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Josh to Angels may Benefit the Rangers NOW

The Texas Rangers may have gotten an early Christmas present this offseason – even if most seem to view it as a lump of coal.

 

Earlier this month, Josh Hamilton finally completed the decision he clearly had made a long time ago, that being to leave the Rangers. But he gave the dagger an extra twist by signing with the division rival Angels, for roughly 125 million over five years. The fact that he never gave the Rangers a chance to match the offer when there was supposedly a verbal agreement to do so more or less confirms that signing back with Texas was never really in his plans.

 

With that, everyone is making the same predictions. Of sure, in 2-3 years, the Angels will regret the backlog of  that contract, but for the next two years, Josh will make the Rangers pay. And the Angels have already wrapped up the 2013 World Series.

 

Where have I heard that before?

 

But hold the phone. Clearly DFW is a place where people love to predict failure on their teams as much as wackos love to predict the end of the world (at least predicting failure for teams not named the Cowboys).

 

One of the biggest reasons I’ve soured on the idea of signing big-name free agents is the track record of how often it fails, both in the short AND long term. There’s a long list of players who get the big deal and then proceed to mail it in the rest of the way, at least until the chance for the next big deal comes. Rangers have already been burned too many times by the likes of Chan Ho Park and Kevin Milwood.

 

First, look at the team Josh went to. Los ANgeles of Anaheim Orange County SoCal or Whatever is the ultimate destination for mail-it-in players. Gary Matthews Jr., Hideki Matsui, Vernon Wells… for now, it even looks like Albert Pujols has decided to take it easy now that he has the big bucks and a new home on the sunny California beaches.

 

And everything Josh did over the last month of the season is a pretty big indicator that he was already beginning to mail it in. His misplayed fly ball in Oakland became the target of critics everywhere along with his hitting plummet in September. Has his drop off already begun?

 

This is a pretty big accusation toward someone who was one of the most feared hitters in the game for the past five years. But we’re also talking about someone who, by his own admission, doesn’t even really like the game he plays. Josh rarely watches baseball on TV, even to check the scores. It’s clear that, especially after giving the Rangers their first “hometown discount,” he was gunning for the big payday all along. WIll he truly be the same player now that he got what he wanted?

 

I will not just shelve away the memories of what Josh Hamilton did with the Rangers. They would not had emade the World Series twice without him. But I do feel it was time to move on. And the Rangers may find themselves better off with what they have, while the Angels – the Yankees of the West – may very well find year another prize free agent they poached to be fool’s gold.

Mavericks have tall order with defending champs in town

Posted at Examiner.com

A lot has changed, less than two years after the Dallas Mavericks raised the NBA Championship trophy on the Miami Heat’s home floor.

In the season since the Mavericks spoiled the anointing of LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh and Co. as the greatest team in basketball history, the Heat shrugged off those doubters and claimed their own trophy in 2012. The lionizing of the team began roughly an hour later and hasn’t stopped.

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To Forgive is Human, At Long as He’s a Cowboy

I try to talk about things other than the Dallas Cowboys on this site. And I definitely don’t like writing here about things not actually related to sports. But sadly, here we go.

No, I don’t have a ton of sympathy for Josh Brent, who’s reckless, uncaring actions left his former Illinois college teammate dead on the streets of Irving less than two days before the Cowboys’ game in Cincinnati. No, I don’t have a problem with the NFL office, desperate to put humanity in a league completely devoid of it, saying no, they don’t want a killer on their sidelines.

The crash that killed Cowboys practice squad member Jerry Brown was not an accident. It was completely preventable. Josh Brent had to know full well he had no business getting into the driver’s seat. He wasn’t even allowed to drive had he been sober – all he had was a suspended out-of-state driver’s license. His decision to drive with a BAC of twice the legal limit was a clear statement that his friend’s safety was not a concern. If it was, he’d have swallowed his pride and called a cab. If Dwayne Goodrich had ever spoken to Brent. it’s clear he didn’t get the message.

Yes, I’m sure he gets it now. And yes, I’ve heard all the pleas from Brown’s mother.

And before you judge me to be some holier-than-thou, glass house living, cast-the-first-stone prick, full disclosure: I have never been a perfect driver. But every time I have gotten a traffic ticket, I wanted to cut my license into a million pieces and never get behind the wheel again, because I knew my recklessness endangered the lives of everyone else on that road. But never have I gotten behind the wheel intoxicated; in fact, the horrors that have come from drunk driving are among the big reasons I don’t drink at all. (And NO, I’m not calling for a ban on drinking, don’t try to pin that on me.)

Is my anti-football, anti-Cowboys stance clouding my own judgement? Always possible. But maybe I’d be a little more sympathetic if I hadn’t seen such lack of sympathy toward others of late for being in less-than-worse situations.

