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Monday, May 16, 2022
In what appears to be a dead ball season in Major League Baseball, seems not that uncommon for a no-hitter to be deep into a game on a nightly basis. On pitcher finally finished it off. Los Angeles Angels lefty Reid Detmers finished off a masterpiece CG no-hitter against perennial power Tampa Bay Rays on 108, pitches, 68 strikes. He walked a man and was the benefactor of a fair scoring decision for an error that was pretty textbook and non-controversial. Detmers is a 22-year-old rookie and may provide some hope on the pitching side for a potent Angels lineup featuring three former MVPs and to pair next to Shohei Ohtani as a great 1-2 punch. Will this be the year the Angels get to the postseason? Detmers may be a reason for optimism.
Monday, May 9, 2022
Peak late Spring sports season, we have three of the four major American Sports (five of six if you throw in MLS and NASCAR) with several in playoffs, weather nice. Etc. Oh yeah, it's also horse racing's triple crown season. The first Saturday in May is reserved for the Kentucky Derby. For the first time in 3 years, full crowd and it was everything it was billed to be. Especially if you like upsets. In a 20-horse field, which expanded to the 21st horse just hours before, the longest shot in over 100 years stunned the field. Ridden by our Sportsman of the Week Sonny Leon, 80-1 Rich Strike (strangely not "Strike Rich" like his bettors did) looked like a Ferrari amongst Kia's down the last furlong as it outpaced favorited lower odds Epicenter and Zandon to breeze to victory. Sports. You can't win if you're not in it. The Kentucky Derby served as another reminder and inducted another amazing Sportsman of the Week!
Wednesday, May 4, 2022
While the NHL and NBA playoffs heat up, it was the first baseball player in 2022 that caught our attention. Taylor Ward of the high expectation Los Angeles Angels dominated at the plate in a week in which his team took control of the American League West Standings. Ward batted .448 (13-for-29) with 10 runs scored, two doubles, a triple, four home runs, 11 RBI, two walks and a 1.000 slugging percentage over seven games played (credit MLB.com). While the Angels tallied a 6-1 week to lead the ALW by 2.5 games by the end of the week. On a team with three former Most Valuable Players (Trout, Ohtani, and Rendon), it's Ward who has been the early hero and is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!
Monday, April 25, 2022
In one of the grandest and most traditional sports, perhaps one of the greatest in that sport etched his name into history in what may be his final competition. Tyson Fury proved his heavyweight boxing championship meddle with a 6th round knockout of contender Dillian Whyte in front of a phrenetic 90K plus home crowd at England's Wimbley Stadium. Whyte seemed overmatched by the largish champion Fury as he faced a constant barrage of punches, with 76 landing including 47 power punches. As the waning seconds of the 6th round ticked down, the referee stopped the fight for a TKO. Fury finishes his career undefeated, with a 32-0-1 (only 10 fights going the distance, none lost). In an era where boxing is finding itself among other combat sports, Fury ends with a record in some of the annals of history. And is a worthy (second time) Sportsman of the Week!
Wednesday, April 20, 2022
Another amazing week in sports, especially American sports, but we go over to the Pacific Rim for an amazing, near impossible or stuff of legend, story. Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) has started just like the American Major League Baseball but has a story never matched. 20-year-old pitching phenom Roki Sasaki (佐々木) of the Chiba Lotte Marines in his second and third start of the young season pitched 17 consecutive perfect innings. Read that again. 17. Consecutive. Perfect. Innings. Sasaki pitched the 16th perfect game in NPB history (first since 1994, 7+ years before Sasaki was born) on Sunday April 10, on a magnificent 19 strike out (including 13 straight) 27 up, 27 down performance. He followed it a week later with 24 up and 24 down before being lifted (by his own admission suffering "some fatigue") in a 0-0 game. For a young arm like that, discretion is definitely warranted. What will Sasaki do for his next act? Check it out on Sunday for his next start. And maybe in a Major League Baseball ballpark in the not-too-distant future! Sasaki is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!
