Whether you’re at the end of your coffee, your day, your week or even your rope, welcome to Whitt’s End 5.14.21…
*We’re better than this. At least we should be. Just when you thought the bar was raised on this Dallas Mavericks season, everyone – fans, announcers, even players – is clamoring to merely get into the postseason by avoiding the dreaded Play-In Tournament.
Kristaps Porzingis is actually talking about the playoffs as "dessert.''
No, Mavs. This is the main course. This is the meal.
At one point, Dallas was 9-14. On Friday, the Mavs clinched a spot with a 114-110 win over the Toronto Raptors. Since February 6, Dallas has gone 33-15 to secure at least the sixth seed and maybe the 5th seed in the West.
So sure. Celebrate that.
Really, I get it. Sidestepping those one-and-done games is crucial to long-term playoff success. But shouldn’t the Mavs have their goals set higher than just making the playoffs?
Yes, yes they should.
They haven’t won a playoff series, remember, in 10 years. Dallas caught a huge break late Thursday night when the Blazers blew a late lead in a loss at Phoenix. All they have to do to earn the West’s fifth seed is beat crappy Toronto and equally crappy Minnesota this weekend. Do that and they’ll earn a favorable first-round matchup against a Nuggets team it has already beaten twice on the road and who will be without injured star Jamal Murray.
We saw in the 2020 bubble what happens when the Mavs play the bigger, better Clippers and it isn’t pretty. Sorry, but avoiding the Play-In only to lose another first-round series to the Clippers would be a major step back for the Mavs.
Raise the bar. We’re better than this.
*Not sure how the Dallas Cowboys are going to end, but I’m dang skippy sure how they’re going to begin.
The Sept. 9 opener against Tom Brady – in the same stadium in which the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won Super Bowl LV seven months earlier – is the ultimate setup. The Cowboys are merely attractive, ratings-grabbing fodder for the defending champs.
It’ll be Dak Prescott’s first game in almost a year since the devastating ankle injury. The Bucs could very well return all 22 starters. That includes, of course, Brady, whom the Cowboys have never beaten (0-5). And these much-ballyhooed games are almost always a layup for the champs. In the last 16 Thursday-night season openers, the hosts are 13-3.
Take Tampa Bay, lay the 6.5 points, cash in, and then chill.
Don’t judge a season by the opponent’s cover. With Prescott improving and Dan Quinn’s new defense taking shape, the Cowboys at Thanksgiving will be a much better team than the Cowboys just after Labor Day.
*For my money, the best GM in DFW is calling it quits. Eddie Gossage took control of Texas Motor Speedway in 1995, two years before it hosted its first race. During his 25-year run he transformed TMS from a desolate pasture north of Fort Worth into one of the jewels of auto racing. A creative genius and tireless promoter, the 62-year-old Gossage will retire as the face of the track after TMS hosts NASCAR’s All-Star Race on June 13. He’d be good at anything, but for my money Gossage should step into NASCAR’s booth as an expert/insider analyst.
*It’s preposterous to make a season prediction before any rookie takes a minicamp rep or the first training camp injury. So … give me 10-6 for the Cowboys.
IF Tyron Smith, Zack Martin and La’el Collins hold up, the offense will be good enough to carry this team to the playoffs. If not, duck-Dak goose-goose eggs. Again.
*Regardless of what the Blazers do, zero excuse for the Mavs not to win their final two games and finish 43-29. The Raptors come to American Airlines Center Friday night at 27-43, playing the second of a back-to-back and with a starting lineup of Jalen Harris, Malachi Flynn, Khem Birch, Stanley Johnson and Yuta Watanabe. Sunday’s finale is against the lottery-bound Timberwolves and their 22 wins.
*As has been the case since, oh, about March 11, 2020, I’m confused about COVID. The CDC announces Thursday that all fully vaccinated Americans no longer have to wear a mask. Indoors. Outdoors. Anywheres. The Texas Rangers are among those "going for it.''
But two questions:
1. Won’t vaccinated peeps now look identical to science-denying anti-vaxxers? I mean, this is the end of masks as we know them, right? You either don’t believe in them or you don’t need them. Either way, you’re not wearing them.;
2. Mavs owner Mark Cuban says home playoff games at AAC can ramp up to 9,000 fans. But why not a sellout? Max capacity? Let’s be serious, the only fans who shouldn’t be allowed into stadiums – maskless (see question No. 1) – are those who haven’t been vaccinated and no one is motivated to admit that.
*Tim Tebow back in the NFL? Why not Tony Romo? That was a sarcastic bit of satire, people. But seriously, folks ... Why Tebow and not Kaepernick?
This is essentially the point Dez Bryant is making about a mid-30's Tebow getting yet another chance. I've called it "white privilege,'' but however you assess it, try it this way: Who is more likely, given the chance, to get open and catch a football: Dez or Tebow?
Now do we see how "political'' this all might really be?
*To say the least, a disappointing season for the Dallas Stars ended this week. Coming off a plucky run to the Stanley Cup Finals last summer and off to a 4-0 start by a combined score of 19-6 in late January, missing the playoffs seemed implausible. Until it wasn’t. Easiest explanation: The Stars lost a league-high 14 games in overtime or shootout. Sports.
*Micah Parsons, middle linebacker. Book it.
*Just when I think I’ve got my life under control, in the past week I’ve run through an entire washer/dryer cycle: Sunglasses, Chapstick and an iPod. Checking pockets is just too difficult for me, apparently. None of the items, of course, survived the turbulent journey.
