Whether you’re at the end of your coffee, your day, your week or even your rope, welcome to Whitt’s End …
*In 2012 the Texas Rangers drew 3.4 million fans, averaging 42,720 per game at the old Ballpark in Arlington. Ten years later they’ve lost about 40 percent of their audience, struggling to draw 24,000 per game and two million total to Globe Life Field in 2022. In other words, welcome to Arlington … Aaron Judge. Hosting the slugger and the New York Yankees for a season-ending four games over three days next week will attract both fans to the stadium and viewers to the Rangers on TV. Judge’s pursuit of American League home-run history will make the Rangers must-see TV in October. Haven’t said that since, like, 2016.
*Cowboys-Redskins: Hallowed. Cowboys-Washington Football Team: Ho-hum. Cowboys-Commanders: Hopeful ...
When the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Commanders – in their new all-black uniforms – play Sunday at AT&T Stadium, we’ll witness one of the NFL’s most iconic rivalries on a respirator, gasping for breath. In the 1970s and ’80s, they played for pride, and sometimes blood. In the ’90s, they played for berths in the Super Bowl.
Ol’ antagonist George Allen used to douse gasoline on the fire by declaring the days before a Cowboys-Redskins game “Dallas Week.” Back then it barely raised an eyebrow, much less the blood pressure, as Dallas routinely won the matchups and had loftier goals than simply dispatching a finger-licking, hand-clapping coach hopped up on the early ancestors of Red Bull.
But as the Cowboys dominated this rivalry in the ’70s and won two Super Bowls, Washington returned serve with two championships of its own in the ’80s. In the ’90s each franchise won championships.
Since then ... crickets.
With the days of Joe Gibbs, Tom Landry, Mark Rypien, Harvey Martin, Washington’s “Fun Bunch” and Dallas’ “Triplets” long gone, the rivalry has fizzled into something only NFL Films’ John Facenda fondly recalls.
The Cowboys last won a Super Bowl in 1995; Washington in 1991. In the last 26 years, the two once-proud franchises have combined to win only six playoff games.
Cowboys’ iconic unofficial mascot “Crazy Ray” has passed. So too Allen, Texas Stadium and Washington’s venerable RFK Stadium.
In a feud that once sported the venom of “America's Team” vs. “The Hogs”, not sure how much rekindling can be done by Cooper Rush and Carson Wentz.
*Very cool to see original general manager and recent cancer survivor Norm Sonju drop by Dallas Mavericks’ training camp this week. Sonju, who was owner Don Carter’s righteous right-hand man from 1980-96, was on hand to help the team launch the “Mavs Vault” at the State Fair of Texas. If I could withdraw one player out of the vault and off Sonju’s old-school teams to play on this year’s Mavs I’d go with … Roy Tarpley. A healthy, sober version of course. Fans forget how skilled and athletically gifted Tarpley was. Give Luka Doncic a 7-footer who could protect the rim, gobble rebounds, block shots, hit 18-foot jumpers, throw down ferocious dunks and relentlessly run the floor and … NBA title favorites.
*That said, I think Judge’s “story” is one of the most overrated and New York-exaggerated in recent history. If he played for the Rangers, for example, no way ESPN is breathlessly breaking into live college football for every at-bat. His chase to tie – tie! – the “magical” 61 homers was, let’s be honest, farcical. He’s not on the tail of Barry Bonds’ all-time single-season record, merely the AL record. Sammy Sosa hit more than 61 three times; Mark McGwire twice. And, of course, Bonds swatted 73 steroid-infused bombs in 2001. Even when he hits No. 62, possibly in Arlington next week, Judge will only have the seventh-best season in baseball homer history. Imagine if a NFL quarterback was one touchdown shy of the single-season record … in the AFC. Would we be treated to every snap each time his team entered the Red Zone? Nope. ESPN is clearly guilty of a miscalculation. It wants Judge to be a compelling story more than he actually is a compelling story. We don’t care about Judge’s magical chase any more than we did the WNBA Finals. Supply and demand, people. Supply and demand.
*Freaky Friday ... or Monday? As I reported last weekend, DFW radio legend Mike Rhyner is unretiring to be the signature voice at 97.1, which could as soon as today flip from hard rock “The Eagle” to sports/guy talk “The Freak.” Rhyner confirmed the shocking move this week with a dramatic video that said, simply, “I’m back, bitches.”
A press release from iHeartMedia - owner of 97.1 - sent this week includes an invitation to "a very freaky celebration!" Monday night, featuring Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and iHeartMedia regional president Paul Corvino.
