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


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

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Sportsman of the Week Ending 10/15/2017

A thrilling MLB postseason so far, and a new hero has emerged on the only team west of the Pecos still alive.  The Los Angeles Dodgers Justin Turner has rekindled the momentum that the team had during their stretch of 56 wins in 67 games over the summer (56-11).  But for the postseason, the Dodgers are up to 5-0 overall record through Sunday and marching toward the Fall Classic.  Turner has done his part, going 9-21 with 2 HR, and 10 RBI, the biggest of which was a walk off 3 run HR to win Game 2 against the Chicago Cubs in the NLCS.  He's become the man in LA, and is hoping to deliver the first Dodgers title in nearly 30 years for Tinsel Town. Meanwhile Turner is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

College Football Picks - 2017 Week Seven

Yessir, Texas football is back!
Well yeeeeee hawwww.  About time the two experts on this Blog had a rampage.  Both Bulldog Babe and me, JR Ewing, would have taken Vega$ to the cleaners last week.  Something like 11-1 ATS.  More on that in a minute.  But we now enter the meat of the regular season.  Hard to believe some teams are half way through their schedule and already bowl eligible.  Meanwhile Baylor, no wins.

So now our weekly take on last week and this week, in five bullets:

1) Clemson and Georgia continue to assault Vegas and the rankings. They do nothing but win by a lot of points.
2) The Big 12 never gets national respect, because when a team like Iowa State beats Oklahoma, nobody considers it something like a Michigan State over Michigan where both teams are good.  Let me tell you, the Big 12 is a deep conference.
3) The Pac 12 continues to play their biggest marquee games really late and the feeling that they may be passed over for a second team east of the Mississippi is palpable. Meanwhile the Apple Cup is shaping up to be huge.
4) Not seeing a lot of upset potential this week.  Which pretty much means it will be Upset Saturday.
5) I get the fun of talking about the college football playoff and potential seeding, slights, conference representation, etc. because it's fun.  But really, it's so meaningless at this point.  Nobody in the NFL is sitting there saying "well Kansas City will be the 1 seed and Jacksonville the 2, so they'll probably play New England, etc."  Because really, so much football left.  Sit back and enjoy!

Take me to Vegas, baby,  I'm red hot!
This blog will typically pick five games, including the Texas Longhorns and Georgia Bulldogs by default (unless bad matchups).  We try and go for one game in each of the Power 5 conferences, sometimes skipping one that might not have a marquee.  For each week's games, we give you final scores, so you can do your own ATS and S/U comparison. We go three games before Saturday, and all road favorites.

Our two analysts are J.R. Ewing, Texas Longhorns fan and general loud mouth.  And we feature big time Georgia Bulldog fan Bulldog Babe (BDB) (@bulldogbabexo) as a guest expert.

Last week
JR: 4-2 S/U, 5-1 ATS
BDB: 5-1 S/U, 6-0 ATS

Season to date:
JR: 18-12 S/U, 17-13 ATS
BDB: 20-10 S/U, 21-9 ATS

Easier to say games missed.  Both JR and BDB had Michigan State covering but not winning.  BDB had Washington State plus cover, JR had an Oregon upset.  On this alone, once again she schools the master.

Spreads are from a great pick site, Capped Sports

Game 1: Auburn (-6.5) at Louisiana State (3:30 p.m. EDT)

JR Ewing:
Auburn's only blemish is a loss to top ranked Clemson.  LSU is still finding their identity.  Even though this game is at the Swamp, Auburn wins a back yard brawl.  Better coached and more confident.
Auburn 24, LSU 17

Bulldog Babe: 
Last year’s matchup between these two teams came with a lot of drama. This year won’t be any different, considering the SEC West competition this season. Auburn is a favorite at the midway point of the season, and LSU has had an up and down year. I think Auburn continues their momentum and they win this weekend.
Auburn 37, LSU 20

Game 2: Oklahoma (-7.5) vs Texas (3:30 p.m. EDT) - Dallas

JR Ewing:
Tough game to pick, Texas has played a lot better since an initial loss to Maryland.  Oklahoma coming off a shocking home loss.  They just didn't look like themselves.  The game features two first year coaches in what could be a decade or more rivalry between the two. Oklahoma gets round one, they have more polished talent.  Texas takes over the series in a couple of years, just not yet.
Oklahoma 35, Texas 24

Bulldog Babe:
Texas and Oklahoma is a great matchup, with both teams having their own strengths. Oklahoma was upset by Iowa State last week and Texas had a crazy win in double overtime against Kansas State, so they have their own storylines from the previous week. I think Oklahoma will take this practice week to recover and fix their problems. They will bounce back and take the win this weekend, but it will be close.
Oklahoma 30, Texas 24

Game 3: Missouri (+30) at Georgia (7:30 p.m. EDT) 

JR Ewing:
Yes, this is a lopsided matchup.  I've been riding Georgia and the cover all year, but this is just so many points.  Georgia wins it easily, but they probably ease off the gas enough to let Missouri cover.
Georgia 35, Missouri 10

Bulldog Babe:
Another year, another late October matchup for the two SEC East teams. Georgia is playing lights out right now, starting out 6-0 for the first time since 2005 and Missouri having a not so great fun so far this season and in SEC East competition. I don’t think this will be much of a competition, but as Coach Kirby says, humility is a week away so anything can happen. I think Georgia will have another dominating win and go into the bye week with a lot of momentum
Georgia 45, Missouri 7

Game 4: Ohio State (-24) at Nebraska (7:30 p.m. EDT)

JR Ewing:
This is the dream matchup that the Big 10 envisioned when they pilfered Nebraska from the Big 10.  But this ain't your old Big 12 Nebraska.  Coach on the hot seat and Ohio State is in the mode of impressing pollsters. This is a romp in Lincoln for the Buckeyes.
Ohio State 49, Nebraska 10

Bulldog Babe:
I think this is a great matchup. Nebraska is coming off a bad loss to Wisconsin and Ohio State had a blowout win against Maryland. Looking at last week’s game for Nebraska, I don’t think they have the mojo to keep up with Ohio State. Ohio State wins in dominating fashion. 
Ohio State 52, Nebraska 21

Game 5: Oregon (+11) at Stanford (11:00 p.m. EDT)

JR Ewing:
Fool me once, shame on me.  Fool me twice?  Not so Oregon.  Still trying to rebuild, they're not there yet.  Stanford usually wins this matchup physically and that continues in Palo Alto.  They outman the Ducks and take this one easily.
Stanford 31, Oregon 14

Bulldog Babe:
Oregon vs. Stanford is a great matchup. While both teams are great, one has more strengths than the other. Stanford so far has had a great year and I think they continue that.
Stanford 30, Oregon 20

Enjoy fall and enjoy your football weekend America!

- JR and BDB

Monday, October 9, 2017

Sportsman of the Week Ending 10/8/2017

The Major League Baseball playoffs kicked off this week with loaded teams (3 teams with 100 wins; not to mention the Red Sox, Cubs, and Yankees stocked with talent).  One diminutive player stood above the rest.  The Houston Astros Jose Altuve made a statement against the Boston Red Sox in three amazing, if not historic games.  In his first playoff game, he tied a postseason record with three HR (including the likes of Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson, and yes, Sportsman of the Week winner Pablo Sandoval.).  But it wasn't just those HR, he got on base, got hits, and led his Astros to a 2-1 series lead by the end of the week.  Within 20 hours after the week ended, the Astros were the first MLB team to advance to the League Championship Series.  Stats to end the week, 8-11, .727 average, 3 HR, 4 RBI, 5 R, .787 OBP, 1.545 SLG, 2.332 OPS.  Can you say MVP? Probably. But certainly the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

College Football Picks - 2017 Week Six

Finally, a decent week!
Well well well, Bulldog Babe had an off day (well, we can consider 3-2 off for her.  Although the 1-4 against the spread will dent her unbelievable streak.  The most important thing is that both my Longhorns, and her Bulldogs won conference road games.  On to the next.

