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 (295) MLB (115) NFL (110) NCAA (98) NBA (50) NFL Playoffs (47) NHL (41)

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Sportsman of the Week Ending 12/27/2015

The NFL playoff picture is shaping up, and the NFC East was decided last weekend.  The Washington Redskins seized the division title behind once-criticized, now hailed quarterback Kirk Cousins.  Cousins sealed the division for the upstart Redskins with a near-flawless performance on the road against the Philadelphia Eagles on Saturday night.  Cousins finished the game 31-46, with 4 TD passes and no interceptions, picking apart the Eagles defense.  Cousins has now notched 300 or more yards in 3 straight contests (all wins) with nine TD and just one INT.  Not may pundits give the Redskins a chance to win their playoff game, but if Cousins keeps up this consistency, our Sportsman of the Week might surprise yet again.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

College Football Picks - 2015 Bowl Edition

It's bowl season, time to recoup losses
After a less-than-successful regular season, things can only go up from here.  With 40 games on tap (a few have already passed), we look ahead to the best bets of the Bowl Season.  Instead of just sticking to ATS bets, we'll expand a little bit to straight up and Over/Under.  And in the spirit of the holidays, give you ten picks instead of just five.  $110 on ATS and O/U, $100 on S/U.  But first, a quick recap.

Winnings 12/5: +80 (3-2)
Winnings to date: -$820 (27-32-1, 12% loss)

So with a big run here (including some underdogs S/U), a profit could happen.  Note that to me, games in which coaches have changed positions are too high risk.  You may get an inspired team, or a flat team.  But the unpredictability factor clouds the certainty.  Here are ten sure things to happen, and why:

Quick Lane Bowl (12/28 6:00 pm CST - Detroit, MI)
Central Michigan (+200) vs. Minnesota
Central Michigan is the hotter team having won 5 of 6 with just a single loss to a solid Toledo team.  Minnesota meanwhile has lost 5 of 6, and was weakened by the necessary retirement of head coach Jerry Kill (seizures).  I know on paper the Big 10 should be better, but with the game in Minnesota, this is a juicy money line.

Russell Athletic Bowl (12/29 4:30 pm CST - Orlando, FL)
North Carolina (+112) vs. Baylor
Baylor was a shell of their powerhouse team by the end of the year.  Coming off a home loss to non-bowling Texas, the Bears will also be without their NFL bound All-American WR Corey Coleman and top RB Shock Linwood.  Down to their third string QB they are still somehow favored against the North Carolina Tarheels which put a scare into Clemson in the ACC Championship Game with a late rally and miscalled onside kick.  That's number one Clemson.  Additionally, Baylor only notched one win since November 5 once their main players were decimated.


Russell Athletic Bowl (12/29 4:30 pm CST - Orlando, FL)
North Carolina vs. Baylor, Under 68.5 points
For the above reasons, Baylor won't be able to put up a lot of points.  Against Texas, they resorted to a grinding wildcat ground game that took the air out of their usual "score in 100 seconds" offense.  Their defense is more healthy and not bad. Carolina can score against inferior teams but not necessarily strong ones.  A 30-28 final is a high result to me, well under.

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl (12/30 6:00 pm CST - Nashville, TN)
Texas A&M vs. Louisville, Under 47 points
In case you've been under a rock, Texas A&M has had 2 of their 3 scholarship quarterbacks declare their intent to transfer.  And Texas A&M struggled on offense with them.  But their defense is good, really good.  This seems like an easy 24-17 type game, not seeing either team score more than 28.


National Funding Holiday Bowl (12/30 9:30 pm CST - San Diego, CA)
Southern California (-3) vs. Wisconsin
At first I was surprised that the Trojans were favored.  I looked at Wisconsin and they have three losses to Top 5 playoff teams (Alabama, Iowa) plus a good Northwestern team.  But then you look at their wins, and playing in the Big 10 West, it's a pillow fight (best win is 2 points over Nebraska, look it up).  Then you look at Southern California that beat six bowl teams (while losing to five, including Stanford twice).  The game is in southern California, they'll cover.

Chick Fil-a Peach Bowl (12/31 11:00 am CST - Atlanta, GA)
Florida State (-7) vs. Houston
With all due respect to Houston, this is a significant step up in competition.  The main hope here is that Florida State thinks they have the easy road and the Cougars come out with their hair on fire.  Of all the scenarios I see, it's mostly Florida State blowout, or comfortable win.  Both scenarios more than 7 points.

Capital One Orange Bowl (12/31 3:00 pm CST - Miami, FL)
Clemson (+160) vs. Oklahoma
This is the number 1 vs. number 4 matchup (by committee) so you would think Clemson would be favored.  And this is more of a home area for Clemson which plays in Florida much more than Oklahoma.  Another secret, when Oklahoma made their run for the Big 12, it was against depleted teams like Baylor (see above) and TCU (barely won at home).  Oklahoma lost to Texas, Clemson hasn't lost.  Like the money line here.

Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl (1/1 12:00 pm CST - Orlando, FL)
Michigan vs. Florida, Under 39.5 points
It's defense against more defense.  Remember when Michigan had three straight shutouts and five straight games with only 14 total points allowed (including games against BYU and Northwestern)?  Eight times, Florida won games allowing 14 or fewer points, including shutting down Ole Miss and Georgia.  This just seems like a 21-14 game.


Valero Alamo Bowl (1/2 5:45 pm CST - San Antonio, TX)
Texas Christian vs. Oregon, Under 78.5 points
Both the offenses are explosive, but I'm a firm believer that with time to prepare, defenses gain advantage on offenses.  Only 3 times did TCU play a game that exceeded this total.  Six times did Oregon but it was mostly against vastly inferior teams.  I mean, 38-35 would be a shootout and fall short by a TD.

Motel 6 Cactus Bowl (1/2 9:15 pm CST - Tempe, AZ) - Pick of the Week
Arizona State (+1) vs. West Virginia
This is where the middle of the Pac 12 is just better than the middle of the (shallower by count) Big 12.  West Virginia has all of one win against a Bowl team (Texas Tech) whereas Arizona State beat four bowl teams.  Did you also see this game is in the Sun Devils' home stadium?  Why this is a virtual pick'em is baffling (trust me, West Virginia fans aren't excited about this team and aren't going to show up in droves).  State wins by 2 TDs.

And I sign off for another year.  I appreciate all the views as it's fun to line up and show how I roll.  It didn't work out that much this year, but next year I got it!

-JR

Monday, December 21, 2015

Sportsman of the Week Ending 12/20/2015

The NFL season has been defined by the dominance of the Carolina Panthers and their leader Cam Newton continues to take over games.  To the tone of 14-0 and MVP favorite.  Newton went to the Big Apple as the Big Cheese, and returned with a Big Win.  He ended at 25-45 and 340 yards with five (count 'em five) touchdowns (that's a 116.9 passer rating if you're keeping score at hom).  But wait, there's more.  He also ran for a team-high 100 yards on eight scrambles, continually saving his team on critical downs.  And the Panthers needed every bit of it in a nail-biting 38-35 win over the New York Giants, including an 8 play, 49 yard FG drive at the final horn leaving no time for the Giants to come back.  That's how you win in the NFL, and Newton is making it look easy.  He is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Sportsman of the Week Ending 12/13/2015

It's an amazing time for sports as the NFL enters its last quarter of the regular season, the NBA and NHL ramp up with story lines developing, and college football gears up for what promises to be an exciting playoff.  It's the NHL this week that has produced the emerging star of the game.  The Chicago Blackhawks' Patrick Kane is scoring points like nobody's business.  Record breaking style.  The 27-year-old American has a point in 26 straight games, the longest NHL streak since Bill Clinton was elected President the first time.  Kane's league leading 46 points are setting the pace for all players this season.  The last time he didn't score a point was October 15.  Two months later, the streak goes on for our Sportsman of the Week!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Sportsman of the Week Ending 12/6/2015