*We know why Rhyner (for the challenge/credit of creating The Ticket 2.0) and his new co-hosts (for a paycheck, duh) are going to The Freak. But why would the powers that be at 97.1 flip a heritage station that’s played rock music for 40 years to a sports-talk station in a hostile battleground where it will start No. 3 behind The Fan and – if history is any indication – ultimately be devoured by The Ticket?
Easy answer: Ratings.
In August’s numbers (covering July 21-August 17), The Ticket continued its lead on The Fan in every daypart while The Eagle’s “Active Rock” format languished well behind both. In the desired Male 25-54 demographic and in the listening sweet spot Monday-Friday 6 a.m.-7 p.m., The Ticket ranked No. 2 in DFW (6.4), The Fan No. 6 (4.1) and The Eagle a distant No. 20 (2.1).
A change was necessary. Yet it seems a confusing strategy for The Freak to keep Eagle holders Ben and Skin. Their show, riding the coattails of The Russ Martin Show, bolted out of the gate in 2020 with No. 1-ranked time-slot ratings sometimes flirting with 9.0. Last month, they slid all the way down to 1.8, ranking 22nd in the market.
5:30-10a: Ticket 6.2; Fan 3.3; Eagle 1.9
10a-2p: Ticket 6.2; Fan 4.4; Eagle 2.8
2-5p: Ticket 5.9; Fan 5.5; Eagle 1.8
3-7p: Ticket 6.2; Fan 3.7; Eagle 1.8
Overall: Ticket 6.4; Fan 4.1; Eagle 2.1
MLB Free Agency Tracker: Cody Bellinger, Cubs Agree to Deal
Inside the Rangers keeps up with all of the MLB free agency news as the hot stove league of the 2022 offseason unfolds.
Rangers, Dodgers Starter Agree to Contract
The former Los Angeles Dodgers starter will reportedly sign a two-year deal.
Rangers Odds for First MLB Draft Lottery
The Texas Rangers have a chance to land the No. 1 overall selection in the 2023 MLB Draft.
*Gotta admit, I hadn’t thought about Gavin Escobar in years. Hate that his name popped up Thursday because he died in a rock-climbing accident in California. After a four-year career with the Cowboys, the former tight end joined the Long Beach, California Fire Department. Tragic.
*Seeing the aftermath in Florida, hard to fathom anything being more powerful and destructive than a strong hurricane like Ian. But while it slammed into the coastline with wind speeds of 150 mph, here in Texas we sometimes deal with F5 tornadoes packing a velocity twice as strong. Last F5 in Texas devastated the town of Jarrell in 1997, with wind speeds estimated to have reached between 260-300 mph.
*Sticking to his recruiting promise, Mavs coach Jason Kidd says center JaVale McGee will start while Christian Wood comes off the bench as sixth man. Honestly, this scares me to death. Throughout his career McGee has been like a human shot of tequila: Great for an initial burst of energy and flavor, but a toxic mix of danger and comedy in large amounts.
*In a 2006 interview with me for the Dallas Observer, Rhyner said of The Ticket: “The most gratifying and special thing to me is that the station means so much to so many people. I know I’ll never have anything like this again in my life.” Will be fascinating to see if he has the passion for a re-boot and re-build at age 72.
*For what it’s worth, the Rangers’ single-season home run record is 57. Set in 2002 by one of the biggest douchebags in the history of sports. A-Fraud.
*Now that he has his driver’s license, one of these days I’m going to let Big Brothers Big Sisters lil’ bro Ja drive me around. For now, let’s stick to safer choices. Like, say, a picnic.
*While the Commanders break out new all-black uniforms Sunday and the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday night ditched their orange for a look right out of the zebra stall or perhaps the state penitentiary, the Cowboys will again this week stick with one of the most classic looks in all of sports. There are critics always yammering about Jerry Jones caring only about the money. They must, however, give him credit for never monkeying around the silver-and-blue and the star on the helmet.
*Peaches > Pumpkins. It’s why I’m generally cranky beginning this time of year.
*There are only two unbeaten quarterbacks in the NFL this season: Jalen Hurts and Cooper Rush. But before we even dream about a Cowboys’ succession of Tony Romo taking over for Drew Bledsoe and then Dak Prescott taking over for Romo and now Rush taking over for Prescott, let’s consider that Rush might just be another Matt Flynn. After starring at Tyler High School and LSU, Flynn was drafted in the seventh round in 2007 by the Green Bay Packers. After toiling as Aaron Rodgers’ backup a couple of years, he started the meaningless 2011 season finale and put up 480 yards and six touchdowns. That earned him a three-year, $19 million free-agent contract from the Seattle Seahawks. But Flynn was beat out in Seattle by Russell Wilson and in Oakland by Terrelle Pryor. In his eight-year career he had one other shining moment – returning to Green Bay and producing a four-touchdown performance in the Packers’ rally from 26-3 down to a 37-36 victory over the Cowboys in 2013. As a starter in the NFL, Flynn went 3-4. If Rush keeps it up, some team will write him a check next offseason. But he has Matt Flynn written all over him.
