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 (268) NFL (109) MLB (106) NCAA (94) NBA (49) NFL Playoffs (47) NHL (40)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sportsman of the Week Ending 1/27/2013

Some of the individual tour sports are starting to heat up for 2013, and this week was the first Major of the year for any.  Novak Djokovic did something to no other men's tennis player of the modern era has done.  Win three straight Australian Opens.  The 25-year-old Serbian force (who seems like he's been on the scene for 10 years) has established himself as the most dominant force in men's tennis.  He's won 3 of the last 5 majors (only non-wins were Federer winning Wimbledon and Murray defeating him to win U.S. Open).  Djokovic won 4 matches in 8 days, defeating Wawrinka in an epic match last Sunday (5 sets, 12-10 last set, 5:02 minutes total), then defeating Berdych, Ferrer, and Murray.  Djokovic will be in the hunt for every major this year, will be a tough out for anyone.  And is a deserving, Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Sportsman of the Week Ending 1/20/2013

On a weekend with two huge comeback victories to propel (Harbaugh-led) teams to the Super Bowl, this blog was particularly impressed with the performance of one of the quarterbacks.  Joe Flacco significantly out-dueled Tom Brady, to the point that he looked like the Super Bowl veteran QB instead of Brady as he led his team confidently to multiple second half scores (three in a row to span the critical end-of-3Q-start-of-4Q).  Flacco threw for 3 TD's, all in the second half, overall was 21-36 for 240 yards (157 in the second half), but consistently made the right decisions and avoided putting the ball in peril.  Flacco certainly thrust himself into the elite QB conversation, and is a worthy Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

2012 NFL Week Three Playoff Preview

If Week 1 didn't go well, then Week 2 was nothing short of a disaster. Day 1, I went 0-6 on bets including the painful Denver straight up at a high cost (-$4,200).  Day 2, I almost broke even going 3-3.  Overall losses = -$9,900.  Combine with the -6,600 from week one and it's -$16,500.  Wow.  Good thing I'm a rich oilman.

I'm almost proud of the fact that I'm 0-8 ATS this postseason, you have to try to be THAT bad!  So take that into account when analyzing the below!

Betting information courtesy of 5dimes.com at the time of post (this blog has no affiliation with that site).

January 20, 2013: 15:00 EST
San Francisco 49ers (-4, -190) vs. Atlanta Falcons (+4, +175) O/U 48.5
Reigning Sportsman of the Week Colin Kaepernick answered all questions last week and has set the standard for dual threat quarterbacks.  The Falcons pushed to a big lead, then coasted the 2nd half, almost like they didn't know how to turn it on, until the furious finish.  I'm going to lean toward the home team, here, despite their inexperience in this role.  Matt Ryan looks the part of a big game QB, the Falcons are balanced and with new tape on Kaepernick, perhaps they'll have a scheme to slow him down.  Final Prediction: Falcons 31, 49ers 30.


January 20, 2013: 18:30 EST
Baltimore Ravens (+8, +325) vs. New England Patriots (-8, -360) O/U 51.5
This is a case of the unstoppable offense (New England) and the immovable linebacker (Ray Lewis, who just won't retire).  Vegas and fans seem to think the Patriots can simply repeat what they did last week in terms of offensive production, but without injured Gronkowski and Woodhead, the Ravens should be able to match up much better.  It will be close, but the Patriots still have too many weapons.  Final Prediction: Patriots 33, Ravens 28.

For fake gambling purposes, I assume $1,000 on underdog S/U, minus amount on favorite S/U, $1,100 on ATS + O/U on the above bets (3 per game, 6 total).

