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NBA 'Field of Dreams'? If Luka's Mavs Build It, We Will Come

Whether you’re at the end of your coffee, your day, your week or even your rope, welcome to Whitt’s End …: 8.20.21 - Our weekly DFW Sports Notebook

Whether you’re at the end of your coffee, your day, your week or even your rope, welcome to Whitt’s End …: 8.20.21

*The Dallas Mavericks still aren’t successful, but thanks to Luka Doncic they are again relevant. Ahead of the NBA’s full 2021-22 schedule release, we learned this week that the Mavs will again play on the league’s Christmas Day showcase of primo games. In 2020 they lost to the Lakers. In 2021, they’ll play a night game against the Utah Jazz.

*Field of Dreams, step aside for Friday Night Lights. OK, NBA, you're up. And NFL, you’re batting clean-up.

Major League Baseball hit a home run with its “Field of Dreams Game”. New York Yankees-Chicago White Sox from the middle of a cornfield in Iowa attracted almost six million TV viewers to make it baseball’s most-watched regular-season game since 2005. But – as if we needed a reminder about the power of the pigskin – the Dallas Cowboys-Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Fame Game a week earlier drew about 1.5 million more viewers.

Canton > Corn.

Give baseball credit for its creativity. Of course, its idea was “borrowed” from the geniuses at the National Hockey League, who first had the light-bulb moment to transform a game into an event by playing in outdoor stadiums on New Year’s Day.

The NBA should make a steal, and next year stage a Los Angeles Lakers-Brooklyn Nets game at a unique venue. I mean, who wouldn’t tune into LeBron James and Russell Westbrook vs. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in Harlem’s famed Rucker Park?

Worth noting that a few years ago, owner Mark Cuban's Dallas Mavericks played the Phoenix Suns in an outdoors preseason game at Indian Wells Tennis Club in Palm Springs. So the idea has been explored a bit ... and yes, if the NBA wants to create a "Field of Dreams'' game of some sort featuring Luka, I'm in.

But, of course, football could top them all by producing the NFL version of Friday Night Lights. How about Cowboys vs. Houston Texans, on a Friday night, at Odessa’s celebrated Ratliff Stadium, home to Odessa Permian High School? Dak vs. Deshaun, in front of 18,000 fans and a TV audience that would likely triple the other sports’ marquee events, combined.

Bonus: Cowboys’ head coach Mike McCarthy would get a legitimate “Mojo Moment.”

*What are you really good at? Whether it’s gardening or playing the piano or cooking or writing or, yep, playing quarterback, it’s something you’ve perfected through various practices and lots of “full-speed” performances. Now, take a 333-day break from that activity. Would you be confident in being at your best after that elongated lapse?

No way.

But that’s exactly what the Cowboys are expecting from Dak Prescott by not playing him this preseason.

By the time he gets under center in the Sept. 9 opener in Tampa Bay, it will have been 333 days since he suffered the gruesome, season-ending ankle injury last October against the New York Giants. I mean, sure, he’s done conditioning and participated in drills and studied his playbook, but … If a chef spends 333 consecutive days only boiling water, chopping up food, experimenting with spices and looking up recipes, would he suddenly be adept – and confident – at cooking a prompt, five-course meal for a restaurant full of hungry diners?

If Prescott’s sore arm will allow, he absolutely should play Saturday night against the Texans. Why? Because of what he said after the Cowboys’ first training-camp practice on July 24. Remember?

"I definitely want to play in the preseason. I just want to obviously get back out there and get some reps before it’s real, just to have a live defense coming at me. That’s part of the game and I think that’ll obviously be great to get up from that, wipe it off and just be another process, instead of burying the injury. I think it’ll be huge. Obviously, not having the preseason last year, me and Zack Martin were just talking about it, that’s a big thing is getting those preseason reps, just getting some practice – exhibition reps underneath you before it really matters – goes a long way. I think I need it.''

If he "needed it'' then, how is it he doesn't "need'' it now?

*If one positive survived this lost Texas Rangers’ season, it’s Adolis Garcia. With 2021 mortgaged for the future, he’s still playing his butt off. He homered Thursday against the Seattle Mariners, giving him the second-most (27) for a Rangers’ rookie behind only Pete Incaviglia’s 30 in 1986.

READ MORE: Cowboys' Prescott Opens Up About Depression in Sports Illustrated Cover Story

*Collin Kaepernick took a knee to promote social justice and was blackballed from the NFL. Tim Tebow took a knee to promote religion and got chances to play on one (Denver Broncos), two (New York Jets), three (New England Patriots), four (Philadelphia Eagles), five (Jacksonville Jaguars) NFL teams.

Our attention shouldn’t be on the guy who couldn’t make the quarterback-to-tight-end transition, but rather on the guy who can. Logan Thomas, anyone?

*As a writer who has been around 35 years, I get a lot of emails from a bunch of public relations folks. They want me to spotlight this player or review this product or promote this website. This week, I received an all-time doozy. A PR firm from England urged me to write about a new website that provided detailed data – supposedly – regarding the longest-tenured coaches (or “managers”) in the history of sports.

Okay, slightly interested. Until, that is, I perused this hunk of junk.