The college football season wrapped up in spectacular fashion with a main course of several conference championship games with playoff spots on the line.  Our Sportsman of the Week had a historic game in the one championship that didn't produce a playoff contender.  Stanford's Christian McCaffrey has quietly had the best all-purpose yards season of all time, passing the legendary Barry Sanders. He topped off his season with 472 all-purpose yards, including exceeding 100 yards each in rushing, receiving, and kick returns as the Cardinal smoked the Trojans of Southern California.  He also threw for a touchdown, you certainly can't blame the defense for coming up on him after a handoff.  Sometimes toiling out of the prime time window for many voters on the East Coast, McCaffrey has earned himself a trip to New York City for the Heisman Trophy presentation, and is a worthy Sportsman of the Week!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

College Football Picks - 12/5/2015

Hat tip to my blog readers
We are well past a point of no return for profit, but the concept of sunk cost to a businessman like me is well understood.  I made profit last week.  I can make profit this week.  It's championship game week and here you have the best five games going.  But first a recap.

Winnings 11/28: $80 (3-2)
Winnings to date: -$900 (24-30-1, 15% loss)

Houston (-6) vs. Temple (11:00 am CST)

Houston at home after an impressive win over a good Navy team seems like the right play here.  Temple can probably keep it close, but a TD win or more would be expected from the Cougars, who are playing for a New Years Six bowl.

Florida (+17.5) vs. Alabama (3:00 pm CST) - Atlanta

On paper, this spread seems about right with Florida reeling from a near OT loss to Florida Atlantic then absolute domination by the Florida State Seminoles.  But the stakes are high here, so look for the Gators to come out strong (remembering their coach McElwain is familiar with Alabama).  Saban also has a strong "just win baby, no reason to cover" approach many times, milking leads late with predictable running plays.

Stanford (-4.5) vs. Southern California (6:45 pm CST) - Santa Clara

Stanford is coming off an impressive win against Notre Dame and has a lot to play for.  Including an outside shot at the Playoff.  I think they're a better team by at least a TD and might put a statement win together if they get momentum.

North Carolina (+5) vs. Clemson (7:00 pm CST) - Charlotte

Have you ever heard of "pulling a Clemson"?  Well we might see it this week.  The Tigers don't seem to be getting better.  Because of the depth (and by that I mean quantity of teams that aren't good) of the ACC, I'm not convinced that Clemson is that good.  North Carolina has a chip on their shoulder and I think wants to cause chaos.  I like the Heels straight up.

Michigan State (-3.5) vs. Iowa (7:17 pm CST) - Indianapolis - Pick of the Week

Michigan State is absolutely rolling.  And Connor Cook is healthier.  They didn't even need him to win at Ohio State.  Pat on the back for Iowa for the good season, but anything less than 10 points is a steal here.  Sparty on.

There will be a bowl pick special, unclear the format (all games, S/U, ATS, etc.) but it's been a great year (at least for excitement, not necessarily profit).   Thanks to all my readers!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Sportsman of the Week Ending 11/29/2015

Upsets are what makes sports go around, and this week there was an upset nearly 12 years in the making.  Ukranian Wladimir Klitschko had dominated the heavyweight boxing ranks since taking the title in 2006.  21 straight fight wins had somewhat relegated the heavyweight division to an exhibition.  Enter Tyson Fury (perhaps the best heavyweight boxing name ever) who pulled off a 5:1 upset to win a unanimous decision in Dusseldorf, Germany.  The 27-year-old British behemoth Fury outboxed the suddenly aging Klitschko to a relatively non-entertaining, but decisive effort.  If nothing else, this shakes up the heavyweight division in the near term, perhaps brining back fans who remember the Tyson-Holyfield, Holyfield-Lewis bouts of a bygone era. Tyson Fury is our Sportsman of the Week!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

College Football Picks - 11/28/2015

Let's face it, I know oil. Not football
The college football season is winding down and I got news for you. I'm going to lose money on the deal. That's why I'm not a professional gambler, but rather an oil baron. Nevertheless, we press on with our picks because sometimes I go 5-0 and you'll feel like you missed out. Unfortunately, 2-3 seems like the usual outcome just like last week.


Winnings 11/21: -130 (2-3)
Winnings to date: -$980 (21-28-1, 18% loss)

Texas (-1.5) vs. Texas Tech (Thursday 6:30 pm CDT)

Texas at home has been pretty good covering against decent teams (Cal, Oklahoma State, Kansas State).  After laying a dud in West Virginia and a bye week, the Horns rally at home to try and salvage a bowl bid.

Navy (+1) at Houston (Friday 11:00 am CDT)

Houston was an easy ride to ATS victory early in the year, but injuries at their critical QB position has led to close wins and finally a bad loss last week.  Navy comes in very hot with just that one loss to Notre Dame.  The ground attack will keep the Cougar air raid at bay and the Midshipmen emerge victorious.

Ohio State (+1) at Michigan (11:00 am CDT)

You have to like getting any points with the Buckeyes.  After a dud at home against Michigan State, the team will either be hungry or fold.  I think hungry.  No better chance to wash that bad taste out than beat the hated Wolverines.  They've done it 10 of the last 11 years, and 12 out of 14.  No reason to think Michigan gained that much ground on the defending National Champions.

Wisconsin (-2.5) at Minnesota (2:30 pm CDT) - Pick of the Week

Wisconsin has three losses.  Two of their losses were to teams currently in the top 4 of the playoffs.  Minnesota has one win since October 10.  I don't see the Gophers staying with the more talented and underrated Badgers even as they try and win one for their retiring Coach Kill.

Oklahoma (-6.5) at Oklahoma State (7:00 pm CDT)

You might look at a rivalry game on the road between similar teams and think that a TD is too much for the visitor.  Oklahoma State doesn't seem to be playing their best football and Oklahoma does.  To the winner goes a good chance to win the Big 12 and make the college football playoff, look for Stoops to have his team ready for a 7-13 point win.



Monday, November 23, 2015

Sportsman of the Week Ending 11/22/2015

Busy time in sports, but this week to go off the Big Four for a comeback story.  Kyle Busch was just about given up for dead after a horrific crash at Daytona in February rendered him with broken bones in his leg and foot and shattered dreams.  Fast forward eight months, and the Toyota driver is your Chase Cup Champion.  Busch won a relatively easy sprint from a yellow flag against the field (including Kevin Harvick) that appeared to be stuck in mud to win the Ford EcoBoost 400 in Miami-Homestead, the final 2015 race and to secure the Chase Cup title.  A worthy Sportsman of the Week!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

College Football Picks - 11/21/2015

First the price of oil, now this?
The season has taken a turn for the worse for sure.  The last set of picks on a blog were Halloween and I was haunted by an 0-5 finish.  Since then, I've been busy trying to land some oil deals with the price of crude so low, noting I only got a blog out on 11/7 and didn't make picks on 11/14.  I needed the breather.  The 11/7 picks were (2-3) with Houston and Penn State covering.

Week of 11/21
Winnings 10/31 and 11/7: -680 (2-8)
Winnings to date: -$850 (19-25-1, 17% loss)

I will not be deterred.  Going with some hot hands this week, teams that have been covering week after week.

North Carolina (-4) at Virginia Tech (11:00 am CDT)

The Tar Heels are rolling averaging over 60 points the last two games.  Virginia Tech is limping along beating bad teams.  The higher the scoring, the easier it seems to cover just barely over a FG.  Good bet on Blue here.