Monday, April 11, 2022
What a week of sports. It started with the NCAA Men's Basketball finals, transitioned to the Major League Baseball Opening Day, but finished with the iconic Masters tournament, the first with full fans in 3 years. And it did not disappoint. The surging best player in golf lapped the field to win not only his first Masters, but first major. Scott Scheffler has been one of the best up and coming golfers for over a year now. Including his inclusion on the dominant American Ryder Cup team in which his inclusion was questioned, as usually spots go to veterans, to a 4-0 matchup performance. But in Augusta, he was unmatched. Consistency, big shots, and nerves of steel, and talent. Lots of talent. Scheffler is one of the next generation greats, and a worthy Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!
Monday, April 4, 2022
Tuesday, March 29, 2022
As the blue blood programs rose to the top of the NCAA March Madness heap, Villanova proved once again they were built for tournament play. For the third time in seven years (only six Final Fours) the Wildcats are among the elite. The last two, and three of the last four, they won the National Championship. Against a surging Michigan, and perhaps the most dominant tournament team to date Houston, Villanova moved along relatively easily. Led by a rare senior Jermaine Samuels Jr., they punched their ticket, Samuels Jr. led the team in scoring over the South Regional Semifinals and Finals with 38 points. But it was efficiency that was his calling card, with a 61% field goal percentage as well as 8-8 from the free throw line. All in 68 minutes and only 3 personal fouls enabling his team flexibility in keeping him on the court. Will Samuels Jr. complete his career after his freshman year National Championship in 2018 with another? Our Sportsman of the Week will give his all!
Monday, March 21, 2022
The first weekend of the NCAA Tournament is perhaps the most anticipated in the sports calendar with the volume and variety of games and teams all vying for a National Championship. While there are usually some interesting upsets, the Sweet 16 typically recalibrates to the highly ranked teams. Tell that to the St. Peter's Peacocks. With absolutely nobody pushing them through on their brackets, they are dancing through to the second weekend. The face of the amazing two game stretch is probably best personified as Doug Edert. The slight guard came off the bench in both games to lead the team in scoring for the weekend with amazing shot after amazing shot. What he didn't get in playing time, he made up for in efficiency. Edert came through in the clutch in a monumental upset of the 2 seeded Kentucky Wildcats with a near-flawless 5/7 from the field (2/2 from 3-point territory) and 8/8 from the free throw line in a stunning 85-79 overtime win. He followed that up with a 4/6, 1/2, 4/6 performance in the downing of Murray State 70-60. He played no more than 25 minutes in either game but his clutchness defined what the Peacocks did. And that was, survive and advance. Edert is a worthy Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!
Tuesday, March 15, 2022
All-time home run records are what Ron Burgundy would call a "big deal". And a new one was set at the NCAA college softball level. Jocelyn Alo of the Oklahoma Sooners hit her 96th career home run, passing Lauren Chamberlain (also for Oklahoma) for the home run queen title as it were. Alo did it in her fifth playing season, taking advantage of the COVID extended eligibility. But before anyone calls this an asterisk situation, her breaking home run came in about the same number of games (224) as Chamberlain (220, okay, four more) and I'd put a plug nickel that you can take the 8 HR away from 2020 and Alo will exceed the career total anyway. For reference, this was Alo's 8th HR of 2022. She hit 34 last season. An all time 3rd through 13th all played 236 games or more. Alo is a true legend of the sport and her name will forever be associated with power and greatness! Alo is the Longhorndave Sportswoman of the Week!
Tuesday, March 8, 2022
|The 2022 MLB Lockout has Rob Manfred's name all over it.|
I typically stay out of the business side of sports. If anything, I have a more pragmatic side than most fans. Example, when someone on your team (e.g. Albert Pujols) that you belove is at a priced out of the value point, your team is better off to let him or her go (e.g. St. Louis Cardinals). Fans scream "how could you." I scream, "you had to."
For the unfortunate and, in my opinion, avoidable 2022 MLB lockout, I don't blame owners or players for fighting to maximize their profit from the game, that's what they should do. Owners have the right to lock out and cancel games as leverage. Honestly cancelling games has been a single thing that has brought about progress.
