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

Labels

LHD_PotW (292) MLB (113) NFL (109) NCAA (97) NBA (50) NFL Playoffs (47) NHL (41)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sportsman of the Week Ending 7/29/2012

Didn't think this week's Sportsman of the Week would be Olympics related, but couldn't resist.  I love the wider world of sports, this gentleman represents the spirit of sports for sure.  Im Dong-hyun (South Korea) is legally blind. And he set the Olympic record on the day of the Opening Ceremonies. He has 20% or less vision in both eyes. "The 26-year-old Im does not wear glasses in competition, saying he relies on distinguishing between the bright colors of the target."  In any event, great sportsman, deserving winner of this week's Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Sportsman of the Week Ending 7/22/2012

A fair bit of foreshadowing took place last week, but there is no question in this blogger's mind who the Sportsman of the Week is.  Bradley Wiggins made history in the Tour De France, becoming the first British rider to win the General Classification (i.e. Yellow Jersey) in 99 years of the race and doing it with style.  He dominated the final Time Trial, led his teammate Mark Cavendish out for a win on two stages, had another third place finish, and gave up no time to any main rival all week.  He clearly was the class of the 2012 field and looked like he was in an armchair all week in doing it. A deserved Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sportsman of the Week Ending 7/15/2012

Tough call this week, with MLB taking an All Star break, I had to lean toward Tour De France for best athlete, but don't want to name an athlete that is likely to be next week's athlete.  With that as a backdrop, this week's Sportsman is American, and making a huge impact on Le Tour both individually and for the team.  Tejay Van Garderen has absolutely shocked analysts with his performance thus far, particularly in the time trials (4th in both the Prologue and Stage 9, only yellow jersey possessor Bradley Wiggins of current tour participants has finished higher) and in an awkward scenario, Tejay tried to lead Cadel Evans on an attack in Stage 11 but Evans couldn't keep up. And he is the current holder of the White jersey for best young rider.  Tejay is grinding, he struggled a bit in the first week late in climbs, but his form has kept him with the leaders every stage since, he's a deserving Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Why the Tour De France is the best sport in, well, sports

This blog loves the wider world of sports, and the Tour De France (and competitive cycling in general) certainly tickles that fancy.  Seriously, it's amazing to watch on so many levels, I'll try to break it down in a Top 10 reasons that you should be watching the Tour De France:

10. Fan Access - Where else can fans literally participate in sports?  No, seriously, fans will pass out newspapers to cyclists at the summit of climbs (which are stuffed under the jerseys as wind protection), and if your lucky enough (or really unlucky) to be near a cyclist that falls, it's perfectly acceptable to help him up, give him a push to start, etc.  Unfortunately, fans are also so close, they've been known to cause crashes.


9. Scenery - I dare you to watch 3 hours of the Tour De France and not want to travel there.  The TV coverage (more on that in a minute) spoils us with helicopter views of chateaus, coastline, beautiful hills/mountains/valleys.


8. Peloton party - What happens in the peleton stays in the peleton.  Okay, maybe not that much of a party, but there's a camaraderie there that is matched by few situations in sports.  Teams/individuals work together, there's banter, perhaps political discussions, it's just the place to be.


7. Drinking during the contest - Yes, on the final stage, tradition dictates that the yellow jersey sips champagne as the peloton reaches Paris.  What other sport can you literally drink while you compete and win a three week event!


6., Variety of athlete - Like American football, these guys are stocky, slim, tall, short, lanky.  They all do something a little different than the other guy.  Andre Greipel's legs are tree trunks.  So are Mark Cavendish.  The brothers Schleck have twigs for legs.  Cadel Evans is 5'8".  Chris Froome is 6'1".  These guys are #4 and #2 in the GC at this point.

5. International representation - No country dominates, Europe has the most representatives, but North America, Russia/East Europe/Asia, and increasingly South America are represented.  And no one country dominates, teams are from countries, riders on those teams are not necessarily born in those countries, and on any stage, you have someone to cheer for.