LSU (+6.5) at Mississippi (2:30 pm CDT)

Everyone's beating up on the Tigers, but the losses to the red hot Hogs and an inspired Alabama were understandable.  This is another rivalry game (they have like four counting Alabama, Arkansas, Texas A&M, and Ole Miss) and Miles will have his guys ready.  The wounded Tiger defends their pride.


Oregon (-4) vs. Southern California (2:30 pm CDT) - Pick of the Week

I'm taking Oregon against any point spread at this point.  Novice bettors are remembering their early season struggles.  They beat a good Stanford team last week and still have a shot at the Pac 12 Championship if they get help.  They probably win by two TD.

Arkansas (-5) vs. Mississippi State (6:00 pm CDT)

The aforementioned Hogs have found their stride.  The Dawgs limp in after a physical whooping at the hand of Alabama.  The physical Razorbacks continue the pounding and roll by a TD in this one.

Texas A+M (-6) at Vanderbilt (6:30 pm CDT)

This is really an indictment of how bad the Aggies are playing.  This was almost a Top 10 team before Alabama took it to them.  With QB questions, the Aggies might struggle against a good Vandy defense.  But they have too many explosive players to keep it under a TD.

When in doubt, go with the hot hand.  The time is now to cut losses!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Sportsman of the Week Ending 11/15/2015

After 200 weeks of Sportsmen and Sportswomen of the week, last week's sportsman was vacant.  To make up from lost time, we'll award a Sportsman this week that could have been last week's as well.  Alabama's Derrick Henry went from somewhere near the Top 5 Heisman discussion to the clear cut favorite in two weeks.  First week, Alabama dominated Louisiana State to put a stranglehold on the SEC East.  The second week, Alabama defeated another SEC West ranked contender in Mississippi State to further solidify their position.  For the two weeks, 50 carries, 416 yards, and 5 TDs.  Which is 3 TDs more than both his opponents combined.  With an SEC title game and potential playoff run, 2000 yards is within reach.  Derrick Henry is our Sportsman of the Week!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Sportsman of the Week - 200 weeks

The mainstay of my blog the last four years has been the Sportsman (or Sportswoman) of the week.  With just a few exceptions, I've managed to publish a short piece highlighting a strong sports performance over the previous week (always Monday through Sunday).  My criteria was simple.  Think broadly (not just the core four sports), favor the unsung over the famous, avoid repeats to the maximum practicable extent, winning your game is of the utmost importance, choose only one sportsman (only violated once), always include an action photo (which becomes my Twitter avatar for the week), and make it fun.

So here's a brief synopsis on how it's played out:

I only missed five weeks over nearly four years.  2/19/2012, 9/1/2013, 2/2/14, 3/16/14, 3/22/15.  Sometimes it was so late or I was on vacation or there wasn't a strong candidate, I just let it go.

Only once did I double up.  Just couldn't decide and decided I'd make the rule.  It was 1/5/14

That makes 196 awards Sportsmen and Sportswomen of the Week starting January 1, 2012 with Keith Price, QB from Washington.

Baseball has had the most, but remember how long the seasons are and the summer is void of hoops and football.  Even archery and dog racing got in the act:

By Sport:
MLB: 49 (note the long regular season w/o competition from football)
NFL:38
College Football: 20
NBA: 17
Golf: 14
NHL/Hockey:12 (Olympic hockey included)
Tennis: 11
Soccer: 7
Auto Racing: 6
NCAA Basketball: 6
Cycling: 5
Horse Racing: 4
Archery: 1
Swimming: 1
Track and Field: 1
Boxing: 1
Skiing: 1
Cricket: 1
Dog Racing: 1

And was there a regional bias? Judge for yourself (remembering that New York, LA, and Chicago have a lot more professional teams). 

By Pro City:
New York: 12
San Francisco:  9
Los Angeles: 7
Denver: 7
Boston:5
Washington, DC: 5
Dallas/FW:4
Houston: 4
Oklahoma City:4
Pittsburgh: 4
Baltimore:4
Miami:4
New Orleans: 3
St. Louis:3
Cincinnati:3
Chicago:3
Philadelphia: 3
Milwaukee/Green Bay: 3
Kansas City: 3
Tampa: 2
Atlanta: 2
Indianapolis:2
Detroit:2
Seattle: 2
San Antonio: 2
Toronto:2
Cleveland: 2
Oakland: 2
Fulham (ENG): 1
New Jersey: 1
Barcelona: 1
Phoenix: 1
Minneapolis: 1
Montreal: 1
Portland: 1
Ottawa: 1

Not all awardees are on teams, for tennis, golf, Olympics, etc., there are countries represented by individual or Olympic team sport athletes.

By individual's country:
USA: 23
Italy: 3
England: 2
Mexico: 2
Kenya: 2
Germany: 2
Switzerland:2
S. Korea: 2
Australia: 2
Colombia: 2
Scotland: 1
Belarus: 1
Russia: 1
Jamaica: 1
Serbia: 1
Dominican Republic: 1
Brazil: 1
Spain:1
France: 1
Canada: 1
Northern Ireland: 1
Sri Lanka: 1

And lest we forget colleges, including some of my favorite team's rivals who sneaked in there more often than they should

By College:
Texas A+M: 2
Oklahoma: 2
Alabama: 2
Wisconsin: 2
Ohio State 2
U of Washington: 1
Florida State: 1
Baylor: 1
Michigan State: 1
Army: 1
South Carolina: 1
Miami: 1
Florida Gulf Coast: 1
Fresno State: 1
Navy: 1
Auburn: 1
Pittsburgh: 1
Clemson: 1
Iowa State: 1
UConn: 1
East Carolina: 1

And which conferences? Pretty even spread:
SEC 6
Big 12 4
Big 10 4
ACC 4
Service Academies: 2
Other 2
Big East/AAC: 2
Pac 12 1

And as I stated, I avoid repeat winners when possible.  But sometimes the performance dictates.

Here are the complete list of repeat winners:

Three time winners:
Peyton Manning (2013, 2014, 2014)
Aaron Rodgers (2013, 2013, 2014)
Drew Brees (2012, 2015, 2015)

Two time winners:
Le'veon Bell (2012, 2014)
LeBron James (2013, 2013)
Russell Westbrook (2013, 2015)
Bubba Watson (2012, 2014)
Kevin Durant (2012, 2014)
Carey Price (2014, 2014)
Ezekiel Elliott (2015, 2015)
Nelson Cruz (2014, 2015)
Chris Froome (2013, 2015)
Serena Williams (2012, 2015)
Tom Brady  (2015, 2015)

And there are just some oddities that result from such an exercise.  Here are a list of odd facts throughout the years.
  • The first ever winner was from the Pac 10, never one since.
  • Only cities with more than 5: New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver
  • Noteworthy colleges with none: Texas, Stanford, Michigan, and Florida (note that Florida Gulf Coast got one)
  • Wisconsin the only college to have a winner two sports (football and basketball)
  • Le'veon Bell the only athlete to win in college and pros
  • Cities without: San Diego, Buffalo, Charlotte, Nashville.
  • Oklahoma City Thunder the only team with two multiple winners
  • Thirteen Sportsman of the Week have been for no-hitters
  • There's been twelve Sportswomen of the week (eleven individuals plus Serena twice)
  • 28% of the time, the winner is not from baseball, football, basketball, or hockey
  • Besides the Unites States (23), no other country has won more than 2 besides Italy.  The United Kingdom has up to six, Bradley Wiggins and Justin Rose (England), Rory McIlroy (Northern Ireland), Chris Froome twice (Kenyan, but British by ancestry), and Andy Murray (Scotland).
  • Froome (British), Nelson Cruz (Dominican Republic) and Carey Price (Canada) are the only two non-Americans to repeat.
  • Nelson Cruz the only baseball player to repeat.
  • Golf (14) is the top sport outside of the Big four (actually ahead of hockey).
Most of all, I want to thank you, the faithful readers of the Blog.  It's fun to come up with a Sportsman.  I can't promise to have one 98% of the time the next 4 years, but I'll try!

