<![CDATA[NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth - Dallas-Fort Worth Sports News, Analysis, and Scores for the Giants, Jets. Patriots, Huskies, Knicks and More]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/sports http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC+5-KXAS+Logo+for+Google+News.png NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth http://www.nbcdfw.com en-us Fri, 25 Apr 2014 04:21:57 -0500 Fri, 25 Apr 2014 04:21:57 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Mavs Stun Spurs, Shock the Rest of Us Too]]> Thu, 24 Apr 2014 11:06:58 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/486335659.jpg

The Mavericks have their first playoff win in six tries and three years.

And we have ourselves a series.

Shocking? Well, raise your hand if you predicted the Mavs breaking their 10-game losing streak to the Spurs by beating San Antonio on its home court by a whopping 21 points.

Me neither.

Continuing their season-long dramatic trend of winning when they should losing and losing when they should win, the Mavs absolutely bullied the NBA’s best team with physical defense and relentless offense. Though we’re never comfortable with a Mavs’ team prone to blowing big leads this season, the final nine minutes of this game were garbage time. Unheard of.

In fact, the 21-point win is the biggest ever for a No. 8 seed on the road against a No. 1. Just as surprising, Dallas did it with defense. The Mavs forced 24 turnovers against a team that averaged only 14 during the regular season. San Antonio’s minus-23-point margin off turnovers is its worst in 10 years.

Pulling off that kind of performance with Dirk Nowitzki producing only 16 points is most remarkable of all. He had lots of help. Monta Ellis attacked. Shawn Marion defended. And even reserve DeJuan Blair had strip-and-steal of Tim Duncan, punctuated by a fast-break dunk.

Even for the Mavs, it was over when Dirk produced a three-point play for a 21-point lead with nine minutes remaining.

I’ll admit, I didn’t see this coming. I thought the Mavs would be lucky to win one game in this series. And after coughing up a late lead in Game 1 I figured they’d be demoralized. But, instead, Dallas took strength and confidence from leading most of Game 1 and the Spurs obviously turned their escape into Fool’s Gold.

Truth is at the 7-minute mark of the 4th quarter in two games the Mavs have held leads of 10 and 23. For all but six minutes they’ve clearly been the best team in this series. They’d be foolish now not to believe they can actually win the series.

But don’t be fooled, Game 2 will be by far the Spurs’ worst game of this series. The Mavs are playing harder and better than San Antonio, but if their effort or execution slips even a little the momentum will do a 180.

Last night was glorious. I thought Devin Harris needed to start to give Dallas a chance. I was wrong. Then again, who wasn’t?

Not even Mark Cuban expected what he saw in San Antonio.

A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Foul On LeBron Costs McRoberts $20,000]]> Fri, 25 Apr 2014 02:27:35 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/AP85875453585853660.jpg

The NBA wasted little time coming down on Charlotte Bobcats player Josh McRoberts after his forearm shot to the throat of LeBron James of the Miami Heat.

The NBA upgraded the foul on McRoberts to a Flagrant 2, which means McRoberts should have been ejected from the game. The foul costs McRoberts $20,000, but he will not be suspended.

McRoberts led with his forearm when he hit LeBron late in the game. The play can be seen here.

Despite the hard foul, Miami was too much for Charlotte in the game and took a 2-0 series lead with the series shifting to Charlotte.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Cowboys Fortifying QB Without Manziel]]> Thu, 24 Apr 2014 12:39:42 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/178358133.jpg

Wednesday I raised the red flag of Kyle Orton’s absence

Then the Cowboys addressed it.

By signing veteran Caleb Hanie to a one-year contract, Dallas now has four quarterbacks on the roster and a couple of insurance policies should Orton decide he's taken his last NFL snap.

As it stands, Hanie is clearly No. 4 on the depth chart behind Tony Romo, Orton and Brandon Weeden. A native of Forney, he didn’t play in the NFL last season. In 2011 he went 0-4 as an emergency starter for the Chicago Bears’ Jay Cutler with three touchdowns and nine interceptions. In 2012 he was a backup to Peyton Manning in Denver.

Unlike Romo, he’s actually played in an NFC Championship Game, with the Bears and against the Packers in 2011.

Like I’ve said several times, let’s stop the Johnny Manziel nonsense. The Cowboys are addressing their quarterback situation with real solutions, not fantasy scenarios.

A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[NU Football Players Voting on Union]]> Thu, 24 Apr 2014 20:36:18 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/football93725.jpg

Football players at Northwestern University will vote "yes" or "no" for unionization on Friday.

If the team votes to unionize, it will become the nation's first college athletes' union.

In March, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that college athletes are considered employees of the school, bringing athletes one step closer to gaining the right to unionize.

The regional director of the NLRB directed a secret ballot election be held to determine whether the players should be represented by the College Athletes Players Association (CAPA).

The university asked the NLRB to review and overturn the ruling, and on Thursday the NLRB granted the school's request. The football players' vote still will take place Friday, though.

CAPA's creation was announced in January after an "overwhelming majority" of Northwestern's team signed cards to apply for labor rights and representation by the union.

Northwestern and football coach Pat Fitzgerald have said they are strongly opposed to the unionization.

"Northwestern considers its students who participate in NCAA Division I sports, including those who receive athletic scholarships, to be students, first and foremost," university spokesman Alan K. Cubbage said. "We believe that participation in athletic events is part of the overall educational experience for those students, not a separate activity."

The NCAA has said the move undermines the purpose of college to get an education.

