Whether you’re at the end of your coffee, your day, your week or even your rope, welcome to Whitt’s End … 8.13.21 ...
*Highest-paid players on Dallas-Fort Worth’s professional teams:
Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks – $41 million per season
Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys – $40 million
Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars – $13 million
Jordan Lyles, Texas Rangers – $8 million
Franco Jara, FC Dallas – $3 million
*Been saying it since the day he jogged off the field during the Cowboys’ first padded practice July 28 in Oxnard and I’ll say it again: We should be very worried about Prescott’s throwing arm. And just as concerned that his backup is Garrett (Gulp) Gilbert.
With all that time off from throwing while rehabbing his ankle, Dak’s arm should have been rested. With all that throwing and strength training during OTAs, Dak’s arm should have then gotten stronger. If this was a normal injury, why would Cowboys doctors take the abnormal approach of consulting the medical experts with the Rangers and New York Yankees? If him not practicing was purely “precautionary” and he was “on schedule” to increase his throwing next week and possibly play in the team’s third preseason game Aug. 21, why would he be getting another MRI?
Team COO Stephen Jones said this week it’s not imperative for Prescott to take any preseason snaps.
“Dak Prescott knows how to play the game of football,” said Stephen, “and whether he plays a series or two in Houston isn’t going to affect how he’s going to play against Tampa.”
Per that premise, no veteran starter – assuming they know how to play the game of football – should take a snap in the preseason.
Of course, this is the same Cowboys’ brain trust that allowed Prescott to take every snap in a meaningless 2018 regular-season finale in which other regulars sat out.
Color me concerned.
*Chemistry 101, taught by Professor Luka. Listen to his press conference this week and you’ll hear something disturbing: Three times at the signing of his $207 million supermax contract he mentioned “chemistry.”
Not about his Dallas Mavericks, but in regards to his Slovenian National Team.
Bottom line: Luka believes Slovenia (which placed fourth in the Olympics) has a better vibe than the Mavs (who were bounced by the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round two consecutive seasons).
We can poke fun at the cheesy camaraderie of Cowboys’ Dak Prescott/Ezekiel Elliott, but we can assume Luka and Kristaps Porzingis aren’t exchanging expensive personal birthday gifts any time soon.
Porzingis is a distressed asset that needs to be moved. Now. If new general manager Nico Harrison wants to yank the Mavs to the next level, he’ll find a way to export Porzingis, and import Ben Simmons.
*Sorry, but Adrian Beltre doesn’t belong in the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame. At least all of him. Maybe, um, 40 percent?
In a season extremely thin on highlights, Saturday night at Globe Life Field should be a refreshingly positive event. But I have a problem with the latest inductions to the Rangers’ HOF. My objections aren’t to Chuck Morgan. He is the voice of the franchise. Been behind the ballpark microphone in Arlington since 1983, calling more than 3,000 consecutive games. No. Brainer.
But Beltre? Nope. Hear me out.
Beltre produced like a robot and personalized like a human being. He was not only one of baseball’s greatest players, but also one of its goofiest. He and Elvis Andrus made pop-ups entertaining. He danced at the plate after taking close pitches. He hit home runs from one knee, and threw out base-runners from the Six Flags Shock Wave. He turned his noggin’ into sacred ground, once interrupting a pitching change at Yankee Stadium to throw his glove at Andrus after the shortstop dared to tap his cap during the mound meeting. He was a legendary fielder, a prolific hitter, a loyal teammate, a gutsy gamer and, yes, a big kid who sprayed a cool, refreshing mist onto the dog days of summer by playing with unfiltered joy and unprecedented passion.
Beltre spent seven seasons in L.A. with the Dodgers, five with the Mariners and one with the Red Sox before playing his final eight in Arlington. He’s a certain Hall-of-Famer come 2023 and one of baseball’s greatest third basemen – only Brooks Robinson started more games at the hot corner and no one that played the position produced more hits. One of the most respected players during his era, Beltre played through ankle sprains and torn thumb ligaments and those consistently balky hamstrings.
Of all his impressive stats, this one stands out: He is one of only four players to have 3,000 hits, 400 homers and five Gold Gloves. The others: Willie Mays, Carl Yastrzemski and Dave Winfield.
Not bad for an acquisition some bemoaned as a consolation prize when the Rangers signed Beltre in January ’11 only after losing out on pitching ace Cliff Lee.
Those moments. Those records. That legacy. They all make writing this that much tougher: For all his greatness, Adrian Beltre barely cracks the Top 10 of all-time Texas Rangers and I’m not so sure they should retire his No. 29 or put him in the Rangers Hall of Fame.
