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 (303) MLB (116) NFL (112) NCAA (99) NBA (50) NFL Playoffs (47) NHL (41)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Week 1 Upset Specials

J.R. Ewing here from Dallas fame, I'm sipping on some bourbon on the 38th floor of Ewing Enterprises tower in downtown Dallas and thinking about this opening week of college football.  The deal is, I'm going to lay out three picks a week, but there's a catch.  I'm taking a team straight up that is underdog by 7 points or more (ish).  These are matchups where I see, not only will the underdog cover, but send that favorite home with their panties wrapped around barbed wire.  In any event, let's get the fun started:

Pick #1:
Boise State (+7) d. Michigan State
Boise State hasn't lost a game by 7 or more points since 2007 (at least on the mainland they haven't).  New QB, yeah.  Michigan State is rising, yeah.  But weird things happen early in the season, and Week 1, a disciplined team with less talent can out execute the favorites.  Taking the Broncs.

Pick #2:
Northern Illinois (+10) d. Iowa
Iowa has been slipping for some time now.  Northern Illinois coming off their second straight 11 win season (not 10 win, 11 win).  This is one of those perfect storms again (game in DeKalb), early in the year, the scuffling programs haven't found their rhythm.

Pick #3:
Southern Methodist (+10) d. Baylor
We don't know what Baylor will look like without RGIII.  We do know SMU is stacked at QB and on the upswing under June Jones.  I'm buying that Baylor under Briles is going to be a perennial contender.  But this game looks tenuous.  Of course, I'm taking my hometown Dallas boys on this one in an old fashioned Texas shootout!

So there you go, we'll keep track of the weekly performance, can't expect to even go .500 in these games.  Or can I?

Last Week (N/A), Season (0-0)

****Post Mortem Review****
So I stumbled out of the block at 0-3 this week (and for season).  Was close on Pick #2, artificially close on Pick #1 (MSU could have scored most likely if they didn't take a knee), and totally whiffed on Pick #3.  That's okay, two shots of Dickel Tennessee Whisky and we'll be back at it next week, folks!

PS - We now know what Baylor looks like without RGIII, see, you learn something by following this blog!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Sportsman of the Week Ending 8/26/2012

Adrian Beltre had a legendary week in the first 5 days, then after cooling off the last 2, still had amazing stats.  He batted .590 from Monday through Friday, knocking 5 out of the park, hitting for the cycle (more rare than a no hitter), and clocking 9 RBI. And never struck out.  Despite a cooling off 0-8 on Saturday/Sunday, still hit .433 for the week. At one point during the week, went 11-14 with 5 out of the park (home run derby like stats). In any event, Adrian Beltre is a deserving Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Best Two-Sport Athletes - Football and Baseball

This is the second of a four part series examining the best two-sport athletes of the "modern" era.  "Modern" is defined in that I had to see them play (so no Jim Thorpe, Wilt Chamberlain, Jackie Robinson, Jesse Owens, Bob Hayes, etc.).  Each of the "big three" American sports (Basketball, Baseball, Football) will be paired with the others with best listed, then one "other" category which will consist of one of those 3, and another sport (like olympic sports for example).

Criteria are as follows:
1) Playing a high level at both.  Not included are going to be people who were good as prepsters but chose one sports over the other and never competed in college or beyond.
2) Accolades at the higher levels: Halls of Fame, All Stars, playing on title teams, big games, achievement over just playing

These were all off the top of my head (little research done, except after the candidates were identified) so I might have missed someone.  Feel free to set me straight!

So without further ado, the Top 5 two-sport athletes in Football and Baseball are below.  Two are fairly obvious, the debate begins after that.

