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Monday, September 25, 2023
After a week hiatus due to personal circumstances, we animate the Blog again. The story of the NFL was blowouts, and none were bigger than the upstart Miami Dolphins looking like a Don Shula dominant Super Bowl team like they haven't in 40 years. A surprise star thrashed the Denver Broncos defense for one of the greatest offensive games of all time. Rookie De'Von Achane made his NFL statement in his third NFL game by lighting up the scoreboard in a 70-20 beat down. 18 carries, 203 yards, and 2 TDs on the ground. 4 catches for 30 yards and two more TDs receiving. So 22 touches, 4 TD, that's a pretty good ratio. Achane was overlooked as a third-round pick projected to be a utility back return guy but may be the key to a Miami Dolphins TD run with a loaded offense. Achane is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!
Monday, September 11, 2023
A changing of the guard took place right before our eyes on Saturday and a previously dominant sports entity is back. No, we are not talking about the Texas Longhorns upset of Alabama. But rather, American Ladies Tennis with a new superstar poised to pick up where her foremothers went before. Coco Gauff put on an absolute display of talent and grit over the two weeks of the US Open to bring home the first trophy for an American teenage lady since a Williams Sister. And the 19-year-old did it the hard way. In seven rounds she dropped the first set three times, including the opening set of the tournament. But battle back she did, beating four Top 32 opponents and riding the momentum of the roaring American Crowd in Flushing defeating two seeded Aryna Sabalenka for the title. This won't be the last time we hear her name; Coco is the future of American ladies' tennis.
Tuesday, September 5, 2023
Another exciting opening weekend of college football with upsets and surprises and new teams in the mix. But two traditional powers squared off on Sunday night as Louisiana State University faced off against Florida State University in an SEC / ACC showdown of top ranked teams. And one team emerged by a lot. Unlike last year when the same two teams played sloppy. Both looked better. But Florida State QB Jordan Travis was the unmistakable force that checkmated the Tigers of the Bayou. Trailing at halftime, Travis would not waver and surgically dismantled LSU over the second half and made it a runaway. Overall, Travis only missed 8 passes in 31 throws against what was expected to be a fast and tough defense. Four of the 23 completions were touchdowns. And he ran for another. Travis could not be stopped in what was expected to be their toughest early matchup. Win checked. FSU is now in position for a big ACC push and maybe a playoff. Jordan Travis is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!
Monday, August 28, 2023
This Blog is a big, if not HUGE fan of track and field and this week provided the most fireworks outside of the Olympics I can remember in a long time. And it's all about American sprint domination (not to take away from other big golds but let's focus). American Noah Lyles set the sprint world on fire with not just winning times, but World Class record times at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary. Known to have the 200m locked down, he increased his burst speed (against all odds) to burn the 100m in under 10s. Well under 10s. Before winning his third straight 200m World title (ho hum, foregone conclusion) he shocked the 100m field with a 9.83s. His 200m time was 19.52s. This made him the first man to sweep the 100m/200m since probably the best overall sprinter in history, former Sportsman of the Week Usain Bolt, in 2016. Then when he was the anchor on the 4x100m race (for me, one of the most exciting events in all of sports), he became the first since Bolt since 2015. He's elite and showing it and will likely set the Olympic world on fire next week in Paris. For now, he is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!
Monday, August 21, 2023
Late summer sports continue to be fun in the sports landscape but again it's baseball that had the story. Seattle Mariners phenom Julio Rodriguez reset the record books for success at the plate. Rodriguez absolutely mashed pitching with four consecutive four hit (or more) games. Four game stretch, 17 hits. including 2 doubles, 2 home runs, five runs, and 8 RBI. In the "other" three games that week he was 4-15 (not too shabby) with 3 more doubles. Oh, and he stole 6 bases. Probably most important his team went 6-1, taking three huge games from their rival (and defending Champion) Houston Astros in a sweep. They're going to rattle the postseason and the leader is their superstar, Julio Rodriguez is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!
Tuesday, August 15, 2023
Another week, another single pitcher no hitter. I promise you this doesn't happen as often as this normally. Trade deadline acquisition for the Philadelphia Phillies, Michael Lorenzen notched the third (non-combined) no hitter and the second in eight days as he flummoxed the Washington Nationals over 9 innings for no hits to go along with 4 walks. He finished with 124 pitches but had a comfortable 7-0 cushion so didn't need to worry about needing bullpen help as long as he kept the Nationals off the board. The 31-year-old starter has moved across teams the last few seasons but defending National League Champion Phillies welcome him with open arms. He's 2-0 with 17 IP, 6 H, 2 ER as he may find himself in the playoffs as a key piece of a rotation that took the team within 2 wins of a World Series championship last year. Lorenzen etches his place in history and is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!