4. Team Strategy - It took me a while to appreciate this, but team composition and strategy define the winners of stages, jerseys, and overall races.  To watch the subtle teamwork of who is driving the peloton, who is best protecting their GC riders, and who is dominating the lead out train makes each day worth watching.

3. TV Coverage - Talk about a challenge, each course being 150 miles give or take, how do you bring the images to the fans?  France has it figured out, motorcycles, helicopters, etc., you never feel like you're missing anything.  Sure enough, there are crashes or events that don't have a camera on it (there are 200 riders, not always together, spread out over miles).  But when you watch, you see the race.  There are a lot of commercials early, not as many late, great interviews, etc.  They set the benchmark for sports coverage in my opinion.

2. Athlete toughness - These guys, with little protective gear, fly at up to 60 MPH, sometimes within inches of other cyclists, with turns, rain, road obstructions, etc.  And 20% of them will break a bone by the end of the race.  Not to mention the scrapes and scratches.  And those guys continue to carry themselves over thousands of kilometers and still finish.  I can't imagine a professional cyclist not suffering a broken collarbone at some point in their career, it just goes without saying. The ultimate being Johnny Hoogerland's car bump into barbed wire. Here's a laundry list of crashes, the riders just get up and ride: http://deadspin.com/5586138/top-15-cringeworthy-tour-de-france-crashes.  See the following images, not the for the squeamish (Hoogerland's the third photo).



1. Pure athleticism.  Le Tour is 23 days (21 racing), these guys go 5 hours a day, over mountains, through the plains, into the wind, sometimes rain, by the end, over 2000 miles and as I said, many won't finish.  5 hours is essentially the time of two marathons for elite times, per day, every day, etc.  Over two major mountain ranges.  These guys are athletes in every sense of the word, I can't imagine any discipline requiring more work.

I can actually imagine myself playing football and holding my own, same with basketball.  This is one sport, I literally could not come close to competing.  Wouldn't finish the first day!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Innings limit? We don't need no innings limit!

As we move into the second half of the Major League Baseball season, one of the simmering stories is "What are the Nationals going to do about Stephen Strasburg."  Their management has been on record that his cap should be set at 160 - 170 innings.  Makes sense when you're a perennial second division team, but lo and behold some good draft picks and solid surrounding talent later (Gio Gonzalez signing huge), this is the best team in the NL East (talent, management, balance, etc.).

To me this is simple.  If you buy a nice car, you want to drive the nice car, you don't put a limit on your nice car, and not take it when you want to drive the nice car.  It's going to get wear and tear and decrease in value.  You don't do anything stupid with it, but you don't start walking to the grocery store just because you don't feel like driving it.  Especially if your 5 games ahead in the NL East.

If you buy a nice house, you don't fear living in it for giving it wear and tear, that's part of the deal when you buy it.  What value is the house to buy it, then put a fence up and say "nope, not going to live there, can't risk breaking something, must live somewhere else".

 Unleash the Beast

The point is, this kid is in his early prime.  His elbow is fragile, he's already had Tommy John surgery.  But you can't fear that, if he's inclined to have elbow problems, stopping at 160 innings isn't going to help.  He's going to be the next Mark Prior no matter what you do.  And in that case, you should strike while the iron is hot.  These days MLB team windows are narrow, if you don't win one year, the other teams will get enough free agents to make sure you don't contend the next (ask the Rays, Phillies, Giants, White Sox, etc.).  I can't IMAGINE being a fan of this team then being told "winning this year isn't important, winning next year and the next (without any context to status) takes precedence."

It doesn't work that way.  Win now.  Be smart, don't let him labor too much.  But let the boy pitch, he's good, your team is good, and the fans deserve it.


Monday, July 9, 2012

Sportsman of the Week Ending 7/8/2012

Another busy weekend for sports, but this week's honor goes to an legend in his sport. Roger Federer absolutely cemented his status as the greatest men's tennis player ever with his 7th Wimbledon title and 17th grand slam, both exceeded by none. And he's probably faced the toughest batch of contemporaries of the greats. Roger Federer is a deserving Longhorndave Sportsman if the Week!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

How to fix the All Star Game - Rehash

Republish of the below blog I wrote two years ago, my opinions haven't changed.  Four simple steps to make the Major League Baseball game a premier annual event:

 ---Originally published June 2010----------------------------
We're less than a month away from the 82st Major League Baseball All Star Game, I thought it prudent to review what is, and isn't working in the current format.