*Byron Nelson at TPC Craig Ranch > Byron Nelson at Trinity Forest. And it’s not even close. At the tournament’s new home in McKinney are things we longed for during the failed two-year run in south Dallas. Amenities like trees, shade, concessions and, yes, a party pavilion for when the golf is over, or simply gets boring.
*Two cheating, lying, disgusting teams I’m urging you to never ever let off the hook: the Houston Astros and Wells Fargo.
The Rangers are in Houston this weekend, as fine a reason as any to remember that they stole signs, wore buzzers and absurdly, blatantly stole the 2017 World Series via an elaborate scheme.
READ MORE: Full Rangers-Astros Coverage Here
In the wake of being exposed, the Astros fired their manager and general manager, but players such as Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve were never punished.
And before this week’s stop in McKinney, the PGA last week was at the Wells Fargo tournament. Over the weekend, Wells Fargo ran these cutesy TV commercials where actors comically “second-guessed” bank customers’ decisions. Vomit. Need I remind you that Wells Fargo is the same sleezy financial institution that agreed to a $3 billion settlement after admitting that over 14 years its employees opened millions of accounts in customers’ names without their knowledge, signed unwitting account holders up for credit cards and bill payment programs, created fake personal identification numbers, forged signatures and even secretly transferred customers’ money.
Neither of these businesses should be allowed to still be in operation. Boo them. Boycott them. Do anything but trust them.
*I tend to use the word “inexplicable” too much. Guilty. I guess we all have our pet words. Our verbal and/or written crutches we lean on. With Fox NFL analyst Troy Aikman it’s the word “football”, as if we need constant reminding that “the Cowboys are making mistakes that are going to cost them this footballgame.” With Mavericks analyst Derek Harper it’s “as a player”, as if we need constant reminding that “Luka is really putting his stamp on this game, as a player.”
Both announcers’ go-to’s are, dare I say, inexplicable.
*Dude was robbing banks around DFW and getting away with it until … he left a deposit slip on a counter with a fingerprint on it. The Devil permanently resides in the details.
*Everyone has their nemesis. Superman has kryptonite. Lance Armstrong has lying. The Mavs can’t beat the Sacramento Friggin’ Kings. And the Rangers can’t solve the riddle that is the San Francisco Giants. They’re 6-21 all-time, including 0-2 in the 2010 World Series.
*If it ever stops raining in DFW, summer will arrive. The hot gates of Hades will swing open and belch fireballs upon us and before you know it, you’ll be complaining about 100-degree temperatures and “pouring sweat just walking outside.” You can hide indoors and whine – like you do every year – or you can acclimate. Simple: Find a steam room. Sit in it. For three minutes. The next day for four. Then five. Eventually 15. Trust me, your mind and body will get comfortable with being uncomfortable and your Texas summer won’t be such a bummer.
*Dak made more money in 2020 than Brady, LeBron James and Mookie Betts. He started two wins.
Those three stars, meanwhile, combined for 139 victories and three championships. Hopefully the “poor Dak” sentiments have been eternally muted.
*To distinguish between the inmates (non-vaxxed) and the guards (vaxxed), can we at least issue those plastic, yellow VIP bracelets or something?
*Using the same, perverted philosophy – he and Urban Meyer were soooo chummy in college – that prompted the Jaguars to sign 34-year-old Tim Tebow and have him switch positions, Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy should bring in 51-year-old Alex Van Pelt and have him back up Blake Jarwin at tight end. After all, the two were at Pitt together in 1992. Sound strategy, right?
*Speaking of low Mavericks bars, they will win their fourth division championship this season. Unlike the NFL where division rivalries last and champions matter, I doubt if most Mavs fans can even name the other members of the Southwest. For what it’s worth, they would win – maybe – only one other division (Southeast) in the NBA with their record.
*I’ll take Charlie Culberson on my team, any day.Not flashy, but the Rangers’ third baseman is wholly functional.
*I still have no clue about NFTs, but they seem cooler when adorned by art. Or are they the actual art? I give up.
*Considering his constant complaining, bevy of technical fouls and ugly low blow to an opposing player last week, is it fair to ask if Luka has an anger management problem?
*Lest this be of any surprise, the Kentucky Derby winner being stripped of its win because of a failed drug test is a reminder that at the top of the world’s dirtiest sports are boxing, horse racing and track & field.
*Lost in all the salivating over Seahawks’ receiver D.K. Metcalf running a 10.37 100-meter dash in a sanctioned event last week was this memory: Former Cowboy Bob Hayes ran a 10.10 100 to win the gold medal at the 1964 Olympics, then put on a helmet and caught 71 touchdowns over 10 seasons.
*Hard to believe we launched the satellite Voyager 1 in 1977 and it’s still – though now flying beyond our solar system – sending back data. Talk about exceeding expectations, the thing’s predicted shelf life was five years.
*As a tennis geek this is totally depressing: There are no American men ranked in the world’s Top 30 for the first time since August 1973. And, honestly, no hotshot 17-year-olds on the rise to even give us hope.Where have you gone Connors, McEnroe, Sampras, Agassi and Courier?
*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: 18-21. TOTAL: -$568.
*This Weekend? Friday is for playing golf with Dad in JoCo MoFo. Saturday morning is for playing tennis. Saturday afternoon is for watching golf at the Byron Nelson with family and friends. Welcome back, Spring in north Texas! As always, don’t be a stranger.