Whitt's End: China's NBA Hints, Mavs Take The Lead, DFW Sports Radio Ratings and a Greggo Whopper

Richie Whitt

Whether you’re at the end of your coffee, your day, your week or even your rope, welcome to Whitt’s End 3.27.20 ...

*Injecting some wins into our overwhelming losses, some local athletes deserve recognition for their efforts to make the COVID-19 crisis less miserable.

Cowboys Jaylon Smith and DeMarcus Lawrence bought and served meals to DFW first responders last week. Megan and Sean Lee started a donation movement. And the NBA/Dallas Mavericks continue to lead the way in proactive sports responses, with Mark Cuban, CEO Cynthia Marshall and coach Rick Carlisle purchasing food for workers at mobile coronavirus testing sites while players – such as Seth Curry and Kristaps Porzingis – are taking turns purchasing 100-plus dinners from local restaurants and having them delivered to Dallas’ emergency operations center.

Bravo, people. Brah-vo!

*Day 11 Without Sports: Being deemed “essential” is our new – very abnormal – version of being blue-check “verified.”

*Day 12 Without Sports: Three leaders we need more of during this COVID-19 crisis: Dr. Anthony Fauci (with a sporty boost from Steph C. Mark Cuban. Andrew Cuomo.

*Game. On. Sports radio ratings grew considerably tighter in February numbers (covering Jan. 30-Feb. 26) released last week. Bottom line: The Ticket gobbled up The Fan’s January lead across all shows, while The Eagle’s Ben & Skin initially maintained their station’s stronghold in afternoons. In the coveted demographic of Men 25-54, the margin between The Ticket and The Fan was minuscule.

Overall M-F 6a-7p: Ticket, 4.9-4.8.

Mornings 5:30-10a: Fan, 4.4-4.1.

Middays 10a-3p: Tie, 5.1.

Afternoons 3-7p: Ticket, 5.1-4.6.

It was an important and impressive bounce-back month for The Ticket, which had seen its 25-year dynastic grip slip over the last six months.

(Aside: Got into a spirited, mostly good-natured Twitter debate with Ticket morning host Craig Miller last weekend.

His point: For accurate results, you should “combine” The Ticket’s stream number with its PPM rating.

My counterpoint: If that extra step is indeed appropriate, why doesn’t Nielsen/Arbitron do it in its official industry ratings?

His point: They will, “soon.”

My counterpoint: Then so will I. “Soon.”)

As for Ben & Skin – who debuted their 2-5p show Feb. 10 – they swamped both the Fan and the Ticket afternoon shows with a rating of 8.8. To be fair, they did slip into the coziest of time slots, one in which Russ Martin paved the way with a dominating 7.7 rating over the previous six months. Additionally, the non-sports Martin continues on with a show that follows Ben & Skin, so it's the entire combo of both shows that are reflection in the winning ratings. But for February, The Eagle win is again notable.

*With its softball “Stay Home, Work Safe” order – “we consider all businesses essential” – Collin County comes off snobbish, elitist and self-superior to other DFW counties. But we already knew that, right? #SocialResistancing

*Day 13 Without Sports: “Abdominal THRUST!” I hear over and over from the TV in the other room. “Abdominal THRUST!” What, I ponder excitedly, could my girlfriend be watching?!

Turns out it’s something on the Disney Channel called Gabby Duran & The Unsittables. The repeated exclamations, of course, were associated with a teacher demonstrating the Heimlich Maneuver.

Get your bored minds of the gutter.

*It’s not exactly Pete Sampras winning the U.S. Open and hanging up his racket or Jim Brown ditching the NFL after another rushing title and MVP season, but Cowboys’ Pro Bowl center Travis Frederick is retiring on “top.”

He sat out the 2018 season due to an auto-immune disease, returned to make the Pro Bowl in 2019 but is now walking away because “I could no longer perform at my highest level.”

