I Miss Dallas Sports

Richie Whitt

COVID-19, SPORTS 0

Andrew Cogliano.

Andy Ibanez.

Delon Wright.

Not exactly three faces we expect to someday see chiseled on Dallas-Fort Worth’s Mount Sportsmore. But for 21 days – for what feels like 21 lifetimes – they are our last local athletes to actually score.

Cogliano, a journeyman winger, netted the Dallas Stars’ most recent goal: 11:52 into the third period of a 4-2 loss on March 10. The following afternoon Ibanez, a Cuban defector trying to turn heads at Texas Rangers’ spring training in Surprise, Arizona, crossed the plate ahead of Todd Frazier’s double in the third inning of an exhibition loss canceled after the fifth. And around 9:45 p.m. later on March 11 Wright, a backup point guard averaging 21 minutes per game, scored DFW’s final point: a free throw with 32 seconds remaining in the Dallas Mavericks’ blowout of the Denver Nuggets.

By March 12 we were paralyzed by a pandemic, our escape from reality – sports – unable to escape reality. “Out of an abundance of caution,” our sports have hit an eerie, unfathomable button that is equal parts panic and pause.

Silence has never been more deafening. (Cue Don McLean’s “American Pie.”)

COVID-19, Sports 0.

Not since 9/11 has America suffered this long without sports. Then: Football took only one weekend off; Baseball just six days. Now: TBD, rounding third toward *If Necessary.

I miss sports.

More than I thought I ever would. More than anyone – even a sportswriter – ever should.

Feels like a loved one has died, been excruciatingly quarantined or at least is mired in an interminable rain delay. Instead of debating MVPs at the bar, we’ve deteriorated into comparing PPEs over the internet.

If this coronavirus plague was cast upon Earth to remind us not to take our leagues, games and athletes for granted, fine. Mission accomplished. I’ll scream “Uncle!” while simultaneously tossing in the towel. You, with the lap full of pizza crust and video game controllers, urgently smash the “tapout” button. And over there – in the Mavs’ “City” jersey that I promise to never criticize again – raise the white flag. STAT!

mavs city shorts

Hopefully this version of 2020 came equipped with a 90-day trial offer. Kindly direct me to the part where I cancel.

Because until further notice – looks like into May and beyond – our lasting images of DFW sports are the Stars six-game losing streak, the Rangers’ empty new Globe Life Field and Mavs’ reserve center Boban Marjanovic’s shocking 31-point, 17-rebound performance against Denver.

Where we’re supposed to be now: The Mavs should be embarking on their last road trip of the season tonight in Minnesota. The Stars should be playing in Anaheim, game 80 of 82. The Rangers should be hosting the Angels in the first night game in GLF history. There shouldn't be anything somber about the Dallas Cowboys' NFL Draft prep.

Where we’re supposed to be headed: When – if? – sports resumes, the Mavs are a lock playoff team. Same for the Stars. The Rangers will have an Opening Day. Texas Motor Speedway is likely to host NASCAR races. Golf’s Byron Nelson Classic is kaput; The Colonial still hoping to be the first PGA event after the sportspocalypse. The Cowboys to Oxnard!

At this point, give me the awkwardness of the Stars on the ice into July and Mavs’ playoff games tipping in August. I’ll gladly welcome the Rangers’ debut under the roof … in June.

I can only watch so many replays of the 2011 NBA Finals’ Game 6, Christian Laettner’s 1992 buzzer-beating turnaround or Netflix’s Tiger King. (My withdrawals aren’t strong enough to watch pro rasslin’, but check back in a month.)

I miss …

Luka Doncic did what?!

Jerry Jones’ grin, and spin.

Joey Gallo’s exit velocity.

Jordan Spieth’s want-to.

Ben Bishop big between the pipes.

Tony Romo’s intuition behind the mic.

The Final Four.

The Pavilion’s see-and-be-scene, accessorized with margaritas.

Elvis Andrus’ infectious – oops, er, motivational – smile.

Kristaps Porzingis’ effortless 32-footers.

Chuck Cooperstein, Daryl Reaugh and Eric Nadel.

Booing the Astros.

Cogliano.

Ibanez.

Wright.

Wins.

Losses.

Yep, even ties.

In March, we were all fooled. Then county leaders up and yanked the rims off our backboards, locked the gates at our tennis courts and made us remember why we sooooo love sports: Because they’re the exact opposite of “social distancing,” that’s why.

In the end, we’re going to stage a rally and win this game. The virus will be vanquished, and sports will burst from hibernation, breathing life into our lives. But for now, purposeful, patient breaths and a grim reality: It’s not even halftime.

I miss sports.

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