"Student-athletes are not employees," the NCAA said in a statement, "and their participation in college sports is voluntary. We stand for all student-athletes, not just those the unions want to professionalize."

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Walker Compares Donald Trump to Jerry Jones]]> Thu, 24 Apr 2014 14:16:07 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/jerry-jones-stephen-aikman.jpg

In the early 1980s, Herschel Walker played for Donald Trump’s New Jersey Generals of the USFL. From there, he went to Jerry Jones’s Cowboys.

Now, with reports stating that Trump wants to get back in the football business by purchasing the Buffalo Bills, Walker can’t help but draw a comparison between the two billionaires.

He would be a great owner, and a credible owner,” Walker said of Trump, per USA TODAY Sports. “People can think what they want to think about Jerry Jones--he’s a terrible general manager, but he’s a great owner. He has done a tremendous job in marketing his team to keep it relevant. I think that’s the same thing Donald Trump would do with the Buffalo Bills.”

Walker knows well that both Jones and Trump are adept at the art of stirring things up.

“He may rub some people the wrong way, but you can’t argue with his success as a businessman,” Walker said. “You want an owner with some flair. He knows how to promote.”

Stay on top of the latest Dallas Cowboys news with NBCDFW.com. Follow NBC DFW on Facebook or have breaking Cowboys news sent directly to your phone with Blue Star SMS alerts. Text "bluestar" to 622339 (NBCDFW) to subscribe, text HELP for more info, and text STOP to end the subscription. Message and data rates may apply.Read more about it here.

<![CDATA[Playoff Expansion to be Discussed at Owners Meetings]]> Thu, 24 Apr 2014 14:00:58 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/AP370586931921.jpg

The times they are a-changing, and it looks like the expansion of the NFL playoff system is coming--and possibly sooner than we thought.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell told Newsday’s Bob Glauber this week that the league’s owners will discuss the proposed expansion at the next session of owners meetings, which kick off on May 20 in Atlanta. A vote on the measure is possible, which would open up the door for the possibility, anyway, of the league implementing the system next season.

Earlier this week, New York Giants owner John Mara said “my guess is that it’s going to pass at some point,” but added that he didn’t expect a vote anytime soon.

"I don't think it's going to happen this year," Mara told Glauber. "I think it's kind of late. We have a May [20th owners] meeting [in Atlanta], but I sense that we'll wait a year before we do that. It hasn't been voted on yet."

Stay on top of the latest Dallas Cowboys news with NBCDFW.com. Follow NBC DFW on Facebook or have breaking Cowboys news sent directly to your phone with Blue Star SMS alerts. Text "bluestar" to 622339 (NBCDFW) to subscribe, text HELP for more info, and text STOP to end the subscription. Message and data rates may apply.Read more about it here.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[At 52, Herschel Walker Says He Can Still Play in NFL]]> Thu, 24 Apr 2014 13:32:38 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/herschel-walker-2014.jpg

Anyone who’s seen Herschel Walker recently knows the former Dallas Cowboys running back hasn’t let himself go since football.

But to say he could still play in the NFL would be a huge stretch, a delusion, and that’s putting it lightly. Right?

Well, not according to the 52-year-old himself.

I can play in the NFL today,” Walker told USA TODAY Sports. “I couldn’t take every snap. But running backs nowadays don’t play every down. Now they send in the choir section. Physically, I can still do it.”

The last time Walker played professional football, Bill Clinton was president. That was 1997, the final of two seasons in his second stint with the Cowboys. Since then, he’s kept busy with a number of business ventures here in North Texas. Oh yeah, and there was his mixed martial arts career.

Walker last fought in 2011 at age 48.

“Hey, I’m 2-0,” he said.

Stay on top of the latest Dallas Cowboys news with NBCDFW.com. Follow NBC DFW on Facebook or have breaking Cowboys news sent directly to your phone with Blue Star SMS alerts. Text "bluestar" to 622339 (NBCDFW) to subscribe, text HELP for more info, and text STOP to end the subscription. Message and data rates may apply.Read more about it here.

<![CDATA[Cuban on Schedule Release Conflict: "I Don't Care"]]> Thu, 24 Apr 2014 13:15:20 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/967059051.jpg

When we learned that the announcement of the 2014 NFL regular season schedule would take place at the same time as the tip-off of Game 2 between the Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night, we (like countless others) had to wonder if Roger Goodell wasn’t trying to have some fun with Mavs’ owner Mark Cuban.

As you’ll remember, Cuban recently criticized the NFL harshly for over-saturating the market, of getting too “bloated,” and predicted that the league would suffer a serious blow as a result of this sometime in the next ten years.

Cuban--whose Mavericks won that game by a score of 113-92, by the way--says he doesn’t care whether or not the NFL was trying to jab at him with the timing of the big announcement.

I wasn’t paying attention to that,” Cuban said, per the Dallas Morning News. “I don’t care.”

Stay on top of the latest Dallas Cowboys news with NBCDFW.com. Follow NBC DFW on Facebook or have breaking Cowboys news sent directly to your phone with Blue Star SMS alerts. Text "bluestar" to 622339 (NBCDFW) to subscribe, text HELP for more info, and text STOP to end the subscription. Message and data rates may apply.Read more about it here.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[No Thanksgiving Day Break for Dallas in 2014]]> Thu, 24 Apr 2014 12:59:04 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/robert-griffin-cowboys-wk12.jpg

The Dallas Cowboys weren’t likely doing cartwheels when the NFL announced the 2014 regular season schedule on Wednesday night.