- Longhorndave

Monday, November 2, 2015

Sportsman of the Week Ending 11/1/2015

There is a new legend among Sportsmen of the week, and his name is Drew Brees.  The ageless, undersized wonder did it again for the New Orleans Saints.  In what can only be described as an old fashioned New Orleans shootout, Brees bested the New York Giants Eli Manning with a 39-50, 505 yards, 7 TD performance.  The 7 TDs ties a single game record for TD passes, just another notch on the future Hall of Famer's belt.  And every bit of it required for his Saints to prevail over the Giants 52-49 at the final whistle. The game was crucial to the Saints fledgling playoff hopes as the win moved them to 4-4.  This is Brees's third Sportsman of the Week nomination, and second in 2015 tying him for the most ever.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

College Football Picks - 10/31/2015

I am dressed up like an Oil Barron for Halloween
Happy Halloween to all the spooks, ghosts, and goblins out there.  Last week wasn't too shabby as a recovered some of my gambling losses.

Week of 10/24
Winnings last week: +80 (3-2)
Winnings to date: -$170 (17-17-1, 4.4% loss) - Just the houses take.

This week I found a number of games that I liked but didn't quite make this (see at the end).  But here are the J.R. Ewing winners mostly from the SEC and Big 12.

Auburn (+7.5) vs. Mississippi (11:00 am CDT)

I like being given a touchdown plus at home in the SEC West.  Ole Miss has lost (straight up) its last two road games, I see the Tigers circling the wagons and at least keeping it close.

Texas Tech (+2.5) vs Oklahoma State (2:30 pm CDT)  - Pick of the Week

Oklahoma State has skated through the season so far without facing any of the big boys and has an undefeated record to go with it.  Lubbock is a tough place to play, this will be the Cowboys biggest challenge and I see Tech winning in a shootout (what would you expect with Red Raiders vs. Cowboys).  As a side bet, take the over on 77.5

Georgia (+2.5) vs Florida (2:30 pm CDT) - Jacksonville

Another game where I like getting point.  Before the season, experts would have had Georgia a double-digit favorites.  Now on a slide and without their star RB, the Bulldogs are getting points.  Both sides have very green QBs in a large stage.  I see the more experienced coaching staff of Georgia coaxing them to a victory.

Texas (-4) at Iowa State (6:00 pm CDT)

Everyone knows I have a bias here, but the Cyclones have only won three Big 12 games the past 2+ seasons and most of those were against Kansas.  The Longhorns are improving every week with Heard at QB and an improving running game.  I could see it being about a TD, but I could also see it being about 3 TDs.  Heck, the Longhorns could win in overtime and cover this.

Notre Dame (-10.5) at Temple (7:30 pm CDT)

With all due respect to Temple, this is a big step up in competition.  Also of note, the crowd will probably be split pretty evenly given the Irish's popularity in major east coast metropolitan areas (like Philadelphia.  Notre Dame is so well coached, they'll roll up their sleeves and take care of the Owls by 2 TD or more.

Other teams I like: Houston (-10.5), California (+4), South Carolina (+15.5), Washington State (+10.5).  Just didn't have enough room!

No tricks above, only treats!  Enjoy your Saturday!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Sportsman of the Week Ending 10/25/2015

The Kansas City Royals are rolling this postseason, and their leadoff hitter is a big reason why.  Alcides Escobar could not be kept off base in the American League Championship Series.  For the last week, he was 8/16 plus a HBP edging his on-base percentage north of .500.  Throw in 4 RBI and 4 runs scored and he was essentially involved in two runs per game for his team.  Throw in some gold glove caliber defense, and the ALCS MVP is a big reason that the Kansas City Royals are poised to win their first World Series in 30 years, and maybe one of several in the next decade.

Friday, October 23, 2015

College Football Picks - 10/24/2015

Recap of last week's picks
Another rough week for picks.  For the four losses, none were even close.  Alabama carried the day to save from complete disaster.  I drank way too much of the Bill Snyder and Jim Harbaugh cool-aid.  But we do not dwell in the past, we look to the second half of the season. 

First a recap of where we are:


Week of 10/17
Winnings last week: -$340 (1-4)
Winnings to date: -$250 (14-15-1, 7.6% loss)

And here are this week's picks.  All road warriors, including three ranked teams touted as underdogs.

Note that it's $110 to win $100 on each, odds from vegasinsider.com

Clemson (-7) at Miami (11:00 am CDT)

Miami used to be a stadium to be feared.  But that was when all the games seemed to be at night and fans actually showed up.  Early kickoff should keep the home field advantage at bay.  Meanwhile Clemson is putting together a playoff resume.  Conference wins on the road over second tier teams is a must.  By more than a TD.  They'll do it.

Houston (-22) at Central Florida (11:00 am CDT)

The Houston Cougars have been a major story under the radar this year, streaking out to an undefeated record with a win over Louisville on the road.  No matter what point spread you throw at them, they cover.  They average 46 points per game.  Central Florida has been awful at 0-7 giving up 30+ points per game.  This will be high scoring and 3 TD plus is no problem.  UConn beat this team by 27.

Duke (+3) at Virginia Tech (2:30 pm CDT)

Duke is always a favorite of this blog.  Bettors still don't take them seriously because of basketball.  Once again they're ranked in all polls.  Facing a middling Virginia Tech team that doesn't seem to be improving.  Give me points on the road?  I like it.  Also worth noting the game isn't at night where the Hokies play with more of an edge.

Texas A&M (+5.5) at Mississippi (6:00 pm CDT) - Pick of the Week

Despite a final score nowhere near the line, Texas A&M looked like they could hang with Alabama if they just didn't make so many mistakes.  The defense is vastly better than last year and if their QB tandem can avoid disastrous mistakes they are the better team here.  The Aggies have always played well on the road in the SEC as well, including 2-0 in Oxford.  Ole Miss is 1-2 in their last 3 games with the only win over a rollover OOC.  Aggies probably win straight up.


Utah (+3.5) at  Southern California (6:30 pm CDT)

Last week I thought Southern California might surprise Notre Dame.  They hanged around but didn't deliver any sort of knock out punch.  Utah probably has the most complete resume of a Top 5 team, with wins over California and Michigan (ranked) as well as Arizona State and Oregon (formerly ranked).  The Pac 12 tends to have strong records on the road, I don't see why Utah shouldn't win straight up against a Trojans team adjusting to a new Head Coach.

Enjoy your college football Saturday!





