WHITT’S END: 5.6.22
Whether you’re at the end of your coffee, your day, your week or even your rope, welcome to Whitt’s End …
*Here we oh again? Next week our Dallas-Fort Worth sad sports drought without a championship will surpass 4,000 days. Four. Friggin’. Thousand. And unless the Dallas Mavericks stage an improbable rally from an 0-2 deficit against the Phoenix Suns or the Texas Rangers produce an about-face of their 10-14 start or the Dallas Stars are about to reel off 15 more wins in the Stanley Cup playoffs, there may be no end in sight. In 2020, the city of Los Angeles won two sports championships (Dodgers and Lakers) in a span of 16 days, turning Tinseltown into Title Town. Over a 10-month period spanning 2020-21 the NFL’s Buccaneers and NHL’s Lightning won three titles to re-brand Tampa Bay as Champa Bay. After celebrating a Braves’ World Series last Fall, Atlanta basked in the glow of a Georgia college football championship three months later. Meanwhile, down here in the land of have-nots, DFW remains without a championship since the Mavericks beat the Heat in Game 6 of the NBA Finals on June 11, 2011. The last time we partied, Dirk Nowitzki was still a player, Jason Kidd wasn’t yet Dallas’ coach and Luka Doncic was 12. The Rangers got within one strike in 2011; the Stars within two games in 2000 and 2020. The Mavs have just one playoff series win since their parade, and the Cowboys’ last Super Bowl title was a whopping 27 years ago. Despite Michael Irvin’s admirable-if-irrational optimism, while other cities gleefully enjoy championship double-dipping we’re stuck with a severe case of blue balls. Are we due? Or merely doomed?
*Good Rangers news: They are undefeated this month, taking a four-game winning streak into a weekend series at Yankee Stadium against the team wth the best record in baseball. Bad Rangers news: Marcus Semien still hasn’t hit a homer. I mean, it’s officially a “thing” now, right? Last year in Toronto he slammed 45 in 724 at-bats. This year with Texas: 0 in 107 … and counting.
*Even successful folks sometimes endure losing. Three Super Bowls, his bust in the Hall of Fame and the $140 million investment he’s grown into a $6.5 billion fortune notwithstanding, it’s been a rough 2022 for Jerry Jones. The gut-wrenching playoff loss to the 49ers. The abrupt retirement of his long-time media maven Rich Dalrymple, followed – merely coincidentally? – by a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders voyeurism scandal that required a $2.4 million settlement. The divorce of his daughter Charlotte. Randy Gregory reneging on a contract agreement to bolt to the Broncos. Kelvin Joseph being questioned for his involvement in a murder. A paternity suit brought by a woman who claims he is her biological father. And, this week, a minor car accident in which he was briefly hospitalized. Here’s hoping Jones has reasons to celebrate by the time he turns 80 in October.
*My ramblings on Mavs-Suns? Game 1 here and Game 2 here. I don’t think they win this series, but they do take Game 3 Friday night to make it interesting.
*Multiple people posed this question to me Thursday in the wake of Dallas being burned twice in Phoenix: “Hey, what’s wrong with the Mavs?!” Honestly, nothing. Other than they’re playing the best team in the NBA. People somehow forget the Suns held a 2-0 lead on the Bucks in last year’s NBA Finals and this season had the league’s best home, road and overall record. The Mavs are really good. The Suns are great.
*Haven’t checked in on DFW sports talk radio ratings in a while, so … status quo. In ratings covering the first quarter (January-February-March) of 2022, The Ticket continued to dominate The Fan. The scoreboard:
Morning: Ticket 6.8, Fan 2.9
Midday: Ticket 5.3, Fan 3.4
Afternoon: Ticket 4.8, Fan 3.2
Overall: Ticket 5.6, Fan 3.2
Also of note, when Ben and Skin debuted on 97.1 The Eagle in early 2020 they benefitted from the baked-in Russ Martin audience and pulled ratings for their afternoon show in the 8.0s. Now, two years later? For the first quarter this year they clocked in with a 1.6. Ouch.
*Sneaked in some non-sports TV recently and my scorecard reads thusly: Barry (HBO) A+, darkest of comedies is as gripping as it is funny. Friends From College (Netflix) A, laugh-out-loud hilarious and criminally underrated. Flight Attendant (HBO) INC, relentless flashbacks and preposterous conversations with a ghost made me tap out. Ozark (Netflix) A-, what started as one of the greatest series of all-time woefully petered-out in a final episode littered with irrational twists, murder overload and an insulting gaffe in attention to detail.
*For the first time since 2008, the Byron Nelson golf tournament is officially a sell-out. With next week’s attractive field including local stars Scottie Scheffler, Jordan Spieth and Will Zalatoris, along with major winners Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka, the tournament’s brilliant move to TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney is burying the nightmarish two-year residence at the south Dallas goat ranch known as Trinity Forest.