#1 - Bo Jackson
College: Auburn
Highest Football: NFL (RB, 4 seasons)
Highest Baseball: MLB (OF, 8 seasons)
All Star season (Pro): 1x Pro Bowl (1990), 1x All Star Game (1989)
Honors: UPI Player of the Year, Walter Camp, Chic Harley, and Heisman (college football, 1985), All American (football, 1983&1985), College Football Hall of Fame, 1st overall NFL Pick (1986), 1989 All Star Game MVP (baseball), 1993 AL Comeback Player of the Year (baseball)
Records: None
Championships: None
Comments: Pro careers were cut short by that devastating hip injury, also ran track and field at Auburn, Ran a 4.12 40 yard dash at the NFL combine (hand timed).

#2 - Deion Sanders
College: Florida State
Highest Football: NFL (CB/S/KR/PR, 14 seasons)
Highest Baseball: MLB (OF, 9 seasons)
All Star season (Pro): 8x Pro Bowl, 8x All Pro (both football)
Honors: Pro Football Hall of Fame (2011), College Football Hall of Fame (2011), NFL All Decade team (1990's), AP Defensive Player of the Year (1994), 2x NFC Defensive Player of the Year (1993, 1994), Atlanta Falcons Ring of Honor, 1st Round NFL Draft Pick (5th overall, 1989), Consensus All American (college football 1986, 1987), Jim Thorpe Award (1988)
Records: Pro Bowl Interceptions Career (4), Florida State career punt return yards, Longest Interception Return in a Bowl Game (100 yards)
Championships: 2x Super Bowl Champ (XXIX, XXX), NL Champions (1992)
Comments: In college, once played both games of a baseball doubleheader while running a leg of the 4x100 in between.  Batted .533 in the World Series.  By accomplishment, better than Bo, but nobody was better than Bo in terms of athleticism.

#3 - Brian Jordan
College: Richmond
Highest Football: NFL (SS, 3 seasons)
Highest Baseball: MLB (OF, 15 seasons)
All Star season (Pro): All Star (1999, baseball)
Honors: 1st round MLB Draft pick (1988), Top 10 MVP vote (baseball, 1996), appeared on 2012 MLB Hall of Fame Ballot (0 votes) 
Records: None
Championships: 1999 NL Pennant
Comments: A solid player in both sports, with the All Star appearance in baseball, gave up football after two seasons as a full time starter to sign a more lucrative MLB contract than he would have received otherwise.  Because his college was not nationally renown, lacks some of the honors we see in above and below players.

#4 - Todd Helton
College: Tennessee
Highest Football: College (QB, 3 seasons)
Highest Baseball: MLB (1B, 16 seasons, still active)
All Star season (Pro): 5x All Star (2000 - 2004)
Honors: Gatorade Player of the Year (high school) for football and baseball at Tennessee, Regional baseball player of the year (high school), Baseball America High School All American, Dick Howser trophy (college baseball), 2nd in MLB Rookie of the year (1998), 3 Gold Gloves, 4 Silver Sluggers, 3x Top 10 MVP vote, 2000 Hank Aaron Award, 2000 Batting/Hits/Doubles/Total Bases/RBI Champ, First round (8th overall) pick in MLB draft.
Records: Rockies records for hits (2,407), home runs (354), doubles (566), walks (1,283), runs scored (1,355), RBIs (1,340), games played (2,105), and total bases (4,107), NCAA record for most consecutive scoreless innings pitched (47), Tennessee saves record (11).
Championships: 2007 NL Pennant
Comments: Was backup QB to (now congressman) Heath Shuler, was ahead of Peyton Manning on depth chart and started for 3 weeks until injured (Peyton took over for like 4 years).  Also pitched in college (see records, posted 0.89 ERA during saves record).
#5 - John Elway
College: Stanford
Highest Football: NFL (QB, 16 seasons)
Highest Baseball: Minor Leagues (OF, 1 season)
All Star season (Pro): 9x Pro Bowl
Honors: Pro Football Hall of Fame (2004), Super Bowl XXXIII MVP, 1987 NFL MVP, 1st overall NFL Pick (1983), Denver Broncos Ring of Fame, NFL All Decade team (1990's), 2x UPI AFC Player of the year (1987, 1993), College Football Hall of Fame (2000), Colorado Sports Hall of Fame, 2nd round pick in the 1981 MLB Draft.
Records: All the Broncos records (yards, tds, completions, TDs, etc.), oldest QB to win a Super Bowl (38)
Championships: 2x Super Bowl Champ (XXXII, XXXIII), 5x AFC Champion
Comments: Baseball exploits are muted, but good stats in college and in the minors (which started before his NFL days).  Football exploits are legendary. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