If I had to pick the three "best bets" it would be:

Both Games Over

Falcons S/U

Recapping the first two week's Titanic level disaster, I'm now 0/8 ATS, 3/8 S/U and 3/8 for Over/Under.  By my calculations, -$16,500 as stated above.  Just trying to stem losses at this point!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sportsman of the Week Ending 1/13/2013

With an exciting weekend of NFL Division playoffs, this player stood head and shoulders above the rest.  Experts questioned whether Colin Kaepernick could lead his team to victory against the proven, and former Super Bowl and NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers and he came out shining.  After an early bad break pick 6, he threw for 263 yards and two TD's, but more impressively, ran for 181 yards and another two TD.  Any RB with 181 and two TD's would be lauded as the dominant factor in winning the game, Kaepernick did it out of the pocket just using his ability, and broke Michael Vick's playoff record for QB rushing yards in a game.  He is a breakthrough player for sure, and the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Friday, January 11, 2013

2012 NFL Week Two Playoff Preview


Week 1 didn't go so well, but we're back on the horse for another rodeo!  Two of my bets were pretty much out the window when Ponder didn't answer the bell (Vikings over and cover).

Betting information courtesy of 5dimes.com at the time of post (this blog has no affiliation with that site).

January 12, 2013: 16:30 EST
Baltimore Ravens (+9.5, +375) vs. Denver Broncos (-9.5, -420) O/U 46.5
To me, the Broncos are a hot ball of knives rolling downhill with only warm butter in the way to stop them.  The Ravens are warm butter.  And Peyton Manning is a surgeon, questions about his health are completely abated at this point.  And the defense and running game of the Broncos have come to playoff level.  This won't be close. Final Prediction: Broncos 31, Ravens 13.

January 12, 2013: 20:00 EST
Green Bay Packers (+2.5, +135) vs. San Francisco 49ers (-2.5, -145) O/U 45
One of the most intriguing matchups of the weekend, a veteran, MVP QB vs. a guy who came on late and may save the 49ers season from mediocrity.  But I'm not thinking so.  The Packers seemed more or less disinterested in the regular season unless it was a big game.  This is a big one, and the Packers will come ready to rumble.  They have a lot of offensive weapons and the defense is good enough.  It will come down to a winning drive, and Rodgers will lead the drive.  Final Prediction: Packers 20, 49ers 17.

January 13, 2013: 13:00 EST
Seattle Seahawks (+2.5, +120) vs. Atlanta Falcons (-2.5, -130) O/U 46
I actually flopped on this one, my first inclination was to take the Seahawks as the gutsy team of destiny.  But then realized they were about to be blown out of FedEx last week until RGIII was disabled (or at least neutralized).  The Seahawks are on a great run, but going to the home of the #1 seed in the NFC and only being given a couple of points.  I think the Falcons have grown up, and with the home game, will roll here. Final Prediction: Falcons 27, Seahawks 17.

January 13, 2013: 16:30 EST
Houston Texans (+9, +365) vs. New England Patriots (-9, -410) O/U 47.5
The Texans sure get beat up a lot for being frauds, overrated, mediocre, etc.  Some of it deserved, but the talent is there in all phases.  That being said, Brady and co. are rested and healthy and present a lot of matchup problems for the Texans defense (that actually looked good last week).  All that being said, I like the Patriots but in a close one.  If anything, the Monday Night Massacre (that started the Texans tailspin) reminds them what not to do. Final Prediction: Patriots 28, Texans 24.

For fake gambling purposes, I'll assume $1,000 on underdog S/U, minus amount on favorite S/U, $1,100 on ATS + O/U on the above bets (3 per game, 12 total).  If I had to pick the three "best bets" it would be:

Packers vs. 49ers: under
Broncos: ATS
Packers: S/U

Recapping the first week's disaster, I got 0/4 ATS, 1/4 S/U (Packers, the only favorite I picked) and split the Over/Under.  That doesn't bode well.  By my calculations, -$6,600.  But plenty of time to catch up!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Sportsman of the Week Ending 1/6/2013

With the first round of NFL playoffs and a feast of college bowls this week, a lot of great athletes to choose from.  Jadeveon Clowney stood head and shoulders above the rest during his play in the Outback Bowl.  While only registering 5 tackles total, his hit on Michigan running back Vincent Smith with the Gamecocks trailing halfway through the 4th Quarter.  Clowney moved so quickly to the backfield to rock Smith the minute he touched the ball, his helmet flew one direction 10 yards, and the ball dribbled by his side, which was promptly palmed by Clowney for the recovery.  All this after a momentum changing first down spot (and curious call) that kept South Carolina in the game, and eventually led to a South Carolina victory in the last 11 seconds.  Crazy that Clowney isn't even draft eligible until 2014, cue the "Suck for Clowney" signs around the NFL next year.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

2013 National Baseball Hall of Fame Vote

On Wednesday, January 9, 2013, the Baseball Writers vote for the 2013 Major League Baseball Hall of Fame will be revealed. Holding the keys to such an elite fraternity must be a daunting task. You're voting on players to proverbially sit next to Ruth, Aaron, Mays, Mathewson and the like.