This is because, usually, Dallas gets a nice break after their annual Thanksgiving Day game--a little mini-bye week. Not so, this year.

The Cowboys will face the New York Giants in East Rutherford, N.J. the Sunday night before Thanksgiving--which, as David Moore of the Dallas Morning News points out, marks just the second time in the last decade that they’ve been on the road for this game. They take on the reigning NFC East champs, the Philadelphia Eagles, on Thanksgiving.  

Then, cutting short their usual midseason respite, the league has Dallas scheduled for a Thursday night game the following week against the Bears--in Chicago.

For those keeping score, that’s three games and three cities in 11 days.

Stay on top of the latest Dallas Cowboys news with NBCDFW.com. Follow NBC DFW on Facebook or have breaking Cowboys news sent directly to your phone with Blue Star SMS alerts. Text "bluestar" to 622339 (NBCDFW) to subscribe, text HELP for more info, and text STOP to end the subscription. Message and data rates may apply.Read more about it here.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Perez Turns In Another Gem]]> Thu, 24 Apr 2014 12:14:43 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/486294279.jpg

Remember back in January when we were all freaking out because the Texas Rangers lost their No. 2 starter until mid-summer after Derek Holland fell down some stairs? We certainly do. Turns out, the Rangers have a No. 2 starter who's perfectly healthy, and his name is Martin Perez.

It's still baffling in hindsight that Perez didn't draw the Opening Day start instead of Tanner Scheppers because of the fear he wouldn't be able to handle the pressure, because all Perez has done this year is show poise and wisdom far beyond his 23 years of age.

On Wednesday afternoon with his team's foot on their biggest rival's collective throat, Perez pressed harder and choked the life out of the formerly division-leading A's while tossing his second straight complete-game shutout and extending his scoreless innings streak to 26 innings.

Perez isn't doing it with sexy numbers. In fact, on Wednesday he struck out just three batters, but for the second straight outing he needed just 109 pitches to get 27 outs. That's a ridiculously efficient total for a guy who leads the world in groundball outs as well as double plays induced. He's also yet to allow a home run this season.

Perez is understanding that his fireballing, high-strikeout ways he resorted to in the minor leagues won't work for him, and he's adjusted. The results are staggering.

Yes, we're only five starts in, but so far this season, Perez, who just turned 23 earlier this month after he'd signed a long-term, extremely club-friendly extension, is setting the baseball world on fire. He's now 4-0 with a 1.42 ERA and his last three starts have totaled eight, nine and nine innings, respectively. All have been scoreless.

So yeah, Rangers fans, your No. 2 starter should be back by June or July, but will he still be the No. 2 starter? Yeah? Great. No? Equally great.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rangers Reset Rotation For Weekend]]> Thu, 24 Apr 2014 12:11:42 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/harrison-lewis.jpg

The time has finally come for the Texas Rangers to start getting some of those pitching reinforcements.

Colby Lewis has two decent starts under his belt after a 21-month hiatus, and on Sunday, Matt Harrison is set to make his return to the big-league mound after more than a year away from the bigs thanks to multiple back surgeries last season.

To accommodate the return of those two veteran familiar faces, the Rangers reset their weekend rotation for the three-game set in Seattle. Harrison was originally set to return on Friday to give everyone an extra day of rest and push Robbie Ross Jr. back to Saturday and Lewis to Sunday. But in order to prevent Lewis and Harrison from having to step in the batter's box in Colorado on May 5-6, the Rangers shifted things around. It also allows Yu Darvish to start Monday's opener of a three-game home set against the rival A's.

Lewis is traditionally the Rangers' best hitting pitcher now that C.J. Wilson is a thing of the past.

"We don't want them on the basepaths and we don't want them swinging the bat, so we had to adjust it," manager Ron Washington told MLB.com. "We don't need Harrison swinging and missing and we don't need Colby running the bases, because we know he can hit."

Harrison told MLB.com he understands the strategy, even if it delays his return by two days.

"I haven't swung the bat in a long time," Harrison said. "This gives me time to see how I recover from pitching every five days. I'm just glad to get back. The way I felt last year, I didn't know if I would ever pitch again."

<![CDATA[Feliz Shut Down With General Fatigue]]> Thu, 24 Apr 2014 11:19:24 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/181384874.jpg

Neftali Feliz has had a long road over the course of his relatively short professional baseball career.

An AL Rookie of the Year, an all-star closer and a coverted starter turned Tommy John patient, Feliz has experienced the ups and downs of a big-league pitcher and this week, he's facing another valley.

After he had seen his fastball finally get into the upper 90s in Triple-A Round Rock recently, Feliz was shut down due to what the club termed "general fatigue" and will head back to Arlington to get into a rehab program with the Rangers' medical staff.

"There is no real injury to report, except general fatigue," assistant general manager Thad Levine told MLB.com. "We're trying to deal with that so it doesn't manifest itself into a real injury. We feel he will be back on the mound soon. We don't see this as a prolonged situation."

That's a good thing to hear, but with Feliz's recent history, it's hard to think he's that far out of the woods. He hasn't pitched for Round Rock since April 16 and has appeared in five games for the Express. He has allowed two hits and two walks in 5 2/3 innings, while striking out six, and posting a 1.59 ERA.

The Rangers would love nothing more than for Feliz to find himself again, but at this point, it's hard to put any kind of money on that happening.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Martinez Could Join Bullpen]]> Thu, 24 Apr 2014 11:45:19 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/486176307.jpg

Nick Martinez clearly has a bright future with the Texas Rangers.