The site, which boasts “exhaustive, detailed research”, offered its “Top 10 longest-reigning managers of all time.” Their list is led by Alex Ferguson, who was the of the Manchester United soccer club for 26 years. Umm, the shoddy site somehow forgot the likes of Connie Mack (50 seasons with the Philadelphia Athletics), George Halas (40, Chicago Bears), John McGraw (31, New York Giants), Curly Lambeau (29, Green Bay Packers) a certain former Cowboys coach named Tom Landry (29 years).

If you holler for attention, make sure you’re ready for it. ... Lest you get called out as nothing but a bunch of blithering, disinformation data with zero credibility.

*In the same week that his office prepared for the COVID Delta variant’s ominous effects by closing the governor’s mansions to public tours and ordering mobile morgues in advance of rampant deaths, Texas grand poobah Greg Abbott was in DFW spreading COVID.

The governor spent Monday night at Heritage Ranch in Fairview speaking to 400+ mask-less senior citizens.

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*As good and riveting as Episode 1 was, am I the only one that was unmoved by Episode 2 of Hard Knocks? Good. Because it was quite hollow.

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*Not.

*If we’re going to lambaste Cowboys’ linebacker Jaylon Smith for his blatant blown assignment last week against the Arizona Cardinals, we should focus the same critical eye on offensive tackle La’el Collins. He totally whiffed an attempted block on rookie linebacker Zaven Collins on the game’s second play, leading to a two-yard loss by running back Tony Pollard.

I’m as skeptical as anyone about Smith’s declining future, but we shouldn’t try so hard to turn him into Bobby Carpenter. Yet.

*Interesting arrangement between the Mavs and new assistant coach Kristi Toliver. She’ll continue playing in the WNBA for the LA Sparks, while coaching for the Mavs in her offseason. Not sure if a full-time male coach would receive that kind of part-time flexibility.

*I rag on Tebow, but he will retire with more playoff wins (1) than … Ryan Fitzpatrick, Sam Bradford, Robert Griffin III, Andy Dalton, Matthew Stafford, Sonny Jurgensen and Y.A. Tittle, and the same number as Prescott.

READ MORE: Former Mav Jason Terry To Coach In G-League

*Super Bowl-less for a quarter-century, no way they’re the happiest. But turns out Cowboys fans are the most obnoxious. No, check that. Loyal. I meant loyal.

*Sobering, staggering stats: Over the last 20 years – in the wake of 9/11 – America has spent $2,000,000,000,000 (that’s trillion) in Afghanistan. That’s $300 million per day, every day, for two decades. More perverted perspective? That’s more of our money sent 7,500 miles away to fight the Taliban than the net worth of Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Bill Gates and the 30 richest billionaires in America, combined. What did it “buy” us? 3,000 American deaths (2,500 military; 5,000 civilian) and one lost country.

Try not to think about that the next time you drive by a homeless encampment. I’m sick to my stomach.

*While we’re on the topic of mind-blowing math, have you checked out the cozy career of Howard Stern lately? Next time you grouse about athletes being overpaid, consider the satellite radio talk-show host’s sumptuous setup. In December he signed a new five-year contract with SiriusXM that will pay him $500 million. (Remember, Kansas City Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes got $500 million, but over 10 years.) And if getting paid $100 million a year wasn’t cozy enough, how about the fact that Stern worked only three days a week?

But wait, it gets better (worse).

Stern’s new deal includes a summer vacation of – I kid you not – 75 days! That’s right, he’s been off the air since late June and won’t return until after Labor Day. His new arrangement, in fact, calls for him to do only 100 shows per year.

I’m not real good at math, but pretty sure that adds up to $1 million per show. And a show, in his world, is approximately four hours of talk radio.

That said, Stern can obviously justify his worth. When he left mainstream radio in 2004, Sirius had 600,000 subscribers. Today? 35 million.

*The Los Angeles Rams and Chargers announced this week that – in an attempt to mitigate the COVID Delta variant – masks are mandatory in all seats and in all section of SoFi Stadium. Surely you didn’t expect Jerry Jones to follow suit, didja?

The Cowboys’ official policy at AT&T Stadium: “Although we will not be requiring any proof of vaccination status, we will be recommending masks for the non-vaccinated.” Recommending, riiiiiight. Despite Texas being a Delta hotspot, Jerry is more likely to invite an infected Abbott to do the official coin toss than he is to mandate masks that would inconvenience his fan base.

*“My body, my choice!” goes the popular refrain from the anti-vaxxer. “You can’t infringe on my freedom!” Right, but …

As with smoking, your “choice” to not get vaccinated endangers others. If you smoke, you comply with laws that forbid lighting up in restaurants, on planes, etc. You and your “freedom” can still smoke. You just can’t do it in areas that would be harmful (second-hand smoke) to others. Same with being unvaccinated. There is no law saying you must get the shot. It’s your precious “choice” to remain unvaccinated. But there are consequences – limitations – of what you can’t do and where you can’t go if decide not to.

Choose wisely.

READ MORE: After Flurry of Trades, Where Does Rangers' Farm System Rank?

*RANGERS RISK: We all thought the Texas Rangers were going to be putrid this season. Our lil’ roundtable revealed predicted win totals of anywhere between 61 and 78, but no one thought .500 plausible. So as we started the season we said ...

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: 42-79 TOTAL: +$1,696.

*This Weekend? Whitt’s End will be off next week (hey, it’s not like I’m Stern or something), taking one last break on a Mexico beach before 24 consecutive intense weeks/weekends of football. As always, don’t be a stranger.