Rowdy Rankings: Major Sports Venues

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It normally doesn’t end this soon. But April has come to an end, and with it, the time of year when most of DFW’s major sports stadiums are all in operation.

So it might as well be time to debut the next ranking list on Rowdy Time, grading the quality of all four of North Texas’ major leagu professional sorts facilities.

FC Dallas Stadium
Yes, it’s Major League Soccer, so it counts. And the Park formerly known as Pizza Hut might be the best in town for what it’s for. One of the earliest “soccer specific stadiums” to be built to help MLS establish its own identity, FCD Stadium seats just over 20,000 for about the best capacity you could hope for considering its sport. It may not have the history of Old Trafford, but reports are the club has been working hard to get the rest of the crowd going along with the Inferno and other fan clubs. The several other soccer fields surrounding it and the Walk of Fame give it the perfect atmosphere. Its intimacy is a far cry from the Cotton Bowl while giving extra charm light years from the debacle of Dragon Stadium. Its location is the only downside, forcing soccer fans to drive all the way up to Frisco.
Grade: B

Rangers Ballpark in Arlington
Another park where location sadly takes points off. It may be centralized being in Arlington, but forever rising gas prices and its city’s refusal to add transit are perhaps making a growing number of people wishing the team had moved to downtown Dallas. The failure of any other businesses to develop around the park hasn’t helped. Still, it remains one of the more unique parks in baseball even years later, with the right field home run porch, the Texas traditions like the seventh inning stretch “Cotton Eye Joe” and the team constantly looking to add details to improve the experience, And NO, the place does NOT need a roof on it.
Grade: B

American Airlines Center
I’m going to say it: I still miss Reunion Arena. It was built with the fans in mind, and the noise it could generate added to its experience. Built from Baby Ross Perot’s mind, the AAC was built with the corporate suite owner in mind, and it shows. The place eats up crowd noise, and some seats are so high up you feel like you’re looking down from an AA flight. Former Stars players may not look back fondly on Reunion’s poor ice quality, but it gave them a home advantage like no other that carried them to the Stanley Cup. At least it’s the only building actually IN Dallas, with the city building its transit system around it to give people options other than outlandish parking prices.
Grade: C

Cowboys Stadium
Call me biased as much as you want. But the truth is, this place is a sterile cavern with no atmosphere whatsoever. It’s the ultimate example of how bigger is not always better. Ninety-nine percent of die-hard Cowboy fans are priced out of ever stepping into the place, and the few that do make it to a game are discouraged from getting loud by the ushers (Not kidding there). As a result, it has maybe the worst home field advantage in the NFL, drawing in so many traveling visitor fans that games can feel like a neutral site or worse. The debate on whether the city of Dallas dropped the ball on getting the stadium there or if Jerry Jones played them for fools may go on forever. Whatever the case, “America’s Team” is left with the worst stadium in DFW, whether the Jerry butt-kissing media want to admit it or not.
Grade: D

About Richie and Greggo

I’m sure most of you are aware that the axe fell on another group of broadcasters at 105.3 The Fan recently. And it was again among my favorites. The Richie & Greggo Extravaganza is no more; Richie Whitt, Greg Williams and Sybil Summers are out.

As I did when Jasmine Sadry got the boot, I was planning to write yet another tribute article to these people and condemn the station for such a decision. However, I have decided to hold off on that. This is because one of those departed announcers has hinted that he does hope to release further details into just exactly why this decision went down whenever he is able to. I imagine legal/financial issues are behind this current silence. At any rate, I have decided not to write anything in detail myself if further information is forthcoming so that I can then have more details into anything I write myself. It is my own hope that possibly the full details can be published right here on Rowdy Time Sports. No matter what, I will definitely say my piece at this venue when I believe I have all available information.

Stay tuned, and stay Rowdy.

Nolan Ryan’s Value Can’t be Measured by Jon Daniels’ Calculator

The past season, many a Rangers fan directed a lot of frustration at Derek Holland. Cut the hair, shave the mustache, and cut out the Harry Caray impersonations.

Well, the hair is still long, but the mustache is gone (for now) and Holland seems to be focused enough to post a 2.40 ERA in his first two starts, despite not winning a game yet. And if this sounds familiar, it is. Just like CJ Wilson before him, Holland took the advice of a certain Hall of Famer during the offseason to put more focus on his on-mound ability.

That’s what Nolan Ryan brings to the Rangers. And it’s invaluable.

Which is why I finally exhaled with relief last week upon learning that Ryan, for now, is staying on as the Rangers CEO despite supposedly being “neutered” by the ownership to allow Jon Daniels and his people free reign to run the team’s operations as he sees fit.

Let me say this up front: The Rangers need both JD AND Nolan to keep this ship going in the right direction.

But if you have to make me choose, I have to go with the guy with more than 5300 innings pitched in the big leagues – or in other words, the guy the current players look up to.

Daniels has a great eye for talent, no one is denying that. Some early hiccups in his first days as a general manager (remember trading away John Danks and Adrian Gonzales?) were made up big time with moves that seem to indicate he has the Midas Touch. Getting Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz and Matt Harrison alone for malcontent Mark Teixeria has cemented his legacy.