Click here for the list of 2013 candidates

The pervasive theme this year is the specter of performance enhancing drugs that infiltrated the league during the so called "Steroid Era". On the bubble now are the first generation "users", ones that presumably were clean earlier in their career but found a "fountain of youth" late which contributed significantly to jaw-dropping numbers.  Many, by all counts, were no doubt Hall of Famers before their transgressions.  But how do you handle this?  In my opinion, with little mercy.

If I were asked to vote (and of course I believe I should be), below reflects my ballot. The players on the ballots these days usually span my late childhood through young adulthood. I watched and attended a lot of games and have memories of all these players. I don't think I would be alone in allowing my personal (but not biased) "feeling" about a player influence the vote. What I mean by that is, when this player came to the plate or pitched, what was my feeling of how they would perform? Did they always seem to get the big hit, pitch their team to victory, make the heartbreaking defensive play, etc.?  Were they a feared entity anytime they stepped between the lines?

Players I would put on my ballot (in order of credibility)
1) Craig Biggio - The biggest cred Biggio brings is his membership in the 3,000 hit club.  Only Rafael Palmiero (positive PED test), Derek Jeter (still active, sure-fire first ballot) and Pete Rose (lifetime ban from the game) are members of that club, but not the Hall of Fame.  His batting average (.281 lifetime) or power numbers (291 home runs) won't wow you, but another feather in his cap is playing three (defensively challenging) positions as a regular in his career (C, CF, 2B).  He also has seven All Star nods, three Top 10 MVP finishes, and four Gold Gloves.  Finished his career 5th in doubles all time.

Factors against him: Ordinary batting average, playing in a small market, lack of postseason success

As a member of the 3,000 hit club and someone who played the game with hustle and humbleness, I expect him to get in first ballot.

2) Mike Piazza - He is probably the best power hitting catcher in history not named Johnny Bench.  He smacked 427 career home runs and a .308 batting average while playing all but 70 games behind the plate.  Both those numbers far exceed Bench (albeit in a different era).  He played in 14 All Star games (over a 15-year span) and finished in the Top 10 in MVP voting seven times.

Factors against him: Perceived use of PEDs, below-average defensively

3) Jeff Bagwell - He was an offensive machine in the mid-1990's, career numbers reflect that (.297, 449, 1529 RBI). Only Palmeiro, Bonds, Sosa, and McGriff on the ballot have more RBI. More walks than anyone else on the ballot besides Bonds (fear factor and eye), .409 OBP. He also stole 200 bases and was an above average 1B (Gold Glove in the closet). No hard evidence of PED's, he was a weight-lifting machine and didn't see anything late in his career that would lead one to believe he was juicing.

Factors against him: Perceived use of PEDs, playing in a small market, lack of postseason success.

He garnered 41% of the vote last year in his first eligibility, then up to 56%.  He seems to be trending up, but 19% more would be a stretch.

Both Bagwell and Piazza seem to fit the category of "they just look like they did steroids".  Which gets to the point of a witch hunt.  If evidence surfaces of positive use, I'll gladly move him down to the PED line below.  Otherwise, no question, his numbers are good enough to get in.  Period.


4) Larry Walker - He was another 5-tool player, finished his career with a .313 batting average, higher than anyone else on the ballot. Also stole 200 bases, also hit 383 home runs. He has so many gold gloves he probably had to build an extra wing on his trophy case. Like Bagwell, he won one MVP. He's also a member of the .400 OBP club (he, Bagwell, Bonds, and Edgar Martinez the only four on the ballot).