*Plano police last week raided a lesbian brothel. And, yes – absolutely guilty – I reacted entirely inappropriately to that headline.
*LT giving advice – or more like making a challenge - to the lion-backer? Delicious. And Lawrence Taylor is spot-on when he suggests Micah Parsons needs to “keep it up” for 13 years before they’re mentioned in the same breath.
*Actual phone conversation I had this week with an old friend (that I obviously hadn’t spoken with in a minute or two). Me: Wait, I thought you were … dead. Him: Why would you think that?! Me: Sooooooo … how’s it goin’?
*Elite, fit, well-trained athletes suffering random injuries is just, well, absurd. Like Connecticut basketball star Paige Bueckers and, last week against the Cowboys, New York Giants’ receiver Sterling Shepard. Seriously, with no one around him it looked like Shepard – who had been lightly jogging but was coming to a stop – stepped on a tack. But he went down, with a season-ending ACL injury. Considering casual injuries to super-humans, should us random folks be wary of simply rolling out of bed?
*Two more “Road-Rage” deaths on DFW streets last week, bringing the number to over 200 since 2015. Look, some people can’t drive. And some that can drive do it very aggressively and recklessly. Know that before you get behind the wheel. Deep breaths before loud shouts or honking horns or a displayed finger or flashing high beams. “Sending a message” is not worth it. Live to drive another day.
*The Rangers have been playing baseball in Arlington for 50 years. They’ve never had a pitcher win the Cy Young Award (only AL team not to do so). Help, I think, is on the way. This season All-Star Martin Perez proved he can be the ace of a staff, and minor-league prospects Jack Leiter, Owen White, Brock Porter, Kumar Rocker and Cole Winn all have immense potential. Don’t know if there is a Cy Young winner in that group, but safe to say the Rangers are past due.
*Let’s start referring to a rapist as a raper. Because that kind of criminal should be in the group with a murderer, and not an artist or therapist.
*Where is the howling laughter and barbed criticism for the Buffalo Bills botching an end-of-game possession and wasting too much time to spike the ball in last week’s loss to the Miami Dolphins? The Cowboys were national punchlines for an entire offseason for committing the exact same crime.
*I know, I know, nothing funny about death. But I admit to being obsessed with this website chronicling the, um, misfortunes of those who spent time over the last couple years mocking COVID and gleefully spreading misinformation about vaccines. Is it okay to slightly giggle? Fine. Smirk? What about a sly smirk?
*One for the aged: Jason Peters played 14 snaps at left guard last Monday night. In doing so, the 40-year-old became the oldest Cowboy since Vinny Testaverde and third-oldest in franchise history behind the quarterback and kicker Eddie Murray.
*Not a big fan of being trapped in an elevator, but there are worse places for it happen in Dallas than atop Reunion Tower.
*Sorry, smarmy Monday Night Football announcer Joe Buck, but – no – Cowboys’ kick-returner KaVontae Turpin does not have a “fantastic story.” At least his former long-term girlfriend doesn’t think so. Ya know, the one he once grabbed by the arms, ripping her shirt, and on other another occasion dragging her across a parking lot, eventually slamming her to the ground. In 2018 Turpin plead guilty to “assault causing bodily injury” against the girl. He was kicked off the TCU football team, before weaving a winding road to the NFL. But, please Joe, tell us more about this “fantastic” tale.
*Our good friends at RB Golf Club & Resort in Bridgeport are holding their third annual $15,000 invitational Oct. 8. In its first two years, the tournament raised over $270,000 for local charities.
*Just because I’m connected, doesn’t mean I’m a consumer. Of DFW sports-talk radio, that is. To be honest, since I was fired from 105.3 The Fan – almost 10 years ago all the sudden – I haven’t listened to one minute of local programming. Why? It’s like when you love hamburgers but then you work at a slaughterhouse and from then on and for the rest of your life you don’t like hamburgers. Having worked in radio, I’m all too familiar with how it’s a fickle, dirty industry with manipulated content delivered by disingenuous hosts. Still have lots of friends in DFW radio. We just do our talking – and my listening – off the air.
*This Weekend? Friday let’s sneak in perhaps the last golf round of 2022. Saturday let’s hang out with Ja. Sunday let’s watch Cowboys-Commanders. As always, don’t be a stranger.