But what Daniels has in the ability to locate talent, he lacks in the ability to relate to it. And that can be an issue in an organization where chemistry is practically everything.

There were reportedly grumblings in the clubhouse last year that Rangers players were getting weary of Daniels’ appearing to micro-manage the team on the field, getting into daily shouting matches with Ron Washington over not putting in his talented but unproven rookies in the lineup during a playoff push. Rumors are that a player or two had so little respect for JD that he would only discuss contract terms with assistant GM Thad Levine.

Then came the departure of Michael Young, the rock of the Texas clubhouse, which JD supposedly did without consulting Nolan or Wash because he didn’t want them to convince him Young’s at-bats would be limited and then recant.

My Twitter feed last year was loaded with hate toward the Rangers’ all-time hits leader over his average dropping from .338 to .277 in a year (I’m not even discussing the complaints about what his “WAR” was).

The fans and media can go on all they want about how Young was washed up and a malcontent. But it’s clear those that actually wear the uniforms see him as a respected professional who did what the team asked and was there to answer any questions. When people like Cliff Lee speak up and say the Rangers did Young wrong, that’s a problem, and I can’t help but think it’s a reason no big free agent signed on the dotted line to play in Arlington this year.

Former Rangers and current Angels Wilson and Josh Hamilton have both stated the Rangers have a problem making players feel wanted and making them come begging to them. That doesn’t make for good relations, and just because the words come from a couple of D-bags doesn’t mean they’re necessarily untrue (But the recent signing of Andrus to a contract extension might assuage those fears).

Daniels comes off as a guy treating the Rangers like a fantasy team, seeing his players as nothing but cogs in a machine he can toss out and replace at his whim. He is rigid in following that Moneyball philosophy, even though the architects of it in Oakland have no choice but to adhere to it since they don’t have the finances, and still have yet to see a World Series from it.

Nolan, on the other hand, sees the players as people from my observation. He knows what they go through, having been through those wars for 27 years. It’s a calming presence that gives them confidence.

Detractors pointed out last year that Nolan originally didn’t want Yu Darvish, and Roy Oswalt was his decision. Fair enough. But on the flip side, do you think the Rangers would have a few more wins so far if JD had acquiesced and Justin Upton was in center field over Craig Gentry?

Give JD credit for bringing in most of the pitchers that have the American League’s second-best ERA. But give Nolan credit for brining in the right coach for them in Mike Maddux and telling them to stop worrying about the heat or pitch counts. A guy who once threw more than 600 innings in two years can do that.

For now, all this is moot. Nolan is here still, and he can take players like Holland under his wing while JD can sit and try to find out what other talent he can get for him. And that’s a good thing.

Because the Rangers need those who know that real baseball is about people and not like MLB 2K13.

DFW sports fans in shock over upset in the Broadcasters Bracket

Is this the biggest upset since Virginia Commonwealth went to the Final Four?
Okay, that might be a stretch.
Still, many in the DFW sports world are in shock and elation or anger upon discovering the first major upset in the Dallas Morning News SportsDayDFW Broadcasters Bracket, as 105.3 The Fan host Gavin Dawson beat KDFW Fox 4 sports anchor Mike Doocy.
Doocy has anchored the sports portion of Channel 4’s evening news for several years, and his TV presence was sure to have given him an advantage. But Dawson’s “G Bag Nation” has become the highest rated evening radio show in the market, spawning a passionate, dedicated group of listeners called the G Bag Soldiers.
Those viewers turned out in full force during Wednesday’s voting. That morning, Doocy started with an 80-20 lead. By the end of the night, Dawson had pulled away with 58 percent of the vote.
The result has invoked passion, particularly from the listeners of The Fan’s rival station, SportsRadio 1310 The Ticket.
“I’m shocked that anyone from the wipe or D Bag Nation would win squat in here,” Shawn Schultz commented on the Broadcasters Bracket page. “and one of them beatin Doocy? That’s a crime in itself.”
“I’m also shocked that some DBag I’ve never heard of who is so spare he hosts a nighttime shift on the worst sports station in America beat the great Doocy,” wrote another commenter identified as KayurPatel.
The Soldiers, however, were just as passionate.
“Fan Fans and the GBag Nation Army united to put the popular local broadcaster and #1 night show host intheMetroplex into the 2nd round,” stated Ryan Magby.
“Gavin going the distance. None of this survive and advance crap.” said Jordan Sellers.
Not that Dawson’s battle will be any easier. His second round matchup is against longtime Dallas Cowboys play by play announcer Brad Sham.
In the meantime, the soldiers appear to be planning to support fellow 105.3 host Shan Sharrif against WFAA Channel 8 sports anchor Dale Hanson. Hanson and Dawson had their own battle last year over Hanson’s repeated criticism over Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and suggesting The Fan refused to criticize him because they were the Cowboys flagship station.

Rangers are Right in Defending Their True Fans

Wow. Who knew the Rangers had a problem with squatters?

Opening Day brings a sense of renewal and hope to baseball fans everywhere. But for the Rangers, it has also brought a bit of controversy.