Monday, August 7, 2023
In a League in which complete games are going the way of the dodo, our Sportsman of the Week navigated a playoff contending lineup while keeping the pitch count in check and left with not only a win, not only a complete game, but a no-hitter. The second by an individual in 2023. Framber Valdez of the Houston Astros cut through the Cleveland Guardians lineup like a knife through butter surrendering just one walk which was erased on a double play and faced the minimum. Part of the endeavor was limiting pitches, so he only struck out 7. The game was just 2-0 so despite no apparent weakness, a hit or a couple of walks would have submarined the whole outing if not game. But instead, Framber ensured little drama as nothing was much of a threat besides one ground ball tipping off the pitcher's glove to the shortstop. No hitters are in the Houston Astros blood, and now it is in Framber Valdez history, the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!
Wednesday, August 2, 2023
The legend of Shohei continues but it's the first time he's recognized for this honor in this Blog. The do everything baseball player (literally everything) put on a display this week both on the mound and at the plate. On the mound Ohtani threw a (2023 rare) complete game 1-hitter to get up to 9 wins and .. At the plate Los Angeles Angels OF/P Shohei Ohtani continued his torrid pace since the start of June (but was only mildly fiery before that). He was 6 of 20 (6 of 12 after the first two games) with 3 HR, 4 RBI, and 6 runs scored. Overall, batting .307 with 39 HR (top 3 in AL for all Triple Crown categories) and it's just the beginning of August. On the mound, Top 20 AL Wins and ERA and Tied for fourth in strikeouts. What else to say. Just waiting for success in the MLB postseason to match his World Baseball Classic success with Japan. Shohei Ohtani is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!
Monday, July 24, 2023
In what was expected to be a wide-open Open Championship (known State Side as the British Open), a relative underdog streaked to easy victory. American Brian Harman surged to a 5-stroke lead by the cut day and never looked back. Helping him (or indicative of the challenge of the course), it seemed to be different challengers on different days as some players would surge, then fade, then another would get hot but not sustain. In the end, the steady 5'7" lefty American gapped the field by 6 strokes. His four rounds of 70 or under was more than enough to hold off chargers like Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, and Tom Kim. The 36-year-old Harman wins his first major and made it look easy, the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!
Tuesday, July 18, 2023
Another week, another Major or Grand Slam Championship and another first time winner on the big stage. Love to see it. In a predictable Wimbledon Championship on the Gentlemen's side, the Ladies produced a complete surprise. Czech surprise Marketa Vondrousova shocked the tennis establishment by winning the Ladies Championship over 6-seeded Ons Jabeur in straight sets 6-4 squared. It wasn't so easy, both sets Vondrousova stormed comebacks that Jabeur could not answer. Vonsrousova is the first unseeded champion on the Ladies side in All England history. Jabeur had to settle for the runner's up trophy for the second straight year. The 24-year-old Vondrousova stormed through four other seeds on the way only dropping two sets the entire fortnight. She represents everything our Blog supports, and is the Longhorndave Sportswoman of the Week!
Monday, July 10, 2023
A great week of summer sports commenced this week with golf, tennis, baseball, cycling, and soccer in the warmest month of the year in the northern hemisphere. Such a far cry from sports three years ago. We turn to golf this week in which a thrilling and exciting United States Women's Open unfolded at legendary Pebble Beach, the first time the tournament was held at the legendary American iconic course. And a new superstar emerged. American Allisen Corpuz played steady and clutch golf to win not only her first LPGA major golf championship, but her first LPGA win. Corpuz won with a steady stick in her hand across drives, approaches, and putts. Four rounds between 69 and 71. The Hawaiian native executed in all aspects and is a worthy Longhorndave Sportswoman of the Week!
Monday, July 3, 2023
Americans have been waiting for their Men's National Soccer Team (USMNT) to step up and play at the top international level and time and time again have been disappointed. Reaching the round of eight in any major international tournament (e.g. World Cup) seems to be a ceiling. Even in Western Hemisphere action (e.g. CONCACAF or Gold Cup) it seems farfetched to make a strong run. 2023 may be a corner turner. No longer are they fighting against Carribean Island teams and losing to Mexico. But winning and winning big. Two games this week, albeit against lesser competition, the USMNT surged. Led by upstart star Jesus Ferreira. Ferreira may be the superstar to combine with Christian Pulisic to push the USMNT to the next level. This week it was epic. Hat trick on Wednesday against Saint Kitts and Nevis. Hat trick on Sunday against Trinidad and Tobago. No, this isn't against France or Argentina. But the team is playing well and confidence is something they need. Led by a future star, Jesus Ferreira, the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!