2012 College Football Preview

With less than a week until the mid-week games kick off, this is most definitely one of my favorite times of year.  I'm a "would rather have my cake than eat it" guy.  The excitement of 120 Football Bowl Subdivision teams (plus 4 provisional), all have a chance to win the title.  Well, maybe not, but all have a chance to make an impact on the season, pull off upsets, win their conference (should they be in a conference), or have their player win the Heisman.  But I digress.  I thought I'd run through My Top 25.  Then as an engineer by trade, put some sort of metric on whether I think each team will exceed or falter vs. the AP/Coaches (see "higher/lower" below), then rate my picks at the end of the season.  Sounds like fun?  Here we go!

Bold teams win the conference, Italics make the conference title game. 

My Top 25
1) Alabama (higher)
2) Oregon (higher)
3) Texas (higher)
4) USC (lower)
5) Wisconsin (higher)
6) Oklahoma (lower)
7) LSU (lower)
8) West Virginia (higher)
9) Florida State (lower)
10) Michigan (lower)
11) South Carolina (lower)
12) Arkansas (lower)
13) Georgia (lower)
14) Boise State (higher)
15) Notre Dame (higher)
16) Michigan State (lower)
17) Clemson (lower)
18) Nebraska (lower)
19) Florida (higher)
20) Ohio State (lower)
21) Virginia Tech (lower)
22) TCU (lower)
23) Louisiana Tech (higher)
24) Georgia Tech (higher)
25) Kansas State (lower)


Non ranked Conference winners:
Big East: Cincinnati
Conference USA: Southern Methodist
MAC: Northern Illinois
Sun Belt: Arkansas State

Top 5 Questions answered:
1) What the hell are you thinking with Texas #3
A: I am biased, but I think the team has the running game and defense that can keep them in all the games they play.  The Big 12 gauntlet will be tough, won't get out unscathed, but I think this is a year where 1 loss or 2 will still make the title game.  If the QB situation implodes and injuries at RB take a toll, then this team drops to .500 quick.

2) Louisiana Tech at #23.  Really?
Other than an odd loss at Hawaii last year, all losses were close (to teams like Houston by 1 point, Southerm Miss by 2 points, TCU by 7 points).  Lost only 1 game after October 1st, this team gets Sonny Dykes system.  Early schedule is the most intriguing, with Texas A&M at home, then on the road with Houston, trips to Illinois and Virginia loom (good team can win those games).  Then it's easy sailing (no trips to Oahu).

3) Why Alabama #1?
They lost a lot on defense, but are so, so deep.  LSU isn't as much a threat as people think, only 3 ranked teams on the schedule (2 in the first 3 weeks, then LSU).  Every week you're going to watch this team play and expect them to win by 10 points.

4) Okay, Notre Dame at #15.  You're smoking something!
Kelly has this team playing the right way.  They've got some depth for the first time in a while.  Brutal schedule (give them credit), but all their opponents I think are slightly over slot.  They should have beat Michigan last year at the Big House (now everyone thinks Michigan is Top 10).  If this team gels by the 2nd half of the season, watch out!

5) Boise State ain't that good.
A trip to Michigan State early, then there's nothing stopping them. Neutral site, I think they'd give the teams behind them fits, and the teams in front of them good games.  I'm gambling they'll beat an overrated Michigan State team, then end up 12-0 like they usually do, crashing the BCS.

Other random picks:
Heisman: Matt Barkley
Coach of the Year: Sonny Dykes
Teams that are WAY overrated: Stanford, Oklahoma State (notice a theme here with QB's leaving), Georgia, Michigan State

Team outside the Top 10 that could run the table: West Virginia - we don't know how good this team is in a tougher conference, they might explode against an average Big 12.

