Whether you’re at the end of your coffee, your day, your week or even your rope, welcome to Whitt’s End 12.11.20 …
*Don’t look now DFW, but we’re guaranteed a decade of disappointment. With the 3-9 Dallas Cowboys eliminated from the NFL playoffs, the Metroplex’s next chance at a major sports championship won’t come until the Summer of 2021 with the Dallas Mavericks and Dallas Stars.
By that time, it will be 10 years – a full decade – since our last title, the Mavs’ in 2011. While the Stars (coming off an appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals) and Mavs (led by MVP-candidate Luka Doncic) are expected to at least flirt with a trophy next year, it feels like the Cowboys and Texas Rangers are as far away as ever.
*Two weeks from today we’ll be watching Luka and the Mavs on Christmas night. And, at some point, we’ll get the chance to again attend a game at American Airlines Center. But no doubt COVID has crashed the Mavs as well.
Owner Mark Cuban says he’ll lose he’ll lose $100 million – “Fortunately, I’m in a position where I can afford it.” – and Mavs’ games in 2021 may start out with only 5,000 fans.
The AAC recently hosted “Disney on Ice”, confirming both our impatience and incompetence with the virus.
Said Cuban, “Our biggest problem was people buying extra popcorn so they could sit there without their masks on, pretending to eat.”
*In this COVID-crumbled 2020, asterisks abound. Presented with unforeseen, unprecedented hurdles, it’s okay if your optimism diminished while your waistline expanded. With our sports, execution gets a mulligan. But not effort. Trying hard is non-negotiable.
And that’s what makes the Cowboys’ loss in Baltimore Tuesday night so embarrassing. So unacceptable.
Dak Prescott and Tyron Smith are injured and an assistant coach died and Mike McCarthy was hampered in installing his system and … I get it. But what you, I and Fox analyst Troy Aikman witnessed last Tuesday night was a defense that quit.
READ MORE: Troy Aikman Blasts Cowboys In Baltimore
Players – safety Xavier Woods, we’re looking at you – that were either unwilling or incapable of making tackles, of both of which are alarming. Guess we shouldn’t be surprised. It was Woods, remember, who back in October told us, “We’re in the NFL. You don’t expect guys to go full speed for 70 plays. That’s not possible.”
The self-anointed “Hot Boyz” have now been punked on national television, mocked as “Easy Money” by the Ravens’ offensive line and labeled a “I-AA outfit” by NFL Network analyst Joe Thomas.
The Cowboys didn’t always play well under Jason Garrett, but they always played hard. Last time I saw Dallas visibly quit in a game was during a 45-7 loss in Green Bay in 2010. The next day, Wade Phillips was fired.
*Sad to see the departure of the Mavs’ Jose Juan Barea. At 36, he was released Thursday after 11 years in Dallas. Small but with a giant heart, I’ll always fondly remember Barea’s grit and guile – and ability to get in the lane off the dribble – transforming the 2011 NBA Finals once Rick Carlisle inserted him into the starting lineup in Game 4. With Barea gone, so too are the player links to that championship team.
Said J.J. in his farewell speech, “Dallas is my second home after Puerto Rico. It’s just special, man. It’s the happiest place that I ever played basketball.”
*Better late than never, Rangers’ executive Jon Daniels is getting something significant out of Chris Young. In 2005, Daniels made his first trade as the team’s new general manager: Acquiring Adam Eaton, Akinori Otsuka and Billy Killian from the Padres for Termel Sledge, Adrian Gonzalez and a 6-foot-10 pitcher named Young. Considering Gonzalez went on to become a five-time All-Star that led baseball in RBI in 2014, Young won a World Series with the Royals in 2015 and that Eaton and Otsuka played only a combined three seasons in Arlington, it’s one of the worst deals of Daniels’ tenure.
We were all shocked last week when the Rangers brought back Young, but this time as team’s new GM under Daniels, the President of Baseball Operations. It’s not too late to help a team that seriously needs it.
*Like I suspected, it was more hiccup more than historical. Boosted by Nielsen’s “headphone adjustment”, The Ticket confoundingly doubled its radio ratings from September to October. In a world where one-point swings cost stations advertisers and hosts jobs, that dramatic of an increase was fishy to say the least.