How much will the Cowboys miss him? He played 99.6 percent of the team’s offensive snaps last season, most among offensive linemen.

Like the 29-year-old Frederick, many elite athletes have an epiphany approaching the big three-oh. Andrew Luck. Luke Kuechly. Brandon Roy. Calvin Johnson. Sandy Koufax. Patrick Willis. Bjorn Borg. All retired before 30. Frederick isn’t the first DFW athlete to have his promising career end abruptly. Cowboys’ safety Randy Hughes was 27. Texas Rangers’ pitcher David Clyde only 24. And the Mavs’ Roy Tarpley, despite all he went through, was still only 30.

*Day 14 Without Sports: I ordered six bottles of hand sanitizer on Amazon. They arrived four days later. Deep breaths, everyone. Inhallllllle. Exhalllllle.

*Shelter-in-place feels like when we were kids and we screwed up and got “grounded.” Wait, is that still a thing?

*Thursday was the worst baseball Opening Day ever. But, at least the Texas Rangers didn’t lose?

*Day 15 Without Sports: If there is a “winner” during our shelter-in-place, it’s dogs. More quality-time attention from home-bound owners. More walks. The more I think about it, the more I want to be reincarnated as a dog.

*This global pandemic yanks me back to one of the greatest DFW ideas ever to be harpooned by horrible execution. In 2016 I took a part-time gig as the spokesperson for Trident Lakes, a luxury doomsday community just west of Bonham. Grandiose plans included a golf course, lagoons and 5-star amenities above ground, and connected, fancypants bunkers under. After our initial wave of international media, the waiting list had 1,000-plus names.

Don’t know – we’ll never know – if the place would’ve protected residents from COVID-19. But from the look of things, I bet it would be sold out right about now.

I resigned in 2017 but, for what it’s worth, a production company was sniffing around a Fyre Festival-type documentary about Trident Lakes about a year ago. Perhaps they got distracted and made Tiger King?

*The Olympics are canceled. They should never be resumed. If you watch HBO’s Real Sports, you know what a scam the games are. Corruption. Scandals. Bribes. Doping. Multimillion-dollar venues built for two weeks, then left to decay as destitute eyesores.

With the proliferation of international players now intermingling in pro leagues all over the world (Hello, Luka and Kristaps and Maxi and J.J. and Dwight and Boban), there really is no more authentic “Us vs. Them.” Showcase every sports’ world championship? Sure. Bow down to The Olympics?

Hard pass.

*Hot.

*Not.

*This stagnation in sports is particularly tough on those of us energized by now, not then. I don’t like classic rock, rarely watch a movie for a second time and dang sure can’t plan my night around re-viewing a game of which I already know the final score.

I dunno, just feels like I’m voluntarily freezing my forward momentum. I know, weirdo, right? Guilty. If forced to watch only one sports replay during my house arrest, give me the 2011 NBA Finals, Game 6 in Miami. Fine, twist my arm.

*Day 16 Without Sports: Stranger name for tape: Scotch or Duck?

*Cam Newton, Jameis Winston and Andy Dalton have all been demoted from starting jobs. Surely one of them – any of them – is a better backup to Dak Prescott than Cooper Rush.

But then again, Dak’s greatest asset is his durability. Hasn’t missed a game yet. I appreciate Fish's efforts here dissecting the ideas, but ... Spending money on an expensive insurance policy might be wasted cap space.

*From March 12-22 in DFW, it rained. Every. Single. Day. The 11 straight days of measurable rain is a record. Like, in the history of our ever. The record for most days without a drop? Try 84, back in the summer of 2000. Give me the 84 sunny over the 11 soggy.

*Day 17 Without Sports: Remember when we used to look forward to weekends because at least they’d be different?

*Former SMU receiver Emmanuel Sanders has a decent chance to make NFL history this season. Now with the New Orleans Saints, he can become the first player to make a Super Bowl with four teams (previously with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Denver Broncos and 49ers).

