March Madness and new stars emerge.  Wisconsin was probably the least heralded one seed, with their workman-like approach to breaking down opponents.  They find themselves in another Final Four led by a pair of forwards.  But it's not Frank the Tank we give the nod, but Sam Dekker.  The lanky junior (6'9", 220 pounds) lit up North Carolina (Sweet 16) and Arizona (Elite 8) to lead the Badgers to a showdown with Number One Kentucky in the Final Four.  Dekker went for 23 and 27 points in the games respectively with 18-26 from the field (69%) and 15 boards over the two games.  And he has an outside shot with 5-6 against Arizona.  All around game is what it's about, especially for our Sportsman of the Week!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Sportsman of the Week Ending 3/22/2015

March Madness gripped the nation last week, with Cinderella's, powerhouses, upsets, and chalk.  One surprise team was the University of California - Los Angeles, who many thought had no business even being in the tournament.  One week later, they're one of only 16 teams alive.  Their success was due in no small part to heroics of sophomore Bryce Alford.  In the first game against the higher seeded Southern Methodist University, the sharpshooter could not be stopped, nailing nine 3-pointers in 11 tries for 27 points (no other points from the field or line).  In playing 39 minutes, Alford had four of those in the last 4 minutes, including a bizarre goaltended shot to push UCLA pats the Ponies by just a point.  In the second game, he chipped in another 22 points (3-5 from beyond the arc) with 5 assists (in another 39 minutes) as UCLA coasted past University of Alabama - Birmingham.  The traditional powerhouse is now wearing a glass slipper, will Alford next shoot down Duke?

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Sportsman of the Week Ending 3/15/2015

Sometimes a single performance justifies honors.  We saw that this week, with the Cleveland Cavaliers' Kyrie Irving.  The second year phenom put his team on his back to defeat the reigning NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs in spectacular fashion.  On Thursday, the fourth year superstar from Duke scored 57 points (highest in the league this year) with an incredible 20-32 from the field and 7-7 from beyond the arc (routine 10-10 from the free throw line).  Including a clutch 3 pointer at the buzzer to send it to overtime.  The other two games of the week, he chipped in 22 and 33 points; for the latter he was 12-15 from the field, 5-6 from beyond the arc (meaning 12-13 during the two game stretch).  The Cavs went 3-0 for the week, all on the road.  Playing in LeBron's shadow, he's quickly becoming the secret weapon for a deep Cavaliers playoff run.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Sportsman of the Week Ending 3/8/2015

The World is tuned into one of the great international sports World Cup competitions.  No, we're not talking about football (known in the United States as soccer), hockey, or basketball.  Or even rugby.  We're talking Cricket.  The best in the world have gathered in the southern hemisphere of co-hosts Australia and New Zealand to battle for one of the most prestigious cups in all of sports.  The star so far has been no surprise.  Kumar Sangakkara of Sri Lanka has willed his squad to a 3-2 record in Group A, a tough drawwhich included both host countries (resulting in losses) as well as traditional powerhouse England (a narrow win, sending England home).  Sri Lanka is already advancing with a manageable final game.  Sangakkara leads the World Cup with 372 runs, including a 124 average.  The next closest average is a paltry 87.66.  The Sri Lanka "Lions" will be a team nobody wants to play, as long as the World's best player Sangakkara is on their side.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Sportsman of the Week Ending 3/1/2015

The wide world of sports continues to be open, and a fresh name emerged this week to set the sports world on fire.  Ottawa Senators goalie Andrew Hammond has come from nowhere to do his best Patrick Roy or Martin Brodeur impression.  Three games in the week, 3-0, 2 shutouts, and just 2 goals allowed.  All three games on the road, all three against Western Conference playoff contenders (including defending Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings).  In total, 90 shots faced, 88 saved (.978 save percentage).  He's started five games this season.  He's won five games.  The Sens sit well out of the playoff picture, if only they'd have found Mr. Hammond in October.  Statistically they'd be 60-0.  A leap from obscurity to be the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Sportsman of the Week Ending 2/22/2015

Spring sports always bring a mixed bag of stars and this week continues that Blog tradition.  In the Great American Race, a new face emerged as the winner.  With eyes on Jeff Gordon in his final Daytona 500, and other eyes on Dale Earnhardt Jr. to see if he could repeat last year's success.  It was Joey Logano who made the leap from promising talent to immortality with a razor thin win at the Speedway.  He controlled the race for the late laps, then a wreck with around 10 laps to go put him in control for the green, white, checkered finish.  It went green/white, but then another wreck, with Jeff Gordon in the middle of it, ended the joust.  And Logano emerged.  Others should have maybe considered getting in front on the late laps just in case.  That is, if they could have!  Congrats to Joey Logano, our Sportsman of the Week!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Sportsman of the Week Ending 2/15/2015

Winter sports are in full swing and if it's an odd number year, that means the World Ski Championships.  This year's event was held on United States home soil, but podium finishes were sparse.  That was until Utah-born Ted Ligety saved the Stars and Stripes.  Ligety navigated the Giant Slalom ahead of the field for his third straight World Championship (2011, 2013, 2015) and 23rd World Cup championship overall (second place in history for GS).  He also won the GS at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.  The three straight championships are a record for the GS, and only two others in different disciplines have won three straight World Championships.  For his work this week, he also claimed bronze in the Alpine category.  A great week for a great American skier and our Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!