Whether you’re at the end of your coffee, your day, your week or even your rope, welcome to Whitt’s End 7.31.20 ...
*My visit to the Texas Rangers’ new Globe Life Field in Arlington reminded me that, once upon a time, they almost moved to Farmers Market in downtown Dallas.
That train-of-thought yanked me back to this memory: In the 1990s the Cowboys were this close to remaining in Irving. Possibly forever.
In 1996, Jerry Jones realized Texas Stadium needed a full makeover complete with a retractable roof. He attempted to persuade Irving voters to pull out of DART, so the city could instead use its one-cent sales tax on stadium renovations. Jones went so far as to finance Irving’s anti-DART campaign and committed $2 million to help the city establish a mass-transit alternative. The deal: In exchange for a Texas Stadium facelift, the Cowboys would remain in Irving for 25 years. But by a margin of 57-43 percent, Irving voters chose DART over the NFL.
Nine years later, construction began on Cowboys Stadium. In Arlington.
*Enough of the fun ’n games in Orlando, I’m ready to see Luka Doncic’s smile smother Russell Westbrook’s scowl.
In the NBA’s bubble, we’ve seen the Dallas Mavericks in the pool, playing Spikeball, playing chess, fishing and making all sorts of trick shots. Their camaraderie is, of course, to be commended. But it’s time – starting tonight against the Rockets – to take it to the court.
The Mavs were 1-1 against Houston outside the bubble, allowing 123 and 128 points. Let the scoring commence.
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DBcom has full coverage of it all ... and yes, I'm feeling jitters. I bet the Mavs are as well.
*Because 2020 gonna 2020, the season-ticket policy for the Dallas Cowboys this year is that there will be no season tickets. Season-ticket holders will get first shot at single-game tickets, which will be in a different location from their normal seats and only available for purchase at SeatGeek.com.
There is good news: The Cowboys are extending existing season-ticket agreements an additional year, and fans who have already purchased single-game tickets from an NFL-licensed outlet for 2020 games can get a full refund. As of now, the Cowboys expect 50-percent capacity at home games, meaning crowds of approximately 50,000 at AT&T Stadium.
Are you ready for some (fake) football?!
*After four months without major sports and likely a personal brush or two with COVID-19, we deserve this. Friday: Mavericks. Saturday: Rangers. Sunday: Rangers and Mavericks. Monday: Dallas Stars.
Oh, and again: on Aug. 30, per our man Fish's "exclusive-exclusive,'' the Cowboys will hold their annual Blue-White Scrimmage at AT&T Stadium.
The coronavirus pandemic isn’t over. But the coronavirus pandemic without sports is over. So let’s get back to hating James Harden and all the Houston Astros’ cheaters and the Philadelphia Eagles, instead of each other.
*If 2020 has taught me anything – I mean, other than all about cancer thanks to Dad and all about viruses courtesy of COVID-19 – it’s that life is precious and fleeting. Too short not to embrace diversity. Too short to endure willful ignorance.
I’ve divorced friends this year over core beliefs and values. The latest group I’ve downgraded from “friend” to “acquaintance”? Those who actually believe Tom Hanks is a pedophile that was arrested in Australia this week and that the world’s mainstream media – which I’m a part of – is conspiring to cover it up.
I know, right?
But I guess “QAnon” is a thing. A really dumb thing, but a thing, nonetheless. So prevalent, in fact, that Twitter deleted 7,000 accounts related to the conspiracy group.
My social circle remains the same size. Just tweaked and re-shaped, with lazy conspiracy theorists kicked out and those that value truth and common decency welcomed in. So thank you, 2020, for helping me trim the fat.
*Born and raised in Texas, I expect heat in the summer. Accustomed to it. Adapted to it. I’ve just never been one to complain, “Man, it’s hot … ” because, really, what are we supposed to do about it? I play golf. I play tennis. I … never avoided going to a Rangers game because it was hot in the summer.
But that simple premise was the impetus for the construction of Globe Life Field, complete with retractable roof and air-conditioning. The team’s attendance figures, however, seem to be more affected by wins than weather.
In 2013, the Rangers drew a record 3.4 million fans when the average temperature for June-July-August-September was 84.1 degrees. In 2019, they drew only 2.1 million during a summer in which the average was 84.3.
In 2013 they were coming off back-to-back World Series and went 91-72. Last year they recorded their third consecutive losing record, finishing 78-84.
The more the Rangers win, the cooler it feels to go to a game.
*Just when I wanna trust people, I don’t. I was driving in rush-hour traffic on I-30 just south of downtown Dallas a week ago when my car exchanged a love tap with a pickup. (A red one, everyone relax.)
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"It will be good to get a break," Ezekiel Elliott says.
Honestly, I’ll take 50 percent of the blame.
But not 51.