But players have the right to not agree to things they think is unfair (early career salaries, a de facto cap, manipulating player seniority) and wait them out. They are the stars and should get a good portion of the proceeds. So let's get past taking sides.
The rub is that it comes at the expense of the source of revenue and there is collateral damage. The fans. Each of the professional sides is calculating that damage and using it as a bargain to gain leverage instead of treating it as an eroding commodity.
|MLB Fans Patience is being tested. Again.|
In other words, owners think players surely have to concede because they don't want to appear as petulant and probably need the income. We can wait them out.
Players think, no way owners can keep this up, they look horrible. Especially if we tweet about it a lot. Look a Twitter poll favors us. They'll cave.
And here we are.
The overall negotiations are toxic. I recall it was described by media as relatively negotiable issues (dividing up slices of the pie, not fundamentally changing the state of the game) coming into it. Nothing like 1994 in which there were chasms to bridge (drug testing, a recent collusion conviction, etc.). But now, we're talking universal DH, raise the minimums and caps, then sort out minor details like size of bases and playoff teams and pitch clocks in the process. Then as things progressed, it just seemed to spiral downward and it was baffling.
I blame Rob Manfred.
Not necessarily because as the owners' negotiator he's not been giving a reasonable deal I'm not counting dollars. In fact, there were times the owners would move the needle and the players would just walk away without further discussion "unimpressed". As if they were entitled.
I blame Manfred for the tone of these negotiations. A leader leads by getting his point across firmly, but listening and making the other side feel heard. Finding ways to make sure things move forward. I've heard nothing but the opposite. We take one step forward and three steps back because players feel mistreated and unheard. It's on him to ensure that doesn't happen.
|MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has failed the game|
There were ways to approach this in which the tone of the negotiations were set prior to a head. Set the stage with "here's the things we're thinking, what are you thinking?" Okay, let's put that aside and get to the numbers later. Instead it seemed like Manfred just thought they would come in with the rule of law and players would have to agree. Nope. And players were right to stand up. He's really failed the owners.
A good leader removes barriers to ensure customers get their product and Manfred has done the opposite.
As I said, I don't care who gets the bigger piece of the pie. They'll both get pie. I just want there to be a pie. It's the commissioner's job to ensure it happens. And he's failing. Miserably.
In the times between NFL Football, March Madness, and MLB Baseball (if it ever starts again) we turn to one of the great North American winter sports, hockey. The National Hockey League is entering the home stretch for the playoffs and the Dallas Stars are in the mix for one of the last playoff spots. After this week, they are in. Thanks to Jason Robertson. Robertson led Dallas two three straight victories as a goal scoring machine, tallying 7 goals for the week. More impressively, two hat tricks in a 48-hour span as he scored 3 on Friday against Winnipeg, including an overtime winner, then followed on Sunday with 3 more against Minnesota for two big road wins for the Stars. Although in the Top 10 in the NHL in goals scored, the 7 goals scored this week in March were more than any full month in the previous months of the season. Robertson is getting it done when his team needs it and is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!
Tuesday, March 1, 2022
The NBA season is hitting the home stretch and new teams are emerging as favorites to make deep runs into the playoffs. Maybe no more of a jump than the Philadelphia 76ers led by MVP candidate Joel Embiid. The Sixers haven't won an NBA Championship in coming up on 40 years, but this may be their best shot. Despite having finished first in the Eastern Conference last shortened season, the Sixers were trounced in the second round of the playoffs and haven't made it past that point since a Finals appearance 21 years ago. Embiid has put the team on his back, including two outstanding performance this week coming out of the All-Star break. In two games and conservative minutes, Embiid poured in 71 points, 19 rebounds, 6 assists, and 4 blocks. These two games were his first with trade-target James Harden who appears to be ready to join him for a deep playoff run. Embiid is ready to deliver the first Sixers title since Dr. J and is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!
