Who am I?

I'm from Houston, a graduate of the University of Texas, a fan of the Houston Astros and Houston Texans. But this blog will be about the "greater sports", whatever that means.

Follow me on Twitter: @lhd_on_sports

Labels

LHD_PotW (617) MLB (185) NFL (165) NCAA (129) NFL Playoffs (73) NBA (67) NHL (63)

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

2024 National Baseball Hall of Fame Vote

In an LHD on Sports Blog tradition, I am once again conveying my thoughts on who I would vote for if I had a BBWAA ballot for the 2024 National Baseball Hall of Fame.

The BBWAA vote will be revealed on Major League Baseball (MLB) Network on Tuesday, January 23, 2024.  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 2024 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 Plaque Gallery will add to its fold this year (Credit: Me)

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 on the Hall of Fame ballot although the number is dwindling with Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, and Mark McGwire running out of eligibility.  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 (a minority) 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 are legal findings, firsthand 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.  A constant I hear is "how can it be a Hall of Fame without Bonds, Clemens, Pete Rose, etc."  Their accomplishments, records, videos, etc. are more than prominent in the museum portion of the Hall of Fame and museum, but down by the plaques, you won't find them there.  Did the crime, do the time.

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 2017Edgar 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.

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Sportsman of the Week Ending 12/24/2023


The proverbial "undercard" of the College Football Bowl season continues to play out and the game are thrilling.  The "we don't need these games" fall on deaf ears for players and teams that this is the best they can reach.  Like Western Kentucky, Conference USA contenders and now Famous Toastery Bowl Champions.  What made their effort special was 24 unanswered points over the last 15 minutes coming back from 28-0 and 35-14 led by our Sportsman of the Week at the helm.  Caden Veltkamp threw with accuracy and deadly results in bringing the Hilltoppers back to win in overtime 38-35 over the Old Dominion Monarchs. Veltkamp through early and often, 52 attempts with 40 connected and 383 yards and 5 TDs.  He also ran another 19 times meaning 71 plays it was him for 400+ yards.  And oh I mentioned, a Famous Toastery Bowl victory, the most important thing.  Caden Veltkamp is a worthy Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week! 

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Sportsman of the Week Ending 12/17/2023


"It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" as played on ESPN commercials and Christman music channels alike, the first alluding to College Football Bowl season.  In what some considered a golden age of college football in the 70s and 80s there would be a dozen or so games and all the teams were the top national teams.  In current times, there are 41 Bowl Games featuring 82 FBS Teams exceedingly more than half of the teams and more than what some consider a fair share of 6-6 teams.  I say let's feast.  Especially the weekend before Christmas, give me all the Group of Five Conference Teams I didn't see during the regular season.  Fitting the bill is Mid-Atlantic Conference power Ohio University Bobcats.  As underdogs in the Myrtle Beach Bowl against the Georgia Southern Eagles, our Sportsman of the Week dominated the game and made it a blowout.  Freshman running back Rickey Hunt channeled other legendary college football running backs like Ricky Watters and Ricky Williams to surge for 115 yards on 17 carries and 4 TDs in a 41-21 romp.  Hunt added a TD reception to make it five TDs on the day guiding Ohio to its fifth straight Bowl win, and a 10-win season.  This after a number of key regular season players did not participate as they opted for the Portal.  Don't bet against Ohio nor Hunt, a worthy Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Sportsman of the Week Ending 12/10/2023


The stretch run for the NFL playoffs is hitting the quarter pole and the AFC race is up for grabs.  On the inside track after Sunday are the Baltimore Ravens thanks to a thrilling overtime victory.  The sudden death win was made possible by an unlikely source, Tylan Wallace.  Wallace took a Los Angeles Rams punt down the left sideline for 76 yards and the first touchdown of his career.  On the third punt return of his career.  Maybe the Rams weren't expecting it.  But no matter, Wallace's miracle return rendered a win for the Ravens to push them to 10-3 and top seed in the AFC and tied for best record in the NFL.  Tylan Wallace is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Sportsman of the Week Ending 12/3/2023


One of the best storylines of the 2023 College Football season was the Pac 12 strength and more specifically, the Washington Huskies emergence as the final Pac 12 Champion beating the Oregon Ducks 34-31.  For the second season in a row, Michael Penix Jr. flashed his elite left arm in big games, this time completing a 13-0 regular season and College Football Playoff berth for the Huskies.  Penix Jr. beat the Oregon Ducks for the second time this season throwing for a tough 319 yards and a TD, putting up 34 points against Oregon, registering 31+ point tallies against the Ducks for the second time this season.  The Ducks didn't give up more than 30 in any other game.  Penix Jr. finishes the year with 4218 yards and 33 TDs ending in an invitation to New York for the Heisman Trophy.  On to the Sugar Bowl for the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Monday, November 27, 2023

