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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!