The 23-year-old righty was on no one's radar in March to end up anywhere close to sniffing the Rangers' rotation this season. After all, he was a college shortstop who had just five games of experience above the Class-A level prior to this year. But Martinez clearly showed something, because he was the first choice of a minor-league call-up, ahead of guys like Luke Jackson and especially the battle-tested Nick Tepesch.

He struggled in Tuesday's game against the Oakland A's, but pitched well enough and got out of enough jams to keep the Rangers in the game and take a no-decision in the team's ninth-inning win. With Matt Harrison set to rejoin the Rangers' rotation for the first time in over a year, Martinez could be sent down to the minors and wait for the next spot start opportunity.

"He did a heck of a job," manager Ron Washington said after that Tuesday night outing. "He really could have come unraveled. They made him work, but he did what he had to do."

With Pedro Figueroa's injury and Hector Noesi's release, the Rangers have no long man in their rotation. And with Joe Saunders still on the disabled list, Martinez could be a logical fit in the Rangers' bullpen.


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[A Look Around The West]]> Thu, 24 Apr 2014 11:42:05 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/486295117.jpg

In a weekly segment, we'll take a look around the AL West — what's happened so far, and what's on tap in the coming days.

1. Texas Rangers (14-8) — Suddenly, the M.A.S.H. unit Rangers have found their way into first place in the West after a road sweep of hated rival Oakland. It's a mystery how the team is playing as well as it is with 11 players on the disabled list and a bunch of no-names playing key roles, but it's happened. Imagine what it could be like when Adrian Beltre gets back Friday, Matt Harrison gets back Sunday and Shin-Soo Choo is back hopefully without a DL stint. Next up: Friday, 9:10 p.m., at Seattle Mariners.

2. Oakland Athletics (13-8) — With a win tonight, the A's could pull even with Texas, but the sweep they suffered at the hands of their beaten-up rivals in their dump of a stadium sends a message, for sure, even if it is just April. The A's bullpen is clearly a huge mess, and that was such a big strength of the team that won two straight AL West titles and unseated the Rangers as the kings of the West. The more things shake out, it seems we're in for another two-horse race this year. Next up: Today, 7:10 p.m., at Houston Astros.

3. Los Angeles Angels (10-11) — Albert Pujols is back to mashing home runs, and Mike Trout is still incredible, but the Angels are missing what was a red-hot start for Josh Hamilton, who can't get out of his own way and is on the shelf for two months. That could be enough to once again sink the Angels early on, although they've played better over the first three weeks of the season than they have in recent seasons. Next up: Friday, 6:05 p.m., at New York Yankees.

4. Seattle Mariners (8-13) — After a good start to the season, things have turned sour in a hurry for the Mariners, who avoided a nine-game losing skid with a walkoff homer against the Astros, of all teams, on Wednesday. They still have some solid pitching, and their lineup looks better on paper than it's actually performed this year. Next up: Friday, 9:10 p.m., vs. Texas Rangers.

5. Houston Astros (7-15) — Same ol', same ol' for the Astros. They're a young team with a bunch of guys who would ideally still be in the minor leagues, but they aren't just guys, they're primo prospects. This team should be a contender in a few years, but like last season, they'll be learning on the fly in 2014 and should approach 100 losses once again. Next up: 7:10 p.m., vs. Oakland Athletics.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[On Deck: Mariners]]> Thu, 24 Apr 2014 11:09:51 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/rangers-at-mariners-2014.jpg

On Deck will be here all season to provide you with everything you need to know (and a few things you don't) about every Rangers series during the 2014 season. 

The Opponent: The Mariners avoided a nine-game losing skid and a series sweep at the hand of the Astros with a walkoff homer from noted Rangers killer Kyle Seager on Wednesday.

Past 2014 Meetings: The Mariners visited Globe Life Park last week for a four-game set and took Game 1 before dropping the next three, getting the Rangers on track for their current 8-2 mark in their last 10 games.

Pitching Matchups: Friday — Robbie Ross Jr. (1-1, 2.31 ERA) vs. Roenis Elias (1-2, 3.22); Saturday — Colby Lewis (1-1, 4.22) vs. Felix Hernandez (3-1, 2.04); Sunday — Matt Harrison (0-0, 0.00*) vs. Brandon Maurer (0-0, 2.08)

*Making first start since April 6, 2013

What's Hot: Shin-Soo Choo is blazing hot right now, unfortunately he's missed the past two games with a sprained ankle that the Rangers are hoping isn't enough to send him to the disabled list. Over the past week (5 games), he's hitting .412 with three doubles and two homers with a .476 on-base percentage. His replacement, Michael Choice, has been an on-base machine in the two games as a starter and leadoff man — a spot in the order he'd never hit professionaly prior to Tuesday. No pitcher in baseball is going better than Martin Perez right now after his second straight shutout on Wednesday to complete a sweep of the A's and run his scoreless innings streak to 26.

New addition Corey Hart was supposed to provide pop in the heart of the Mariners' lineup, and over the last week he's done that. The former Brewer is hitting .391 with a homer and two doubles. The aforementioned Seager hit two bombs on Wednesday and could be heating up to face his favorite opponent.