Even before their season officially began, the team announced that they would be taking drastic steps with their parking for Friday’s home opener against Josh Hamilton and the Angels. Fans would have to present an actual ticket to the game in order to purchase a spot in one of the Rangers’ parking lots.

There has been a bit of outrage at this among some fans and media members. How dare the Rangers ban the lots to anyone who… Just wants to sit around in the lot all day and get drunk without actually going to the game?

I know I’m a Rangers homer, I know I can be more lenient with Rangers management than other teams. But I just can’t see how this can be such a problem.

According to Rangers vice president Rob Matwick, the team had a huge problem with parking during Opening Day last year. Some fans missed the first three innings of the game because of how long it took them to find a parking space, and those people were pissed. I can’t blame them.

Opening Day is one of the few games of the year I choose to drive to. I still remember a few years ago, I got to the Ballpark grounds between 9 and 10 am for a 1 pm start time, and I barely made it into the stadium on time. And that was before the 2010 pennant made people throw off their Cowboys jerseys and claim to be Rangers fans.

In other words, all of a sudden people who aren’t even aware that Kevin Elster once hit a grand slam off Manny Alexander can’t squat on Rangers property and claim “I was at Opening Day!” without actually having a ticket. Boo hoo.

If I buy a ticket, if I paid my money for the right to enter the Ballpark for the one game I look forward to more than any other, now you’re saying I can be denied the ability to use that ticket because I wasn’t able to leave the house at five in the morning and get to the Ballpark at six just to secure a parking space?

Sorry, THAT’S more unfair than saying a bunch of people who didn’t buy tickets can’t take over the grounds.

If I have to risk my car getting towed from parking at Lincoln Square, Wal-Mart or JerryWorld just to use my license to attend the game, I’m not gonna feel for a bunch of people spending the day doing nothing but drinking in the lots taking up spaces.

And this is not just a handful of people These are hundreds, maybe thousands, who take up multiple spaces for one vehicle to roll out their super grills, not even courteous enough to use the grass space within the lots for their gear. That would be rude enough if they were actually going to the game. But these are people who may never set foot on the Ballpark grounds again until October. and probably never saw a Rangers game before Nefti Feliz struck out ARod looking.

The Rangers have had parking issues since the Ballplak opened in 1994. The bandwagon fans have only made the situation worse these past few years, and they finally had to take a stand to maintain order For at least this one day.

And for the record, barring a miracle, I won’t be at this game this year. It will be the first time I won’t see Opening Day since 1993, and it’s tearing me up inside.

I may still show up around the Ballpark, going there on my own two feet. that will be perfectly legal. But I won’t impose on the team by taking a parking spot someone else has a better use for.

A bunch of people who want to impose put the Rangers in a no win situation. But they made the right choice in putting their ticket holders over the squatters.

American League West is Still Rangers’ to Win

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Orange County Southern California Whatever won the off season battle. Again.

So once again, so many have attempted the hand the American League West – and possibly the World Series – to the Angels before a single game was played.

Because as we all know, the pennant is always won in January, right?

Oh, wait.

It’s not like this is uncommon. Everyone in North Texas, not to mention the country, pegged the Rangers for failure in 2010. And again in 2011. when you’re in the Cowboys’ territory, you’re never expected to succeed.

And after the Angels poached away Josh Hamilton, who supposedly Rangers fans didn’t want back anyway, everyone predicted doom and gloom one again and rushed to cancel their season tickets that they first bought all the way back in 2011.

Because the team with the most superstars are guaranteed to win the World Series every single year, right?

It’s pretty clear no one got the memo that Anaheim has been established as the place where superstar careers go to die. A player who’s signed on the dotted line for the Angels is almost a lock to phone it in for the rest of his career.

Latest case in point: Former Arlington Bowie star Vernon Wells, recently shipped to the Yankees for a song after two years of hitting no better than .230 and driving in no more than 66 runs for the Angels after being a three-time All-Star in Toronto.

How do we know that the massive drop-off from Josh Hamilton to end 2012 wasn’t just the beginning, signaling where his career would be headed? Observers predicted the Halos will regret his huge five-year contract two years down the line. They may be giving him too much credit that he’s guaranteed to produce these two years.

And that’s not counting Albert Pujols and his less-than-stellar performance last year.

Frankly, it’s surprising that Mike Scoscia has chosen to remain in Anaheim, given that Arte Moreno continues to provide him with the antithesis of the team he wants. It’s a far cry from the likes of Garrett Anderson, David Eckstein and the scrappy group he took to the Word Series back in 2002.

on the flip side, Ron Washington may be able to do more of what he wants on the field. the Rangers will have to fight for runs every now ad then, and it probably won’t be pretty. But on the other end, Wash will probably take Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison and Derek Holland over Jared Weaver and Pray For Rain that will be on the mound for Los Angeles.

Remember when people could only wish that the Rangers had the better pitching in the division.

The Rangers will accept being counted out before they even had a chance to throw a pitch this season. It’s expected to be pegged for failure when you play baseball in football country.

But all that counts is that, in their own minds, this is still their division until further notice.