Monday, June 26, 2023
One of the best stories of the early MLB season is the Cincinnati Reds. The oldest and certainly proud franchise hasn't finished higher than third place since their last Division title in 2012. The Houston Astros were still in the National League back then. Which is also the last time they won a playoff game. They've only won two playoff games since 1990, their last World Series Championship. But hope springs eternal especially in the bat, arm, and legs of Elly De La Cruz. The all-everything prospect created a buzz when he was called up and hasn't disappointed. In fact, he was a big part of the team's 12-game winning streak, the franchise's longest since 1957. The 21-year-old De La Cruz was 11-20 Monday through Saturday, with 2 HR, 8 R, 4 RBI, 2 SB, he did it all. All also being the first cycle since 1989 in spectacular fashion with a stop-watch inducing triple. De La Cruz has given the Queen City hope and will be an entertaining star for a couple of decades to come. The Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!
Monday, June 19, 2023
The most dynamic and talented player in the NBA stepped up when it counted and delivered his franchise its first championship in League History. After 37 straight failed playoff appearances, only reaching the Finals once and that was in the American Basketball Association era, the Denver Nuggets finished the job and proved they were the best team. Led by two-time MVP (but not this season) Nikola Jokic, the Nuggets eased through the playoffs dropping just four games total and only saw a series tied once. Jokic took no prisoners in all aspects, including the decisive Game 5 of the Finals 94-89 victory against the Miami Heat. Jokic scored 28 points in the victory, including 75% from the field (and a three pointer). He added 16 rebounds and 4 assists, no matter where he was or what role, he could not be stopped. For the finals he: 1) Averaged over 30 points per game, 2) had two triple doubles, 3) had the first ever 30-20-10 (points/boards/assists). The best player led the best team to a title, and Nikola Jokic is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!
We've all been there before. Pulling our hair out frustrated that our team lost. Frustrated that the boundless hope of the beginning of the season is slowly closing as the path to a championship gets narrower and narrower. And that other team and their fans are celebrating. The fans psyche is damaged and they must do something to let you know. Because simply turning off the TV or moving on is not possible.
Before social media, it was the radio and talk shows. Now anybody (and everybody) with a cell phone can go on an historic angry rant within minutes of a play. Why do they do this? I'm glad you ask.
|The more proud the program or franchise, the more worked up fans get|
I am no psychologist but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night LOL. First and foremost, all the penned-up energy is released by the following two step gasket blow.
1) Berating the team you love, when truly you do love them, you just need to blow off some steam. By ranting you're rewiring your brain and resetting expectation that a title isn't in the works this year. Then you can no longer be disappointed (spoiler alert, you will again be disappointed). Essentially (as Emmanual Acho once ranted), you're self-handicapping.
- This team is horrible, obviously we're not going to win the title
- Why does our team suck so bad
- I'm so sick of this crappy team.
One would think this is someone who isn't a "true fan". I argue that their passion pushes them to do these things against logic. It's just a different fan wiring. Logic, like the remainder of the season being long, a playoff run being possible, the team not indeed bad (they have a winning record) but just aren't as good as you had hoped has no place here (more in a minute). If you're familiar with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), it's the second indicator. Thinking versus Feeling. Doesn't mean you have to pick one, but the tendencies are (and we've all seen it) to gravitate towards the one that is natural.
|Dissatisfied fans are not a rarity (courtesy MLB.com)|
2) Find Blame. Immediately. In typical hierarchy it goes a) blame the coach or manager; b) blame your lease favorite player (especially if they are highly paid), c) combo of a and b, blame the coach or manager for playing the player you don't like. d) blame the general manager for any and all mistakes they made (after all they should have had perfect foresight to know this would happen.) e) Blame the owner for not spending more money. f) blame the players for not caring. g) (less for the long term) blame the referees or the system for not allowing your team to compete.
- Idiot Coach Casey didn't go for it on fourth down, didn't pinch hit, didn't foul the bad free throw shooter, didn't pull the goalie, didn't get that bum out of the game when he or she was sucking
- I'm so sick of Player Richey Pants, he isn't earning his salary. Bench him.
- I can't believe Coach Casey keeps playing Player Richey Pants, he's horrible!
- Why the hell did GM Casey sign Player Richey Pants, he is obviously overrated completely ruined the season
- We are so cheap and didn't sign Player Hall of Fame Elite who is the MVP, the owner obviously doesn't want to win
- God, it's like the players aren't even trying; they don't have fire
- So stupid that the commissioner allows the big market teams to spend freely or gave us this impossible schedule
- The refs are obviously biased for the big market team they want the ratings.
Any of those ring a bell? The mistaken ideal that replacing one thing will fix everything. I'm here to tell you it's always a team game and every league has plenty of games to prove that (2020 MLB regular season withstanding). That one fix probably, almost certainly, isn't what's causing your team to lose.