So now our weekly take on last week and this week, in five bullets:

1) It's time we realize USC was never that good to begin with.  Scuffled with Western Michigan and Texas at home.  Washington State is dangerous, but also not world beaters.  We'll see as they're on the card again this week.
2) Clemson hasn't missed a beat.  This years team may be better than last years because of their winning mentality.  Remember they almost lost 3 times last year (last second wins vs. Alabama and NC State).  I have them at number 1.
3) Tennessee and LSU may be looking for new coaches soon.  Wow on LSU.  Literally a third of the way into a new season.
4) I'm calling it now on the Big 10 being overrated.  There's four good teams in the Top 10. None of the other ten teams are getting votes except a couple for Michigan State (which lost by 20 at home to Notre Dame).  Most only have two games against the others so 10-2 is worst case scenario. Until they all lose their bowl games.  Again.
5) Baylor is the only winless FBS team at 0-5 and is now 1-11 in their last 12 games.  Their only win was against Boise State in the Cactus Bowl. Go figure.

I always get the Georgia game right
This blog will typically pick five games, including the Texas Longhorns and Georgia Bulldogs by default (unless bad matchups).  This week we pick six games because of the Miami at Florida State Hurricane Irma makeup game.  For each week's games, we give you final scores, so you can do your own ATS and S/U comparison. We go three games before Saturday, and all road favorites.

Our two analysts are J.R. Ewing, Texas Longhorns fan and general loud mouth.  And we feature big time Georgia Bulldog fan Bulldog Babe (BDB) (@bulldogbabexo) as a guest expert.

Last week
JR: 5-0 S/U, 3-2 ATS
BDB: 3-2 S/U, 1-4 ATS

Season to date:
JR: 14-10 S/U, 12-12 ATS
BDB: 15-9 S/U, 15-9 ATS

Both JR and BDB nailed Georgia, Clemson, and Miami winning.  BDB upset of Texas didn't come to fruition (ha ha) and JR correctly picked the Washington State upset (I've seen Mike Leach win too many games like that.  Overall we're pretty close, BDB has the distinct edge when looking against the spread as she is hitting 62.5%

Spreads are from a great pick site, Capped Sports

Game 1: Georgia (-17.5) at Vanderbilt (12:00 p.m. EDT)

JR Ewing:
Georgia has been a covering machine.  I'm tempted to think "they're due for an off day" but until I see it, I won't believe it.  They're balanced, with good running backs to provide stability to a precocious quarterback.  Their defense is ball hawks and they have an amazing killer instinct.  Another easy win.
Georgia 37, Vanderbilt 10

Bulldog Babe: 
Georgia at Vanderbilt, another SEC matchup this week. Georgia is off to their best start in a long time while Vanderbilt has had only one impressive win and that was the upset against Kansas State. After getting completely mauled by Alabama a few weeks ago, they’re mentally not ready for the rest of the year. Georgia is coming off a dominating win, shutting out Tennessee in Knoxville for the first time since 1994. That’s very impressive and i’m not only saying that because i’m a dawg ;) if Georgia keeps their winning ways up, I think they’ll be the biggest threat for Alabama and the CFB playoff. Georgia wins this one.
Georgia 37, Vanderbilt 7

Game 2: Miami (-3.5) at Florida State (3:30 p.m. EDT)

JR Ewing:
Mark Richt has Miami looking like the dominant team of the 80s and 90s.  The win at Duke was impressive.  Florida State was a last second drive from being 0-3.  I just don't see how the 'Noles hang close.  Miami has lost seven straight in this matchup, but that ends now.  They come out and make a statement.
Miami 31, Florida State 17

Bulldog Babe:
Miami at Florida State this is an in state rivalry going back a long time, it's always a great showing. Rivalry games have a lot more intensity than other games and this Saturday won't be any different. Florida State losing their quarterback in week 1 has hurt them a lot and it’s kinda surprising to see considering how well they’ve done over the last few seasons. After seeing how they’ve done since losing their starting QB, I think Miami wins this one.
Miami 30, Florida State 17

Game 3: West Virginia (+14) at Texas Christian (Saturday 3:30 p.m. EDT) 

JR Ewing:
This is a matchup of two solid Big 12 teams.  West Virginia lost to a solid Virginia Tech team as an opener, but has since scored 56 or more points in three straight.  TCU had the big upset of Oklahoma State, but I think we're putting a bit too much faith in that result.  TCU wins, but it's much closer than two TD.
TCU 38, West Virginia 35

Bulldog Babe:
West Virginia at TCU will be another interesting game. TCU has been strong and West Virginia has been promising, it’s a perfect AP Top 25 matchup. TCU is undefeated and they have worked hard to be undefeated, I think they continue their winning ways and they have a great game this weekend. TCU wins,
TCU 27, West Virginia 14

Game 4: Kansas State (+4) at Texas (7:00 p.m. EDT)

JR Ewing:
So for the record I'm 3-1 picking Texas ATS so listen closely.  These are two lower tier bowl teams.  Texas defense is solid, offense not so much.  But at home they can get it going (43.5 PPG).  Kansas State is your typical Kansas State team.  Fundamentally sound. well coached if not undetalented players.  They fight you every game.  This series has been won by the home team for six straight years.  
Texas 21, Kansas State 13

Bulldog Babe:
Kansas State at Texas will be interesting, I think. Texas is coming off a dominating win against Iowa State and I think they keep up their winning ways. Kansas State is 3-1, but looking at their stats from the season, I’m not impressed with how Jesse Ertz has only completed half of his passes as to where Shane Buechele has completed over half of his passes. Texas wins this one
Texas 24, Kansas State 17

Game 5: Michigan State (+13.5) at Michigan (7:30 p.m. EDT)

JR Ewing:
Rivalry.  And one that Michigan State usually plays pretty well (7-2 in the last 9). Michigan is the better team and at home, so I can't pick a straight up upset.  I do think that this will be a very competitive game.  Michigan runs away at the end a bit, but not by as many points as you might think.
Michigan 28, Michigan State 21

Bulldog Babe:
Michigan State at Michigan is one classic rivalry that I think everyone secretly enjoys a little bit. Michigan is ranked #7 on the AP poll and they always look to beat their little brother in something, so I think that happens again this time. Michigan wins.
Michigan 20, Michigan State 14

Game 6: Washington State (+2) at Oregon (8:00 p.m. EDT)

JR Ewing:
Oregon hasn't looked like world beaters, which makes this line look puzzling.  But Mike Leach led teams typically go see saw, so experts are predicting a down week (in Autzen stadium, a tough place).  I'm tempted to go Washington State again, but like I just said, I see Leach lay duds after a big win.  Oregon wins this one by a FG.
Oregon 31, Washington State 28

Bulldog Babe:
Washington State at Oregon will be interesting considering the way the media is pursuing this game. Oregon is a 1.5 point favorite, but Washington State is ranked #11 and undefeated. I’m not buying that Oregon is a favorite, mainly because I don’t really think they’ve done a lot this year. Washington State wins.
Washington State 27, Oregon 17

More tragic news this week for the massacre in Las Vegas.  Unbelievable in every aspect.  Prayers to the victims, their families, and America. Hopefully college football provides a day of respite from a society that is tough to bear sometimes.