In November, the market corrected itself. (Industry experts are head-scratching at perhaps a new-system glitch or listeners that were added retroactively.)
The latest monthly ratings again show we’ve seen all of 2020 – a close, two-horse race.
Morning: Fan 7.2, Ticket 6.6
Midday: Fan 7.5, Ticket 5.9
Afternoon: Ticket 7.6, Fan 5.2
*Sure the Cowboys lost Dak, but you cannot downplay the significance of America’s Team experiencing the humiliating, unprecedented insult of being flexed out of NBC’s Sunday Night Football on Dec. 20. After all, the preferred matchup is between teams – the Giants and Browns – that endured their own season-ending losses to pretty salty offensive weapons in Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham Jr. The Cowboys, who have never been booted out of primetime, have been bad. But they’ve never been irrelevant.
“I think it’s a reflection of where we are right now as a football team,” Mike McCarthy says. “I mean, these are the types of things that I guess happen when you’re not successful. We’re disappointed in the season, make no bones about it.”
*Spent most of January-March this year sitting with Dad in the hospital. Fighting cancer (he’s in remission now), we thought he was on his death bed. Deep talks about everything. Life. Death. Golf. Grudges.
To salvage something positive out of a crappy 2020, I used that perspective and decided to heal my hate.
I made a list and reached out with a simple “I forgive you” to all I felt had wronged me through the years. In doing so – and this was the hard part – I also accepted responsibility for whatever role I played in our “breakup.” Friend who boinked my girlfriend. Ex-wife. Corrupt business partner. A certain former radio co-host and the station's high-ups.
Easy? Nope. Therapeutic? You betcha.
Everyone has a list. We can never change their actions, only our reactions. Some of my messages resulted in long overdue, face-to-face olive branches and rekindled relationships. Some produced warm phone calls, or merely acknowledged texts. A couple went ignored, and that’s okay too.
Soul = Cleansed. Highly recommend.
*I was never giddy over the hiring of McCarthy. Not just his Packers’ DNA, but also the fact that he only won one Super Bowl in 13 years with quarterbacks named Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers.
But now that I’ve experienced him, um, no thanks.
The irrational, kamikaze fourth-down gambles. Not taking a timeout (despite having three) to avoid a delay-of-game penalty, leading to a missed field goal in Baltimore. Playing Rashard Robinson more than Jourdan Lewis. Taking so long to move Zack Martin to right tackle. Having 12 days to prepare for the Ravens and still surrendering almost 300 yards rushing.
And, most of all, being 14-25-1 in his last 40 games as an NFL head coach. If there’s something special about McCarthy, please point it out. Because I don’t see it.
*Another week, another promising communication with a longtime DFW media voice suffering a rough 2020. Back in October I told you about Matt Mosley’s horrific bicycle accident at White Rock Lake.
Turns out he had to undergo spinal surgery, but tells me via text, “I’m feeling better … Grateful to be walking around.”
Says he has lost 15-20 pounds because of a “cervical fusion diet.” If you’re looking for Mosley’s acerbic Twitter feed, apparently it was hacked and he is yet to regain control. His former ESPN Radio pal, Mark Friedman, meanwhile, continues to make progress from a mysterious and life-threatening, four-month bout with pneumonia. Forced to learn how to use his body from scratch, he this week got into a minivan with only the use of a walker and is talking about leaving rehab for home.
“It is very encouraging to see light at the end of the tunnel,” he says.
More thoughts. More prayers. For both.
*In April 1989, the Cowboys earned the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft and selected Aikman. Some of us were baffled when, three months later, new head coach Jimmy Johnson took another quarterback in the NFL Supplemental Draft – Steve Walsh.
Aikman turned out decent and, upon further review, so did Walsh. Early in 1990, Jimmy traded the backup quarterback to the Saints for three draft picks the Cowboys turned into Russell Maryland and Erik Williams. That’s a win.
Maybe that’s behind the seemingly wacko advice Johnson gave his former team last week on Fox.