The more rational sports fan tries to enter the fray but is hopeless against emotion. Emotion cannot be swayed by providing logical statements. Sure, the frustrated fan may calm down after the immediate disappointment, but the powder keg is still inside for next time. And the rational sports fan (myself included at times) usually takes a self-perceived superior stance. "Well, I'm the one looking at facts and they're not." Who says educated sports fandom is better than frustrated ranting sports fandom? They're both fans, just different in their approach. Ne'er the twain shall meet.
Tenets to always remember.
1) Winning in professional sports is hard. That's why men and women shed tears when they do it. Players, fans, owners, etc. It's why we watch. But there is no perfect formula and every championship team in professional sports (besides one certain Dolphins team) had a loss. Baseball teams lose 60 times. The other teams are trying to win too.
|The Greatest of All Time knows it ain't easy|
2) Player performance is unpredictable. There are overvalued players on the free agent market. There are undervalued ones. Nobody knows which is which or general management would be easy. You can gauge a good fit in market and age then suddenly it just doesn't go right.
3) The owner wants to win, just has constraints. Even unconstrained owners don't lead to a title.
4) The coach is highly qualified for his or her position. It may not be a right fit, but changing frequently is a road to disaster.
5) The refs or league aren't biased. Refs are imperfect. But not biased. You probably ask 30/30 teams think the refs are against their team. Tells you all you need to know.
6) When a player is struggling, the person most frustrated by his or her performance is him or her. Their livelihood depends on it. They replay the mistakes in their head. They may even start to self doubt. Tweeting at them probably isn't productive.
|The person most frustrated at the play of 2022 Russell Wilson was Russell Wilson|
But as a final parting shot, the fan just feels better in their mind if they complain, rant, find blame, etc. More power to them, they live their life one way, others live it another.
All are fans.
Monday, June 12, 2023
72>69. No this isn't a math blog. That is 72 feet greater than 69 years, or at least writes a name in the history books that will never be forgotten. Canadian golfer Nick Taylor did what no one has done since Louis St. Laurent was Canada's Prime Minister. He died when Nixon was President. That is, win the Canadian Open as a Canadian. But it wasn't without drama. Having fallen back in the middle of the back nine, Taylor birdied the 17th and 18th to put himself in the Clubhouse with a one shot lead. But Tommy Fleetwood, who had been near the leaderboard all afternoon, finished to tie Taylor at minus 17. Hole after whole Taylor and Fleetwood battled. Birdie on 18. Par on 18. Par on 9. There were rough saves. Pitches. Putts. And the fourth playoff hole was looking like Taylor's with maybe a 2-putt birdie. He just needed one. 72 feet away, he landed a perfect speed/perfect lie putt dead center on the flagged hole to win it with Eagle. Fleetwood would have needed to make a low percentage putt just for Birdie. The crowd went wild. Canada had its Canadian Open Winner. Nick Taylor, the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!
Tuesday, June 6, 2023
In an extremely busy season for sports, we turn to Major League Baseball for the first time this season (as the NBA and NHL had a bit of a lull between Conference and League Finals). One of the big surprise teams in 2023 has been the Texas Rangers. After making some aggressive moves in the offseason to offset two seasons with a combined 196 losses they are starting to look like the team to beat in the American League West. One of the big moves they made was to add Corey Seager prior to 2022. That move is paying Dividends. After an early season injury in 2023, Seager hit his stride the last week. In six games, Seager went 11/27 with 2 HR, 3 2B, and 10 RBI. And there was an 0-5 in the middle of it with nada (that his team still scored 10 runs and won). Overall the Rangers were 5-1 and extended their American League West lead over the World Champion Houston Astros who only went 4-3. It may be a race deep into September in the Lone Star State and former World Series MVP Corey Seager has the experience to carry his team and is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!
Monday, May 29, 2023
Memorial Day weekend was packed with sports action highlighted by a (scheduled) triple header of auto racing on Sunday. The cornerstone in the United States at least is The Greatest Spectacle in Racing, the Indianapolis 500. The cornerstone of the Indycar series, it's circled on racing fans calendars a year in advance. This year's race was clutch to the end, albeit a bit choppy. Josef Newgarden passed 2022 Champion Marcus Ericsson on the final Green Lap and eased to victory. After three red flags in the final sequence allowed one green lap to go, Newgarden did not miss on the opportunity. It is the American's first Indy 500 victory in his distinguished career and he will remember the kissing of the bricks at The Brickyard for a lifetime. Newgarden is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!