- JR and BDB

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Sportsman of the Week Ending 10/1/2017

One of the emerging stars in the NFL led his team to a big road win, positioning his team for a potential division title.  Todd Gurley of the Los Angeles Rams is off to a start that many forecasted when he came out of Georgia.  But it's taken him a couple of years, an ACL recovery, and maybe a maturing QB to make the leap.  This week, he went into north Texas to take on America's team.  But it was Gurley who came out opening eyes.  He ended his day as the player with the most rushing yards, most catches, and only four yards from being the highest receiving yards.  On either team.  That's 23 carries for 121 yards, 7 catches for 94 yards and a TD.  So over 300 yards on just 30 touches.  Pretty good.  The Rams are 3-1 and in front in the NFC West.  They might stay there with the efforts of our Sportsman of the Week!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

College Football Picks - 2017 Week Five

It's not going well.  Don't ask.
We might just have to start calling our Blog "Listen to what Bulldog Babe says because she's usually right."  Another unbelievable week for our sage from Charlotte while I (that's JR Ewing) can't even pick winners.  Sigh.  We try another week.

So now our weekly take on last week and this week, in five bullets:

1) Florida State has to be the most disappointing team so far.  From Top 3 to out of the Top 25.  The Alabama game was tough, particularly the injury to their starting QB.  Followed by Hurricane Irma disrupting what would have been a couple of weeks to get healthy and get some wins under their belt.  Don't be surprised to see them in the ACC title hunt even after the loss to North Carolina State
2) Still waiting for some impactful Big 10 games.  No, Penn State vs. Iowa doesn't count.  To me, the conference has too many soft matchups compared to the others. Not saying the top isn't just as good as other big conferences.
3) Alabama is still the best team in the SEC and the country.
4) Is this it for Tennessee's Butch Jones if he doesn't win?
5) Texas (1-2) faces almost a must win on the road in Ames, Iowa, on Thursday.  Their next five feature three top 15 teams, plus 2016 Bowl Game winners Kansas State and Baylor as the Big 12 gauntlet is brutal.

Just another 4-1 week, ho hum.
This blog will typically pick the Texas Longhorns and Georgia Bulldogs by default.  Texas plays on Thursday, but after a bye and Georgia plays a huge rivalry game.  So for this week's five games, we give you final scores, so you can do your own ATS and S/U comparison. We go three games before Saturday, and all road favorites.

Our two analysts are J.R. Ewing, Texas Longhorns fan and general loud mouth.  And we feature big time Georgia Bulldog fan Bulldog Babe (BDB) (@bulldogbabexo) as a guest expert.

Last week
JR: 2-3 S/U, 2-3 ATS
BDB: 4-1 S/U, 4-1 ATS

Season to date:
JR: 9-10 S/U, 9-10 ATS
BDB: 12-7 S/U, 14-5 ATS

Both JR and BDB missed North Carolina State's upset (although JR had the cover).  BDB nailed the TCU upset.  Both got the Georgia win and cover, while BDB had Washington and Notre Dame winning and covering, JR only had Washington winning.  She's dominating.  14-5 ATS, are you kidding me????

Spreads are from a great pick site, Capped Sports

Game 1: Texas (-6.5) at Iowa State (Thursday 8:00 p.m. EDT)

JR Ewing:
It's a make or break week for the Longhorns.  With a tough gauntlet of games coming up, the Horns need a win here.  And it will be tough.  They were shut out on their last trip to Ames.  Coming off a competitive loss to Top 5 Southern Cal, they'll need a repeat performance.  Iowa State played Iowa close and has two other easy wins.  Both teams are bowl caliber, but the loser may not be able to scramble for enough wins in the deep Big 12.  All that being said, I think the Longhorns answer the bell and win a tough one going away.  Tight at halftime, easy at the end.
Texas 31, Iowa State 14

Bulldog Babe: 
Texas and Iowa State will be interesting. Texas is a six and a half point favorite over Iowa State, but after their performance over the last three weeks, I’m just not convinced they have their qualities together as a football team. I think Iowa State wins it.
Iowa State 27, Texas 20

Game 2: Miami (-6.5) at Duke (Friday 7:00 p.m. EDT)

JR Ewing:
I used to make a living off picking Duke.  Nobody thinks they are good, but here they are at 4-0.  They welcome the rival Miami Hurricanes, same matchup in Durham that produced a ridiculous (yet not really legal) kick return TD to decide the game two years ago.  I expect Duke to keep it close against the Canes under the lights.  But Miami will be too much in a close one.
Miami 38, Duke 34

Bulldog Babe:
Miami and Duke is personally one of my favorite matchups, two talented teams with a lot of charisma and poise. Duke may be the favorite, but I think Miami is an up and coming team and they will win this time around. 
Miami 20, Duke 14

Game 3: Southern California (-3.5) at Washington State (Friday 10:30 p.m. EDT) 

JR Ewing:
Southern Cal has really only been impressive in their win against Stanford.  The other wins were slogs.  They travel to a bizarre land in eastern Washington.  Where Mike Leach loves to pick off big name teams.  Washington State has earned a Top 20 rank and they blow out a weary Trojan squad at home.
Washington State 42, Southern California 21

Bulldog Babe:
USC and Washington State is another game that has both teams ranked on the AP poll. In my opinion, ranked teams playing each other is always bound for some excitement. I think USC has been a dream team so far, I have them winning.
Southern California 30, Washington State 20

Game 4: Georgia (-7) at Tennessee (3:30 p.m. EDT)

JR Ewing:
I can't wait to see what this Georgia team does next.  Impressive so far this year with wins against ranked Notre Dame and Mississippi State teams.  Tennessee has oodles of talent but keeps underachieving.  They're at home and really really need this game.  Last year they won this game on a hail mary.  After losing a couple of weeks ago on a hail mary.  No hail mary this time.  Georgia is built to win on the road with their running game and QB with nerves of steel.  I do think it will be closer than experts think.
Georgia 31, Tennessee 21

Bulldog Babe:
Georgia & Tennessee, over the last four years, has been a chest bumping match for sure. One bitter rivalry that does not go unnoticed. I honestly think that after seeing how Tennessee has played over the first four weeks, they don’t have what it takes to keep up with Georgia and their improving team. Georgia just has the better weapons, better running game, and better defensive qualities. I think Georgia runs away with the win! 
Georgia 27, Tennessee 14

Game 5: Clemson (-7.5) at Virginia Tech (7:00 p.m. EDT)

JR Ewing:
Virginia Tech under Frank Beamer was renown for being unbeatable at home at night.  Can they recapture that glory under Justin Fuente?  Maybe.  Meanwhile Clemson has that look of a champion.  A tough schedule so far and they haven't flinched.  I think they lose one in the ACC, but not this one.  Virginia Tech gives Clemson all they can handle, but the Tigers, who are used to winning close games, take this one.  Again, under the number.. 
Clemson 24, Virginia Tech 20

Bulldog Babe:
Clemson and Virginia Tech is an AP top 15 matchup, so it’s bound for some excitement. Clemson is undefeated and they have also had a couple of close calls this season, but come out on top each time. Virginia Tech is also undefeated with another strong team for the 2017 season. This will be a back and forth game, I feel like. I have Clemson winning this one, but it will be close. 
Clemson 27, Virginia Tech 24

Enjoy your football Saturday, America!