What's Not: Robbie Ross Jr. will look to get back on the horse to open the series against the only pitcher that beat the Rangers last week, Roenis Noesi. Ross was lit up by the White Sox in his Easter Sunday outing, but the one before that was a 7 2/3-inning scoreless outing against these same Mariners. Elvis Andrus is hitting just .192 in his last seven games, and J.P. Arencibia has lost his starting job behind the plate. He hasn't had a hit since April 6, but did have two RBI groundouts last week. So hooray for that.

Elias picked up his first major-league win last week against the Rangers, holding Texas to just one run. But since then, he's struggled again, and in his last outing allowed six runs on eight hits in 5 2/3 innings.

Familiar Faces: Adrian Beltre makes his return to the Rangers' lineup after a two-week stint on the DL against one of his former teams and will face his good buddy Felix Hernandez on Saturday night. Highland Park's own Chris Young, the former Rangers pitcher who was dealt to San Diego back in the day for Akinori Otsuka, is on the comeback trail after an injury-riddled career, but the Rangers won't see him. Justin Smoak, the bait that brought Cliff Lee for four glorious months in 2010, will be the Mariners' starting first baseman and has actually fared pretty well against his former team.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Announcer Relishes Role as Voice of Kentucky Derby]]> Thu, 24 Apr 2014 09:39:09 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/edt-AP639473485249.jpg

From his perch with a panoramic view of the world's most famous racetrack, the new voice of Churchill Downs will sit out one of the most anticipated moments of the tradition-soaked Kentucky Derby.

Larry Collmus will try to tune out "My Old Kentucky Home" while the crowd of 160,000-plus sings along and the thoroughbreds take to the Churchill Downs track. The veteran announcer says it gives him chills, and he wants to avoid being overtaken by emotion.

"I don't want that feeling that I used to get, because it's a distraction," he said. "The last thing I need is that leading up to the race.

"So I'll introduce 'My Old Kentucky Home,' but I won't listen to it."

Collmus, 47, has called the past three Derbys for millions of people watching on NBC Sports, but this will be the first time his voice will be heard by the thousands at the track for the 140th Kentucky Derby on May 3. The previous track announcer stepped aside last year.

Collmus has three decades of experience and his crisp cadence is familiar to many horse racing fans. He will continue as the race caller for the network on its telecasts of the Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes and the Breeders' Cup.

He is just the third announcer to call the Derby for both the track crowd and millions watching on TV.

"He will take his place on the brief, but very distinguished and accomplished, roster of announcers that have served as the voice of the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks," the race at Churchill for 3-year-old fillies the day before the Derby, said Churchill Downs track President Kevin Flanery.

In his first Derby call for NBC, Collmus excitedly declared that the horse Animal Kingdom was "roaring down the center of the track" en route to victory in 2011.

"It is the most exciting and nerve-wracking two minutes you could ever imagine," he said.

Collmus honed his announcing skills far from the media glare. He started as an assistant announcer on the racing circuit in his native Maryland. By age 20, he was hired as track announcer at Birmingham Turf Club in Alabama, where he called doubleheader race cards on Saturdays — 10 races in the afternoon and 10 more at night.

During his stint at Suffolk Downs in Massachusetts, snow sometimes had to be shoveled off the walkway to the announcer's booth, he said. He went on to call races for 20 years at Monmouth Park in New Jersey and still serves as track announcer during the winter meet at Gulfstream Park in Florida.

At Churchill, he will be a fixture long after the Derby, calling races during the spring, September and fall meets.

But his first stint here was a short one.

Collmus spent a week calling races in 2008, among a handful of announcers who took turns in what was widely seen as tryouts. The job ultimately went to Mark Johnson, a British announcer.

Churchill Downs spokesman John Asher said the split between Johnson and the track was an amicable one.

Like any track announcer, Collmus hopes he's calling the race when the Triple Crown drought finally ends. Affirmed was the last horse to sweep the Derby, Preakness and Belmont in 1978.

"The day that that finally happens, to be the guy who gets to call it would be the most incredible thing," he said.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Golden Oldies Bring Senior Swagger]]> Thu, 24 Apr 2014 09:16:02 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/golden+oldies1.jpg

The Golden Oldies, the Miami Heat's senior hip hop ensemble, are just as passionate about their booty shaking as they are about their playoff basketball.

The senior citizen dance group has been performing for the Miami Heat for 10 years, but their dance routines for the 2013 to 2014 season have been a little special.

Why? Every time the Oldies have shimmied onto the American Airlines Arena floor, the home team has won the game for a perfect 8-0.

"I think we bring them good luck," says Keith Buehner, a dancer with the 16-person company. "Hopefully they'll hear about that and say, 'Let's dance at every game!"

There's certainly magic in their routines, and in preparation for Miami's White Hot Championship playoff run, NBC 6 Sports Anchor Courtney Fallon decided to pop into one of their practices and learn their moves.

Despite their age, which ranges from 60 to 77, the Golden Oldies have managed to master the latest gyrating dance moves, and do so with a youthful vitality.

Just like the reigning World Champions, the Golden Oldies are in playoff form, ready to put their perfect 8-and-0 record to the test this postseason.

Photo Credit: NBC 6 South Florida]]>
<![CDATA[Devin Harris Needs Bigger Role in Game 2]]> Wed, 23 Apr 2014 10:37:01 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/485763845.jpg

When you build a 10-point lead over the Spurs with 7:45 remaining, you’ve done something right. So, honestly, the Mavs don’t need a complete overhaul heading into tonight’s crucial Game 2 of the Western Conference Playoff series in San Antonio.

But one glaring tweak seems necessary: Devin Harris needs to start in place of Jose Calderon.