This is not to suggest Beltre was overrated, more that he achieved only about 40 percent of his career in Arlington. Only 1,277 of his 3,166 hits. Only 199 of his 477 homers. Not all of his Gold Gloves. Not all of his All-Star appearances. Nor all of his cycles. And, remember, 13 of his 21 seasons were played for teams other than the Rangers. In that sense, Beltre is Nolan Ryan. A first-ballot Hall of Famer who enjoyed personal milestones here – for Ryan it was no-hitters; for Beltre hit No. 3,000 – but never the ultimate team success.
Not that Beltre, as we know all too well, didn’t come close. He hit .300 with two homers in the 2011 World Series, but as the Rangers coughed up Games 6 and 7 in St. Louis he went only 1 for 9 at the plate with three strikeouts (he did hit a seventh-inning homer that gave the Rangers lead in Game 6). Beltre was a leader on that ’11 team that got within one strike of the trophy, and the following season he finished third in the AL MVP voting. Among his highlights: the three-homer performance in a 4-3 win over the Rays at Tropicana Field that propelled Texas into its second consecutive ALCS. There was also the two-run homer that helped the Rangers blast the Angels in Game No. 162 and hang onto the AL West title in ’15.
His drama, professionalism, enthusiasm and loyalty (he re-worked his contract to give the team more financial flexibility) notwithstanding, Beltre joined the Rangers on the downside of his career. In his final two seasons, four muscle strains limited him to 134 games in the field.
The ding of his durability. The lack of the championship. The proportionate slice of his career production. Add them up and it’s difficult to let our warm-’n-fuzzy feelings automatically place him near the top of the greatest Rangers.
Among offensive leaders, Beltre doesn’t rank among the Top 5 in at-bats, average, slugging, runs, hits or RBI. And his three Gold Gloves at third base? Impressive, until you remember that Buddy Bell won five consecutive for the Rangers ’79-84.
Only four other Rangers have their numbers retired. Sorry, but Beltre’s contributions don’t compare to Johnny Oates, Pudge Rodriguez, Michael Young or Ryan. And to shove his way into my Top 10 Rangers, he’d have to displace Toby Harrah or Ruben Sierra. That argument can be made – and won – for Beltre, but he’s not touching Pudge, Juan Gonzalez, Young, Josh Hamilton, Rafael Palmeiro, Charlie Hough, Jim Sundberg or Kenny Rogers.
If you believe Beltre belongs, you probably also think Terrell Owens should be in the Cowboys’ Ring of Honor. But, then again, former Arlington mayor Richard Greene is in the Rangers’ Hall of Fame and Ron Washington isn’t, so how are we expected to take that place seriously?
*There’s an almost unfathomable upset brewing in DFW sports talk radio this summer, and it has nothing to do with The Ticket or The Fan. Well, almost nothing. Having been in sports radio, I know first-hand how it’s not just “turn on the mics and start talking.” To the contrary. There are pre-show planning meetings. Post-show listening reviews. Focus groups. Statistical deep dives. Working the clock. Juggling commercials. Scheduling the right guest at the right time and … Attracting listeners is a very meticulous, measured science.
That’s why I got a kick out of the local afternoon drive ratings for June and July.
The No. 1 station from 3-7 p.m. among sports stations’ desired demographic of Men ages 25-54 is not The Ticket’s Hardline or The Fan’s GBag Nation, it’s … my ex-wife?
Look, Sybil Summers works as hard and takes as much pride in her work as anyone I’ve ever known, but the fact that her afternoon show that spins Journey and Michael Jackson on 1980s-centric 98.7 KLUV is kicking the butts of the male-dominated stations directly, exhaustively targeting those male listeners is just, oh I dunno, awesome!
Sybil’s show has been No. 1 in June and July, garnering a 6.7 last month to shellack the likes of Ben ’n Skin (5.5 on The Eagle), Bob Sturm and Corby Davidson (3.4 on The Ticket) and Gavin Dawson, Jeff Cavanaugh and Bryan Broaddus (2.2 on The Fan).
As for the sports horse race, The Ticket continues to dominate. July’s final scores:
Morning: Ticket: 5.5/ Fan: 3.2
Midday: Ticket: 5.5/ Fan: 3.6
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Afternoon: Ticket: 3.4/ Fan 2.2
Overall: Ticket: 5.0/ Fan 3.0
*This is the person who refuses to get the COVID vaccine. You know him/her, and you despise them. Because, above all else, they’re selfish. Ring a bell? You’re sitting at a crammed blackjack table. Cards are dealt. Dealer’s up-card is a 6. Bingo! Bust-o-Rama imminent. Unless you’re doubling down, you stay. The whole table stays. Except, that is, for the anti-vaxxer. Their up-card is a 5, but they inexplicably take a hit. Their 10 makes them bust. The 4 they nudge to the dealer gives him 20.