- JR and BDB

Monday, September 25, 2017

Sportsman of the Week Ending 9/24/2017

Conference play began in college football across the country, and while no games decided the title, many games left teams scrambling to stay in the hunt.  One was #4 Penn State.  With a tricky conference opener at undefeated Iowa, they needed to find a way to escape with a win.  And escape they did.  The game will most be remembered for the Nittany Lions touchdown as the clock struck zero to preserve their Big 10 title hopes.  But it was Saquon Barkley that was the star of the show.  In hostile territory against an aggressive defense, Barkley toted the rock 28 times while catching another 12 passes.  The result?  305 total yards (over 7 yards a play) and a touchdown.  And there were not many holes, he turned 3 yard losses into 5 yard gains, and 5 yard gains into 20 yard bursts.  Hurdling, going through tacklers, getting better as the game went on.  The first big Heisman performance happened, and it was our Sportsman of the Week Saquon Barkley who delivered to shot across the bow.

Friday, September 22, 2017

College Football Picks - 2017 Week Four

Nothing short of a trainwreck last week for JR
It's that time for conference play to hit full stride and there are a lot of great matchups this week.  One thing about conference play is that you have to go on the road for half of 'em.  So teams that have played solely within the friendly confines of their own stadium or a neutral site (e.g. Michigan, Southern Cal, Alabama) will find themselves venturing into hostile territory for the first time.  Teams with one early loss such as preaseason Top 5 Ohio State and Florida State will work to rebuild their resume, as a conference championship for either will likely end up in a playoff berth.

So now our weekly take on last week and this week, in five bullets

1) The SEC game of the week on CBS continues to produce crazy finishes.  You can't script it any better.
2) Nebraska is in a free fall.  It's hard to believe how quickly the program has fallen from elite.
3) The Pac 12 had a high rate of road victories last year in big games.  Will that continue?  Division favorites Southern Cal and Washington will face tough road tests
4) Mississippi State and Georgia appear to be the most likely teams to unseat Alabama in the SEC.  This weekend one will emerge.  I guarantee a Bulldogs win.
5) Oklahoma State and Oklahoma appear to be on a collision course for perhaps a Bedlam game, then rematch one week later in the Big 12 championship game. The Big 12 is deep though, with TCU, West Virginia, Texas (taking USC to the end), Kansas State, as well as Texas Tech and Iowa State looking good early. Because of the round robin of 9 games, maybe the toughest schedule to navigate.
Bulldog Babe just keeps nailing games correctly
And now for our picks.

This blog will typically pick the Texas Longhorns and Georgia Bulldogs by default.  Texas has a bye, but Georgia most certainly is a game of interest.  Last week we only had four games due to the Florida State vs. Miami matchup being rescheduled due to Hurricane Irma.  We might sneak in a six game week later.  So for this week's five games, we give you final scores, so you can do your own ATS and S/U comparison.

Our two analysts are J.R. Ewing, Texas Longhorns fan and general loud mouth.  And we feature big time Georgia Bulldog fan Bulldog Babe (BDB) (@bulldogbabexo) as a guest expert.

Last week
JR: 1-3 S/U, 0-4 ATS
BDB: 2-2 S/U, 3-1 ATS

Season to date:
JR: 7-7 S/U, 7-7 ATS
BDB: 8-6 S/U, 10-4 ATS

Both JR and BDB missed Louisville and LSU winning straight up.  Both got USC correct, with BDB adding a Florida win.  JR was absolutely miserable only getting USC as a winner, but missing the Texas cover

Spreads are from a great pick site, Capped Sports

Game 1: North Carolina State (+12.5) at Florida State (Noon EDT)

JR Ewing:
It's a bit of a slow week in the ACC in terms of ranked teams playing each other.  This matchup is the most intriguing with Florida State having not played since the opening weekend due to Hurricane Irma and having lost their starting QB for the season.  It will be interesting to see if they're rusty.  Meanwhile North Carolina State comes into the game 2-1 having lost to a South Carolina team that might be better than we think.  That being said, Florida State wins this one, but within the spread. 
Florida State 28, North Carolina State 20

Bulldog Babe: 
Honestly NC State and Florida State isn't really a good competition because I think Florida State is the stronger team and they have more charisma than NC State does. Give me the 'Noles in this one.
Florida State 34, North Carolina State 17

Game 2: Texas Christian (+12.5) at Oklahoma State (3:30 EDT) 

JR Ewing:
A big conference matchup early in the Big 12 will help sort out the pecking order.  Oklahoma State's spread offense has looked tough to stop as they rang up 49 points in a half last week at Pittsburgh.  TCU struggled early against SMU, but bounced back for an easy win.  This will be high scoring and closer than the final score indicates, but Oklahoma State wins by two TD. 
Oklahoma State 42, Texas Christian 28

Bulldog Babe:
TCU and Oklahoma State are two great teams, with their own strengths on each side of the ball. TCU dominated last Arkansas and I think that if they keep up their winning ways, they'll be in serious talks to be in the playoffs in my opinion. I think they'll win over OKST.
Texas Christian 30, Oklahoma State 20

Game 3: Mississippi State (+5) at Georgia (7:00 EDT)

JR Ewing:
I might be looking forward to this game more than any this weekend.  Georgia was so impressive with a win on the road using their backup quarterback, now they come home between the hedges to open conference play against a strong opponent.  I was a Mississippi State doubter but they manhandled a good LSU team to win their opener.  This will be a physical matchup of athletes.  Georgia wins by a TD. 
Georgia 28, Mississippi State 21

Bulldog Babe:
Mississippi State and Georgia is gonna be another enjoyable game. Mississippi State is coming off a strong win against LSU and Georgia is coming off a dominant victory against Samford. Although everyone seems to be hyping Mississippi State, I think their offense won't be able to handle the strong Georgia defense, they will get after the quarterback and make sure the offense stays off the field. Give me Georgia in this one! 
Georgia 27, Mississippi State 20

Game 4: Notre Dame (-3) at Michigan State  (8:00 EDT)

JR Ewing:
Notre Dame lost a key game to Georgia earlier in the year, but bounced back well against a mediocre Boston College team to win the next one.  Michigan State is coming off a bafflingly bad 2016 campaign and looks pointed in the right direction.  They always play the Irish tough at home.  I think they win a squeaker. 
Michigan State 31, Notre Dame 30

Bulldog Babe:
Notre Dame came out last week after a tough loss to Georgia and completely ran over Boston College. I think Notre Dame is one serious team and they have the chance to go undefeated, I think they'll steal the win this week. 
Notre Dame 37, Michigan State 20

Game 5: Washington (-11.5) at Colorado (10:00 p.m. EDT)

JR Ewing:
Washington was the playoff team everyone thought shouldn't have been in the playoffs last year.  Part of it due to the late kickoffs that media don't necessarily watch before rubber stamping a Big 10 or SEC team instead. But I digress, this is a rematch of the Pac 12 title game which should be closer than people think.  Colorado can be tough to play at altitude and an improving team.  Washington escapes, but barely. 
Washington 31, Colorado 28

Bulldog Babe:
Washington and Colorado is an interesting matchup. I think after Washington was able to sneak their way into the playoffs last year, they're a force to be reckoned with. Give me the Huskies. 
Washington 31, Colorado 14

BDB and JR want to offer their prayers for the victims of the earthquake in Mexico City and fellow Americans in Puerto Rico who were devastated by Hurricane Maria (as well as others still recovering from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma).  It's hard to celebrate too much these days with people suffering.  You are not forgotten.