Thursday, May 25, 2023
The month of May is a syzygy of sports not the least of which is golf and specifically, the second major of the year. The Professional Golf Association Championship. This year fighting some tough weather through the weekend, with Sunday clearing up for a beautiful day of golf at the highest level and a crowded leader board. While a familiar former three-time Sportsman of the Week won the Wanamaker Trophy (that being Brooks Koepka), it was a player more like the rest of us who stole the show with his level of play. Golf Pro Michael Block was already a fan favorite as the only Pro to make the cut and surge into Sunday. Not only that, he was hovering around the Top 20 eventually finishing 15th. But it was his shot on the Par 3 15th hole that sent the crowd into a frenzy. The 46-year-old hit a 7-iron and dunked it straight into the hole. Not even believing it, he turned to his playing partner Rory McIlroy (also former Sportsman of the Week) who was high fiving him like no tomorrow. Love a sports where your competitors cheer your success and love our Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!
Tuesday, May 16, 2023
The Stanley Cup Playoffs sets the stage for the Conference Finals and non-traditional markets are basking in upsetting the longer tenured teams. Nobody should be surprised that the Las Vegas Golden Knights find themselves in the Conference Finals for the third time in their six years of history. In a street fight with the offense laden Edmonton Oilers, it was the Golden Knights who emerged victorious in six games to set up a shot at their first Stanley Cup. One of the primary reasons they find themselves, Jonathan Marchessault. In critical four game stretch of the week, Marchessault dominated in two wins resulting in a 3-1 week and a 4-2 series win for Vegas. In Game 3, Marchessault netted the first two critical goals to thrust the Golden Knights back from a 1-0 deficit to a 5-1 victory. In Game 6, he got a natural hat trick in the second period to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 4-2 lead on their way to series victory. In their 4-3 victory in Game 5, he assisted 3 of the team's four goals. Marchessault and the Golden Knights are on a mission to bring home Lord Stanley, and I would not doubt that our Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week can do it!
Monday, May 8, 2023
In the peakiest of season for sports, the Kentucky Derby was a keystone must see event and it did not disappoint. The field was in flux in the days before Derby Day as an unprecedented number of horses were scratched. Coming into the weekend, Forte was a clear favorite. As "My Old Kentucy Home" echoed over Churchill Downs, it was wide open with several favorites. However, none of the shortest odds won. Instead, Mage. A simple name, but stout horse stole the show ridden by Javier Castellano. Mage was about 10th place as the horses came 5 wide through the final turn but never looked back. Ran down every contender. Castellano was patient then ran an amazing line to cut through the field and use his horse's speed to win the race. Great job but an amazing jockey, our Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!
Monday, May 1, 2023
The Stanley Cup playoffs are beloved for the absolute battle to win every game and series and throwing regular season records out the window. None of that matra came into play more than the first round series in which the Florida Panthers upset the Boston Bruins in an epic Game 7 to make the second round. But that's not any old Boston Bruins. But the most successful regular season NHL team of all time, Presidents Trophy winning Boston Bruins. After exerting their talent and will in the first four games against the Panthers going up 3-1, the Bruins looked poised to ease into the second round. Not so fast. The Panthers battled in Bean Town to steal away a Game 5 victory and take the Bruins back south. Always a red flag. Now at home, if they win Game 6, they suddenly put the Bruins in panic mode in Game 7. And that happened. And in Game 7, it was Carter Verhaeghe that sealed their fate. He scored the overtime goal to the shock of the home crowd and the Bruins were done. It wasn't just that game, Verhaeghe netted 3 assists in the pivotal Game 5 overtime win on the road (including the dime on the game winner) and another helper in Game 6 in what was an easy win. Verhaeghe was the man in the middle of one of the greatest comebacks and upsets in Stanley Cup Playoff history and is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!
Monday, April 24, 2023
The first week of the Stanley Cup Playoffs were as chaotic as could be expected, no team (maybe besides the record-breaking Boston Bruins). No series ended up in a sweep with even the top teams per Conference battling for survival in the marathon for 16 wins. The Dallas Stars are positioned strongly for a run for the cup and needed a deep team effort to split the week 2-2. In their wins, they were led by an unexpected source, Roope Hintz, who was fourth on the team in points in the regular season. Hintz netted a hat trick in a crucial Game 2 win to at least gain the split headed north to Minnesota. He backed it up with a 3-assist effort in Game 4, again in a clutch series situation, to send the stars home tied with 2 of the next 3 in the Metroplex. Hintz's 4 goals are tops in the playoffs (through Sunday). His 8 points trail only Leon Draisaitl's 9 points but Hintz had the clutch. Can the Dallas Stars take the cup? We'll see what the Finnish Roope Hintz can do, but betting on him is a good idea.