*Day 18 Without Sports: Got sucked into bingeing Love is Blind on Netflix. If you did too, I’m sure you’ll agree that this whole pandemic started because Jessica is 34 and Mark is only 24.

*Downtime is the right time for learning new things. 1) “Mexican Train” is a fun, family dominoes game that’s way too impossibly long to ever truly finish. 2) 6:37 p.m. is the precise time when one should ditch the morning pajamas and change into the nighttime pajamas.

*Day 19 Without Sports: Next time you think our world is big, consider how many Earths could fit inside the Sun: 1.3 million. My tiny brain can’t even conceive that math.

*Which dog is more haplessly chasing its tail: The Cowboys and defensive linemen or the Texas Rangers and catchers?

The Cowboys this offseason have signed Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe, are hoping for the return of Randy Gregory and are eyeing LSU edge rusher K’Lavon Chaisson with the 17th pick in next month’s NFL Draft. Feels like they’ve been trying to atone for the draft-day whiffs on Kavika Pittman, Ebenezer Ekuban, Marcus Spears, Anthony Spencer and Taco Charlton since Ernie Stautner fueled The Flex.

The Rangers, meanwhile, brought back Robinson Chirinos and his career .234 batting average. It’s merely their latest attempt to fill the void left by Pudge Rodriguez’s departure in 2003. The ensuing roll call of catchers – embarking on its 17 season – has produced exactly ZERO All-Stars: Einar Diaz. Todd Greene. Gerald Laird. Rod Barjas. Sandy Alomar Jr. Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Taylor Teagarden. Matt Treanor. Bengie Molina. Yorvit Torrealba. Mike Napoli. A.J. Pierzynski. Geovany Soto. Robinson Chirinos. Carlos Corporan. Chris Giminez. Matthew Lucroy. Jeff Mathis.

And, again, Robinson Chirinos.

The Rangers’ post-Pudge search for an elite, full-time catcher resembles an Uptown 20-something’s love life. Lots of singles. Often messy. Too many cups of coffee with too many names they can’t remember. And mostly, nothing permanent. Zilch future.

*Psst, there is already a cure for COVID-19. Don’t need a vaccine. We already have the blueprint. Problem is, I am 100-percent certain we are wholly incapable of following it.

“If we wash our hands and stay six feet away from each other for 15 days, we can stop this disease in its tracks,” says Dr. David Winter of Baylor Scott & White Health. “But if we don't take the proper steps, it will go on for months and months.”

In other words, nice to meet you, “months and months.”

*China, where COVID-19 commenced, is pushing the resumption of its pro basketball league into May. The league shut down in January, meaning a four-month hiatus. If it’s an accurate test case for the NBA, we’re looking at no games until mid-July. Ugh, ugh and more ugh.

rage
Greggo, Sybil and Richie

*As co-hosts of RAGE on The Fan in 2012, Greg Williams and I occasionally were presented endorsement opportunities. We usually accepted (especially at $300 per appearance). One day we get invited to take a look-see at a prospective new client, one of those “let us help you with the boom-boom in your bedroom” joints.

If Low-T is a 10, this place turned out to be a minus-2.

Our initial mission was to take a tour. Shake some hands. Get comfortable with the company. No biggie. The ensuing day, we’d meet with the Fan sales staff, seal the deal and start recording commercials and live spots, etc. That’s how it works, in theory.

Red flags flapped immediately, when Greggo and I were split up into separate rooms. A little strange, but OK. Maybe they want to give us the true “personal” experience. Then in walks the “doctor” who – swear – is a doppelganger for the Crypt Keeper. Stained, yellowish lab coat. Long, wiry, white hair. Marty Feldman eyes. Discombobulated everything. The works. As he’s delivering some spiel about services and rates, he brandishes this six-inch needle and starts doing that thump-tap thing on the side, usually an indication that it’s about to be inserted somewhere into someone.

“Pull your pants down,” Dr. Disheveled says with a straight, revoltingly hideous face. “Might feel a little sting.”