Enjoy your football Saturday, America!

- JR and BDB

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Sportsman of the Week Ending 9/17/2017

The pennant race is sharpening focus as some of the best teams from 2017 punch their ticket to the playoffs.  One of the teams that made the biggest moves was the Houston Astros, in acquiring Justin Verlander at the postseason roster deadline of August 31.  The former American League MVP and Cy Young Award winner has delivered as advertised, going 3-0 so far in 3 starts.  This week, he went 2-0, with 15 innings pitched, 4 hits, 1 earned run, and 19 strikeouts.  This was against two American League West opponents in Seattle and Los Angeles (Anaheim) in the playoff race.  His victory on Sunday clinched the first division title for the Astros since 2001, beginning what could be a Randy Johnson like postseason run.  It was his home debut.  But Verlander will be in Houston for two more years as long as they are willing to pay his salary.  His performance this week earns the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

College Football Picks - 2017 Week Three

Texas got a big game, but will they win?
The college football action stepped up a lot in Week 2, with several key matchups and all too early hot takes on coaches, teams, and conferences.  Unfortunately, one of the winners in Week 1 was Hurricane Irma, which derailed a number of games for Florida teams home or away.  Florida State vs Miami was a casualty this week as the game will be moved to October.  Otherwise, we can't wait for a college football weekend that ISN'T interrupted by a Hurricane!

So now our weekly take on last week and this week, in 5 bullets

1) Oklahoma has established itself as a college football playoff favorite.  As the Big 12 has 3 other Top 20 teams (one they would have to play twice), they will have the resume if undefeated, maybe even with a loss.
2) Don't count Ohio State out.  Remember when they lost to Virginia Tech at home and still won a National Championship?  Run the table, win the Big 10, and they're 90% in.
3) Is Georgia the second best SEC team? A true road win at Notre Dame (note that Alabama does not play non-conference games in true road fashion), they seem poised for a SEC East title
4) Clemson faces another tough contest, never count out a champion!
5) USC looks for revenge this week against the Texas Longhorns.  Looks like a mismatch on paper, but how to our expert pick it?

Bulldog Babe hitting 70% against the spread, whaaaattt???
And now for our picks.  This blog will typically pick the Texas Longhorns and Georgia Bulldogs by default.  Last week we skipped Texas due to soft matchup, this week we'll pass on Georgia.  Usually five games but this week we had Florida State vs. Miami queued up before the reschedule.  But for the four games, we give you final scores, so you can do your own ATS and S/U comparison!

Our two analysts are J.R. Ewing, Texas fan and general loud mouth.  And we feature big time Georgia Bulldog fan Bulldog Babe (BDB) (@bulldogbabexo) as a guest expert.

Last week
JR: 3-2 S/U, 3-2 ATS
BDB: 3-2 S/U, 3-2 ATS

First Week:
JR: 6-4 S/U, 7-3 ATS
BDB: 6-4 S/U, 7-3 ATS

JR succeeded with Oklahoma winning, BDB with Georgia.

Spreads are from a great pick site, Capped Sports

Game 1: Tennessee (-4.5) at Florida (3:30 EDT)

JR Ewing:
I had a lot of questions about Florida and none were answered in their season opening loss to Michigan. They did have a lot of suspensions, but still.  With a much needed week washed out by Hurricane Irma, I'm not sure they will be much better.  Tennessee beat a scrappy Georgia Tech team in overtime and looks like it's improving.  I like the Vols on the road, low scoring.

Tennessee 20, Florida 10

Bulldog Babe: 
Tennessee and Florida, the nasty rivalry (in my personal opinion). Tennessee beat Florida last season after over ten years of trying and as much as it kills me to say it, it was impressive. I don't think it'll happen this year. Yes Florida has started off the season on a bad note, but up until last seasons they have always been strong against Tennessee and I think they'll come out on top.

Florida 27, Tennessee 17

Game 2: Louisiana State (-7.5) at Mississippi State (7:00 EDT)

JR Ewing:
LSU looks like a team that could make a deep run through the SEC West.  Which of course goes through Alabama, but the bottom half (of a good division) is ripe for the picking for the Tigers.  Defense and athleticism give this one to the Bayou Bengals.

LSU 28, Mississippi State 10

Bulldog Babe:

LSU and Mississippi State is your typical SEC West battle. Two great teams with a great coaching staff. Both teams are undefeated and have had two great opening games, but there has to be a winne.

LSU 27, Mississippi State 20

Game 3: Clemson (-3) at Louisville  (8:00 EDT)

JR Ewing:
This is a game I circled on my calendar at the start of the year.  Defending national champions (with a new QB, and that's big) vs. the defending National Champions (and a team that looked like playoff contenders until mid-season).  Last years game came down to the very end, with Clemson having last minute magic at home.  This year, it's Louisville that defends home turf with the veteran quarterback.

Louisville 24, Clemson 14

Bulldog Babe:

Clemson and Louisville is another great matchup! The defending champions vs the defending Heisman winner. That's bound for some excitement! Lamar Jackson has proven himself and he was more than deserving to be the Heisman winner last year and I believe he will make another statement against the defending national champions.

Louisville 27, Clemson 21

Game 4: Texas (+15.5) at Southern California (8:30 EDT)

JR Ewing:
My Longhorns took care of USC last time they faced off (resulting in a National Championship), but this time, USC has the much better team.  Texas did look good against a bad San Jose State team after a perplexing Week 1 loss.  USC was also mediocre in Week 1 having to rally to beat Western Michigan. But USC gets its revenge, and it won't be close.

USC 41 Texas 14

Bulldog Babe:

Texas and Southern California is gonna be interesting. USC is undefeated, Texas is 1-1. I think that USC has the stronger team, mainly because of Sam Darnold. So far this season, he has thrown for four touchdowns and has 605 passing yards. While he has four interceptions as well, you can't help but take notice at those touchdown and passing yard stats.

USC 30, Texas 20

BDB and JR want to offer their condolences for the loss of Troy Gentry of the amazing group Montgomery Gentry.  A true loss to country music and the arts. 

Enjoy your football Saturday, America!

- JR and BDB

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Sportswoman of the Week Ending 9/10/2017

In a hyper-busy sports week featuring NFL Opening Weekend, the second week of NCAA College Football, and the MLB pennant chase, it's tennis we turn to this week.  If you were talking about American tennis in the past two decades, it was almost exclusively the Williams sisters or maybe Andy Roddick.  Well the United States Open showed that Americans may be back.  Sloane Stephens defeated Venus Williams on the way to winning the Open as an unseeded surprise.  The 24 year-old dropped three sets along the way, but defeated five out of seven matches against ranked opponents, ending with a defeat of 11 seed fellow American Madison Keys dropping just 3 games in the first set.  Is this Stephens break through to elite? Or just a solid week.  Time will tell, but Sloane Stephens is the Longhorndave Sportswoman of the Week!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

College Football Picks - 2017 Week Two

JR is not happy about Week 1
Well week one was full of surprises.  Of the bad kind for teams in my state of Texas.  Longhorns, upset. Aggies, humiliating implosion. Bears, you can't be serious.  But it's still early, and anything is possible.  College Football isn't all about the playoffs only, but also about conference races, rivalries, upsets, and just entertaining games.  I promise the fans of all three above, there will be exhilarating times.  Just not last week.

