One of the best young bats in Major League Baseball is almost forgot how young he is because he's already been around so long. And won a World Series. Rafael Devers of the Boston Red Sox is evolving into one of the elite hitters in the game and he's still just 22 years old. His amazing 2019 campaign (in spite of nothing but disappointment around him for the Sox) is MVP worthy. But this week was over the top. He went 16-27, with 7 2B, 3 HR, 11 RBI, and even had a 6 hit game and 4 hit game. That's an OPS near 2.000. The Red Sox went 5-1, even beating the surging Indians 2 out of 3. If the Sox have a playoff run in them, it'll be on the back of Devers. He's our Sportsman of the Week!
It seems like more than ever, young talent is emerging in Major League Baseball and setting new records. This week he comes in the name of Aristides Aquino. The Dominican Republic rookie was called up August 1 and has done nothing but mash since. In the six games this week, he was 11-22, with 6 HR, with 8 R, 11 RBI while his Cincinnati Reds went 4-2. His 8 HR in 11 games set a record, and his OPS is north of 1.200. Will he keep it up? No. But is he yet another fun player to watch? Absolutely. As the Reds rebuild, Aquino is a big part of it, and he is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!
The future is now. Major League Baseball has a future generation that is mouth watering. We got a taste of our Sportsman of the Week during the 2019 All Star Game Home Run Derby, and now Toronto Blue Jays 3B Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is doing it in real games. The 20-year old phenom is settling into a star player role. Vlad Jr. went .500, with 3 doubles, 3 HR, 11 RBI in just 6 games. But more importantly, the Blue Jays are getting better and went 4-2 this week. Vlad Jr. joins other baseball sons like Cavan Biggio and Bo Bichette and forming a core that will carry the Blue Jays to the top of the AL East sooner than later. But Vlad is already here. And he's only 20. And is our Sportsman of the Week!
The summer sports season is never complete without the three-week bicycle ride through the French country-side. Better known as the Tour de France. The 106 year tradition is renewed every year throughout the flat lands of the country, the coast, the hills, the Alps, the Pyrenees, and ending in Paris. But the more things are the same, the more they change. Once again, a rider from Team Ineos (formerly Team Sky) won. But the who wasn't expected. Egan Bernal of Colombia exceeded his high expectation to (relatively) easily take the Maillot Jaune on the 19th stage and hold it through Paris. Whispers around the team buses had him as having better form than team leader and 2018 Tour winner Geraint Thomas. But who would the team protect? It never was an issue. Bernal stormed through the decisive stages when he needed to and took a 1:00 gap into the final Alps stage and could not be challenged. At 22 years old, Bernal was the youngest rider out of ~200 in Le Tour. And he is the winner. It's was never a matter of if he would win a Tour. But how many. The count is on. Bernal is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!
In the last major golf event of the year (which is early for me, considering it's not August), a (relative) hometown favorite won. Ireland's Shane Lowry won The Open (known New World as the British Open) for his first major of his career and first Tour win since 2015. After two positioning rounds of 4 under par the first two rounds, it was his third round of 63 (-8) that sealed the victory. He played an even +1 round on Sunday as he still won by six strokes (none of the Top 5 finished under par in the last round either). Lowry has been trending up, with a number 2 finish at the Canadian Open, and now the biggest victory outside of the United States. The 32-year-old Lowry will not be forgotten, and is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!.
In a busy time of the sports calendar, it was at team facing tragedy that won the week. The Los Angeles Angels faced the worst thing possible as a team. Losing a player. Tyler Skaggs passed away on July 1 from unknown cause. On the road in Arlington, TX, the team had a day off to mourn, but trudged through the rest of the road trip into the All-Star break. It was the first game after the break that was legendary. At home with every player wearing Tyler Skaggs #45, Taylor Cole and Felix Pena faced 28 batters, retiring 27. The one that wasn't retired? Walked. That means no hits. It was a game designed for Cole to get through the first part, then have Pena take over. And both executed perfectly. The game was never in doubt as the Angels beat the Mariners 13-0, but after a rough week, the Los Angeles Angels are the first Sportsteam of the Week!
Another week, and another woman takes center stage. The United States Women's National Team (USWNT) lived up to the billing by winning their fourth World Cup over the Netherlands 2-0, the second Cup in as many tournaments, but perhaps never facing stiffer competition. The USWNT stormed through all the best European teams on European soil. In order: Sweden, Spain, France, England, Netherlands. Outside of their matches against the United States, they were a combined 20-2-1, with only Netherlands beating Sweden, and Spain going 1-1-1 in pool play as the losses. Against the USWNT? 0-5. Led by goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, who was able to stymie opponents to only 3 goals throughout their 7 games (0.4 goal average). In the finals she could not be scored upon, but really saved the team in their semifinal battle against a resilient English team that controlled the ball 58% of the time and matched the US with 4 shots on goal. Naeher stopped them all and is a worthy Sportswoman of the Week!
Round of 16 and Quarterfinals. Two goals apiece and the United States Women's National Team is moving on to the Women's World Cup (WWC) semifinal [editors note, at time of publication they won that too]. But our Sportswoman of the week has used her veteran savvy and extreme skill to score all the teams' goals in defeat of Spain and France (2-1). The first two were on Penalty Kicks, the latter two from the field. And against France, against a hostile environment. In what may have been the most highly anticipated women's soccer game in history, Rapinoe struck early on a brilliant free kick, and late on a hard counter attack. Both were needed and Rapinoe earns the Longhorndave Sportswoman of the Week!
Another week, another first time major golf winner. This time, the ladies. Hannah Green leaped from obscurity to snap the KPMG Women's PGA Championship at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Minnesota. The most surprising thing was how close the more experienced and close to the lead competition was, that the 22 year-old Green fended off wire to wire. Shooting a steady 68-69-70-72 to win by one stroke (despite hard charges from Sung Hyun Park and Mel Reid who shot 66 and 68 respectively in the last round). The Australian Green won by one stroke. Mainly by posting a Top 2 score each day the first two days. Is this her first big splash on the scene of a long career or an alignment of stars never to be replicated? We'll see over the next couple of decades. But Green is the Longhorndave Sportswoman of the Week!
Underdog. Beating the big boys. Wasn't supposed to win. All qualities for a great Sportsman of the Week. 35-year-old American Gary Woodland was well below the radar for the 119th United States Open, but put together four consecutive rounds at 2 under par or better. Only two other golfers finished all four rounds under (John Rahm, Brooks Koepka). Woodland had only one tour win since 2013, and that was a playoff win over a year prior in 2018. But Woodland entered Sunday with the lead, with big dogs chasing him. Like 2-time defending champion Koepka. Former major winners Louis Oosthuizen and Justin Rose. Even Tiger Woods who birdied six of his last 12 holes. But Woodland didn't fluster. He didn't have his best round, but down the stretch he didn't falter. He punctuated his win by, while needing just a 3-putt, putting in a 30 foot putt dead center. And took his trophy. And the Sportsman of the Week!