Monday, April 17, 2023
It was an exciting week in the NBA as the play-in format took center stage as teams vied for the last two seeds in the playoffs. Win you're alive. Lose you're dead. The Miami Heat were in the middle of the battle, first losing the play in game to guarantee them a 7 seed, but then securing the 8. Nobody was more critical than Jimmy Butler. Butler scuffled in a loss to the visiting Atlanta Hawks to force his Heat into a do or die. And they did. Behind his 31 point effort, the Heat disposed of his former team the Chicago Bulls and thrust themselves into the Eastern Conference playoffs. You cannot win unless you're in the game. And win they did, taking the first game from the top seeded Milwaukee Bucks by 13 points. And it was all about Butler. 15-27 from the field. 35 points. 11 assists. 5 rebounds. The Bucks had no answers. Can Miami become a beast in the East? Jimmy Butler will have everything to do with it! Our Longhorndave Wportsman of the Week!
Monday, April 10, 2023
A rain slogged weekend wound up with the best current player in golf surging to an easy victory that wasn't so easy. After fighting through a rough 1st hole on Thursday, then chasing Brooks Koepka through delays and cold rain, Jon Rahm eased through The Masters last round as the best player in Augusta (okay, second best if you include Phil Mickelson that day). Rahm put himself in position with a seven under 65 the first day then never looked back at least not out of the top 2 or 3. His twelve under was clear of the field by a full hole. It was a solid all-around game, but especially hitting fairways and greens. Very little did he need to make a crucial put, it was just solid all around. It's Rahm's second time as the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!
Monday, April 3, 2023
One game and one shot defined the Final Four in Houston as a thrilling contest came to a conclusion after the buzzer as the ball tickled the bottom of the net. San Diego State had trailed their matchup with Florida Atlantic since about midway in the first half by as many as 13 as it seemed the 3-loss Owls were headed to the National Championship final. Until they weren't. Holding FAU without a score for 3 minutes to pull near even in the last four, the Aztecs set themselves up for success. And Lamont Butler delivered. Deciding not to foul, SDSU got the ball with six second left and that was enough for Butler. Opting not to call a timeout (which can more help the defense set up than the offense), Butler took the ball from the rebounder and dribbled down. Left. Right. In. Back. Jumper. Called Game. Just like we all dream of doing on the playgrounds growing up. And Butler wasn't their leading scorer just the guy who was ready for the big moment. And is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!
Tuesday, March 28, 2023
March Madness hits a crescendo in the Sweet Sixteen to Final Four round as the field in the tournament is winnowed from teams kind of in the Top 25 to the best teams in the land. And stars emerge on the big stage. There may not be a bigger star in the sport than Iowa guard Caitlin Clark. Clark averaged 36 points and 10 assists in two critical wins in the Regional Semifinals and Finals to lift the Hawkeyes to the Final Four. The two-time Big Ten Player of the Year shot over 50% from the field and beyond the arc in the big victories over Colorado and Louisville to net Iowa its first Final Four since 1993 and second in program history. The six-foot Junior Clark is the player to watch in the Final Four and our Sportswoman of the Week!
Tuesday, March 21, 2023
What a week for baseball in a week of the year not usually know for high intensity baseball. The World Baseball Classic entered it's final stages with the end of pool play, Quarterfinals, and Semifinals to set the stage for an epic championship between the United States and Japan, two of the renown superpowers of the sport. Team USA had been uneven to date. losing a game to neighboring Mexico and struggling through other pool play matchups. But they caught their stride in the knock out round. The number nine hitter in the United States lineup carried the team, that being Trea Turner. Turner slugged the Americans past Canada, Colombia, Venezuela, then Cuba in epic fashion. He went 6/15, with 5 runs, and 10 RBI on 4 HR. He hit a critical Grand Slam to save battling team against Venezuela, his second HR of the game. Another HR against Cuba to set the tone in the semifinals. Turner led the American team all the way to the World Baseball Classic Finals and is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!
Monday, March 13, 2023
There's a new women's ski champion of all time and her name is Mikaela Shiffrin. The American greatest skier of all time notched her 87th career World Cup victory on Saturday to eclipse Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark for the most all time. Ingemar competed in the 70s and 80s in which the sport was still a bit more limited in it's competitors all the more impressive. Shiffrin's diverse skills contribute to her ability to dominate the sport at a level never seen before. The two-time Gold Medalist and five-time World Cup champion (and now repeat Sportswoman of the Week) has won 73 of her 87 in either Slalom (53) or Grand Slalom (20). To go with 5 Super-G's, 3 Downhills, 1 combined, 3 parallel city events, and 2 parallel slaloms. The 28-year-old from Vail, CO, is an American legend and a repeat Sportswoman of the Week!