Factors against him: Perceived higher numbers due to Colorado, soft-spoken personality, injury-prone (only 4 seasons of 140+ games).

He only received 23% of the vote last year, that needs to trend up significantly for people to start noticing.

5) Edgar Martinez - He's of the mold of the previous two players. Hit for high average, good (but not awe inspiring) power, gets on base all the time. While I am not a fan of the DH, if MLB has it as a position, you can't hold that against him. With the previous two, defense pushes their case, for Edgar it can't but he still deserves it. Career .312 hitter, .418 OBP, slugged .515 (more than McGriff). He's also a member of the 300 HR club for a guy who didn't try to lift the ball as much as others.

Factors against him: Primarily a DH, played in small market, lack of speed.

He was voted for the affirmative on 36.5% of last years ballots, he needs to get closer to 50% to continue the momentum, now in his fourth year and not moving much.

6) Lee Smith - The Hall of Fame is still figuring out how to accommodate closers, it's my opinion that they are indeed a key element to the game and the best of the best should be included. With Smith, it's not about the numbers (ERA, W-L) as much as the raw pile of saves he accumulated. No matter where he played, he never seemed phase by a momentary lapse of success. Fourteen seasons in a row of 25 or more saves shows a level of consistency matched by few. If there are going to be closers in the HoF, Smith should be there.

Factors against him: Voters don't trend toward closers, wasn't overpowering, played for a lot of teams.

Received 50.6% of the vote last year, might start to trail off now in his 11th year.  Half the people isn't enough!

First four out

7) Tim Raines - Rock is another guy who falls just short on the numbers. Besides SB's (of which he is more than deserving), his average and power are lackluster, no Gold Gloves. He did accumulate the most hits of anyone on the ballot (besides Palmeiro, Bonds, and Biggio) playing to the age of 40.  Not a feared hitter.

Factors against him: Played in Montreal during his prime, average defense, never was higher than 5th in an MVP vote.

At 38.7% now in his sixth year, needs to get close to 50% or his candidacy may lose support.

8) Jack Morris - He was a gamer who was consistent, just not consistently great. A three-time 20-game winner, but 3.90 ERA shows me he outlasted a lot of opponents for those wins instead of dominating them. Never had an ERA below 3.05 in a single season. I probably hold starting pitchers to the highest standard when considering Hall of Fame, if you start to take 250 game winners and folks with ERA's near 4.00, you start to let in a lot of slightly better than average pitchers.

Factors against him: ERA, lack of dominating presence, allowed a lot of baserunners (WHIP).

At 66.7% last year, I think he makes it this year.

9) Fred McGriff - You can't ignore the near 500 home runs, but he hung on a while to get so close and wasn't elite enough in his prime to warrant the Hall. Average defense, below average speed, not an outstanding OBP. He also never broke 110 RBI in a season.

Factors against him: Low average, lack of dominating seasons, lack of speed.

At only 23.9% last year and only up 5% from the year before. Numbers are inferior when compared to the five hitters I would vote in, I doubt many voters put 6 or 7 hitters on their ballot.

10) Julio Franco - He is an enigma to be sure.  Franco batted .298 for his career with over 2,500 hits, just a tad below Roberto Alomar in both categories.  What Franco did that nobody else did, was play until he was almost 50 years old.  In his youth, he was an above average baserunner and above average defender (who could play a lot of positions).  I don't think he is worthy in the end, but definitely worth a mention.

Factors against him: Never an elite player, lifetime numbers inflated by career longevity.

I hope he exceeds 10% and stays on the ballot for a few years (thus stirring future debate).  He deserves at least that, but not really a Hall of Famer by any stretch.

Last year on the ballot
Dale Murphy - Just a case of not enough "oomph" (code for numbers, clout) to warrant induction.  A great guy, one of the top players of his era (a dead ball era, mind you), but joins a long list of players who were pretty good, just not quite good enough.  Almost 400 career home runs, but the .265 average was pretty ordinary.  Two MVP's, five gold gloves are nothing to shake a stick at, for sure.

Factors against him: Low batting average

He's only been tickling the low teens (14.5% last year) that might double, but otherwise, he's had a good 15-year run, but just not good enough.