Earlier this year, former Mavericks guard Jason Kidd was also in a drunk driving crash – one that thankfully everyone walked away from. Because he had signed with the Knicks just weeks earlier, he was prime fodder, and he was a target of ridicule for the Dallas area Twitterverse and airwaves.

But it’s not just related to athletes. Jane McGarry lost her job as the long-time news anchor at KXAS NBC 5 after being arrested for drunk driving. If my Twitter feed was to be believed at the time, some hosts at a certain sports radio station I don’t listen to humiliated and basically verbally abused her for the incident. (Again, I can’t verify that personally, but I have seen that station to be jerkasses toward women, especially those in media, sports or both.)

That same station also appears to still ridicule their former employee Gregg Williams, fired in 2007-08 for getting hooked on drugs. Greggo’s former co-host still won’t speak to him.

Then there’s the hate relayed at athletes for nothing more than actions on the field. Nellie Cruz still gets vitriol for Game Six in the 2011 World Series, as if people assume he meant to misplay that fly ball just to ruin THEIR lives.

And then of course, there’s the other Josh. Josh Hamilton lackadaisically dropped a fly ball that cost the Rangers the division, said bye-bye to the Rangers and signed a cash-laden deal with the hated Angels, saying in his press conference that the team and the fans in Texas never really wanted him. Cue the few baseball fans in North Texas taking after Cleveland fans and burning Hambone jerseys.

All of the above committed acts that the people in DFW apparently believe to be unforgivable and deserving of scorn.

None of the above acts led to the death of a human being.

Josh Brent’s did. He gets support and forgiveness.

Yes, he’s sorry for his actions. Supposedly, so was Jovan Belcher after killing his girlfriend. If Belcher hadn’t fired one last shot at himself, should we have then forgiven him for putting nine bullets in his baby’s mother?

My own preferences and biases can and do cloud my own judgment, probably much more than they should; I have never denied that. But you can’t tell me other are biased in the opposite way when that offer an olive branch to someone with blood on his hands and vitriol toward others who don’t.

You want me to be forgiving of people like Josh Brent? Try being a little more forgiving to others who don’t make tackles for the Dallas Cowboys and made mistakes with less devastating consequences.

Sidekicks have already returned to their winning ways

Originally posted at examiner.com

What rust? What growing pains?

Less than two months into their revival, the Dallas Sidekicks are clearly on the fast track to rejoining indoor soccer’s elite.

The Sidekicks stand at 5-0 in their premiere season in the Professional Arena Soccer League, and they just appear to be getting better. In some cases, better than they’ve been in their entire storied history.
Statistically, that was the case Saturday, as they set a franchise record for goals scored in beating the Texas Strikers 21-1 at he Allen Event Center. This included a record seven goals in the fourth quarter.

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Poor overtime play leads to three straight losses for Mavericks

Originally posted at Examiner.com

You can blame the loss of Dirk Nowitzki, you can blame the lack of a defensive effort. The fact is, the Mavericks are still struggling to close out games.

The Mavericks dropped down to 11-13 after an 0-3 road trip over the past week that included two overtime loses. Dallas has now lost seven seven straight overtime games. More…

Want the Rangers to Change Everything? Careful What You Wish For

Baseball’s hot stove league is in full action, and once again, people in DFW are demanding that the Rangers get – everyone. Or ELSE.

 

If the Rangers “fans” in this area, had their way, they would get rid of every single player on the team that went to the postseason three straight years and replace them with something completely new with zero experience. They all cheered when MIchael Young was traded to the Phillies, because despite 10 years and the most hits in franchise history, he was never worth squat and never did one pod thing for this franchise. The ant them to unload the farm to get Justin Upton AND James Shields, send Josh Hamilton packing AND sign Zack Greinke.

 

(Note: As of this posting, Greinke has signed with the Dodgers, and the Rays have traded Shields to Kansas City)

 

This all seems familiar, Eerily, scarily familiar.

 

It’s 1999 all over again.

 

The Rangers had a team that made the playoffs the times in four years. But people had grown tired of every single person on the team and wanted something newer and flashy, like the kid looking at the Christmas shop window. So the team acquiesced and tore the entire team apart.

 

The let go of superstar Juan Gonzalez, trading him to Detroit. They let Todd Zeile and Marc McLemore go bye bye. (Admittedly, they were interested in bringing back Zeile but he double-crossed them.) They put their future in someone else’s supposed number one pitcher – namely, Justin Thompson, one of the guys they got for Juan. This carried over to the next year, where they threw money left and right at the likes of Andres Galaragga, Ken Caminiti and most notably Alex Rodriguex. Chan Ho Park was given a huge contract after 2001.

 

And what did all these signings lead to? The complete devastation of the franchise.

 

The Rangers would not return to the postseason for 10 years after 1999. It took a complete restructure of their development system to get them back to winning on the field, and even then they barely avoided bankruptcy because of what all those big contracts did to them.