Monday, March 6, 2023
The NBA is surging toward the Playoffs and there is no doubt, it's not who was good in January. It's who is good in March and April. And right now that is the New York Knicks. The Knicks have won nine straight games and are approaching a month since their last loss. This week, they demolished four key opponents, including the defending Eastern Conference Champion Boston Celtics. Twice (one in double overtime on the road, that's clutch). Include the Miami Heat and Brooklyn Nets and the Knickerbockers are pointed the right direction. Nobody has stepped up more than forward Julius Randle. For the week, Randle averaged 29.5 Points Per Game, then throw in 8.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists. No, not averaging a Triple Double but real stats contributing to major wins. The key to the Knicks is balance, but every team needs a leader and Randle fits the bill. For a potential title and definitely for the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!
Monday, February 27, 2023
Rounding into full Spring Sports and the National Hockey League playoff chase is in full throttle. One team has completely lapped the rest of the field and is about to lap them again. The Boston Bruins have been the class of the league from fall until today. And you don't get this way without epic goaltending. Linus Ullmark has emerged as the elite net minder in the NHL and had another epic week. He's won five straight starts allowing 8 goals total. This week, 2 games, to wins, 2 goals allowed. Not only that, he scored a goal netting a late goal in a win against Vancouver. That's doing it all. The 29-year-old Swede toiled six years in Buffalo before now emerging as the best in the league in his first year over 40 games. Will be the talk of the Stanley Cup Finals, and our Sportsman of the Week!
Sunday, February 26, 2023
The only thing that is inevitable in life and sports is change. While conservative (read old school, traditionalist) fans lament anything not like the last. There is room for improvement in the game in any sport. But baseball has traditionally been the slowest to move. With Commissioner Rob Manfred, that has been accelerated with a hyper focus on reducing game length. Whether shorter games are a desire for fans is in the eye of the beholder. While 2023 seems like an anomaly in terms of drastic rule changes we've had a number in recent years and this really is just the latest wave.
The lates includes universal DH starting in 2022, COVID introduced but Commissioner kept extra inning ghost runners to speed up the game (and reduce pitcher wear), three batter minimum for relievers (to reduce game time), and limited mound visits introduced in the last 5 years. In years past, we've lowered the mound (and standardized), allowed instant replay reviews changes of the play (various states of what's reviewable and how it's initiated to include umpire explanations now), changed interference rules for double players, changed blocking home plate rules, implemented pitcher inspections for grip, changed rules for what players could do for watching in game replays, a lot of things.
|Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred has made decisions and many fans aren't happy|
But it seems like this year's changes seem to cut at more of the fundamentals of baseball. Baseball is not supposed to have a clock. The bases have been the same size for a century. Defenses being able to position where they want is strategy. Pitchers throwing to a base when desired is just part of it. Let's break down the impact of the new rules. It may not be what you think. Here is from most impactful to least impactful:
1) Limited throws to first base
- Pitchers are limited to two disengagements (pickoff attempts or step-offs) per plate appearance. However, this limit is reset if a runner or runners advance during the plate appearance.
- If a third pickoff attempt is made, the runner automatically advances one base if the pickoff attempt is not successful.
- The bases, which traditionally have been 15 inches square, will instead be 18 inches square. Home plate is unchanged.
- The bases, which traditionally have been 15 inches square, will instead be 18 inches square. Home plate is unchanged.
- The four infielders must be within the outer boundary of the infield when the pitcher is on the rubber.
- Infielders may not switch sides. In other words, a team cannot reposition its best defender on the side of the infield the batter is more likely to hit the ball
|Student Body Right is no longer allowed|
- The pitcher must begin his motion to deliver the pitch before the expiration of the pitch timer.
- Pitchers who violate the timer are charged with an automatic ball. Batters who violate the timer are charged with an automatic strike.
- Batters must be in the box and alert to the pitcher by the 8-second mark or else be charged with an automatic strike.
|Large counting down digits are here to stay in baseball|
Monday, February 20, 2023
The Spring Sports season rounds into form now that the Super Bowl is behind us and the first major benchmark is the Daytona 500. After a winter of quiet, the engines roar on the beach in the Great American Race. And with the restrictor plate racing, surprise winners are becoming a regular thing. 2023 did not disappoint. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. survived several crashes and restarts in what became the longest Daytona 500 in history (thanks to new overtime rules). On the second overtime, as the field wrecked in carnage behind him, he surged ahead of 2022 Cup Champion Joey Logano to secure his first Daytona 500 victory in 12 tries. The day was categorized by setbacks and Stenhouse Jr. had his share, including a pit violation during the third stage. But lurking around the front and crafty driving put him in front when it counted. He's known for his aggressive style of driving and that paid off for JTG Daugherty Racing as he secures the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!