Monday, October 19, 2015

Sportsman of the Week Ending 10/18/2015

The Major League Baseball playoffs continue and a new hero emerged.  The New York Mets continued an amazing season with an improbable postseason run.  Previously unsung infielder Daniel Murphy has put his team and an entire city on his back in etching his name into New York Postseason lore.  In NLDS Game 5 in Los Angeles, the game and series turned when he surprised the Dodgers by stealing an unoccupied third base after a walk against the shift.  He scored on a sacrifice fly to tie it.  He followed his next at bat with a solo home run in a 3-2 win.  Against the favored Chicago Cubs in the NLCS Games 1 and 2, he hit home runs in each game and led his team to a pair of wins.  For the week, he was 8-20, 4 HR, 7 RBI, 6 R.  In the last four games, he knocked in 6 of his teams 12 runs and scored the 7th run.  His 5 HR burst in the postseason is much more than his 14 HR in 2015 would expect.  If the Mets get past the Cubs, you can put a cape on Murphy and call him Superman.  Or the Sportsman of the Week!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

College Football Picks - 10/17/2015

Hook'em Horns!
A mediocre week in which two favorites picked to cover (Oklahoma and Georgia) couldn't win straight up.  Combined with TCU barely holding on for a win and it was a downer overall.  But I was glad to see my Longhorns beat those Sooners so it was all worth it.

So far for the season, treading water eeking out a meager profit.

Week of 10/10
Winnings last week: -$130 (2-3)
Winnings to date: +$90 (13-11-1, 3% profit)

There are tons of great games this week, so I'm leaning toward selecting the biggest one from each of the major conferences except the ACC which doesn't have the marquee matchup.  So we go wildcard with Notre Dame vs. USC

Kansas State (+4) vs. Oklahoma (2:30 pm CDT)

Unlike last week, I like the Wildcats at home to cover.  They're always sneaky good at matching up well with teams perceived to have more talent.  And Oklahoma looked bad.  Very bad.  This might inspire them (Stoops rebounds well from losses historically).  But I don't think the Cats lose two in a row at home.

Michigan (-7.5) vs. Michigan State (2:30 pm CDT) - Pick of the Week

The line grew over the week but for good reason.  They haven't allowed points since September 19 and haven't allowed more than 7 since their opener on Labor Day weekend against #4 Utah (a mere 7 point loss).  Sparty has been underwhelming enough to fall to number 7, this is only their second trip away from home (the first a blah win at Rutgers).  Only a TD seems short, Michigan is back.

Alabama (-4.5) vs. Texas A&M (2:30 pm CDT)

Having won two straight against teams that many picked to win their divisions, Alabama rolls into College Station with a bit of an edge.  This game was a blowout last year.  Texas A&M isn't the world beaters at home you might think, didn't win a game last year at Kyle Field.  Alabama has the Aggies number without Manziel.  A TD win would be expected.

Southern California (+6.5) vs. Notre Dame (6:30 pm CDT)

Southern Cal comes in after a crazy week in which they lost their head coach due to behavioral issues.  Notre Dame has lost a lot of their opening day starters and hasn't played that many good teams if you look back (Georgia Tech, Texas, and Navy aren't necessarily blockbuster wins).  Why not the Trojans, sometimes incidents like what happened to Sarkesian pull teams together.  I think they surprise in a hostile environment.

Washington (-3) vs. Oregon (9:30 pm CDT)

Oregon is eroding from within.  With Chip Kelly a few years gone and Marcus Mariota now in the NFL, things aren't what they were.  One year away from playing for the National Championship, the Ducks are ailing.  Washington is improving, close losses to Boise State and Cal, both of whom are poised for 10 win seasons.  Just seems like the Huskies will roll in this one.

Big games, big teams, big conferences.  October.  Enjoy your Saturday!

Sportsman of the Week Ending 10/11/2015

The first full week of Major League Baseball playoffs produced nailbiting games and surprise teams.  One of them was the Houston Astros, who stormed through the American League Wild Card game and surged to a 2-1 lead against the 2014 American League champion Kansas City Royals. And two of the three wins were attributable to probable AL Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel.  The only 20-game winner in the American League shut down the New York Yankees (on short rest) with 6 innings of only 3 hits, no runs.  On full rest in NLDS Game 3, he allowed but a run in seven innings on four hits in a victory against the Kansas City Royals.  For the week, 2-0, 0.69 ERA, below 1.0 WHIP and 14 K in 13 innings.  The Houston Astros future is bright, thanks to our Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

College Football Picks - 10/10/2015

Saved the season last week
First we'll start with the bad.  The week of 9/26.  Straight disaster as it was a 1-4 performance.  I just about took out a second mortgage on South Fork.  But alas, I recovered (didn't have time to fully blog) with the below (timetag verifies).  Yessir, 5-0.  Yee Haw!

KSST kept it close vs. OSU, Houston blew out someone, TCU destroyed Texas, Oregon rolled, and Clemson won by more than 1 just barely.

So a summary (all bets are $110 to win $100)

Coming into the week:
Winnings to date: $60 (5-4-1, 5.4% profit)

Week of 9/26
Winnings 9/26 week: -$340 (1-4)
Winnings to date: -$280 (6-8-1, 17% loss)

Week of 10/3
Winnings last week: $500 (5-0)
Winnings to date: +$220 (11-8-1, 10% profit)

But none of that is why your ready my blog.  Here we go for this week's picks:


Oklahoma (-16.5) vs. Texas (11:00 am CDT) (Dallas)

Texas looks somewhere between inept and just plain bad.  They have covered this game two straight years being double digit underdogs.  But I just don't see a team that can run with the Sooners.  Until the defense steps up, they're going to give up more points than their fledgling offense can generate.  Sooners big.


Georgia (-2.5) at Tennessee (2:30 pm CDT)

You feel like Charlie Brown with the football with Tennessee.  They play competitive but can't get the "W".  Georgia is beat up (physically and emotionally) after the loss to Alabama so you think this might be a trap game.  Georgia always bounces back well from SEC losses under Richt and is just plain better.  Go with the Dawgs.


Texas Tech (-11.5) vs. Iowa State (2:30 pm CDT) - Pick of the Week

The Red Raiders have had a tough schedule, playing Arkansas, TCU, and Baylor in consecutive weeks.  They lost but hung with the latter two.  Their offense can put up points, no doubt.  Iowa State doesn't seem to have the offense to match and their defense isn't shut down, either.  Seems like a 2 TD win at least in Lubbock.

California (+7.5) at Utah (6:00 pm CDT)

The Utes are no longer flying under the radar nationally.  Neither is undefeated Cal, who has racked up some impressive wins at Texas and Washington.  Road teams in the Pac 12 are winning at an impressive rate, so with the 7 point spread, seems like a juicy pick.  This is a bit of a hunch, but I like playing hunches!

TCU (-9) at Kansas State (6:30 pm CDT)

TCU rounded into form last week answering a lot of questions that plagued them early, particularly on defense.  Kansas State is tough at home, but TCU seems poised to get on a big Big 12 run up to the showdown with Baylor.  I think they win this by more than the points against a banged up Wildcat offense.

Lots of Big 12 action above, it's an intriguing conference with explosive offenses.  See you on the flip side!



Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Sportsman of the Week Ending 10/4/2015

In desperate need of a win, the New Orleans Saints venerable quarterback Drew Brees stepped up.  Having missed Week 3 with a bad shoulder, he was uncertain to play on Sunday Night Football against the Dallas Cowboys.  But play he did, and perform he did.  In a thrilling overtime victory, Brees went 33-41 for 359 yards and 2 TD.  The last 80 yards were the most sweet, as he ended the overtime affair with an 80 yard pass and catch with speedster C.J. Spiller.  The previously winless Saints really needed his heroics after missing a short field goal to end regulation.  Brees stepped up and willed his team to victory.  For that, he is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

This is Drew Brees second nod as Sportsman of the Week (w/e 10/7/2012)

Friday, October 2, 2015

Sportsman of the Week Ending 9/27/2015

One of the surprise teams in the NFL so far is the Cincinnati Bengals, one of just three AFC teams to sprint to 3-0 on the season.  They got a big win over a major division rival on Sunday on the back of A.J. Green.  The 27-year-old torched the Baltimore Ravens defense for 10 catches, 227 yards, and 2 TD.  Both TDs came in the critical fourth quarter, both under 7 minutes, both with his team trailing by 4 points.  The first was an 80 yard streak, the second a 7-yard reception in the corner of the end zone for the final points in a 28-24 road victory.  Green was the man of the match, and our Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Friday, September 25, 2015

College Football Picks - 9/26/2015

This week, you can kiss my a**
Last week was like kissing my sister, with a 2-2-1 performance.  The sister kiss was made a bit worse by missing the pick of the week (Alabama).  But I didn't lose South Fork yet, so we press on.

