Whitt's End: Which Cowboys Star - Zeke Or Dak - Might Be More Overpaid? Plus Scoop On DFW Radio Ratings
Whether you’re at the end of your coffee, your day, your week or even your rope, welcome to Whitt’s End (2.6.20) …
*New year. Same ol’ (new) story. The Ticket can no longer claim that 105.3 The Fan’s ratings rise is merely a fluke. The trend that began as a tremor last summer closed out 2019 as a full-blown earthquake shaking – perhaps reshaping – the landscape of DFW sports talk radio.
In the fourth quarter PPM ratings (encompassing Sept. 12-Dec. 4), The Fan beat 1310 The Ticket, 5.5 to 3.3, in the prime time (M-F 6a-7p) of the coveted demographic (Men 25-54).
In Mornings, The Fan’s Shan & RJ beat The Ticket’s Dunham & Miller, 5.2-3.5.
In Middays, The Fan’s mix of Ben & Skin/KC Masterpiece beat The Ticket’s Norm Hitzges/BaD Radio, 6.6-3.2.
In Afternoons, The Fan’s G-Bag Nation beat The Ticket’s Hardline, 4.6-3.1.
In sports radio, ratings for the month of December (when flagship shows typically take vacation) are known as the “Holiday Book” and are less vital. That said, The Fan’s edge grew even wider, up to a whopping 6.1-2.6.
Bottom line: For the key three-month period of football season, The Ticket – which forever dominated the demo with first-place finishes – was 10 overall to The Fan’s No. 3. (For what it’s worth, 97.1 The Eagle is No. 1).
Maybe radio legend and Ticket founder Mike Rhyner was indeed ready for retirement. Or, maybe he read the writing on the wall?
*Somewhere – amidst a haze of ganga smoke in Maui – Nellie is smiling. The ol’ Mavs mad scientist would love what’s going down in Houston. Most notably, the size of the Rockets’ lineup. Nellie’s Small Ball is alive and well with the Midwest Division leaders, who traded center Clint Capela for forward Robert Covington and will apparently go with 6-foot-5 P.J. Tucker as their starting big man. It’s cute and creative and all, but the Lakers’ Anthony Davis, Denver’s Nikola Jokic and Utah’s Rudy Gobert will destroy the ploy come Spring.
As for the Dallas Mavericks (check out Fish and the 75-Member Staff's Trade Deadline Tracker at DallasBasketball.com), I think Capela would’ve been a nice fit as a rim-protecting rebounder who never needs a play run for him. He seems an upgrade from Willie Cauley-Stein, who’s sorta in the neighborhood of the mold of exactly what Dallas ironically needs – DeAndre Jordan.
*Snooooowww?! Nooooooo! Continuing the trusted tradition of DFW weatherpeeps, once again predictions of snow and ice and school closings were empty, wrong and saturated with nothing but hype. Still, the one and only time DFW was underprepared for an Arctic Blast was a pretty memorable occasion. Super Bowl 45 ring a frozen bell?
*While we breathlessly await the Dallas Cowboys slapping the franchise tag on Dak Prescott by March 10 (see "Report That!''), we’ve got to consider if they overpaid Ezekiel Elliott.
Is he an elite running back? For sure. Productive. Good receiver. Above average in blitz pick-up. All that, and more. But, um, does it really matter? The Cowboys spent a decade drafting an offensive line, nurturing a back and building the NFL’s best running game. But … none of the leading Super Bowl rushers on the last 11 champs even remotely resemble Zeke in terms of workload or salary: Damien Williams, Sony Michel, LeGarrette Blount, LeGarrette Blount, C.J. Anderson, LeGarrette Blount, Percy Harvin, Ray Rice, Ahmad Bradshaw, James Stark and Pierre Thomas.
*As for its predictive pratfalls, the Heisman Trophy is trumped only by the Iowa Caucuses. Winning either contest doesn’t guarantee success at the “next level.” In 2008, the premature “chosen ones” were guys named Mike Huckabee and Sam Bradford. I know, right?
*Trying to get excited about baseball. Pitchers and catchers report next week. The unveiling of Globe Life Field looms. The Astros are cheaters. It’s all promising.
But, again, I’m underwhelmed by the spine of the Texas Rangers: middle infielders Elvis Andrus and Rougned Odor. At 31, Elvis is the second-oldest everyday shortstop in the majors. Odor led the AL in strikeouts and was second-to-last in on-base percentage. The most debilitating aspect is that the Rangers have $25 million committed to them in 2020. They are hardly Jose Altuve/Carlos Correa.
Texas finished 29 games behind Houston in the AL West last year. Are we really counting on marked improvement from Andrus/Odor to help narrow that chasm?
*In the 2019 Super Bowl, Adam Levine ripped his shirt off and female viewers swooned. In the 2020 Super Bowl, Shakira and J-Lo stripped down to their skivvies and female viewers sued.