The remaining repeat candidates fall into two categories, steroid specter or double digit ballot opportunities, the numbers aren't there.

Steroid specter (stats more than deserving but would not get my vote): Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens, Rafael Palmeiro, and Mark McGwire
Vets with short stats: Alan Trammell, Don Mattingly, Bernie Williams

There is dearth of good pitching candidates, Clemens plus Schilling hit the ballot (neither probable) hard to believe Aaron Sele, Mike Stanton, David Wells, Woody Williams, and Roberto Hernandez are some of the better new candidates (none are really that close).

(Jointly published with http://sports-kings.com/readingbetweentheseams/)

Saturday, January 5, 2013

2012 NFL Week One Playoff Preview

Betting information courtesy of 5dimes.com at the time of post (this blog has no affiliation with that site).

JR Ewing is back for more gambling.  Took a bath in the College Football regular season, but recouped some in the Bowl Season.   It's time for every sports fans favorite time of year, the NFL Playoffs!  Each week (hopefully earlier than Saturday) I'll preview the games, predict final scores (and oh, by the way, see how the straight up, ATS, and O/U bets go).

Without further ado!

January 5, 2013: 16:30 EST
Cincinnati Bengals (+4, +183) vs. Houston Texans (-4, -198) O/U 42.5
A rematch of this exact time slot last year, with the same points spread roughly.  This time, Matt Schaub is healthy, but certainly not hitting on all cylinders.  The Bengals are somewhat of a hot team now (winning 7 of their last 8, but only one of those wins over a playoff team).  The Texans are ice cold, blowing home field advantage in the last two weeks and losing 3 of their last 4.  I think the collapse completes as the Bengals use last years loss as motivation to upset the reeling Texans. Final Prediction: Bengals 23 Texans 14.

January 5, 2013: 20:00 EST
Minnesota Vikings (+7.5, +330) vs. Green Bay Packers (-7.5, -370) O/U 45.5
The Packers didn't figure to lose that much fire power from last year, but a few injuries and some ineffectiveness have rendered this team a little more ordinary than usual.  Another team that blew home field last week might weigh on their minds as they could be sitting at home watching the 49ers have to play this game.  Meanwhile, the Vikings had to play their way in winning 4 in a row, the last two over playoff teams on the road.  And Adrian Peterson is good and on a mission and Green Bay has struggled to stop him.  It's hard enough to win in Green Bay, but to do it twice in 7 days is near impossible.  This one is close, but Green Bay pulls it out. Final Prediction: Packers 27 Vikings 24.

January 6, 2013: 13:00 EST
Indianapolis Colts (+7, +265) vs. Baltimore Ravens (-7, -295) O/U 47
Following the theme above, the road team underdog (Indianapolis) won 5 of 6 to secure the Wild Card easily.  The Ravens, injured on defense and struggling on offense, have lost 4 of 5.  And, note, have a worse record than the Colts.  The Colts got an emotional lift from the return of Chuck Pagano last week (#chuckstrong) while the Ravens will get a boost from Ray Lewis and his retirement announcement.  I'm just not feeling the Ravens in this one, the Colts look like a team that is peaking and are probably the 3rd best AFC team. Final Prediction: Colts 24, Ravens 14.

January 6, 2013: 16:30 EST
Seattle Seahawks (-2.5, -143) vs. Washington Redskins (+2.5, +133) O/U 46.5
Two red hot teams here, Seahawks have won 5 straight and 7 of 8, the Redskins have won 7 straight since their bye week.  There are some questions about RGIII's health and ability to run, but other than that, not much to not like about either of these teams.  Both have rookie QB's so no advantage there.  Very tough to call, I like the Redskins to eek one out at home behind a hungry crowd.  Final Prediction: Redskins 27, Seahawks 24.

For fake gambling purposes, I'll assume $1,000 on S/U, $1,100 on ATS + O/U on the above bets (3 per game, 12 total).  If I had to pick the three "best bets" it would be:
Bengals: Money Line
Colts: ATS
Vikings vs. Packers: Over