Winnings last week: -$20 (2-2-1)
Winnings to date: $60 (5-4-1, 5.4% profit)

All times Dallas time...

Bowling Green (-4.5) at Purdue (11:00 am CDT)

The difference between the elite in the MAC and the dregs of the Big 10 is that the elite of the MAC are better.  Both teams are 1-2 playing a pretty difficult schedule so far, but BGSU has a more quality win (over a Big 10 dreg Maryland).  Maryland is better than Purdue.  The Falcons win this one and it's not an upset.

Maryland (+16.5) at West Virginia (2:00 pm CDT)

Maryland is bad, but it's not like they're playing TCU or Baylor from the Big 12.  West Virginia isn't ranked, it's just way too many points.  This game has played close in the past, I don't see that the Mountaineers are going to beat the Terps this bad.

TCU (-6) at Texas Tech (3:45 pm CDT) - Pick of the Week

Everyone is high on the Raiders BUT let's remember that Arkansas team lost the week before at home to Toledo.  TCU hasn't had a good offseason in terms of player attrition but they are still the better team here.  Tech also might have a let down week, seems like a Frogs win by 7 would be expected, maybe more.

Washington (+3) vs. California (4:00 pm CDT)

A very evenly matched game in the Pac 12 is ripe for the apple picking (for Washington) or grape picking (for Cal).  I pick apples.  California won a wild shootout in Texas last week, you wonder how much that took out of their team.  And their defense didn't look good.  Washington took a tough loss to a good Boise team, they should handle the Bears at home.

Arizona (+2.5) vs. California-Los Angeles (7:00 pm CDT)

There are three intriguing Pac 12 games in prime time with road favored teams, this is one of them. Arizona under Rich Rodriguez has improved immensely.  It seems like every year UCLA is ranked pretty high then loses some games early. I like the home team in an early season "upset" (mild as it may be).

May the gambling gods be on your side, with no late scores to ruin a perfectly picked point spread!

- JR Ewing


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Sportsman of the Week Ending 9/20/2015

Football is in full swing and there were some amazing efforts in both the NFL and NCAA.  But if you want to talk video game numbers, look no further than New England Patriots QB Tom Brady.  It's getting harder and harder to keep him out of the "Greatest of All Time" discussion.  This week against the Buffalo Bills, he went all-EA Sports at 38-59 with 466 yards of passing and three touchdown passes.  That's unstoppable.  With Rob Gronkowski as his side-kick, this looks like an unbeatable team.  In a litmus test against the Bills, he came out complete acid to whatever they had.  And is our Sportsman of the Week!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

College Football Picks - 9/19/2015

I'm a gambling man
Another college football season has started and I am back to give you weekly winners.  I would post my final results from last year, but the bankrupcy court took all the evidence during the proceedings.  Brutal.

Last year I went for only TD (ish) underdogs straight up.  Feast or famine.  I'm still hungry.

Back to a traditional approach.  I take the ENTIRE college football Saturday slate.  And give you the top 5 winners.  Five gives you a win/loss every week.  Betting $110 to win $100.  If I find a juicy S/U or over/under bet I'll give you that, too.  But back to basics.

So I'm starting the week at +$80.  Why you ask.  Well read this tweet and weep.

Winners: OU, MissSt, Iowa
Losers: UT, UGA

So what about this week?

Winnings last week: $80 (3-2)
Winnings to date: $80 (3-2, 15% profit)

Duke (-3.5) vs. Northwestern (11:30 am CDT)

I'll be honest, this is a feel pick.  I have KILLED it over the years betting on Duke.  Northwestern has some swag for beating Stanford, but I love the Blue Devils offense and don't like Northwestern away from home.  A TD is an easy win.

Nebraska (+3.5) at Miami (2:30 pm CDT)

Oh the historical games between these two in the 1980s and 1990s in the Orange Bowl.  But alas, both teams are trying to regain glory.  Nebraska took a gut punch week one vs. BYU, but it was feeling itself out.  This is a bit of an anti-Miami pick.  I'm just not sold they are going to turn the corner under Al Golden.  I'll take the points and play.

Texas (+6.5) vs. California (6:30 CDT)

I am a Longhorns fan, which gives me bias and gives me insight.  I don't think we know who the Longhorns are yet.  They have some talent on the field that is still figuring it out.  The Notre Dame game was an abomination but just one data point.  The game has uncertainty as Cal upgrades in competition.  It could go either way, but I see the Longhorns winning this one at home.

Iowa (-3) vs. Pittsburgh (7:00 CDT)

Iowa is playing some good football off the win vs. rival Iowa State.  And is at home.  Against a Pittsburgh team that lost their all-ACC RB.  Why is this just -3?  Under the lights, for whatever that is worth, I'll take the Hawkeyes (as I did last week) to win this by more than that.

Alabama (-6.5) vs. Ole Miss (8:15 pm CDT) - Pick of the Week

I like the revenge factor and Alabama playing with hunger in a big game at home.  At night.  I really am down on Ole Miss.  I know they put up points, but that was against two or three levels of competition below the Tide.  I don't see this within 14 points let alone 6.5.  Sucker bet.

So place your bets people.  See you next week!

- JR Ewing

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Sportswoman of the Week Ending 9/13/2015

Everyone loves an underdog.  David vs. Goliath.  Or in this case, Roberta vs. Serena.  With a seemingly watered down women's side of the United States Open, Serena Williams seemed poised to make history by winning all four Grand Slams in a single year.  Champion of the Australian Open, French Open, and The Championships (known as Wimbledon) and completely dominating, enter Roberta Vinci.  The diminutive Italian went toe to toe with Williams and won.  On American soil.  Oddsmakers had the match at 300:1, this was a Miracle on Ice or Buster Douglas type upset.  Maybe more.  Roberta Vinci is 5'4" and 32 years old.  She's never made it out of the fourth round of singles (she is a top notch doubles player).  But 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, she stood among giants and captured youth.  Our Sportswoman of the Week!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Sportsman of the Week Ending 9/6/2015

Our Sportsman of the Week probably tends toward pitching more than hitting and now is the time to change that.  A star is burgeoning in Colorado, and his name is Nolan Arenado.  In only his second full season in the big leagues, the 24-year old is quickly placing himself in the discussion of Elite.  Currently leading the National League in HR (36) and RBI (106, that's 2/3 of the triple crown, you know), he's already won two Gold Gloves (a third probable this season) and been an All-Star.  This week, he raked for 15 hits in 34 AB, homering in six consecutive games and knocking in 12 runs.  I know it's the rare air of Colorado, but note he now has 18 HR at home, 18 on the road.  Note it was 18-12 more on the road until his six at home this week.  The Rockies have a future MVP to build around, he is our Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Sportsman of the Week Ending 8/30/2015

Another week of baseball and another no-hitter.  Against the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Chicago Cubs ace Jake Arrieta matched our sportsman from last week's feat, just nine days later.  On prime time Sunday Night Baseball, Arrieta fanned 12 Dodgers and recorded his MLB leading 17th win.  He lowered his ERA to 2.17 and reduced his WHIP to a microscopic 0.94 runners per nine innings for the season.  Arrieta finished an amazing month with six wins in six starts and only two earned runs.  Impressive enough for a likely Player of the Month and definitely impressive enough for our Sportsman of the Week!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Sportsman of the Week Ending 8/23/2015