Team in the Top 10 most likely to end up out: Georgia - has the benefit of a good schedule, but if the team gives up after early losses, there's a lot of games they may not win.

Things to bet your house on: Wisconsin representing the Leaders division in the Big 10 title game - two teams aren't eligible, the others are Illinois, Indiana, and Purdue.

BCS Games (winner in bold) plus Cotton and Peach (the next best two)
Championship: Alabama (12-1) vs. Oregon (12-1)
Rose: Wisconsin (11-2) vs. USC (11-2)
Fiesta: Texas (10-2) vs. Boise State (12-0)
Sugar: LSU (10-2) vs. Oklahoma (10-2)
Orange: Florida State (10-3) vs. Cincinnati (9-3)
Cotton: West Virginia (9-3) vs. Arkansas (9-3)
Peach*: South Carolina (10-3) vs. Virginia Tech (10-3)

*Peach goes by Chick Fil'a these days.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Sportsman of the Week Ending 8/19/2012

This week, there was definitely one athlete that distinguished himself, the THIRD person to throw a perfect game since I started this feature.  Didn't think I'd have that much business on that front.  But Felix Hernandez dominated the Rays.  27 up, 27 down, and a boat load of strikeouts. A personal side bar, got to see Felix pitch in the 2004 MLB Futures Game as an 18 year old (youngest player there).  But he is a great sportsman, so much so, he's the one of the week!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sportsman of the Week Ending 8/12/2012


Really tough week to pick with a golf major plus all the Olympic action, but going to lean toward another Olympic legend this week.  The fastest man alive. Ever.  Three gold medals, one World Record, one Olympic Record, didn't even seem like he was really trying. First athlete ever to win the 100m/200m in back to back Olympics.  He's simply one of the best athlete of our era, strong enough to win the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Best Two-Sport Athletes - Football and Basketball

This is the first of a four part series examining the best two-sport athletes of the "modern" era.  "Modern" is defined in that I had to see them play (so no Jim Thorpe, Wilt Chamberlain, Jackie Robinson, Jesse Owens, Bob Hayes, etc.).  Each of the "big three" American sports (Basketball, Baseball, Football) will be paired with the others with best listed, then one "other" category which will consist of one of those 3, and another sport (like olympic sports for example).

Criteria are as follows:
1) Playing a high level at both.  Not included are going to be people who were good as prepsters but chose one sports over the other and never competed in college or beyond.
2) Accolades at the higher levels: Halls of Fame, All Stars, playing on title teams, big games, achievement over just playing

These were all off the top of my head (little research done, except after the candidates were identified) so I might have missed someone.  Feel free to set me straight!

So without further ado, the Top 5 two-sport athletes in Football and Basketball are below.  Tends toward big men, tight ends for sure, with one major exception.

#1 - Charlie Ward
College: Florida State
Highest Football: College (Quarterback)
Highest Basketball: NBA (Point Guard, 11 seasons)
All Star season (Pro): None
Honors: Heisman (1993), Davey O'Brien (1993), All American (football, 1993), College Football Hall of Fame (2006), 1st round NBA pick, 2 time ACC athlete of the year (1993, 1994).
Records: Career and single game steals for FSU (basketball),
Championships: College Football National Championship (1993), Played in one NBA Finals (1999)
Comments: Best player in college football AND 1st round NBA selection goes a long way.  His FSU basketball teams made deep NCAA tournament runs. NBA career was nondescript, but played for over 10 years. Was also drafted in baseball twice (despite not having played since high school) and was a noted prepster tennis player.

