Whether you’re at the end of your coffee, your day, your week or even your rope, welcome to Whitt’s End 4.16.21 …
*Even though owner Mark Cuban voted for it and the Mavs could benefit from it, they are disgruntled with the NBA’s controversial “Play-In” playoff format that could have a team ousted after two quick losses.
Says Luka, “I don't understand the idea of a play-in. You play 72 games to get into the playoffs, then maybe you lose two in a row and you're out of the playoffs. So I don't see the point of that.”
Remedy? Play your way out of having to play in.
Clearly Doncic wasn’t watching the NBA when the ’60s Celtics were winning Best-of-3 series, or when Major League Baseball teams played 162 games only to face a Best-of-5 playoff series.
Less whining. More winning. Please.
*No pressure or anything, but the Dallas Cowboys are 3 for 3 picking Hall of Famers when drafting in spots 9-11. In 60 NFL Drafts, the Cowboys have never had the 10th overall pick. They have, however, danced around the position with some pretty lofty results. Michael Irvin No. 11 in 1988. DeMarcus Ware No. 11 in 2005. Tyron Smith No. 9 in 2011.
Anything close to those at No. 10 come April 29 will suffice.
*Sure, it merely stole a regular-season game in the middle of April, but Luka Doncic’s lunging, lurching, lofty 3-pointer at the buzzer – the Luka Leaner – is one of the most improbable, impressive, iconic shots in Mavs’ history.
READ MORE: Mavs Donuts: 'Luka Legend' Pulls A 'Houdini'
The H-O-R-S-E winner belongs alongside Vince Carter’s corner 3-pointer against the Spurs, Jason Terry’s triple in LeBron’s mug in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, Dirk Nowitzki’s lefty layup in the 2011 clincher and, yes, Luka’s own 35-footer to beat the Clippers in the playoff bubble.
*At some point, we have to stop being surprised by Luka Legend. Doncic is now 10 of 25 on potential tying or go-ahead shots in the final 30 seconds of a game.
In other words, with the game on the line Luka has a 40-percent chance to make the shot – even if it’s an off-balance, one-hand floater from 24 feet. For comparison, on those same clutch shots LeBron James is 32 percent, Damian Lillard 35 and Kevin Durant 30.
*Let’s face it, baseball can at times be slower than refrigerated honey. Boring, even. But Wednesday night just might have provided the most exciting highlight of the Texas Rangers’ season. Two edge-of-your-seat-too-close-to-call moments – on the same play.
Seldom-used outfielder Adolis Garcia launched a ball into right-center that caromed off – something – and back into center. Give credit to Garcia, who sprinted from the box and circled the bases while the ball bounded aimlessly inside Tropicana Field. By the time the Rays got to it, Garcia was headed for home. The relay appeared to beat him, but after an athletic, adept slide he was called safe.
But hold your horses. As teammates mobbed Garcia in the dugout, hanging in the balance was a home run, inside-the-park home run or a triple. Upon dramatic review, the ball bounced off the top railing, negating the homer. And Garcia was tagged on the back before tapping home plate, deleting his inside-the-park homer.
Still, no doubt it will be the Rangers’ most exciting three-bagger of the year.
READ MORE: Adolis Gets His HR - And Another Win
For what it’s worth, Garcia got his revenge Thursday night when his two-run homer to the same part of the park easily cleared the fence and won the game for the Rangers in 10 innings.
*This will sting the pigskin purists in these parts but, sorry, the Big XII is not a football conference. It’s better known for its basketball. Or at least it should be. The Big XII last won a football national championship when Vince Young led Texas in 2005. (That’s also, for what it’s worth, the last time the league – Texas, again – won baseball’s College World Series.) Oklahoma won its last football title in 2000, giving the Big XII two championships in 21 years.
Its basketball teams, meanwhile, are this close – 12 seconds, to be exact – from back-to-back March Madness titles. Baylor steamrolled Gonzaga last week, bringing glory to Texas basketball as the first team in the state to capture the championship since Texas Western in 1966.
But – thanks, COVID – we’ve already forgotten that Texas Tech led Virginia by three points in the final seconds of the 2019 national championship game. A clutch 3-pointer by the Cavaliers tied it and the Red Raiders missed a shot at the buzzer before losing in overtime.
Football gets our hype, but basketball is delivering our hardware.
*Speaking of Baylor’s ferocious, physical disposition, 2021 is reminding us yet again that defense indeed wins championships. Tampa Bay’s relentless pass rush transformed Patrick Mahomes into a mortal in the Super Bowl. Baylor’s pressure discombobulated Gonzaga’s highest-scoring offense right out of its pet sets. When in doubt, defense.
*People suck, example No. 3,807,062(ish): Was at Lifetime gym in Plano Wednesday afternoon and spotted a white pickup (of course) with two German Shepherd dogs locked in a cramped kennel in the bed of the vehicle. Apparently while the truck owner … worked out?
*LaMarcus Aldridge up and retired Thursday, prompting me to consider his spot in Texas Longhorns basketball lore.
Considering their NBA careers, my Longhorns All-Time starting five: PG: Slater Martin; SG: Avery Bradley; SF: Kevin Durant; PF: LaMarcus Aldridge; C: Tristan Thompson.
*COVID took a toll on all of us. The Rangers were not immune. PennBets estimates they lost $81 million, 14th in revenue losses among baseball’s 30 teams.