Monday, February 21, 2022
As the 2022 Winter Olympics Games wind down, history was made in American bobsledding and medal winning. Elana Meyers Taylor cemented herself among the American Winter Olympics greats in securing her record breaking fifth medal in women's bobsledding, spread over four Olympiads. The four-time World Champion secured silver in the monobob (behind country-mate Kaillie Humphries), and bronze in the two-woman sleigh (with Humphries) to cap off her legendary career. Her effort in both achievement in the sport and representing the United States earned her the nod to carry the American Flag in the closing ceremony. The 37-year-old ends her Olympic career setting the standard for generations to come, and her impact will be felt far beyond these two weeks. Meyers Taylor is a worthy Longhorndave Sportswoman of the Week!
Monday, February 14, 2022
Wrapping up one of the most exciting playoffs in NFL history was another game that went down to the last two minutes. This time, the Super Bowl. Specifically Super Bowl LVI. As someone who grew up in the 80s and 90s it was rare that Super Bowls lived up to the hype (mostly thanks to the 49ers or Cowboys blowing teams out). But the last few years have been down to the wire. This time, the Los Angeles Rams won their first Super Bowl (at least as a West Coast team) and delivered the punching bag Cincinnati Bengals a heartbreaking third loss in three tries. The Rams wrapped up their victory with huge plays by certainly the best player on the team, if not the best defensive lineman in history. Defensive tackle Aaron Donald punctuated one of the best runs in defensive history (really only Lawrence Taylor and J.J. Watt compare) by making critical plays in the clutch. With the Rams clinging to a 3-point lead, Donald both stepped up on third down and 1 yard for a tackle, then forced a desperation pass by Joe Burrow on fourth down by completely disrupting the play like only he can do. His 2 sacks and 2 tackles for loss don't fully represent his disruption of the game, drawing continuous attention from the line leading to 7 sacks total by the Rams. And a World Championship. Our Sportsman of the Week etched his bust in Canton.
Wednesday, February 9, 2022
This is it, we're a few days from Super Bowl LVI, and not many fans had the Cincinnati Bengals facing off against the Los Angeles Rams in the big game when the playoffs started. In a thrilling Conference Championship weekend, both games featured lead changes in the fourth quarter and were decided by a field goal, including more overtime. But this time, the coin toss winning team didn't win.
Once again, one of the coolest Social Media sports fans Kimberly Moten (@kimberlymoten1), who joins @lhd_on_sports to break down last week's action, talk about major NFL news off the field, and even thoughts on the Halftime Show! And of course, we'll give you final score predictions! Kim comes into her Super Bowl picks at 7-5, Dave at 6-6. It's been one of those postseasons.
Check out the third episode of the K&D NFL Picks, Super Bowl Edition!!
** Note we had some video challenges but throughout the audio catches up and you don't miss any of the analysis **
Enjoy your Super Bowl!
Tuesday, February 8, 2022
The Olympics is off to an interesting start at least (in the backdrop of COVID and international tension) as the world comes together for the quadrennial tradition of winter sports. This time in Beijing, China, which has now hosted the Olympics twice in the last 14 years counting the summer games of 2008. And this is the second Olympic games in six months since the 2020 Tokyo Games were postponed to 2021. But nevertheless, Jakara Anthony delivered a dominant performance in women's moguls to earn her native Australia its first Gold Medal in 12 years (2010 Vancouver games). Her gold medal performance followed a disappointing (from a medal perspective) fourth place finish in 2018 just off the podium. It's a proud effort for the entire country and a wonderful Sportswoman of the Week!
Monday, January 31, 2022
Gentlemen's Tennis will never likely see again the sustained success of the three greatest Grand Slam Titles winners playing at the same time over the last decade plus in the names of Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, and Novak Djokovic. It was Rafael Nadal that inched ahead in Grand Slam victories this week with his unprecedented 21st Grand Slam title at the Australian Open. Nadal was no favorite. Coming in as the six seed, he faced battles as four of his last five matches went at least 4 sets, and two, including the final, went 5 sets. The final was spectacular as the Spaniard battled back against Russian Daniil Medvedev, ten years his younger. After dropping the first two sets 2-6 and 6-7, Nadal won each of the next two sets by a single break in winning only his second Australian Open. What a hero and he joins his other contemporaries in his second Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week honors!