After Spurs’ point guard Tony Parker dismantled his Mavs in Game 1 back in 2006, head coach Avery Johnson inserted Harris into the starting lineup for Game 2. Harris stayed in front of Parker on defense and ran past him on offense, leading Dallas to three straight victories and a series win en route to the NBA Finals. And in the 2011 NBA Final head coach Rick Carlisle made the move of the series, injecting the energy of J.J. Barea into the starting lineup and benching DeShawn Stevenson before Game 4.

So why not Harris for Calderon now? I know the Mavs won 49 games with Calderon as their starter, but against the Spurs it is broke, and it indeed needs fixing.

The Spurs are the best team in the NBA. They’ve got the three-time Coach of the Year in Gregg Popovich. They’ve beaten the Mavs 10 consecutive times. Beating San Antonio four out of five games seems impossible, making tonight, in essence, a Game 7. To have any chance in this series the Mavs have to win one of the first two.

And to have any chance of winning tonight they’ve got to somehow neutralize Parker, or at least keep him from getting to the rim on every possession.

Calderon has been a great acquisition for Dallas, but if he’s not hitting his outside shot he becomes a liability in this series because of Parker’s quickness and savvy. Harris has a better chance of balancing that matchup. If Calderon starts but Carlisle decides to put Shawn Marion on Parker, look for Popovich and the Spurs to exploit the matchup of Monta Ellis attempting to guard the bigger, stronger Kawhi Leonard.

Dirk Nowitzki will be better tonight. His history suggests he always bounces back after bad games. But the Mavs can’t count on the Spurs missing 14 of 17 3-pointers again.

They are a desperate team in need of a desperate change against a superior opponent. If you keep on doing what you’ve been doing, you’re going to keep on getting what you’ve been getting.

In this year’s NBA Playoffs, six of the eight underdogs have already won a game — or two — on the road. If the Mavs are going to join that club and make this a competitive series, Devin Harris needs to play a bigger, earlier role.

A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rangers Fooling Us With Smoke, Mirrors and Wins]]> Wed, 23 Apr 2014 09:44:49 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/486182655.jpg

Criss Angel would be proud of these Texas Rangers.

The closer you look at the mindfreak they’re performing, the more confused you get.

Adding to the already numerous injuries in the field and atop the mound, the Rangers last night on a cold night in Oakland played without injured Shin-Soo Choo and, after the 4th inning, emergency star Kevin Kouzmanoff, who left with tightness in his back. With pitcher Nick Martinez called up from Double-A to make the fill-in start, it was akin to a team being fitted for a strait-jacket and padlocked in a tank of water.

Somehow – presto! – the Rangers escaped.

With Luis Sardinas playing 2nd base and with key hits from Michael Choice and Josh Wilson and Donnie Murphy, the Rangers rallied for a 5-4 win over the dumbfounded A’s. While their front-line players recover, the goal for the Rangers in April was to somehow patch together enough wins from enough unlikely heroes to stay afloat. To not get buried in the competitive AL West. Truth be told, manager Ron Washington probably would’ve taken a .500 April in the absences of Derek Holland and Matt Harrison and Jurickson Profar and Geovany Soto, especially with Prince Fielder hitting a robust .208.

Cue the smoke and mirrors, the Rangers have won seven of eight and are 13-8. Only the Brewers have more wins in all of baseball.

Down to their final strike Tuesday night, Wilson slapped a two-out, 2-2 pitch off the left-field wall to tie the game, and Choice then bounced a single up the middle for the winning run.

What you think you see are unheralded players like Martinez and Wilson and Murphy and Sardinas. What you actually see is one of the best, scrappiest teams in baseball.

Right, Criss?

A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cowboys 2014 Schedule Announced]]> Wed, 23 Apr 2014 19:48:21 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/157366013.jpg

This is the moment you've been waiting for, Cowboys fans. The NFL announced the 2014 schedule for America's Team Wednesday.

The Cowboys will have at least five games that will be broadcast in primetime, including two from AT&T Stadium and will appear twice on NBC’s Sunday Night Football.

Dallas will play its first International Series game, taking on the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium in London, England.

The 2014 season opens on September 7 when the Cowboys host the San Francisco 49ers. It's the second straight season the club will open at home. 

Dallas Cowboys 2014 Schedule
Date   Opponent
Sept. 7   vs. San Francisco 49ers
Sept. 14   at Tennessee Titans
Sept. 21   at St. Louis Rams
Sept. 28   vs. New Orleans Saints
Oct. 5   vs. Houston Texans
Oct. 12   at Seattle Seahawks
Oct. 19   vs. New York Giants
Oct. 27   vs. Washington Redskins
Nov. 2   vs. Arizona Cardinals
Nov. 9   at Jacksonville Jaguars (in London)
    Bye Week
Nov. 23   at New York Giants
Nov. 27   vs. Philadelphia Eagles (Thanksgiving)
Dec. 4   at Chicago Bears
Dec. 14   at Philadelphia Eagles
Dec. 21   vs. Indianapolis Colts
Dec. 28   at Washington Redskins

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Report: If Manziel Slips, Dallas Could Grab Him]]> Wed, 23 Apr 2014 15:16:11 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/158988487.jpg

We’ve become accustomed to Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones and his son Stephen positively gushing about former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. But until today, we’ve brushed it off. After all, it was just a year ago that the Cowboys gave Tony Romo an unprecedented extension worth $108 million ($55 million guaranteed).

