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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!