An outstanding individual game effort stood above the rest this week.  Houston Astros recent acquisition pitcher Mike Fiers, not necessarily a household name, pitched the fifth no-hitter of 2015 in shutting out the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday August 21.  Starting with a lot of pitches and a few walks early in the game, Fiers looked improbable to even get through the sixth inning.  Then he got in a groove, retiring the last 21 batters in order blowing away the Dodgers with fastballs up in the zone.  Nary a close call was seen, just one warning track drive easily cradled by RF Jake Marisnick.  Fiers finished his first complete game with 134 pitches.  It was the first Astros home (and complete game) no-hitter in 22 years, their last was in 2003 combined against the New York Yankees.  Fiers etches his name in baseball history, and our Sportsman of the Week!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Sportsman of the Week Ending 8/16/2015

The PGA Championship at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin wrapped up the PGA's "major" season and this week's sportsman set it on fire.  Australian Jason Day notched the best scoring tournament in a major ever.  Better than Tiger ever did, better than Jack, he Golden Bear, Jones, you name it.  Finishing at 20 under par, Day seemed to never miss a shot.  With two-time 2015 major winner Jordan Spieth breathing down his neck all day Sunday, he continually kept he (and other significant challengers) at bay.  And many remember Day's challenges at the U.S. Open, where he battled vertigo over the weekend, collapsing to the ground at one point, and eventually finishing and impressive 9th when many thought he would have to withdraw.  Day had completed six of the last 19 majors in the Top 5.  This time, he finished number one.  Golf has another deserving major winner, our Sportsman of the Week!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Sportsman of the Week Ending 8/9/2015

Major League Baseball is in crunch time, and some teams are beginning to look like contenders.  One of those teams is the Toronto Blue Jays.  And their MVP candidate Josh Donaldson.  In what is becoming more and more of an absolute steal, the Jays got their slugger in the offseason via trade.  This week, Donaldson went 10-26 with 5 HR and 2 2B.  The best stat was that the Blue Jays went 7-0.  Sweeping the Wild Card contending Minnesota Twins and American League East division leading New York Yankees (in the Bronx).  Playing well is one thing, leading your team to big wins is another.  All of the above adds up to Josh Donaldson being our Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

A Fan's Guide to National Baseball Hall of Fame Weekend

It somewhat goes without saying that visiting the National Baseball Hall of Fame Museum in Cooperstown, New York, is a must see for serious, or even casual baseball fans.  The amount of memories, memorabilia, sounds, sights, and history of the game present makes one truly hear the echoes of the crack of the bat and snap of the glove.  The museum averages approximately 300,000 fans per year, impressive given that it's not in a major city that would draw a lot of walk-in traffic.  But if there is one weekend that takes the regular experience and puts life and emotion to it, it's Hall of Fame induction weekend in late July.  I had the opportunity to experience one of the great induction classes of all time in 2015, with Craig Biggio, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, and John Smoltz  were enshrined as the first four person elected class since 1955.

I start off by saying the weekend met and exceeded all my expectations.  Packed into two days in town, it all went by so fast but memories will last a lifetime.  I offer the below memories, thoughts, advice, and perspective as a personal diary of the fun along with a guide for other fans.

1.  The more inductees the better

Having gone in a banner year for inductees, the dynamics of a diverse fan base added to the experience.  Far and away, fans from Houston dominated the crowd.  Having waiting 50 years of franchise history to have a player that was inducted, they (or shall I say "we") went all in. Dominican Republic nationals also showed up en mass (mainly on Sunday) to support the second Dominican player inducted in the Hall's history (Juan Marichal the first).  Larger classes would also tend to attract more of the enshrined Hall of Famers to attend.  You can bet as many as possible make plans to return, but the larger the hype, the better chance of seeing more of the living greats.  This weekend drew over 50 greats from Whitey Ford (class of 1974) to Frank Thomas (class of 2014).  With a number of good players on upcoming ballots, there should be strong classes for the next five years (think Ken Griffey Jr., Chipper Jones, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, and Jim Thome).

Astros fans lined the streets for Craig Biggio


Dominican Republic fans support their inductee Pedro Martinez



2.  Plan key activities, but allow free time to take it all in

The weekend includes activities on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.  If you try to do only events, you'll miss some of the fun of the spontaneity of the weekend.  While the smallish shops around town are completely overwhelmed, many bring their wares to the streets allowing fans to simply walk up and down and check it out.  There are a number of small bars and pubs to pop in and grab a pint.  On this particular weekend, Tony Gwynn's widow brought in some of his brews he had been working shortly before his depth.  For this weekend only, .394 beer was stocked and we partook.  In this bar we also saw former Braves pitching coach Leo Mazzone just relaxing and talking with fans.  Up and down the street you'll see former players (Lou Pinella, Larry Dierker, Art Howe) and other celebrities quietly mingling with fans.  I would have liked to have had more time to walk the streets.

Sampling Tony Gwynn's .394 Pale Ale at Cooley's in Cooperstown proper


As for the events, plan and see the Parade of Legends on Saturday.  Period.  Make it a non-negotiable.  You may be lucky enough to see one or two Hall of Famers around town but this parade has almost all of the weekend participants right in front of you waving to the crowd and sometimes interacting with fans.

Pro tip - bring folding chairs and set them up along the fence early.  Protocol seems to be that chairs placed reserve a spot without a person being present.  By 10 am that morning chairs are already lining up.  We placed ours at about 2:30 pm and were just on the second row with a great view.

Fans reserve their spot hours before Parade

 The parade is right after the Awards Ceremony (Frick and Spink) which may be worth skipping (we did).  If you go to that event, you may struggle to get a good view for the parade.

Getting this close to legends is a must-do for Hall of Fame Weekend
The Big Unit takes in the moments on his camera

Craig Biggio gets ovation from Astros fans

I also heard good feedback from someone who went to the Monday Roundtable with new inductees (Hall Membership is required).  I did not take it in, but the next day at Doubleday Field the recent inductees interacted with fans in a more casual atmosphere taking questions from the media (some submitted by fans).

3.  Don't count on seeing the Museum in depth

With so many fans in town, the logistics just aren't in your favor.  If you have a decent size group, I highly recommend getting an annual Hall of Fame membership.  It allows you to draw four complimentary tickets and most importantly, gets you in the short line to get in.  The regular line winds down the street by noon on Saturday.  The membership also might come with reserved seating for the ceremony (check out the details or determine you level).

The Hall of Fame Museum is a beehive of fans on Saturday

Great exhibits to all inductees are prominent

Seeing the Hall of Fame Gallery is mandatory

Four of my childhood favorites side-by-side

You can see all of the museum you want, no doubt.  But you'll have to wait for folks to clear out of the way and photos in front of exhibits take a while.  You may want to consider seeing some exhibits in depth and passing over others just to get through.  You definitely want to see the museum even at this level.  The weekend would not be complete without it.

4.  Decide on transportation logistics and execute

With Craig Biggio so close to getting in, I booked my airfare before the class was announced.  This paid off as the good flights quickly filled up (at a higher price) shortly after.  There were 85 Albany-bound through passengers for our Houston flight with one stop, and 69 through passengers coming back.  B-G-O chants were going at some points.  The poor folks getting on at the "stop" in Tampa thought they had good seat selection with (SWA) "A" group but by the time they got on, there were only center seats due to the through count.