We both saw an open middle lane and decided to merge into it at the exact same time. Again, a love tap. My front right tire and his front left tire. Neither of us were going over 5 mph. Pulled off under an overpass. Zero damage to either vehicle. Took photos. Exchanged insurance. On our merry way. No harm, no foul.
But then … the other driver filed a claim against my insurance. He stated that I rear-ended him, causing damage to his truck and personal injury to him and his two passengers.
Fortunately, I had the photos to prove no damage to his truck and that he was the only occupant. He blatantly lied. My insurance obviously denied his claim. My agent asked if I wanted to pursue a case against him for insurance fraud.
I’ve decided not to but … be careful out there. Never know who you might run into.
*Sports Illustrated’s detailed expose about an alleged sexual assault by a Mavs’ executive left me with some nagging doubts.
I’m all about the #MeToo movement and every woman should be taken seriously, but … No police report? The Mavs flew to the woman in Las Vegas to view documents that she refused to produce? The woman continued a texting, even joking relationship with her alleged assaulter for weeks after the incident?
“Honestly, I can’t say why,” the alleged victim said about confounding continued communication.
The Mavs, forced to overhaul their climate after a similar SI story in 2018, alerted the NBA about the matter and conducted a six-month investigation that, they say, didn’t find evidence of a sexual assault.
For now, it’s case closed. As it should be.
RELATED: Mavs and SI Exchange Statements
*Sentence I had to read twice to fully digest: “This is the 19th week in a row that the U.S. has seen more than a million new unemployment claims.” Staggering.
*While Globe Life Field is destined to provide more comfort in the stands, it will also generate fewer fireworks on the field. Gone are the days of sweat dribbling down your butt crack, but also the jet-stream to right field and power-hitting lineups belting record homers and winning 10-9 games like some slow-pitch softball squad.
Through all but one inning of the season’s first five games, the new stadium proved a giant, green chasm. The fence is 410 feet straight-away with stagnant, heavy air that made center field a place where Globe Life Park home runs turned into Globe Life Field outs.
Says manager Chris Woodward, “Gonna be a lot of well-hit balls that turn into gravestones out there.”
Once featuring the slugging superpowers of Juan Gonzalez, Rafael Palmeiro, Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz, the Globe Life Field Rangers are customized to win on pitching in a pitcher’s park. (Of course, the plan is already dented with significant shoulder injuries to No. 3 starter Corey Kluber and closer Jose Lecler.)
If they were a gas-guzzlin’, RPM-revvin’ Mustang GT, this model is a quieter, more efficient Tesla. More computer candy; less vroom.
*I’m at peace going to my grave without understanding dry ice. Un-wet frozen water? Does not compute.
*Simple question: How do universities reconcile banning students on campus while welcoming football players on campus? Simple answer: $. If the science club generated $130 million in revenue, suddenly there would be a COVID-19 protocol created for its laboratories.
*Props to Cowboys’ running back Ezekiel Elliott, who this week personally delivered new shoes and equipment to players at South Oak Cliff High School. See the story, and video, here.
*With no fans, at times it’s eerily quiet inside Globe Life Field. But, thanks to new hire and long-time Dallas Stars sound guru Michael Gruber, the Rangers are getting creative to fabricate mood in a sterile environment.
Gruber and long-time PA voice Chuck Morgan spent the COVID-19 delay sifting through old games and isolated 100 files of organic, unique baseball sounds. The constant hum and murmur of a crowd. Smattering of applause for a thrown strike. Elevated applause for a base hit. Raucous cheering for a home run. They are even playing aural staples from Globe Life Park:
The vendor who belted out “Hawwwwwt Dawwwwwgs!” and superfan “Zonk” banging rhythmically on his drum. Only thing you won’t hear? Booing.
Says Morgan, “Major League Baseball wants us to keep it positive.”
*Far as I can tell, the Stars are already in the NHL playoffs and are in their version of the bubble – in Edmonton, Canada – attempting to improve their seeding in “qualifying round” games. The four-month break might have been a blessing, being that they lost their last six games before the shutdown.
*I’ve got my candidate for Worst Human on the Planet. Dallas man this week was charged with capital murder after he admitted to sexually assaulting his own 71-year-old grandmother and then beating her to death with a fire extinguisher. 2020, please don’t top that.
*You think Netflix’s Tiger King was popular? It was swamped by ESPN’s Last Dance, which ended its summer run this week. Final score: Last Dance 68 million viewers, Tiger King 41 million viewers.
*This Weekend? Friday it’s playing golf, then watching Mavs. Saturday it’s playing tennis, then watching Rangers. Sunday it’s jumping in the pool, then watching Rangers and then watching Mavs. Who knows? Monday might even watch the Stars. Feels so good to have options. As always, don’t be a stranger.