Thursday, January 27, 2022
Four teams remain on the path to Super Bowl LVI, and there are some surprises. In an action packed Division Playoff Weekend, four out of four games were decided on the final play, and three out of four road teams one. Both number one seeds lost. This means all the teams playing this weekend will be their third playoff game in three weeks.
Check out the second episode of the K&D NFL Picks!
Enjoy the games!
Tuesday, January 25, 2022
An all-time performance garners honors from someone you perhaps didn't know before this week. Kansas State center Ayoka Lee scored 61 points in an impressive fashion in defeating the Oklahoma Sooners 94-65. And this was no exhibition over a smaller, overmatched school. The Sooners entered the game ranked number 14 but quickly found themselves down to the Wildcats 15-0 (with 12 of the 15 scored by Lee) and never recovered. Lee added 12 rebounds, a steal, and three blocks to her impressive box score tally. This was over 35 minutes of play, indeed almost scoring two points per minute is a feat that is difficult to match, especially since all her shots were inside the 3-point arc. Lee demonstrated greatness and is our worthy Longhorndave Sportswoman of the Week!
Monday, January 17, 2022
In a blog tradition, I am once again conveying my thoughts on who I would vote for if I had a BBWAA ballot for the 2022 National Baseball Hall of Fame.
|The Hallowed Halls of Cooperstown Await greats to join them|
The BBWAA vote will be revealed on Major League Baseball (MLB) Network on Tuesday, January 25, 2025. The Hall of Fame vote reveal remains one of the most anticipated moments on the baseball calendar and certainly of the offseason. Here is the 2022 National Baseball Hall of Fame Candidates Eligible for vote (via Baseball Reference with prior year percentage total for returning candidates). 75% of all ballots cast must include the players name for induction.
As most readers probably know, the actual voting committee is the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA). Prior to 2016, once a member, always a vote. In 2016, several changes to the voting process were made (see my related Blog here) culling the list of voters to those who had covered the game in the prior 10 years. This played out to remove a number of small vote ballots and increase percentages for those on the bubble.
|Inductees join the "Original 5" Class of 1939|
There are a few overarching factors that cannot be ignored when it comes to voting to cover before we get to the specifics.
1) A major, controversial specter over the Hall will continue to be how to handle candidates associated with Performance Enhancing Drug (PED) use in baseball primarily in the 1990s and early 2000s, an era for which many players accused are now appearing on the Hall of Fame ballot. There are players whose on-field performance clearly merits first ballot election, however because of their associated with substances that enhanced their performance, some members of the BBWAA have been hesitant to cast votes their way at least in the 75% needed for induction. Because the official voting rules include the words "integrity, sportsmanship, and character," their reluctance is justified in my mind. For my selection, I will not presume guilt, but if there is legal, eyewitness (including Mitchell Report) or strong anecdotal evidence of PED use, I will strongly weigh against voting for the candidate. You can count me in the "The PED STJ" type here in a blog a few weeks ago. That means, I absolutely think Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, and Roger Clemens (and Manny Ramirez) are Hall of Famers without PEDs but I hold them accountable (just like the person who did lots of good things but committed a crime...he still committed a crime)
2) A change in consideration for me is how to assess pitchers. Whereas the 300-win plateau with a low ERA reflective of the dead ball, or pitcher dominated, eras prior to 1970 used to be a norm, it's become increasingly more difficult to get wins in the era of specialty relievers with starters leaving the game before the end of the sixth inning many times in close games. Conversely, however, one would think this would benefit starting pitchers ERA by seldom going through a lineup more than twice in some cases, rarely more than three times. Also, after many years of closers not being strongly considered, Mariano Rivera became the first and only to date unanimous inductee to the Hall, along with Trevor Hoffman and Lee Smith in recent years. The doors have opened a bit in that regard. In the end, I strongly weigh dominance over a reasonable period of time, along with Cy Young Awards, All-Star games, win titles, career saves, and ERA.