What is working:
1) Tuesday is a great day to host it
2) Marketing of the event is outstanding
3) Players genuinely covet roster spots (unlike NFL) and you can see it on their faces
4) DH (added this year) to all games regardless of location (and I'm generally a DH hater)

What isn't working:
1) Fans voting in starters
2) Selection of reserves
3) Field Management of the game
4) Home field in the World Series being on the line

More on each of the "isn't working" and how I would fix:

1) Fans voting in the starters. All this does is skew the starting lineup to the big markets and popular teams. It used to be the popular players regardless of team (Gwynn, Ozzie, Brett, Bench) but now it reads like a Yankees/Red Sox "mash up". The catcher for the NL is always from Chicago, St. Louis, or LA. Never a .300 hitting Benji Molina or slugging Pirate Ryan Doumit. Mind you, some of this is fed by Fox, who do you see on Fox Weekly games? New York, LA, Chicago, Boston, etc.

I propose that fans vote as they do today, BUT these players are only on the roster, not starters. This will also help the field management, the NL and AL managers can actually make a lineup that makes sense. With a speedy guy leading off, a contact hitter in the 2-hole, sluggers through 6, and maybe some better defensive players toward the bottom. You know, like a real manager would!

2) Selection of reserves. By the time the players and coaches vote in additional mandatory players, then the "one player per team" is filled, there's usually about one or two spots left at managers discretion. I think the managers should have the whole league to choose from, with the caveat that his team can have no more than one player than the next most represented team. This allows the manager to build an all star team based upon who he thinks can win the game. I think the one per team stays intact, it's actually something that makes the game special.

3) Field management of game. The next "rule" is, you play it like a real game. That doesn't mean you don't pinch hit or just play the starting nine. But Pujols, Jeter, Utley, Morneau should be in there at the end. Instead you end up with one of the last players added to the team pinch hitting against Mariano b/c you want him to play. You might substitute defense late. You can pinch hit righty/lefty, etc. Brings a whole new dynamic to the game, rather than the fire-wagon substitutions you see in the 5th - 8th innings. If a player doesn't play, so be it. It's an honor to be selected, and even more of an honor if you get a chance to play.

4) Home field advantage for the World Series. This is EXACTLY like how the BCS got formed. There was a problem (the tie in 2002) and they needed a way to win the fans back. Just like there was a bowl system that didn't pit the top two teams in 1997 so they found one that would. Both the previous systems were inadequate (World Series was determined by odd/even year whether it was AL or NL hosting 4 of the 7 games. They need to do the next thing (both of them). BCS should have a playoff and the World Series home field advantage should be decided by team with the best record. If you institute #3 above, you don't need to dangle home field as an incentive.

Once fan voting is finalized, I will institute my plan above and give you the rosters of each league if I were manager. And lineup. Might look a lot the same, might be different. Roster sizes should be a bit lower, but not the standard 25, because of the need for extra pitchers given you won't have one guy going 6+ innings.

Sportsman of the Week Ending 7/1/2012

This week's Sportsman of the Week took the ball to the mound twice and never gave it back.  Mat Latos recorded two complete games, with just one run allowed in each.  Also managed to fan 20 batters in the process, winning both games.  And for good measure, recorded two hits of his own at the plate.  Mat Latos is a worthy boy of summer, and the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sportsman of the Week Ending 6/24/2012

Since I was in Europe this (now last) week, it's appropriate to tab the "Man of the Match" (x2) for this week's Sportsman honor.  Going into Monday, Italy needed some help to advance from pool play into the knockout round, and Gianluigi Buffon calmly delivered a shutout, preserving a goal differential needed to move on.  Then he methodically held the "Three Lions" of England scoreless for another 120 minutes and turned back the key PK that delivered Italy to the semifinals.  The first Euro 2012 star to distinguish himself as Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week is Gianluigi Buffon!