So what else did we learn week one and what do we look for in Week 2?  Top 5 list (maybe this will be a regular feature)

1) Alabama is still Alabama and the team to beat
2) You can't tell conference strength by a few opening games. Settle down when you start saying "this conference weak because xyz".  It will all play out.
3) Florida State probably had the worst first week. Losing a game they hoped to win, and losing their starting QB.  Hoping he comes back strong (and don't be surprised to see the 'Noles be ACC contenders regardless).  Your QB isn't your team.
4) Oklahoma has the longest winning streak in the country.  After losing to Houston and Ohio State early last year, they've been undefeated. They visit Columbus, Ohio, this week.  Game of the week
5) Prayers for all those who will be impacted by Hurricane Irma.  The state of Florida will need your help, be safe!

Bulldog Babe tells it straight!
But to the picks.  This blog will typically pick the Texas Longhorns and Georgia Bulldogs by default.  Except the Longhorns have their one game against non FBS competition, so we'll defer on that one.  Five great games this week follow.  It's great that the new College Football Playoff has seemed to spice up the non-conference action.

Our two analysts are J.R. Ewing, Texas fan and general loud mouth.  And we continue to feature big time Georgia Bulldog fan (@bulldogbabexo) as a guest expert. Her spunk and personality fit right in on this analysis.

First Week:
JR: 3-2 S/U, 4-1 ATS
BDB: 3-2 S/U, 4-1 ATS

Both missed Maryland and South Carolina wins, but both picked Maryland to cover.

Spreads are from a great pick site, Capped Sports

Game 1: Louisville (-9.5) at North Carolina (Noon EDT)

JR Ewing:
Both of these teams had forgettable week one games.  Louisville barely escaped a bad Purdue team.  North Carolina lost at home to Cal.  So what happens here?  Louisville with reigning Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson takes control.  Even given almost double digits on the spread, they win by more.

Louisville 31, North Carolina 17

Bulldog Babe: 
Louisville at North Carolina will be an interesting game, two ACC teams and we all know about the hype the ACC has been getting since last season. UNC lost against Cal last weekend and Louisville is coming off an opening win against Purdue. Does that mean Louisville will win? Not necessarily. I think UNC will pull this one out.

North Carolina 35, Louisville 27

Game 2: Auburn (+5.5) at Clemson (7:00 EDT)

JR Ewing:
An intriguing game, you have the Clemson Tigers, which are coming off a National Championship, vs. the Auburn Tigers, who seemed to kind of emerge as the next best SEC team last year in a down year for depth. Last year, Auburn took them to the end, but Clemson appeared like the better team just waiting to explode.  This year, they do it more authoritatively.

Clemson 38, Auburn 21

Bulldog Babe:

Auburn at Clemson is gonna be another heavyweight battle just like last year, where Auburn almost prematurely spoiled the Clemson Tigers national title run. I think that Clemson is the stronger team on both sides of the ball and I'm simply not buying into the Auburn hype.

Clemson 20, Auburn 14

Game 3: Georgia (+4) at Notre Dame  (7:30 EDT)

JR Ewing:
An intriguing game to say the least.  You have the young, rebuilding Bulldogs who by most counts are favored to win the SEC East.  And Notre Dame, for which "train wreck" was an understatement last year.  Both had impressive Week 1 wins.  By the spread, Notre Dame is merely favored by home field advantage.  I want to pick Georgia, but with a freshman QB starting in the Mecca of college football, I think Notre Dame wins.

Notre Dame 27, Georgia 14

Bulldog Babe:
Georgia at Notre Dame will be the game of the weekend, in my opinion. While everyone is favoring Notre Dame, I think Georgia comes out on top. Despite everything that went on in week one with Jacob Eason going down with a knee injury, I think the Dawgs will be okay in the hands of Jake Fromm. Georgia wins, 30-20.

Georgia 30, Notre Dame 20

Game 4: Oklahoma (+7.5) at Ohio State (7:30 EDT)

JR Ewing:
Oklahoma is thirsty for revenge after being humiliated at home last year in this same matchup.  Ohio State didn't look overwhelming against a good Indiana team, while Oklahoma dominated a bad Tulsa team.  Oklahoma has a new head coach, and to go into the Horseshoe and win is a tall order.  But I'm playing a hunch here.  Oklahoma wins a barn burner

Oklahoma 31 Ohio State 30

Bulldog Babe:

Oklahoma and Ohio State is a Top 10 battle and I don't think it'll be much of a battle.  Even with Ohio State struggling against Indiana last weekend, you never know what will happen. Ohio State will win a close one.

Ohio State 27, Oklahoma 20

Game 5: Stanford (+6.5) vs Southern California (8:30 EDT)

JR Ewing:
This may be the Pac 12 game of the year, and we're not even half way through September yet.  Road teams tend to do well in this series, and I liked Stanford's opening week performance better than USC.  I smell an upset, especially if you give me points.  I think Stanford methodically finishes off the Trojans for the win.  Straight up.

Stanford 31, Southern Cal 28

Bulldog Babe:
Stanford at USC is an Top 15 battle that is bound for some entertainment. After quite a scare last week for USC, I think the Trojans will show up and beat Stanford. Sam Darnold is a Heisman contender and I think he'll have one of his best games of the year this weekend (don't attack me if i'm wrong hehe). USC wins 24-20.

Southern Cal 24, Stanford 20

Enjoy your college football weekend!

- JR and BDB

Monday, September 4, 2017

Sportsman of the Week Ending 9/3/2017

The 2017 College Football season started with a bang over the long weekend, however the most entertaining game was reserved for Sunday Night.  After a half of Texas A+M looking unstoppable in the running game, suddenly their offense stopped with a 44-10 lead.  And UCLA was just getting started.  Led by NFL prospect Josh Rosen, the Bruins made a record breaking comeback.  Well near record.  Rosen connected on 59% of his 59 passes, for a jaw dropping 491 yards and 4 TD, all in the fourth quarter.  His final 10 yard strike was on a fake spike (although the clock was stopped) with 43 seconds left (and no time outs). Rosen reminded NFL scouts of his huge potential, and left the Aggies with a long flight back to Texas.  And he is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

College Football Picks - 2017 Week One

JR is back to make you money
That crisp cool air has moved in and we are ready to start 2017 College Football!  Okay, one of those two things are true.  Ready or not, College Football 2017 is here.  So many surprises await the next 15 or so weeks, including:

1) Has the SEC become a one trick pony with Alabama or is there a chance a second team makes the playoff?
2) Is the Big 10 really ready to establish itself as the best overall conference in 2017?
3) How will Lamar Jackson follow up his Heisman winning 2016 season?
4) Will new coaches at Texas and Oklahoma finally put the Big 12 back on the national map?
5) Is USC finally beyond its penalties and ready to legitimately contend for titles?
6) How will Clemson rebound with the loss of Deshaun Watson and other key players for their back-to back title runs?
7) Will Michigan regress with the loss of several upper classmen?
8) Is Notre Dame in a downward spiral or was last year a blip?
9) Will Miami reestablish itself as a national power?
10) Will Georgia or Tennessee finally break through in the national rankings?