“Mike McCarthy is the right guy for the job,” Jimmy said. “He lost his quarterback. He lost his offensive line. They will get the injured players back and he’ll have an off-season to correct the problems that they had this season. Their No. 1 priority is to sign Dak Prescott to a long-term contract, not a franchise tag because that will eat up too much of a reduced salary cap. That said, I would not expect them to have this high of a draft pick in future drafts. So I would not bypass a franchise quarterback in this draft. Quarterbacks are valuable. Go ahead and take one if one’s there when you’re picking.”
So, give all your money to Dak and all your draft currency to Dak’s backup?
Worked before, but …
*Space geek in me got a thrill watching the International Space Station zoom across our north Texas sky Wednesday night. Looked like a very bright, fast-moving star. Mind-boggling that it cruises at 17,000 mph, orbits Earth 16 times per day and has been home to astronauts since 2000. I forget it’s up there.
*How weird is 2020? Prescott hasn’t taken a snap in two months, since breaking his ankle Oct. 11. Ben Roethlisberger is quarterback of the 11-1 Steelers, and has attempted a league-leading 484 passes.
Guess who has more 40+-yard completions? Yup. Dak 6, Big Ben 4.
*COVID don’t care. If you’re old. Sick. Black. White. Man. Woman. Or even a healthy, macho 44-year-old Texas high-school football coach. Yet almost 300,000 American deaths into the pandemic, there are still people in my circle that refuse to wear a mask.
*One of COVID’s many symptoms: Weaken the NFL’s home-field advantage. With no fans in the stands, NFL road teams in 2020 are 96-94-1. In 2019, home teams won 60 percent of the time.
*Am I cool? Or just cold-blooded? Maybe old. Certainly abnormal. When I have my temperature checked by those facial recognition gizmos, I’m always between 97.2-97.6. “Normal” is 98.6. Nurse tells me 98.6 is optimal internal temperature, and that my range is fine. Whew.
*Two steps backward for two forward? Rangers traded ace Lance Lynn to the White Sox in return for pitchers Dane Dunning and Avery Weems. Dunning was 2-0 with a 3.97 ERA with Chicago last season. They also acquired first baseman Nate Lowe in a seven-player trade with the Rays.
But, I dunno, hard to get excited about an offseason in which you bench your fan-favorite shortstop (Elvis Andrus), trade your best pitcher and orchestrate a mega-deal to nab a player at a position previously owned by another young player you’ve shoved on us as a potential star for years – 26-year-old Ronald Guzman.
*In response to COVID, Australia has given every working citizen a tax-free stimulus of $12,000. In Canada, it’s $2,000 per month. Here in America – which boasts itself as the most powerful, wealthiest country on the planet – we have unemployment claims rising, lines at food banks lengthening and a financial response from government of a whopping $1,200 check back in May.
As of mid-December, that correlates to $32.50 per week. The most deaths. The least help. Shame. On. Us.
*Regardless of what happens in December, Mike Nolan should not be back as the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator in 2021. Blown assignments by Leighton Vander Esch. Missed tackles by Jaylon Smith. Sack-related disappearing act by DeMarcus Lawrence. The two biggest rushing days by an opponent in franchise history. The longest rushing touchdown (37 yards by Lamar Jackson, untouched mind you) allowed in team history.
And the bottom line: The Cowboys have coughed up 393 points, five touchdowns more than the Lions (who fired their head coach), Jets (0-12) and Jaguars (1-11). Any scout will tell you that the Cowboys are blessed with tons more talent than those three defenses, combined.
*As I’ve said many times, The Olympics should end. Hailed as some warm-’n-fuzzy international group athletic hug, the games are nothing more than a money-grubbing scam bathed in drugs, bribes, one-off stadium constructions and, now, breakdancing. In Paris 2024, you can also watch the “sports” of skateboarding, surfing and sport climbing. By 2028, is there any doubt video games will be on the menu? Hardest of passes.
*The most Shazammed song of 2020 is something called “Dance Monkey.” You are totally right to hate me right now, because it will linger in your noggin’ all day.
*This Weekend? FridaySaturdaySundayEveryday, let’s just be smart and stay safe shall we? As always, don’t be a stranger.