Sportsman of the Week Ending 11/26/2023


Thanksgiving in the United States is synonymous with football.  And in the NFL, that includes America's Team, the Dallas Cowboys.  Since the early 1960s the Cowboys always play the late afternoon time slot as families settle into their dinner routine.  This year, they were delivered an extra side of sweetness by DaRon Bland.  As the Cowboys completely outclassed their primary historic rival Washington (nee) Redskins, Bland set an all-time NFL record for interceptions for a touchdown.  Talking history.  Deion.  Hayes.  Woodson.  Revis.  Green.  Bland (ironic name) was not that in his FIFTH return for a TD with just under 5 minutes left in the game.  With six more games, he could extend his record.  Is this the Cowboys year?  It's been a couple of decades.  They wuill need their defense to be shut down and score and it just might be so.  DeRon Bland is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Sportsman of the Week Ending 11/19/2023


The NFL season moves to crunch time as games remaining are dwindling and playoff position is at a premium.  In a season in which most teams have 2 or more losses, seeding will be key.  The San Francisco 49ers have one of the most talented rosters in the NFC and after hitting the skids midseason, seem to be hitting their stride.  Thanks to their unassuming superstar QB Brock Purdy.  Purdy emerged last year after poor performance and injury rendered him the starter and he delivered.  The Iowa State product with polished skills across the board continues to produce.  This week in a must win before a tough stretch of schedule, Purdy scored a perfect QB rating at 158.3 in a dominant performance defeating the plucky Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27-14.  Purdy threw 25 times only missing four.  Totaling 333 yards (well over 10 yards per pass and 15 yards per completion) and 3 TDs.  He led the Niners to the NFC Championship game last year and they seemed poised for a potential rematch against the Philadelphia Eagles this year and Purdy can't wait for revenge after being knocked out of last year's blowout.  For now, Brock Purdy is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Monday, November 13, 2023

Sportsman of the Week Ending 11/12/2023


The college football season is hitting a crescendo for the Playoffs, but I believe it's time we look beyond playoff contenders for Heisman favorites.  Look no further than Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  Senior Louisiana State QB Jayden Daniels is dominating the SEC and rewriting record books.  And he's the definition of dual threat.  And both he goes for big yards.  On Saturday against formidable, if not ranked, Florida, Daniels tallied off 372 yards passing on just 26 attempts for nearly 15 yards a drop back.  And when he wasn't throwing, he'd run for 234 on 12 carries for 19.5 yards per tote.  He's third in the country in passing behind last year's Heisman winner and another favorite for this year.  He's nearing 1000 yards, top 30 in the country.  He's a weapon and while LSU won't win the SEC, he deserves to be in New York and perhaps, raising that large trophy.  Jayden Daniels is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Monday, November 6, 2023

Sportsman of the Week Ending 11/5/2023


An epic week and weekend in sports was highlighted by great NFL matchups, the World Series, the Breeders Cup, and college football.  It's the latter we focus on and in particular, Bedlam.  The Bedlam football series between Oklahoma Sooners and Oklahoma State Cowboys has taken place for 1xx years, even longer than Oklahoma was a state.  And in what may be the final matchup for a while after Sooners chose to leave for the Southeastern Conference, it was the little brother Cowboys who came out on top in front of a frenzied crowd.  And the engine that made it happen was all world running back Ollie Gordon II.  Gordon II has been epic this season and against the best opponent of the year, put up great numbers.  He ran for 137 yards and 2 TD, while catching another pass for over 150 yards total.  He's been doing this all year now with 1224 yards without even racking up many in non-conference play as he earned the starting nod.  His yardage leads the country.  He's averaging 7.0 yards per carry, best of anyone with 125 carries or more.  He's doing it all and now Oklahoma State is tied for the conference lead.  Ahead of big brother Oklahoma.  It doesn't get any better than that, thanks to Ollie Gordon II, the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Friday, November 3, 2023

Sportsman of the Week Ending 10/29/2023


As the MLB League Championship Series wrapped up, a surprise winner on the National League side emerged.  Nobody was talking about the Arizona Diamondbacks, the team with the worst record in the playoffs, emerging with the pennant, but that they did.  What they lacked in star power was made up for in talent and execution.  Execution was the name of the game for Ketel Marte.  And consistency.  Marte set a postseason record with a 20-game hitting streak.  During the week ending Sunday October 29, Marte's Diamondbacks won three out of four games, including the last two of the NLCS to send the defending National League Champions home, and also won Game 2 of the World Series against the Texas Rangers to send it back to Arizona tied (spoiler alert, it didn't go well in the desert).  Before the week Marte helped secure the Diamondbacks first win in the series with a walk off hit.  Marte ended the week 5/20, 2 two 2B, a triple and 6 critical RBI to clinch Arizona's first pennant since 2001.  A surprise story and budding superstar, Ketel Marte is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Thursday, October 26, 2023