 

It’s amazing how a lot of people don’t learn the lesson repeatedly – that making moves just for the sake of making moves does not a champion make, and that no one ever won the pennant in winter from giving the latest franchise-breaking contract to the current superstar free agent.

 

Remember the Angela of last year? Huge deals to CJ Wilson and Albert Pujols and it led to nothing. And this was after years of LA of Anaheim Orange County SoCal throwing money at Gary Matthews Jr, Torii Hunter and Hideki Matsui and it amounting to nary a playoff win.

 

The Yankees are finally feeling the pain of so many huge contracts over the years. They’re reduced to giving extensions to the likes of Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter just to keep them Yankees for life. For a team that had one of the most unproductive postseasons in history, THEY’RE the ones needing young, new life in their clubhouse. But they can’t because of whet they’ve tied up in the past.

 

As wholly disappointing as last year’s finish was, this is still a team that went tot he World Series for two years and led its division up until the last day. If everyone hadn’t burned out at the end due to too many games played (and that’s the one thing that, in hindsight, maybe Ron Washington messed up on in not giving starters enough rest earlier), things might have been different. Maybe it’s still too early to just quit on everyone in the current clubhouse just yet

 

The offseason isn’t over. Remember, the Rangers didn’t grab Yu Darvish until January, But even still, perhaps we need to stop whining about how much greener the grass appears onto either side when it’s been pretty lush here since 2010.

 

As the turn of the century proved for this team, making a whole bunch of moves and completely changing the team could mean a change in the standings. And not in a good way for Texas.

Mavericks, and anyone else, shouldn’t be rewarded for losing

Team Tank. There might not be a phrase that riles me up more right now.

Now, to make sure I don’t violate any type of infringement here: “Team Tank” is definitely not my creation. It was coined by 105.3 The Fan’s “Slow Jeff” Cavanaugh. Ever since Deron Williams told the Mavericks he had no intention of signing with a team that has no support for basketball (you know that was his reason), Slow Jeff has been saying that the Mavs should just start intentionally losing games, not even trying, somehow thinking that it will lead to the Mavs the top pick and the next Tim Duncan that will suddenly turn things all the way around. Meanwhile, the rest of us Mavs fans are supposed to sit around and endure the 21st century version of the Black Sox. Apparently Slow Jeff fails to remember that the Mavs spent 10 straight years in the lottery and never won the top pick, yet somehow their luck will turn around this time.

But the more I stew about it, the more I realize: I’m not mad at Jeff for making such a suggestion. I’m mad at the system in place that makes him consider such a possibility.

The NBA Draft Lottery was supposed to eliminate the prospect of teams throwing games for better draft picks, but since the league caved in and gave the teams with the worst record a better chance of winning, the meat has been taken out of it. It’s back to assuming the worst teams are losing on purpose, completely destroying any integrity the league has.

But here’s the capper on this whole “Team Tank” theory: It doesn’t work.

There’s a reason teams that drop to the lottery stay in the lottery. It puts a stigma on them. Remember the Mavs of the 90s? Being a lottery team puts an aura of failure on your team that demoralizes everyone in the organization and they never recover from. You think this will be the last time the Mavs will be in the lottery if they drop there? That’s what the Wizards, Kings, Warriors and Hornets keep telling themselves.

What’s more, getting the first pick nowadays means you’re likely getting a college freeman who will spend his first two years whining and demanding a trade before ultimately being declared a huge bust. In the last 25 years, only three No. 1 draft picks – Shaquille O’Neal, Duncan and Lebron James – have gone on to win championships. Only Duncan did it with the team that drafted him, and only James did it with less than three years college experience, which this year’s top pick almost certainly won’t have. The lack of experience thing is crucial. It used to be getting the top pick meant you got a player that could carry your team. Now you’re more lily to get a Kwame Brown or Andrea Bargnani than a Dwight Howard.

It’s amazing that our country, which is supposedly built on free market capitalism and the belief that “Only the strong survive,” has for years enabled a system that rewards failure. If this were Europe, the lowest teams wouldn’t be fighting for a draft pick. They’d be fighting to avoid getting booted down to the minor leagues.

Which is why things ultimately need to change. The NBA can’t enact a system of promotion and relegation, sadly, due to the lack of a true minor league system. And nothing will stop every draft class from being loaded with freemen who just aren’t ready due to the same issue.

But something can be done to eliminate any incentive of intentionally losing games. Go back to giving every team the same chance of winning the lottery. But here would be the extra kicker: The teams that finish dead last in their divisions wouldn’t be eligible for the lottery. At all.

Voila. The league’s worst teams would now have incentive to actually win at the end. And any concept of Team Tank would be dead and gone.

Great – I just stole someone else’s catchphrase. Sorry, Richie.