Then there’s the fact that Dallas has much more pressing needs than quarterback. And finally, from all we’ve heard, there’s a pretty great chance that Manziel will be off the board long before Dallas picks at No. 16 overall.

But today we learned that Dallas might have real interest in Manziel if he does, in fact, slip to them. This comes from ESPN’s Ed Werder (Terrell Owens’ old friend), who said on SportsCenter that, yes, there might be more to the Jones’ praise of Manziel than just public bluster.

Via Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com, Werder said, “Jerry Jones was raving about [Manziel] this weekend ... in front of Romo.

For the record, we’re still filing this idea under “probably not gonna happen.”

But boy, would that be interesting.

Stay on top of the latest Dallas Cowboys news with NBCDFW.com. Follow NBC DFW on Facebook or have breaking Cowboys news sent directly to your phone with Blue Star SMS alerts. Text "bluestar" to 622339 (NBCDFW) to subscribe, text HELP for more info, and text STOP to end the subscription. Message and data rates may apply.Read more about it here.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[NFC East Watch: Eli Wants to "Reinvent" Himself]]> Wed, 23 Apr 2014 15:02:10 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/AP879350895355.jpg

Eli Manning isn’t working out with his New York Giants at the moment, as he is recovering from arthroscopic ankle surgery to correct an injury suffered in Week 17 of last year.

When he does finally get on the field, he’ll be looking to bounce back from a miserable 2013 campaign, in which he threw 27 interceptions--or, to put it another way, more interceptions than any quarterback in any season in eight years.

“This is an opportunity to reinvent yourself and to come back and change what occurred last year, some of the difficulties, and bounce back and have a clean slate, prove yourself again and play at a high level,” Manning said, per ProFootballTalk.com.

In case you were wondering, the Giants went 7-9 last year, missed the playoffs and were swept by your Dallas Cowboys.

Stay on top of the latest Dallas Cowboys news with NBCDFW.com. Follow NBC DFW on Facebook or have breaking Cowboys news sent directly to your phone with Blue Star SMS alerts. Text "bluestar" to 622339 (NBCDFW) to subscribe, text HELP for more info, and text STOP to end the subscription. Message and data rates may apply.Read more about it here.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Lance Dunbar Says He's "100 Percent"]]> Wed, 23 Apr 2014 14:35:23 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/lance-dunbar-promoted.jpg

Some good news for the Dallas Cowboys as they kick off their offseason conditioning program this week: Lance Dunbar says he’s at full health, five months after suffering a suffering a left knee injury late in the Thanksgiving Day victory over the Oakland Raiders.

I’d say that I’m at 100%,” Dunbar told All22Breakdown.com this week. “I’ve been able to do everything now for a couple of weeks without any restrictions. I’m feeling pretty good. I’d definitely say I’m 100%.”

In a cruel twist, Dunbar’s season-ending injury brought an abrupt end to what was his best performance to date as a Cowboy. He went for 94 all purpose yards, 82 on the ground, including a 45-yard scamper. Before he went down, fans were just beginning to think of the possibilities of a backfield tandem comprised of Dunbar and the more physical DeMarco Murray.

“When it first happened, I thought I’d be alright,” Dunbar said. “I just thought I tweaked my knee a little. I walked off the field on my own and wasn’t hurting that bad. But the next day it turned out worse than I expected. You just have to deal with it. Things happen and you don’t always know why, they just do. I couldn’t just sit there and cry about it, that wouldn’t get me anywhere. I just knew I had to bounce back, work harder, and get stronger so I can stay healthy.”

Stay on top of the latest Dallas Cowboys news with NBCDFW.com. Follow NBC DFW on Facebook or have breaking Cowboys news sent directly to your phone with Blue Star SMS alerts. Text "bluestar" to 622339 (NBCDFW) to subscribe, text HELP for more info, and text STOP to end the subscription. Message and data rates may apply.Read more about it here.

<![CDATA[NFL Will Release 2014 Schedule Wednesday Night]]> Wed, 23 Apr 2014 14:23:15 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/186709154.jpg

Reports last week had the NFL releasing the 2014 regular season schedule on Tuesday. Obviously, that didn’t happen.

Instead, in keeping with the league’s time-honored stance of “we’ll release the schedule when we release the schedule,” the announcement is set for Wednesday night.

Adding some interest to the matter is that, as David Moore of the Dallas Morning News points out, the release (at 7 PM Central on NFL Network) conflicts with the tip-off for the Dallas Mavericks’ game two matchup with the San Antonio Spurs. Mavs’ owner Mark Cuban, of course, made headlines when he suggested the NFL was diluting its product and predicted a major downfall for the league in the next ten years.

Of course we can’t know if Roger Goodell is having some fun with Cuban here, but we certainly wouldn’t put it past him.

Anyway, the Cowboys already know their opponents for next season. Aside from their six division games, they’ll host the Cardinals, 49ers, Texans, Colts and Saints. They’ll travel to face the Rams, the Seahawks, the Jaguars (in London), the Titans and the Bears.

Stay on top of the latest Dallas Cowboys news with NBCDFW.com. Follow NBC DFW on Facebook or have breaking Cowboys news sent directly to your phone with Blue Star SMS alerts. Text "bluestar" to 622339 (NBCDFW) to subscribe, text HELP for more info, and text STOP to end the subscription. Message and data rates may apply.Read more about it here.