Um, what the what?! “Where?” I ask, as if there existed an answer that would provide any level of comfort.

“In your penis. But just at the base. You do want help maintaining erections, right? That’s why you’re here?” he crypt-quizzes me.

I lurch for the door like one of those limb-missing tourists in the Hostel movies. “I’ve got to find Greggo!,” I remember, trying to simultaneously accelerate my legs while calming my runaway heart. “I wonder where he … ”

At that moment, from a door down the hall, my partner is shot out of cannon. He is wide-eyed. He is sprinting. He is … buttoning his pants. (Gotta admit, even in the panic I took a second to giggle.)

“Let’s get the fuck outta here!” he screams as we emulate Starsky & Hutch haulin’ ass to our souped-up Gran Torino (lame-stream SUV, but whatever, go with it). “That dude wanted to stick a needle in my dingus!!”

I’m still not sure what was supposed to happen that day. But I know this: You never once heard that company’s commercial on RAGE.

*In perhaps sports’ longest-running, off-field feud this side of Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier, Terrell Owens still – after almost 20 years – hasn’t forgiven former Dallas Cowboys’ safety George Teague. Or, for that matter, even talked to him.

teaue flag

“Nah, we’ve never spoken,” Teague told me last week. “But I tried. I called him. Reached out. A while back I had an idea for a business venture, and I thought we could make some money together. But … I guess he’s not over it yet. Which is fine. I’ll live.” 

Teague may not be in the Ring of Honor, but he cemented his Cowboys legacy by famously knocking the San Francisco 49ers’ receiver off the Texas Stadium midfield star on Sept. 24, 2000. A year later, he carried a giant American flag in leading America’s Team out of the tunnel before its first game after 9/11.

These days Teague is still making magic moments in Dallas.

In 2017, he became head coach of a John Paul II High School outfit that had lost 32 consecutive games and orchestrated a transformation that took the Cardinals into the TAPPS Division I State Championship Game last Fall. Color T.O. unimpressed, even though he and Teague also played high school football down the road from each other in Alabama.

Teague-T.O. apparently isn’t one of those flimsy team “rivalries” – see Cowboys-Philadelphia Eagles – where the fans fight but the players kneel together in post-game prayer. Or one of those insulting, fabricated WWE hostilities.

“George, it didn't hurt,” Owens barked in a 2019 in an interview with comedian Kevin Hart. “It was real weak. Just like your game – it was real weak. It didn't even faze me. I see all the comments and stuff: ‘Oh, he got clocked’ or whatever. I’m like, ‘Bro, he just grazed over the top of me.’ … Probably the biggest hit he had the whole game.”

Owens had a Hall-of-Fame-level career. But Teague authored two of the most indelible images in Cowboys’ history.

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*Don’t know if it means anything or everything, but my 80-year-old Dad has been in and out of the hospital fighting Leukemia and his infectious disease doctor at Huguely in Fort Worth promises that the coronavirus will be “significantly slowed” by temperatures of 86 degrees or more. This seems to back him up. So – as usual – giddyup, summer!

*Day 20 Without Sports: It’s going to be okay, people. How do I know? Because Friday – at 2 a.m. to be exact – Ozark: Season 3 drops on Neftlix. Congrats, your weekend now has plans. Think things are bleak for you and yours? Watch Season 1: Episode 1 for a (fictional) reality check. Coronavirus be damned, I dare ya to trade predicaments with the Byrde family.

*Channel 8’s Dale Hansen on his house’s quarantine vibe: “It’s just we’re in Las Vegas. We’re losing lots of money. Cocktails are acceptable at any hour. Nobody has any idea what day it is.”

*March Madness Sadness.

*This weekend? Lt. Governor Dan Patrick may not give a damn, but my dad doesn’t want to “take our chances” against this virus and die. So I’m taking care of him. Americans, over America. As always, don’t be a stranger.

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