Sportsman of the Week Ending 10/22/2023


What a week of League Championship Series action in Major League Baseball with road teams dominating, especially on the American League side of the ledger.  In a Lone Star showdown the Texas Rangers faced off against the defending World Series Champion Houston Astros in a back yard brawl.  The Rangers came out on top, thanks to their defacto ace Nathan Eovaldi.  Facing the Astros for the fifth time at Minute Maid Park, he extended his prior success to end the Astros reign.  Eovaldi won two starts at Minute Maid Park in Games 2 and 6.  12 2/3 innings, 10 hits, and 5 runs with 13 K.  He wasn't perfect, but his team staked him to early leads and he knew what to do with them.  Those two wins at the Juice Box propelled the Rangers to their first World Series in 12 years, looking for their first title in franchise history.  

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Sportsman of the Week Ending 10/15/2023


This blog has always liked big upsets and nothing is better than an unbelievable performance in such.  Stanford pulled of an unbelievable, and improbably upset of Colorado after trailing 29-0 at half time.  Being a late game on a Friday night, few fans stayed up.  But they should have.  Stanford went full video game mode in the second half, scoring the first 26 points, then the last the last 10.  Of those 36 points, Stanford WR Elic Ayomanor scored 14 of them.  He scored another TD in overtime and ended the night with 294 yards on 13 catches, including a 97 yard grab and run.  And he did it all, catches in traffic, catches and make a guy miss, and there was nothing the Buffs could do about it.  The sheen is off the Buffaloes, but credit to Stanford and credit to Ayomanor, the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week! 

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Sportsman of the Week Ending 10/1/2023


Parity may be the rule of the 2023 NFL season, but a familiar team from recent and historical playoffs is dominating.  Thanks to a superstar running back that positions the San Francisco 49ers to be one of the most dangerous teams of the year.  Christian McCaffrey has entered, or really continued, his prime in which he is borderline unstoppable. MVP unstoppable if voters will look past quarterbacks.  McCaffrey shredded the Arizona Cardinals for an easy 106 yards on 20 carries and 3 touchdowns in a 35-16 Niners victory.  His longest run was 18 yards so that wasn't padded by a breakaway.  Add to that a game leading 7 catches (one for a TD) for another 71 yards (with longest also under 20 yards).  He basically was an automatic 10 yard weapons just get him the ball.  This isn't Christian McCaffrey's first Sportsman of the Week and may not be his last!

Monday, September 25, 2023

Sportsman of the Week Ending 9/24/2023


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

Sportswoman of the Week Ending 9/10/2023


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

Sportsman of the Week Ending 9/3/2023


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

Sportsman of the Week Ending 8/27/2023


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

Sportsman of the Week Ending 8/20/2023


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

Sportsman of the Week Ending 8/13/2023


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

Sportsman of the Week Ending 8/6/2023


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

Sportsman of the Week Ending 7/30/2023


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

Sportsman of the Week Ending 7/23/2023


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

Sportswoman of the Week Ending 7/16/2023


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

Sportswoman of the Week Ending 7/9/2023


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

Sportsman of the Week Ending 7/2/2023


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

Sportsman of the Week Ending 6/25/2023


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

Sportsman of the Week Ending 6/18/2023


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! 

The Frustrated Sports Team Fan

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.

Examples

  • 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.

Examples:

  • 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

Sportsman of the Week Ending 6/11/2023


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

Sportsman of the Week Ending 6/4/2023


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

Sportsman of the Week Ending 5/28/2023


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

Sportsman of the Week Ending 5/21/2023


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

Sportsman of the Week Ending 5/14/2023


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

Sportsman of the Week Ending 5/7/2023


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

Sportsman of the Week Ending 4/30/2023


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

Sportsman of the Week Ending 4/23/2023


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

Sportsman of the Week Ending 4/16/2023


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

Sportsman of the Week Ending 4/9/2023


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

Sportsman of the Week Ending 4/2/2023


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

Sportswoman of the Week Ending 3/26/2023


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

Sportsman of the Week Ending 3/19/2023


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

Sportswoman of the Week Ending 3/12/2023


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

Sportsman of the Week Ending 3/5/2023


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

Sportsman of the Week Ending 2/26/2023


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

2023 MLB Rule Changes. Is it the end of the beautiful game?

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.