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*Question: Is Fox Sports 1’s Skip Bayless a “human hemorrhoid” or a “repugnant circus geek”? Answer: Both. The biggest fraud on TV – and yes, that includes the actors on WWE – this week alone attacked Bill Belichick and claimed Luka wasn’t a “superstar.”
*Do we blame being trapped indoors and behind masks for two years? Maybe sports gambling anger? Or just historically emboldened folks? Whatever the reason, the relationship between spectators and performers at events seems plunging toward an all-time low. Turns out we didn’t mature after 2004’s “Malice at the Palace.” Whether it’s Doncic exchanging verbal volleys in Phoenix, Kyrie Irving flipping off fans in Boston, Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars or comedian Dave Chappelle being attacked on stage this week during a show, our patience and professionalism have vanished.
*Theory that I’m workshopping but don’t yet have the facts to back up: Luka makes the whole of his team better, but not necessarily the individual players. Look at Jalen Brunson and Spencer Dinwiddie with and without Doncic in these playoffs. And it’s not just statistics, it’s the flow of the offense. Standing around watching Luka slow-motion dribble before even more slowly navigating around a high pick-and-roll and then suddenly being asked to shoot – or create a shot – at the end of the shot clock can’t be easy.
*When I get around to putting together a list of the worst trades in DFW sports history, the Rangers’ Yu Darvish for Willie Calhoun/A.J. Alexy/Brendon Davis in 2017 will be near the top. While Darvish has gone on to finish second in Cy Young voting and make an All-Star team, Calhoun this week was again demoted to the minors and – get this – demanded a trade. Not sure what team he thinks would desire the services of a career .241 hitter with as many strikeouts as hits (six) this season. Alexy showed promise in Texas’ rotation late last season going 3-1 with a 4.70 ERA, but he didn’t make the opening-day roster. Davis, a shortstop now in the Angels’ organization, struggled so much at Double-A Frisco in 2019 that he wasn’t invited to the Rangers’ alternate training site in 2020. So if you want to see what the Rangers got for Darvish five years after the trade you’ll have to catch a Frisco RoughRiders game.
*Earlier this Spring, Big Brother Big Sister lil’ bro Ja and me were cruising around White Rock Lake when we spotted – in broad daylight – a coyote. “Wonder if we could feed it?” he asked. Umm, apparently not.
*This Saturday “Taco” will be back at AT&T Stadium. Sorta.
*Of all the events we commemorate via celebration in this country, Cinco de Mayo is the weirdest. May 5 is the day Mexico defeated the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862, so … tequila shots for everyone across America?! Serious question: Does Mexico shoot off fireworks on July 4?
*The sighs of Texas are upon Steve Sarkisian. Mack Brown’s final year at Texas featured zero NFL draft picks. Charlie Strong’s last year featured a loss to Kansas. Tom Herman’s last year featured a defense that gave up 30+ points to Oklahoma after halftime. Congrats, Sark, you accomplished all three feats in Year 1 in Austin.
* Major League Baseball has 5 million followers on Instagram. Disney 3.3, Nike 2.2, McDonald’s 2.1 and Starbuck’s 1.8. Then how the how does a little coffee shop in Dallas have 5.4 million? That’s because La La Land hires young adults who are aging out of Texas’ Foster Care system. Bravo!
*There are more undrafted free agents (15) in the Pro Football Hall of Fame than No. 1 overall draft picks (14). Since there are hundreds of UDFAs every season and only one No. 1 pick, the math makes sense. But it still somehow doesn’t add up. The Cowboys have put two UDFAs (Drew Pearson, Cliff Harris) in Canton to only one No. 1 overall pick (Troy Aikman).
*Programming note: No Whitt’s End next week as I’m taking a long-scheduled getaway to Greece. A little Athens, some Santorini, a lot of Crete and, who knows, maybe even a smidge of Mykonos. Don’t blame me for the timing, how was I supposed to predict that for the first time in 11 years there would be Mavericks playoff basketball in May?!
*Ever wanted to peek at the Cowboys’ real draft “board”? Here, see for yourself.
*At 6,389 miles away, thought maybe the Greek island of Crete would be my farthest trip from home. But, no, it’s slightly closer than Tokyo, Japan (6,458) and much closer than my longest trek to Melbourne, Australia (8,999). Because I’m a geography geek, I got curious as to the farthest possible city from DFW. Answer: Port-aux-Français, a scientific research settlement southeast of the southern tip of Africa and just north of Antarctica in the middle of the South Indian Ocean. Distance from Dallas: A brisk 11,107 miles. Something tells me my Melbourne mark is safe.
*This Weekend? Friday: Greece. Saturday: Greece. Sunday: More Greece. As always, Μην είσαι ξένος.