*Got some much-needed R&R last week in Broken Bow, Oklahoma. A little hiking. Some kayaking. A lot of ignoring computers and phones and re-connecting with nature. If you make the three-hour drive, I suggest staying in the charming little villa of Hochatown and ducking into the Hochatown Saloon. It’s complete with classic swinging doors, open-invite piano and frosty beer mugs slid down the bar. Inside: You’ll swear you’re in the Old West. Outside: You’ll swear you’re in Colorado.
*But, yeah, it is creepy how obsessed Oklahoma is with Bigfoot. You heard me, I said “Bigfoot.” He/She/It is everywhere. I mean, they’re obsessed!
*New face, who ’dis? For years, Rougned Odor played the part of scallywag for the Rangers. Unkempt beard. Exaggerated eye black. Batting helmet purposefully coated with pine tar. Pawn shop of gold chains around his neck. Unbuttoned jersey that would make Elvis blush. Baggy pants. High socks. Shin guards and elbow pads and sweat bands adorning his batting gloves and … it was as if his disheveled, distracting look was an attempt to camouflage his inept play.
Then he gets traded to the Yankees and, presto, a new man. Extreme Makeover: New York Edition.
Swear I barely recognized him. Because the Yanks, of course, still implement a team policy of no facial hair. 1. In a 2021 in which Americans are protesting having to wear a mask, how is an employer getting away with still mandating ruthless grooming guidelines? 2. Unless Dementia is creeping in, didn’t Bronx Bombers like Thurman Munson and Ron Guidry and Reggie Jackson used to sport healthy mustaches?
*As a wanna-be athlete and part-time adrenalin junkie, I’ve done some crazy, challenging stuff. Ran a marathon. Jumped out of an airplane. Bungeed. Completed a Tough Mudder and a Spartan, etc. But a couple of documentaries on Netflix have my fitness brain spinning. There’s Dawn Wall, the tale of two climbers who spend 19 days literally living on the side of a huge mountain in Yosemite Park, “El Capitan”. They spend six years mapping their ascent and then use ropes and tents and strategy to complete it.
But, in my humble opinion, Dawn Wall is dwarfed by Free Solo, in which a climber – by himself – scales the same mountain with zero safety equipment.
Both are stunning. And humbling.
*I (willingly) don’t know diddly poo about the WNBA, but still find it absurd that the Dallas Wings owned the 1st, 2nd and 5th overall picks in Thursday’s draft. How can you possibly screw that up? Can you imagine the hype if the Cowboys or Mavs had three of their draft’s first five picks? Fuhgeddabouddit!
*I’m anti-conspiracy theories. I received my second COVID vaccine this week. But … this stat makes me raise a skeptical eyebrow. Dallas County Health and Human Services recorded only two flu cases and no flu deaths from October through March. That’s six months! With only two people in Dallas County getting the flu? Is that possible? A year ago, the same time frame produced 18,186 cases and 25 deaths. I mean, I get mask-wearing and hand-washing, etc., makes us safer. Healthier. But I think we’re supposed to believe that COVID cured the flu.
*Score one for soccer. FC Dallas received COVID vaccinations this week. As a team. There, what’s so dang difficult about that?
*It’s official, we’re doomed. ERCOT, the geniuses who bungled February’s winter storm all over the state, put out an alert Tuesday afternoon for Texas customers to “conserve energy and reduce your electricity use”. The temperature was 77 degrees. What are on Earth will we do when the thermometer reads 107?!
*As a teen who once hot-wired a bulldozer for a joy ride down 360 in Arlington, I can’t be too sanctimonious about someone stealing an ambulance. So I won’t.
*The Cowboys are hosting a draft party. Everything seems back to normal. Part of the event is fans received COVID-19 vaccine shots. Normal has to wait a little longer.
*I long for the days of newspapers and I covet legit news outlets. (Aside: Isn’t it refreshing to live in an America where constant cries of “fake news” are no longer a thing?) Reuters is kind of like the Associated Press of Europe. Established. Credible. Necessary. But the organization announced this week that its website is going behind a pay wall. Cost for a subscription? $34.99 a month! No friggin’ way. A couple bucks? Sure. But that’s way too much money when there are too many other free options.
*Assist to COVID, we are in the worst stretch of movies of my lifetime. When Godzilla vs. Kong is dominating the (virtual) box office, you know we’re out of ideas. Nobody went to the movies in 2020.
Excuse me if I don’t watch Sunday’s Oscars.
*Climate change in action: The Masters greens were browns. Irises that were in full bloom on Easter 2020 at my dad’s were dormant two weekends ago. And Japan saw its earliest bloom of its legendary cherry blossoms in 1,200 years.
*RANGERS RISK: We all think the Texas Rangers are going to be putrid this season. Our lil’ roundtable revealed predicted win totals of anywhere between 61 and 78, but no one thinks .500 is plausible. Let’s put our money where our mouth is. I’m going to bet a virtual $100 against the Rangers every game this season and, after six months and 162 games, see where I wind up. I’ll keep a running tab right there each Friday and come September I’ll (wink) disperse my profits to my most loyal readers. RECORD: 6-7. TOTAL: -$248.
*This Weekend? Friday is for (rain pending) golf at old school Cedar Creek in south Dallas, then attending the first Rangers game (rain regardless) of the season. Saturday afternoon is for tennis. Sunday is chillin’ and, who knows, maybe grillin’. As always, don’t be a stranger.