While the throw to first lacked results, it kept runners in check

To me this is the biggest change.  The steal a base you need to take a lead with the peril of a pitcher keeping you close.  After a couple of unsuccessful tries, no longer is that threat in play.  Combined with pitch clock timing and easier bases to get to or from, this fundamentally changes strategy.  Pitchers can also no longer use a "B" move to set up the runner for their "A" move.  The base runner is now apt to take bases at a rate of at least 2 to 1 from prior years (stats will tell).  I grew up in an era in which big time baserunners like Rickey Henderson and Vince Coleman were automatic doubles so that part goes back to the past and an era I enjoy.  But to artificially tilt the table seems unnecessary.  The guise seems to be to limit thrown to first and step offs.  This is a minor contributor to game length.  I think this is the biggest fundamental change of all.

Does Longhorndave (LHD) like this: No
Does LHD think this is good for the game: No

2) Larger bases
  • The bases, which traditionally have been 15 inches square, will instead be 18 inches square. Home plate is unchanged.

Much more real estate to be safe

This has some pros and cons.  Start with the pros.  More room at 1B for reduced unnecessary contact between the first baseman receiving a throw and a runner hitting the corner.  Also, more room for a runner to hit the base and stay on, I for one am not a fan of a runner being out for hitting a base before a tag, however being caught with a toe or finger off the bag.  More room for a middle infielder to avoid perilous contact.  Con is six inches closer to a stolen base.  Three inches on getting back on what is now a limited pick off.  Three inches closer on the SB.  Opens the aperture for SB's a lot.  Gas on the fire of more SBs which fundamentally changes everything.

Does LHD like this: No
Does LHD think this is good for the game: Neutral

3) Limited shift
  • 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


This to me is fool's gold.  The perception that hitters are significantly handicapped by the shift is more legend than reality.  If you ask a player how many hits got taken away by the shift a year they'll answer 20+.  I've heard experts say it's 5 or 6.  That's one a month.  You think every time the ball is hit to the shift OF guy it's a hit.  But the defense might have been there.  Also minus hits against the shift.  Also, pitchers would throw inside into the shift.  Now they are freed to work the outside of the plate.  This will do a bit for BABIP but when balls aren't put in play (historic strikeout levels) is going to be in the noise.  

Does LHD like this: No
Does LHD think this is good for the game: No

4) Pitch clock
  • 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

If internet anger is to be believed this is the most egregious of them all.  How dare we have a clock in baseball?  How dare we award balls/strikes for violations?  Let me talk you back from the ledge.  Clocks have quietly introduced into the game the past few years between innings (forcing the pitcher to get his butt out to the mound) and for mound visits (reducing the classic stall to get a reliever warmed up).  This pitch clock has been implemented in the minor leagues for a couple of years with no major impacts.  Now, this is a two "step function" change to the game but the reduction in unnecessary game length may be worth the squeeze.  Most of the current length of game delays were simply head play.  Pitcher waiting.  Waiting.  Waiting.  Step off.  I got you batter now you're not ready.  Batter steps out.  Adjust gloves, mental clear.  Make that pitcher wait.  No value for fans.  I'm not a fan of a clock but given other MLB toothless initiatives (like making the batter have a foot in the box with no recourse) this forces a needed element.  I'm not a fan of a clock.  At all.  But am willing to let this play out.  While I expect to see some key ball/strike calls in Spring Training, rest assured after a six-week training of limits players won't push this in key situations after the All-Star Break.  The stakes are too high.  Related, you probably drive 5 MPH over the speed limit.  Right past a cop.  They don't bat an eyelash.  If there was a system that automatically sent you a ticket if you went 1 MPH over and deducted it from your bank account instantly I'm guessing, you'd quickly adjust to go 5 MPH UNDER the speed limit.  Very quickly.  First week you might get caught once or twice.  Won't happen again.  Pitchers are going to be happy they can dig in and get to work.  Batters are most impacted as many use/need that time to clear their head (seems like early they've been the most violations).  They need to adjust to just take the pitch, pause, get back in.  This is where we're at least seeing big gains unlike the other three and it won't be long until this is normalized.

Does LHD like this: No
Does LHD think this is good for the game: Optimistic

What I think the result will be.  Shorter games.  MUCH shorter games.  Disagreement over whether that's good but I'm okay once normalized.  Lots more stolen bases.  Lots more.  Not much in terms of the shift as outlined above.  More eye candy.

In summary, is this a lot of changes, yes.  Have we also seen a number of changes in years prior, also yes.