We all lose. Whyyyyyyyy?!
“I don’t care,” shrugs the anti-vaxxer, indifferent to the fact that they screwed the entire table. “That’s the way I play.” To avoid the “disease,” the entire table of players gets up and leaves.
Anti-vaxxers boast that they love America. But their actions say they hate Americans.
*Based on their raw images and colorful language, the 2021 Cowboys are not, in fact, too soft for Hard Knocks.
*Genius idea by Major League Baseball to have the Yankees-White Sox play a game in a Field of Dreams cornfield in Dyersville, Iowa. Made me ponder my Rangers’ All-Time Dream Team:
C: Pudge Rodriguez
1B: Rafael Palmeiro
2B: Michael Young
SS: Alex Rodriguez
3B: Buddy Bell
LF: Ruben Sierra
CF: Josh Hamilton
RF: Juan Gonzalez
DH: Julio Franco
RHP: Fergie Jenkins
LHP: Kenny Rogers
RP: John Wetteland
Manager: Johnny Oates
*Read the juiciest parts of the new Giannis Antetokounmpo book and you’ll see partially why I’m skeptical of new head coach Jason Kidd being the right fit for the Mavericks.
In the book, author Mirin Fader recounts a tale of then-Milwaukee Bucks coach Kidd making the team practice for three hours on Christmas Day, get into a pool for extra endurance work even though several players didn’t know how to swim, and so berate and humiliate Larry Sanders that the forward later checked himself into a hospital.
After a decade of failure the Mavs certainly need a culture change, but that smacks of Bobby Knight. Without the sweater, or the championships.
*Went to Kroger Tuesday and was met at the entrance by … pumpkins. Halloween pumpkins. I kid you not. A good 82 days until Halloween and we’ve got the pumpkin displays out. What in the world are we doing?!
*The next Cowboy inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame will likely be the first to not win a Super Bowl ring with the team. Right, all-time sacks leader?
*When I’m wrong, I’m wrong. I ripped the Cowboys for releasing Aldon Smith last offseason. Mental hiccups be damned, he was the team’s best defensive player for most of the 2020 season. And on a team marred by a historically horrible defense, how in the world can you just cut him?
The Seattle Seahawks released Smith this week, citing multiple off-the-field problems. Smith remains even more troubled than he is talented.
The Cowboys tried. It didn't work. They saw it. Good for them.
*The Rangers are a gruesome 35 games under .500 but, hey, third baseman Brock Holt threw a 31-mph pitch in mop-up duty last week and minor-leaguer Sam Huff hit a 520-foot homer in Frisco. So at least we’re entertained?
*One last thing re: COVID: Isn’t it convenient how people that refuse the vaccine – for political or religious or merely stubborn reasons – suddenly forget those excuses when they need life-saving medical care? I mean, if you don’t trust the medical professionals who recommend/issue the COVID vaccine, how do you trust the medical professionals who recommend/issue COVID treatment at the hospital? Again, it’s the anti-vaxxers’ intentional conflating of “selfishness” as “freedom.” It’s a huge deal when it happens to them, but not a second before.
*Miracle tone that soothes and heals? Or annoying noise that merely prompts a headache? There are people on both sides of 528hz. Decide for yourself.
*The local company that’s wrapping its high-tech arms around a global problem is taking the country by storm. Digital Seat Media, a tech outfit based in DFW, is solving the quandary of safe, fast fan engagement for sport stadiums. With its unique hardware and software, DSM installs small, non-intrusive metal tags with QR codes on every seat. Essentially, the company is doing for fans at sporting events what has already happened to diners and menus at restaurants. No standing in line for food. No app. Quick. Easy.
DSM has installed tags at nine college stadiums including Baylor and SMU. And next week: The Rose Bowl. When one of these days you go to a Cowboys game at AT&T Stadium and order two beers and four hot dogs just by scanning your phone, you read it here first.
READ MORE: Rangers' AA Frisco Hit With COVID Outbreak
*Keep your nationalism handy: The Tokyo Summer Olympics just ended, but the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing start in only five months.
*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: 40-75 TOTAL: +$1,675.
*It’s Friday the 13th. Big. Whoop. I no more fear Triskaidekaphobia than I believe in jinxes, karma, avoiding walking under ladders or rubbing a lucky rabbit’s foot. That kind of hocus-pocus nonsense leaves too much of our lives to mere chance, and absolves us from personal responsibility. Hard pass.
*This Weekend? Friday let’s do Happy Hour with a long-lost cousin, then watch some Cowboys-Cardinals. Saturday let’s strap on a rucksack carrying a 35-pound weight and briskly walk 12 miles around White Rock Lake in 3.5 hours. Sunday let’s find a swimming pool. As always, don’t be a stranger.