Frankly, we probably don't even know what questions to ask, that's why college football is the most unpredictable sport in the country.  Along with the fact that there are 50+ games of highlights, upsets, tailgates, cheerleaders, bands, and campus fun.  Strap yourself in!

As always, this blog (via J.R. Ewing, our resident rich Texan drinking gambler) gives you picks each week.  Against the spread, because that's how we roll.

The lovely Bulldog Babe is here to tell you what's up
This year, we are excited to add Bulldog Babe (@bulldogbabexo) as a guest expert throughout the season (so long as her schedule allows).  Bulldog Babe is an amazing sports fan located in North Carolina, but bleeds Georgia Bulldog Red.  Follow her during a Georgia game and you'll know what I'm talking about.  She's intense. You also need to check our her NASCAR Blog (The Ladies in Black).

Instead of focusing on the five games I think give you the best angle (which by the way, carried you to a 3.8% profit last season), we're going to go to the three top marquee games of the week, plus Georgia and Texas.  Georgia for Bulldog Babe, and Texas because it's the greatest team in the greatest state.

Spreads are from a great pick site, Capped Sports

So for week one, here we go.  First team listed is the pick for JR Ewing.

Game 1: Maryland (+18.5) at Texas (Noon EDT)

JR Ewing:
Lots of unknowns here. My Texas Longhorns are ranked, despite going 5-7 last season and swapping head coaches.  Maryland started last season 4-0, won 3 conference games (including Michigan State), and made a bowl game.  I'm cautiously optimistic that the Horns are ready to make a statement, however, 18 points given the unknowns is too much.

Texas 34, Maryland 17

Bulldog Babe: 
The Texas Longhorns are a force to be reckoned with, in my opinion. They have been getting stronger and I think they're gonna start the season off with a win against the Maryland Terrapins. While the late and great NASCAR broadcaster Steve Byrnes was a Maryland grad, you would think I'd automatically go with them but I think Texas takes this one.

Texas 24, Maryland 17

Game 2: North Carolina State (-5) vs. South Carolina (3:00 EDT)

JR Ewing:
Two middling teams make this an intriguing Week 1 matchup.  ACC/SEC is always competitive as well.  I like the trending of NC State better than South Carolina.  It'll be close, but at home, the Wolfpack wins by a TD

North Carolina State 27, South Carolina 20

Bulldog Babe:

This is a tough one, but I think that NC State will take this one. South Carolina has declined over the last few years, but they're slowly getting back into the grind. While I think that, I also think NC State is gonna beat them.

North Carolina State 24, South Carolina 20

Game 3: Michigan (-4.5) at Florida  (3:30 EDT)

JR Ewing:
This game has so many implications.  John Harbaugh has made no bones about wanting to raid other states for their High School talent, and here he is in the heart of Florida.  Meanwhile, Florida is coming off an SEC East Championship, but is also missing a number of players due to suspension.  Michigan seems to be poised for a win here, I think they get it.

Michigan 24, Florida 17

Bulldog Babe:
Florida and Michigan is always a great showing. The Wolverines are getting better with John Harbaugh as their coach, but Florida is known for success. Not this time! A lot of Florida's players have been suspended for week 1, most of those players who are starters. That opens the door for Michigan to steal a win and I think it will happen.

Michigan 27, Florida 17

Game 4: Georgia (-14) vs. Appalachian State (6:15 EDT)

JR Ewing:
Georgia is poised to fill the void of SEC East strength.  With Tennessee perpetually falling short of potential, and Florida spinning its wheels, to me, Georgia is ready to make a leap.  Curiously tight spread being that the game is in Athens, even though Appalachian State is solid.  I just don't see it being that close.

Georgia 38, Appalachian State 14

Bulldog Babe:

Of course, I gotta go with my boys in UGA/App State. Jacob Eason's coming back & I have so much faith that he'll be better in year #2, so many returning defensive players, our two running backs returning, I have a good feeling for UGA.

Georgia 34, Appalachian State 17

Game 5: Alabama (-7.0) vs Florida State  (8:00 EDT, Atlanta)

JR Ewing:
Alabama thrives in neutral site games to start the season.  They wisely angle for marquee neutral site games instead of doing home and home so that every other year they don't have to bite off a potential rabid crowd. But kudos for scheduling a Top 3 matchup.  But game one is about preparation and game plan without film, and Nick Saban can't be beat in that arena.  They've done this before, they'll do it again.  Great early season win.

Bulldog Babe:
Alabama is coming back with vengeance to win title #17 & FSU is coming off of a pretty decent season, going 10-3 overall & 5-3 in the ACC. Two strong teams, two champion teams. It won't be a cakewalk.

Alabama 27, Florida State 20

Big thanks to Bulldog Babe for participating and enjoy the opening week of College Football!

- JR (and BDB).

Sportsman of the Week Ending 8/27/2017

The baseball pennant race continues to dominate the sports headlines, and our Sportsman of the Week has leapt from potential to reality in a week, or at least this month.  Former number 2 overall pick Byron Buxton (taken one spot after Houston Astros 2015 Rookie of the Year and 2017 All Star Carlos Correa) is meeting his potential.  And in the process, has the underdog Minnesota Twins in a position for their first playoff berth since 2010.  Over eight road games, Buxton went 11-33 (.333) with 5 HR, 11 R, 10 RBI.  He also chipped in two steals and made one of the defensive plays of the year (link).  Buxton may finally be ripening into one of the greats like Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, or Aaron Judge.  But he for sure is our Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Sportsman of the Week Ending 8/20/2017

The Major League Baseball pennant race is heating up, as is the chase for individual glory.  It's individual glory that we focus on this week.  The best power hitter in baseball, Giancarlo Stanton, is on a tear and could approach 60 HR by seasons end.  He padded his stats this week, going 8 for 20, with 3 HR and an astounding 7 bases on balls.  In all six games this week, he reached base at least twice resulting in a .556 on base percentage, and .700 slugging percentage.  He started the week finishing off a six game home run streak, which ended Wednesday, but was picked back up later in the week with a home run.  If he gets to 60 or 61, many may regard him as the legitimate single season home run champion, as records posted in the 1990s and 2000s are widely regarded as Performance Enhancing Drug induced.  Stanton is great for baseball, and the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Editors note: this is Stanton's second Sportsman of the Week, his first reads eerily similar for almost exactly three years ago to the day and similar stats!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Sportsman of the Week Ending 8/13/2017

There's a new era of golf, and the young guns are taking over.  With the abrupt collapse of Tiger Woods career, with the aging of current legends like Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk, a crease was opened and the likes of 2017 British Open Champion Jordan Spieth, U.S. Open Champion Brooks Koepka, and now Justin Thomas are busting through.  The latter put together a masterful four days at the 99th Professional Golf Association (PGA) Tour Championship, to capture his first major win at age 24.  This follows British open winner Spieth who is also 24, and Koepka, also born after 1/1/1990.  Thomas was the only golfer who finished under 70 the last three rounds.  Coming home in the second group, he only needed bogey to win.  By two strokes.  Lack of drama fits Thomas personality, his stoic, surgical approach to hitting fairways, making putts, and keeping pressure on rivals should suit him well over the next three decades.  Thomas is our Sportsman of the Week, and will be a golfing force for years to come.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Sportsman of the Week Ending 8/6/2017