Monday, February 13, 2023
In what is one of the best Super Bowls in recent memory, there were many heroes on the winning team but not often do defensive players get recognized. But we will do just that. Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Nick Bolton did everything possible to stop the offensive machine that was the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LVII. Including score a touchdown. Almost two TDs (a second score was overturned). And lead the team in tackles with 8 solo tackles, nine total. In a game of offenses, Bolton showed why defense mattered. At risk of the Eagles going up two touchdowns, he pressured Jalen Hurts then scooped a fumble and tied the game at 14. The halftime score that was 24-14 in reality would have been nearly insurmountable had it been 24-7 or even 31-7. The Fly Eagles Fly would have happened. Instead it was just close enough for the Chiefs offense to fire back in the second half and win on the final series for their second Super Bowl in four years. The Kansas City Chiefs are a dynasty, but it's different players, like Nick Bolton, who make it happen. A worthy Sportsman of the Week!
Tuesday, February 7, 2023
The gap week between the NFL Conference Championships, beyond the Australian Open, and before March Madness produces an intriguing and somewhat underdog choice for Sportsman or woman of the week. This year, we focus on what has probably been the best men's college basketball team over the past two years, the Houston Cougars. Final Four participants in 2022, they added a talented freshman that may be the person to push them over the top. Jarace Walker has been a force in the American Athletic Conference and seems to be getting better with experience. The 6'8" racked up his third and fourth double digit scoring games on a balanced Cougar squad. He's got inside game and outside game with over 50% shooting from the field, 7-11 from beyond the arc and 11 rebounds in the two wins this week. Not to mention 5 steals and 38 points overall, all tops on the team. And the Cougars were the only Top 5 team to win both their contests last week to push their overall record to 22-2. The Cougars look poised for a March Madness run and Jarace Walker is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!
Monday, January 30, 2023
The penultimate weekend of the NFL had the best four team squaring off for a berth in the Super Bowl. And the home team, number one seeds did not disappoint. In what was supposed to be a close game, the Philadelphia Eagles broke the game open on early big plays by their defense. Led by edge disrupter Haason Reddick, the Eagles shut down the San Francisco 49ers holding them to just a TD over the game for an easy 31-7 victory to win the NFC Championship. Reddick ended up with 3 tackles, 2 of them sacks. a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery. When he wasn't making tackles, he was disrupting the anemic, injury-riddled 49ers offense causing fits. Reddick was one of many difference makers, but it was his sacks and fumble influence that really made the game non-competitive. On to the Super Bowl for the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!
Monday, January 16, 2023
The University of Georgia may be the new Alabama. But they may be even better than that. On Monday the Bulldogs cinched their second College Football Playoff Championship in 365 days easily destroying the Texas Christian Horned Frogs 65-7 in a game that wasn't even close. Georgia used a balance offensive attack on both the ground and through the air to completely mystify the Frogs in the most lopsided championship game in history. Perhaps no player was more unstoppable than tight end Brock Bowers who was consistently getting open and causing big damage. Bowers finished the game with 7 catches 152 yards and a TD (also carrying the ball twice for 15 yards), reaching season highs in receptions and total years in the biggest game. Georgia coaching was criticized for not using Bowers more in the Semifinal game and more than atoned. Bowers is expected to perform very well at the next level and is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!
Friday, January 13, 2023
In a Longhorndave Blog tradition, I am once again conveying my thoughts on who I would vote for if I had a BBWAA ballot for the 2023 National Baseball Hall of Fame.
The BBWAA vote will be revealed on Major League Baseball (MLB) Network on Tuesday, January 24, 2023. 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 2023 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.
|The welcoming entry to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY|
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.
There are a few overarching factors 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 (note that MOST of the voters did check the boxes for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, just not three out of four). 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 findings, first hand accounts (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 I wrote. 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 high save count Trevor Hoffman and Lee Smith in recent years. The doors have opened a bit in that regard. In the end, for pitchers, 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.
Monday, January 9, 2023
It was an emotional yet exciting week in sports. The NFL regular season was winding down with exciting final week matchups to decide fates and seeds, but the sports world was captivated and behind the unfortunate medical incident on Monday Night Football which scarily sent Damar Hamlin to the hospital after being revived on the field (twice). But the Buffalo Bills responded in the early Sunday time window with a kickoff return touchdowby by Nyheim Hines. Hines took the opening kickoff in a pivitol game (opponent New England Patriots were in a 'win and in' scenario and they were looking for a second seed) and took it to the HOUSE. After an emotional pregame, Hines showed us that football was still okay to cheer for and no doubt Hamlin would have wanted it that way. But Hines didn't stop there, taking a SECOND kickoff back for a TD moments after the Patriots fought to take a brief (and I do mean brief) lead. And again, this wasn't just feel good, it was playoff critical as Bills took the two TDs to a 12-point win and secured a chance for home field until the AFC Championship which may be a neutral site. Hines turned around a bad situation and made good. A worthy, Sportsman of the Week!