In an era where crass language, grade-school insults and grabbing women’s body parts is acceptable at America’s highest levels, all the pearl clutching seems disingenuous. But, here goes.
“One of the most pathetic and pornographic performances I’ve ever seen,” screamed Fellowship megachurch pastor Ed Young on Twitter. “Hey NFL, is this what we’re teaching our kids for the next generation?”
Yes, in fact, we are. Keep your body in that kind of shape at age 50 and 43 and you too could be a zillionaire. The end. For what it’s worth, this was the ninth consecutive year for halftime to draw more TV eyeballs than the game.
*By my admittedly flimsy math, this here column is the cockroach of DFW sportswriting. Total publications infected now equals – lessee, there’s Panther Prints (Duncanville High School), the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer, CBS, DFW Sportatorium, NBC, Press Box DFW and now SI – eight. What it lacks in superior content, it more than makes up for in survivor skills.
*Love me some Derek Harper, but if you took a shot every time he says the word “basketball” during a Mavs telecast you’d be drunk by the first TV timeout. Wednesday night on Fox Sports Southwest’s game against the Grizzlies, Harp pulled off a rare triple.
“This is a good basketball team, Memphis, in that they share the basketball and they’re a lot like Dallas when it comes to sharing the basketball.”
Confirmation: The Mavs play basketball.
*Kyle Shanahan, passionate demeanor and sick (sic?) flat-billed cap be damned, is now the author of two of the biggest collapses in Super Bowl history. He was the offensive coordinator when the Falcons lost to the Patriots after leading, 28-3. And last week he was the play-caller that inexplicably abandoned the 49ers’ DNA in coughing up a 10-point lead in the final seven minutes.
On three consecutive possessions – leading 20-10, leading 20-17 and trailing 24-20 – San Francisco began with a running play to Raheem Mostert. The results? Gains of six, five and 17 yards. Each time, however, the following play was an incomplete pass, and none of the drives netted points. Given the lead, the clock and the ball, Fox’s Troy Aikman astutely predicted of San Fran, “We’ve seen this before. This is where the 49ers are going to try to run the ball down their throat and squeeze the life out of this game.” That’s indeed what they should’ve done. But Shanahan turned his back on his team’s identity.
Now imagine if Jason Garrett had done that in Dallas.
*DFW hasn’t celebrated a major sports championship since the Mavs in 2011. Legit question: Would an XFL title warrant a parade? Coach Bob Stoops’ Dallas Renegades, who begin their season Saturday in the Rangers’ old Globe Life Park, are the XFL favorites at 3/1 odds.
*Most confounding aspect of the radio ratings to close out 2019 is the strength of 97.1 The Eagle. I’ve long held disdain for Russ Martin, but I’ve never doubted his – and his show’s – popularity. The Russ Martin Show dominated male listeners aged 25-54 from 3p-7p, boasting a relatively gargantuan 7.7 rating. No. 2? Spanish-speaking 107.5 La Grande, waaaay arears at 4.9. The twist?
Russ Martin and his gang are moving from their sweet spot. Starting Monday – someone predicted this back in November – Ben & Skin will occupy The Eagle 2-5p weekdays, with Russ Martin on the air only from 5-7. Ben & Skin were slid down from afternoons to middays last summer by The Fan. Now they’re sliding into a station’s time slot that has consistently been No. 1 in the ratings. No doubt the duo has an abundance of chutzpah. Now they must maintain The Eagle’s abundance of built-in listeners.
*When Kristaps Porzingis is effortlessly swishing 3-pointers it almost looks fake. He’s 7-foot-3 and sometimes – like at Indiana on Monday night – he shoots so quick and easy it just can’t be real.
Sam Elliott’s CGI dancing mustache in the Doritos Super Bowl add looked more believable.
*True story. Mom: Hey, I found these the other day. Me: Um, yeah? Mom: Can you look into it? I think they’re worth something. Me: But these are life insurance policies for your family, dated 1920! Mom: Yeah, but they’re whole life! Me: Mom, do these companies still exist? Do they have websites? Back then were phones even a thing? How am I supposed to … Mom: Ok hun, let me know when you have my money. Love you!
*Sports is weird and dynasties are dead. No? Consider the current titleholders: Kansas City Chiefs (6/1 odds before season; last won in 1970). Toronto Raptors (19/1 odds; had never won). Washington Nationals (16/1 odds; had never won). St. Louis Blues (30/1 odds; had never won).
*Never understood the bluster of National Signing Day. For example, Texas A&M capped yet another splendid class Wednesday, ranked sixth-best in the nation. Which, of course, we all know good and well will result next season in a .500 finish in the SEC and a consolation trip to the Forgettable Bowl or somesuch.
More proof that it’s puff: In 2015 a three-star quarterback signed with Ohio State. Four years later that kid – Joe Burrow – led LSU to the National Championship. These are 18-year-olds. Things changed. Chill.