#2 - Tony Gonzalez
College: California
Highest Football: NFL (Tight End, 16 seasons, still active)
Highest Basketball: College (Forward, 3 seasons)
All Star season (Pro): 12x Pro Bowl, 9x All Pro (both football) 
Honors: All American (college football, 1996), NFL All Decade team (2000's), NFL Hall of Fame (5 years from retirement), 1st round NFL pick
Records: Career receptions, TDs, and yards for a TE (NFL), single season receptions for a TE (NFL), consecutive starts for a TE (NFL)
Championships: None
Comments: If his college basketball career had been a bit more than just normal, he's by far the best pro on this list.  One of his Cal hoops teams made a Sweet 16 run.  By most counts, the consensus best Tight End of all time in the NFL.


#3 - Julius Peppers 
College: North Carolina
Highest Football: NFL (Defensive End, 10 seasons, still active)
Highest Basketball: College (Forward, 2 seasons) 
All Star season (Pro): 7x Pro Bowl, 5x All Pro (both football)
Honors: All American (college football, 2001), Defensive Player of the Year (2004), Defensive Rookie of the Year (2002), NFL All Decade team (2000's), 1st round NFL pick (2nd overall)
Records: Most Career Sacks (Panthers), Longest INT return for a Defensive Lineman (NFL, 97 yards), 2nd most blocked kicks (NFL, 12)
Championships: Played in one Super Bowl (2003)
Comments: Similar to Gonzalez, just not quite enough on the basketball side, although he played in a Final 4 and was heavily recruited by Coach K at Duke, but wanted a football path that UNC offered him.


#4 - Antonio Gates
College: Kent State
Highest Football: NFL (Tight End, 9 seasons, still active)
Highest Basketball: College (Forward, 4 seasons at 4 schools)
All Star season (Pro): 8x Pro Bowl, 5x All Pro (both football)
Honors: Mr. Basketball Michigan (runner up 1999), NFL All Decade team (2000's), Honorable Mention All-American Honors (Kent State basketball, 2003), Kent State basketball jersey retired (44)
Records: None (has the unfortunate position same as Kellen Winslow for franchise records).
Championships: None
Comments: Originally enrolled at Michigan State to play hoops for Izzo and pigskin for Saban, but Saban demanded his full attention for football.  Transferred to Eastern Michigan and some JuCo until landing at Kent State his last 2 years. His Senior Kent State hoops team reached the Elite 8, upsetting Oklahoma and Alabama in its wake.  Did not play football in college.

#5 - Jimmy Graham
College: Miami (FL)
Highest Football: NFL (Tight End, 2 seasons, still active)
Highest Basketball: College (Forward, 4 seasons)
All Star season (Pro): 1x Pro Bowl, 1x All Pro (both football)
Honors: None
Records: Briefly held record for single season receiving yards by a TE (broken later that day).
Championships: None
Comments: His career still young, yet to get many accolades, was not a star in college at either sport.  Played 4 years of hoops at Miami, then played one last year of football after graduating with two degrees (marketing and management).


#5 Donovan McNabb (addendum)
College: Syracuse
Highest Football: NFL (Quarterback, 13 seasons, not yet retired)
Highest Basketball: College (Guard, 2 seasons)
All Star season (Pro): 6x Pro Bowl
Honors: 3x Big East Offensive Player of the Year (1996-8), Big East Offensive Player of the Decade (1990's) Syracuse All Century Team (20th), 5th in 1998 Heisman voting, 2nd overall NFL Draft pick (1999), NFC Offensive Player of the Year (2004),
Records: Eagles' leader career wins/attempts/completions/yards/touchdowns
Championships: NFC Champions (2004)
Comments: Also ran track and field and played volleyball in high school.  Was high school hoops teammate with Antoine Walker (Kentucky). Played for NCAA Runner Up basketball team in 1996 (team lost to Kentucky and the aforementioned Walker), did not play in Final Four (Boeheim kept a 7-8 man rotation).  McNabb did log time in the Sweet 16 round.


Monday, August 6, 2012

Sportsman of the Week Ending 8/5/2012

A very busy week in the Olympics with a year's worth of potential sportspersons of the week, but a final tip of the hat to who is probably the best Olympian ever.  There, I said it.  22 Olympic medals, 18 gold.  Eighteen!  He only competed in two events in which he didn't medal, so 75% gold in anything he tries.  So all in a week's work this week, 4 golds and 2 silver medals.  A tip of the hat to an American legend, Michael Phelps, you are the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

What is competitiveness?