Age is just a number. But in Bartolo Colon's case, it's kind of big. Like an entire Olympiad past 40. But for one night, he pitched like a hurler 20 years younger. Colon sipped on the fountain of youth for one night, pitching a complete game in an 8-4 Twins victory over the Texas Rangers on Friday. He becomes the oldest pitcher since Nolan Ryan to complete a game after age 44. He was efficient using only 106 pitches, scattering nine hits, including five for extra bases. Already released once this year and not necessarily the portrait of fitness, Colon knows he's probably done after this year. But for one night, he was brilliant, and our Sportsman of the Week!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Sportsman of the Week Ending 7/30/2017

The dog days of summer are usually associated with baseball.  On the weekend of the National Baseball Hall of Fame induction, a rarity within the sport indeed occurred.  It's one thing to get a walk off grand slam home run once in a career.  Let alone twice.  The same week.  Against all odds, the Toronto Blue Jays Steve Pearce did just that.  The career .255 hitter with fewer than 100 HR teed off twice in ... days, once off Liam Hendricks of the Oakland A's, then off of Bud Norris of the Los Angeles Angels.  The second being more dramatic in that his team was trailing by 3 runs, and it capped off a 7 run ninth inning rally for an 11-10 Blue Jays win.  For the week, Pearce was but 5-26, but add two doubles to the two grand slams and he wins our Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Sportsman of the Week Ending 7/23/2017

It's been no secret over the past 2+ years that Jordan Spieth was an emerging star on the PGA tour.  It's starting to look more like emerging legend.  The 23 year-old Texan secured his third major; only the all time legend Jack Nicklaus completed three sooner.  Although he led for most of the weekend, it was how he finished the back nine that cemented his legacy.  After a shaky 13th hole in which he took a 1-stroke penalty on an awful tee shot but still made bogey, he coughed up the lead to playing partner and fellow American Matt Kuchar.  From there it was lights out.  14 - 17, he went birdie, eagle, birdie, birdie knocking down putts of 4', 50', 30', and 7'.  He had an easy par on 18 with his three shot victory secure.  Just two weeks until the PGA Championship, a tournament in which Spieth will be a heavy favorite.  He is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Sportswoman of the Week Ending 7/16/2017

For the second time in three weeks, we have a first time major winner on the LPGA tour.  This time, Sung Hyun Park of South Korea stormed the American shores to win her first LPGA tournament and Major.  It was her 5th Top 4 finish in 14 tournaments, so the 23 year-old top player on the Korean LPGA is definitely a world contender.  Consistency was her model, as she held off a surprising 17-year old amateur Hye-Jin Choi also from South Korea and Feng Shanshan of China with but just one bogey on the final round.  In a surprise Asian showing, South Koreans controlled 8 of the top 10 positions at Trump National Golf Course, with the top finishing American being Marina Alex at T11.  Is this a harbinger of things to come or a weekend anomaly?  Time will tell, but Sung Hyun Park is our Sportswoman of the Week!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Mookie Would Have Beat It

1986 World Series Game Six between the Boston Red Sox and New York Mets remains one of the most memorable World Series games in the last 50 years.  In the visitors dugout, you had the snake bitten Red Sox, who had not won the World Series since trading Babe Ruth in 1918.  In the other, you had the hard charging Mets, who also had been over 15 years since winning a title.  Both teams had survived thrilling League Championship Series against teams from the West and felt like they were the team of destiny.  Not to mention, it was New York vs. Boston, one of the biggest city rivalries in all of sports.  The Mets were facing elimination and had trailed the entire game (except for a couple of ties).  The Sox were just three outs, then one out away, when one of the most unpredictable sequences in sports happened.  The Mets wouldn't die.  After 2 outs in the bottom of the tenth, trailing 5-3, they plated three runs with the help of bloop singles, wild pitches, and an improbably slow grounder to first.  Here we dissect the famous Buckner boner.  Mookie Wilson at the plate...

"Little roller up along first...behind the bag...it gets through Buckner, here comes Knight and the Mets win it..." - Vin Scully.

First, let's clear up some misconceptions of the situation.  The Red Sox did not have the lead at the time.  After three bloops singles and a wild pitch, the Red Sox had already given up the lead and it was tied at 5.  Most people (including myself) mis-remember that play that if Bill Buckner fields and hits the bag, it's over and the Sox are World Champions.  Not so.  They would have had to blow more bullpen and maybe come out on top.  Conventional wisdom was, the Mets were a team of destiny.  But I digress.

It does remain one of the greatest games in World Series history.  Roger Clemens started it; Calvin Shiraldi blew the save but almost went three innings for the win.  The Mets came back from 2-0, 3-2, and 5-3; the last rally with two outs and nobody on.

To quote the famous ESPN 30 for 30 commercials.  "What if I told you...", even if Bill Buckner fields the ground ball, Mookie would have beat it.  It may not have been close.

Before we roll tape; some facts.  Buckner was a fielding liability (at this stage of his career) with very limited range and mobility, including bad knees, and a hurt Achilles tendon and ankle.  And Mookie Wilson was quick.  On the play in question, his swing was taking him to first as Buckner awkwardly ambled to his left caught in between hops and unsure of his play.  Mookie was running for his, and his team's, life (but not really, remember, the game was tied).  And a third factor we won't even get into.  Bob Stanley balked, never game to a stop, should have moved Ray Knight to third.  Now.  Roll tape.

On paper it was a chopper to first and routine.  But all the factors above are in play.  It was slow.  Mookie was fast.  Buckner was the opposite of agile.  We start to look at timing.  We start with when the ball scooted through his legs in this video it was after the 00:22s mark

Figure 1 - Ball reaches Buckner at 22s
But just to the 23s mark as quickly as I could stop it, see how little the ball has traveled.

Figure 2 - Right at the 23s mark, the ball hasn't gone far since Fig. 1

Mookie hits the bag at 24s on the clock

Figure 3 - Mookie hits first at 24s, ball has gone 12 feet.

The quickest I could stop the video at 25s was here

Figure 4 - Mookie is well beyond 1B by 25s

I believe the time to be 1.5s to 1.7s.  22.9s to 24.5s on the video time.  It might have been closer to 1 second.

Now could Buckner cover 10 feet in say 1.6 seconds?  From a crouched position on those 36 year old knees and a hurt ankle/Achilles tendon?  This debate we will never know.  For 10 feet, it would be 3 to 4 steps from a stand still, crouch (each in 0.4s or so).  Looking at Mookie's stride cadence, I peg him at about six steps at full stride in that same time period (one step every 0.25s full speed).  If I were at the betting booth, Mookie beats it, by a half a step to a step.  After the ball passes Buckner, it was slightly slowed down but still moving well.  It goes about 12 feet in that time period (see Figure 3).  Would Buckner have been able to move the other direction in approximately the same time period?  I believe a contributing factor to the misplay was that Buckner knew he was on razor thin time.  He had to snatch as he was moving toward the bag or had no shot.  It still might not have been enough.

Watch it all at full speed.  How quickly Mookie flashes at the bottom as the ball moves away.  Thinking, could Buckner move as fast as that ball?  I think not.  Mookie would have beat it.

When asked, even Mookie thinks so.

However, had Buckner just stopped the ball, Knight stops at 3rd and we play on.  Maybe the Red Sox win in extra innings.  But I have a bone to pick with the official scorer.  That was a hit AND an E3 allowing Knight to score (unearned run, no RBI just the same).