3) There is also first and last ballot bias. First ballot candidates some BBWAA voters seem reticent to vote in to protect some sort of integrity of being a "first ballot hall of famer". Evidence, three voters who did not include Ken Griffey Jr. in 2016. Likewise, when a player is on his last ballot (as Tim Raines was in 2017, Edgar Martinez in 2019, and Larry Walker in 2020) voters who previously withheld a vote tend to pay a bit more attention to their candidacy considering it's a final shot and vote favorably. This year the normal last ballot bump bias is overcome by number 1 (Clemens and Bonds) or other factors (Schilling asking not to be on the ballot). Unlike prior candidates listed above who were very likeable players, these three created more chasms than fans. They won't see a big bump. Everyone is set in their ways and in the case of Schilling, are more apt to go the other way.
What a season and what a story for the Georgia Bulldogs in winning their first football National Championship in 40 years. Having fallen just short in years past, especially to the dynastical Alabama Crimson Tide, Georgia finally put it all together in the title game to secure the College Football Playoff trophy. They were led by senior quarterback Stetson Bennett who, coming into the season as a backup to much more highly touted talent J.T. Daniels, wasn't expected to be a significant contributor. However, as Daniels could not recover from an early season injury, it was the former walk-on Bennett who kept the team going through a tough SEC schedule and came out the other end a champion. In the College Football Playoff Championship Game, Bennett threw for an efficient 224 yards, but protected the ball well with no interceptions (and just one, unusual looking fumble that many thought was a pass). His two touchdowns came on his last two completed passes. It was old school tough Georgia football, both in grinding out rushing yards and keeping the vaunted Crimson Tide defense in check that put the Bulldogs on the championship podium. Led by unlikely local hero Stetson Bennett, the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!
Wednesday, January 12, 2022
The NFL playoffs are a highlight of most sports fans calendar year providing a crescendo of excitement after the College Football Bowl Season and Playoffs and before the Winter Olympics, Daytona 500, March Madness, and MLB Opening Day which is a gateway to the full summer of outdoor sports.
The expansion of the playoffs starting in the makeshift 2020-21 season has loaded the first weekend with six games, wall to wall action.
So how do you break it down? You bring in one of the coolest Social Media sports fans Kimberly Moten (@kimberlymoten1), who joins Longhorn Dave to help you walk through the games and let you know who wins!
Check out our K&D show debut!
What are your picks?
Tuesday, January 11, 2022
In a thrilling final weekend to the NFL season, lots was on the line for borderline playoff teams needing to "win and get in" and the format of all Division games just added to the drama. One of the most unusual finishes settled the AFC playoff race, in which the Pittsburgh Steelers secured a spot with an overtime win over rival Baltimore Ravens but had to wait out a dramatic OT thriller on Sunday night to confirm their ticket. However, it was the Steelers superstar, and now record setting pass rusher that was the story of the day. T.J. Watt tied an NFL record by recording his 22.5 sack of the season to tie Michael Strahan for the single season record. And before you throw the "17th game" card, Watt missed 2 full games with injury so it's as legit as it comes. In winning our Sportsman of the Week, T.J. receives an honor his brother J.J. never achieved!
Monday, January 3, 2022
What a fun crescendo to the end of 2021 highlighted by the usual high level College Football Bowl Games, not the least of which was the College Football Playoff. However, where the playoffs lacked in excitement, the Rose Bowl made up for in action and competitiveness. A see saw affair ended up landing on the Ohio State Buckeyes side, much due to a record-breaking receiving performance. Buckeye receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba dominated the game in a way no receiver had ever before. Not the Rose Bowl. Any Bowl. Smith-Njigba hauled in 15 passes for a record breaking 347 yards and 3 TDs as Ohio State beat the scrappy Utah Utes 48-45 in one the great classics of the "Grandaddy of them All". It was Smith-Njigba's 5th straight 100 yard game and by far his most productive in a 1600+ yard season. The Buckeye's sophomore leading receiver is a worthy Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!