Okay, so I haven't watched that much Olympics, but I'm intrigued by the "scandal" in which eight badminton players (4 pairs) were disqualified from the Olympics for not giving their best effort.  Let me say, I wholeheartedly agree that the display that took place was against everything the Olympics represent and needed to be dealt with.  Not to mention pound paying fans who saw a farce.  I watched it replayed, at least a couple of minutes of it.  But this is no different than a NUMBER of other examples across all sports.  And I less blame them than the pool play system.  And believe me, I'm no sympathizer to China, South Korea, or Indonesia, I'm pretty much a disinterested 3rd party sports fan.



So the background is that these teams had already qualified for the elimination (knockout) round, and these games only meant seeding.  Under normal circumstances, a higher seed means something.  In US sports, it means a bye, or home field advantage, or an inferior opponent.  In this case, it really only meant the latter at least in the first round.

So I present the following scenarios as evidence this is no different than a number of other sports and we tolerate it:

1) I paid my money and deserve the real deal.

How many people paid good money today to see the US basketball team today?  Each team should give its max effort every game.  So why did the US only play LeBron and Kobe for a total of 22 minutes? They have the obligation to compete at their highest level, right? Not really. When you win by 83 points.  The real obligation is to have a well rested team for the next round.  Damn the fans.



2) It's the Olympics, you're supposed to at least try hard enough to win for sure.

Do the swimming relays use their best swimmers in the preliminary rounds?  Why not, they're supposed to try their best, right?  No?  But fans are there to see them? Why not? Because they're saving their energy for the critical rounds.  Not that MLB All Star Home Run Derby is a real sport, but we've seen many a contestant flame out with a 10+ HR first round and tire.

3) Yeah, but in individual sports, everyone gives their best effort every match.

I'm a HUGE fan of the Tour De France, and let me tell you, that every rider doesn't give his best effort every day.  Why not? Because winning that stage is not the goal.  Winning the GC or Sprint points or Climb points, or even tomorrow's stage is the goal.  So do I get mad if Bradley Wiggins doesn't challenge every rider on every stage for 1st? Uh, no. He lets them have their moment, then takes his cred in Paris. What about track sprinters, they go ALL OUT in the first few rounds? Not really.  And with individual swimmers. Michael Phelps barely skated into the 400 IM by making sure he put forth the least effort possible.



4) But their team won, it only matters if you win.

Tell that to NFL fans who watch their teams bench all their key players in Week 17 (and sometimes Week 16) as their playoff spot is secure.  Doesn't even matter if the other team is in the mix.  The goal is the Super Bowl.  Best example is 2009, the Indianapolis Colts with a shot at the Miami Dolphins immortality of undefeated season at 14-0.  Except they'd already clinched home field in the AFC.  So no reason to play their starters in the 2nd half.  Why would they risk injury?  They didn't. And lost to the Jets.  Then lost to the Bills. The fans of neither of those games got the best effort of the teams.



So if all this sounds familiar it should.  Why should those four badminton teams put forth their best effort if they're guaranteed a berth to the next round?  Like all the above examples, at a minimum they were saving their energy for the next round.  There was some conjecture that the throwing of matches was to seed themselves opposite their countrywomen.  Great, why didn't Badminton organizers make it so teams of the same country were always opposite (via committee seeding or community rule)?

It's a shame these athletes were disqualified.  They should have known better so shame on them for that. But this is the equivalent of the NFL commissioner removing the top seed in the NFL playoffs for throwing a game, fining an MLB team for not throwing their best pitcher on the last day of the season to save him for the playoffs, or every NHL team not playing their best goalie every game in an effort to reach the postseason in best form.  All involved a team sacrificing a chance to win for the sake of the long term goal. Only the badminton teams were just too obvious about it.