You'll have to stay in a nearby town very likely, Albany worked well for us.  It was about 75-85 minutes away, not too bad a drive.  Airport access, hotel selection, and restaurant options were plentiful.  Get your rental car early, prices are high due to demand.

Once you get to Cooperstown, you will park and walk the remainder of the day.  There are two options here.  The first is to find their colored designated parking lots on the edge of town and pay $2 - $5 per person for an all-day trolley.  We did not use this option, but most thought it was run well.  I will say after the parade, the line for the trolley back to the lots was long and slow.  Instead, we budgeted (or fell into) just paying high prices for parking on private property.  On Saturday, it was $40 on a large estate within 5 minute walk from the Hall.  On Sunday it was $30 in a field just adjacent to Clark (7 minute walk).  Parking prices at other nearby locales were similar.  To us it was worth the time savings to maximize our trip to spend the money.  In both cases, we rolled into town, paid, and within minutes were taking in the sights.  Others may choose differently.  I would do the pay to park again, it's just part of the vacation budget.

5.  Wear as much baseball stuff as you can

Just as you see kids with balloons, Mickey Mouse ears, and eyes of wonder at Disney World, you see fans decked out in every team imaginable for Hall of Fame Weekend.  Not only in town, but in Albany, at airports, driving on the road, in the hotels, etc.  Of course teams that had inductees were the most, for instance several fans wearing Montreal Expos attire were also seen (Randy and Pedro).  Or someone with a White Sox jersey and a sign for Carlton Fisk and Frank Thomas (both acknowledged the fan during the parade).  It's a time to celebrate your team, bring your colors and represent!

An eclectic mix of fans line the streets for the Parade of Legends

A kid waving a popular sign drawing cheers from the Astros crowd


6.  Induction Day

I would recommend dedicating Sunday only to the induction ceremony (not worth trying to squeeze in the museum or in town attractions).  Get there early and relax.  There will be a lot of waiting if you get there early enough to get your place.  Bring chairs, blankets, playing cards, glove, ball, etc.  Bring coolers with lunch (the food sales lines were very very long).  Bring lots of hydrating fluids.  It's not a giant tailgate party but several folks were partaking in beer.  And bring sunscreen and an umbrella for shade or rain.  Nestled in the hills there isn't much breeze.

Pro tip number 2 - The same Parade spot reserve protocol applies to the induction ceremony (held at the Clark Sports Center about 1 mile south of town).  Fans start placing blankets and chairs out Friday, maybe before.  There is plenty of room to walk up on Induction Day and find a place, but the prime real estate will be long gone.

With four speeches it dragged on at times (fans aren't necessarily hanging on every word).  I can imagine kids in particular getting restless during the 2 - 3 hour ceremony.

Craig Biggio addresses the crowd of 45,000+
Randy Johnson reflects on his career during induction speech

7. Autographs are tough to come by (free ones at least)

I debated bringing some of my childhood baseball cards for potential autographs but decided against it in the end.  Probably the right choice.  There are several schedules signings up and down Main and Pioneer Streets but these are pay to play.  I know Rickey Henderson (rumored $300), Tommy Lasorda and Tony LaRussa were part of signing events.  Craig Biggio and the other inductees signed at the Roundtable event on Monday (for a fee).  If you want autographs, the safe way is to bring money and find out when and where (word is up and down the streets and in local media).  The only Hall of Fame player I saw signing free autographs after the parade was Cal Ripken Jr. (for 10 - 15 minutes).  Several autograph hounds (mostly kids) were waiting at the airport (near rental car area before, near ticketing counters after).  This may be a way to go, but it looked like a long day of sitting and waiting.


If you read this and are planning to attend a Hall Weekend and have any questions, comment here or tweet me at @lhd_on_sports and I'll be glad to answer!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Sportsman of the Week Ending 8/2/2015

It was a busy week in baseball that started with the Hall of Fame induction, went through the trade deadline, and ended with a new team in first place in the National League East.  Led by our sportsman of the Week, the New York Mets went 4-2 including a sweep of rival Washington Nationals to take the division lead.  Lucas Duda is on a power binge.  In those six games, he slugged 7 HR with 10 RBI while going 9 for 19 for a .473 clip while slugging 1.632 over the stretch.  Duda isn't exactly tearing it up this season, but he tore it up for the week, a worthy Sportsman of the Week!

Friday, July 31, 2015

Sportsman of the Week Ending 7/26/2015

A second dominant performance in the marquee circuit of the sport earns out Sportsman of the Week another nod.  Chris Froome of Kenya (GBR) dominated the 200 cyclist field over three weeks to win his second Tour de France in three years.  Seizing control of the race on the first mountain stage, he gave up nary a second the remainder of the stages.  Repeated attacks by opponents were no match for Froome of Team Sky.  His time of 84 hours, 46 minutes, 14 seconds in the "saddle" bested the field by 1 minute 12 seconds but it was never that close.  Another great Tour de France and another great Sportsman of the Week!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Sportsman of the Week Ending 7/19/2015

Another great week for Sports, with the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, the Open Championship in Scotland, and a crucial week for the Tour de France.  It is baseball we turn to, and this week's Sportsman laid claim to the best player in his sport.  Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim did what no other player in baseball has done in weeks.  Score a run on (recent Sportsmand of the Week) Zack Greinke.  Trout led off the All-Star game with a 2-strike home run to boost the AL to an early lead.  He later scored another run.  Even more amazing, his first All-Star Game at bat in his first four appearances.  Single.  Double.  Triple.  Home Run.  And if that wasn't enough, he won a game Friday night with a walk-off home run for his first place Angels.  A great show earning Trout our Sportsman of the Week!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Sportswoman of the Week Ending 7/12/2015

For the second week in a row, we venture to the women's sports arena. And it's not for lack of competition, but outstanding performances.  Serena Williams is doing what no lady in the sport of tennis has ever done.  Dominate at a level that is unbelievable.  And an age older than most (33).  In majors.  She won Wimbledon (again) and a major (again).  In fact, she's the defending champion in all the majors.  Now if she wins the U.S. Open (which she has won the last three) she will have won a calendar Grand Slam.  Joining Steffi Graf (19) and Margaret Court (28) as the only ones to do it in the same calendar year in the Open era.  She's showing no signs of slowing down.  It's time to mention her in the conversation of best female athletes ever.  And is our sportswoman of the week (for the second time).

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Sportswoman of the Week Ending 7/5/2015

With a number of major sports events going on, the FIFA Womens World Cup took center stage this week, with four traditional powers battling for the trophy.  It was the United States that prevailed, and the championship game performance by our Sportswoman of the week did what may never be replicated.  American Carli Lloyd not only scored a hat trick, but she did it in the first 16 minutes of the game.  It was her fourth straight game with a tally (during each of the knockout round games). She also contributed a goal and an assist on Tuesday in the crucial semifinal defeat of the Worlds Number 1 team Germany.  On the World's biggest stage, Lloyd is our deserving Sportswoman of the Week!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Sportsman of the Week Ending 6/28/2015

Some of the pitching in Major League Baseball has been impressive this year, so for the third week in a row, we go to the bump.  Los Angeles Dodgers right handed pitcher Zack Greinke has had a long run of success.  This week, he went 13 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball with just 7 hits, 3 walks, and 11 strikeouts. Throw in another 7 innings in his previous start and he's over 20 straight scoreless.  In his last 11 starts, he's only allowed more than 2 runs once for six more more innings every outing.  His 1.58 ERA leads the major leagues and Greinke's Los Angeles Dodgers are second in the National League with 43 wins.  Greinke is another arm worthy of the Sportsman of the Week!