<![CDATA[Will Cowboys Pick Up 5th Year Option on Claiborne?]]> Wed, 23 Apr 2014 14:11:18 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/mo-claiborne-hurt-shoulder.jpg

The Dallas Cowboys’ decision to exercise their fifth-year option on the rookie contract of left tackle Tyron Smith last week, it was a no-brainer. When the team is faced with the fifth-year option on cornerback Morris Claiborne a year from now, the decision won’t likely be quite as easy.

The Dallas Morning News’s David Moore points out today that Claiborne has struggled with consistency and health over his first two seasons in the league (though those issues go hand in hand) and, last year, he lost his starting job to Orlando Scandrick.

Which is to say, Claiborne hasn’t played up to the expectations that are inevitable when a high-profile team like the Cowboys trades up to select you with the No. 6 overall pick.

That said, Claiborne hasn’t been altogether bad. He’s shown flashes of brilliance in his first two seasons, but flashes is all they’ve been. So does the good, combined with his potential upside, outweigh the bad?

The good news for Dallas is, they have another year to make that assessment.

Stay on top of the latest Dallas Cowboys news with NBCDFW.com. Follow NBC DFW on Facebook or have breaking Cowboys news sent directly to your phone with Blue Star SMS alerts. Text "bluestar" to 622339 (NBCDFW) to subscribe, text HELP for more info, and text STOP to end the subscription. Message and data rates may apply.Read more about it here.



<![CDATA[Who's On, Who's Not?: April 23]]> Wed, 23 Apr 2014 13:44:27 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/486177473.jpg

In a weekly staple, we'll discuss who's in a groove and who's in a rut for the Texas Rangers.

Who's On?

Alex Rios — After slumping last week, Rios is back on track. Over the last seven games, he's hit a robust .400 with three doubles and three RBIs.

Leonys Martin — See above. Martin has been on a bit of a rollercoaster early this year, but he's had much more good than bad early on. Over the past seven games, the second-year starter is hitting .391 with a homer, a double and two triples. He also is tied with Kevin Kouzmanoff for the club lead with five RBIs over that time span while leading the team with three stolen bases.

Martin Perez — Perez takes the hill on Wednesday afternoon riding a 17-inning scoreless streak.

Who's Off?

Robbie Ross Jr. — The converted reliever had his worst start of the season on Easter Sunday, allowing seven runs in 5 1/3 innings.

Hector Noesi — In that same game, Noesi had one of the worst outings in Rangers history. He allowed seven earned runs on 10 hits in just three innings of relief work, turning a somewhat close game into a rout. He was promptly designated for assignment.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rangers Take the Cake on Ridiculous]]> Wed, 23 Apr 2014 13:19:45 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/486176301.jpg

So far this season, the Texas Rangers, who are a win today away from having the best record in the American League, have had a handful of pretty wacky wins.

There was a walkoff walk, a walkoff single after a horribly botched error kept a ninth-inning rally alive, and then, there was Tuesday night.

Much like that game against King Felix and the Mariners last week, the Rangers were on their ninth life, seemingly all but dead in the water, yet found a way to pull out a win. Except this time, it was against their biggest rival, on the road, against the best team in the American League.

And the ridiculousness involved in the comeback was both infuriating, and in hindsight, humorous.

The Rangers' first three pitchers of the nights — Nick Martinez, Aaron Poreda and Shawn Tolleson — were all guys who were nowhere close to being on the big-league roster's radar as late as mid-March. Kevin Kouzmanoff, the Rangers' hottest hitter who wasn't on the Opening Day roster, left the game early and was replaced by journeyman second baseman Josh Wilson, who was replaced by prospect Luis Sardinas.

Michael Choice, a prospect with less than 10 big-league starts under his belt, started in left field for the injured Shin-Soo Choo and hit leadoff. The list of insanity goes on and on, yet the Rangers found a way to win.

The way they did it? Well, that was far from simple.

Mitch Moreland hit a pinch-hit leadoff double to start the ninth inning with a one-run deficit. He was moved to third base on a sac bunt from Robinson Chirinos. That bunt was understandable. The next hitter, Leonys Martin, just needed a healthy fly ball to score Moreland and tie the game. Instead, he laid down a rogue bunt — a great one — and actually reached first base, but Moreland was thrown out at home.

All hope seemed dead then. Two outs, runner on first after they had no outs and a runner on second. Son of a... Then, magic happened. Martin stole second, and Wilson hit a laser off the left field wall to tie the game before Choice knocked a single up the middle to score Wilson for the eventual game-winner.

The A's snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, and after Wednesday, they could be sitting in second place. Given all the Rangers' problems, that's just ridiculous.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[TCU WR Arrested on Drug Charge]]> Wed, 23 Apr 2014 14:49:43 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/brandon-carter-inset.jpg

Texas Christian University wide receiver Brandon Carter was arrested Tuesday for possession of less than 2 ounces of marijuana.

According to the Fort Worth Police Department, Carter, 21, was driving a Lexus that belonged to 22-year-old Alexis Harris.  Harris, who was in the passenger seat, had two outstanding warrants for her arrest.

When police ran the license plate at about 5:15 p.m., officers learned of Harris' warrants and pulled the driver over on the 1600 block of Calhoun Street.

Both Carter and Harris were arrested for possession of marijuana.

DallasNews.com reports that Harris is a graduate of Euless Trinity High School whose off-the-field distractions have led to a disappointing collegiate career.

Wednesday afternoon, the university released the following statement:

“The University and the Athletics Department are aware of the arrest and are looking into details surrounding it. In general, if a student is alleged to be in violation of the University’s student code of conduct, they are afforded a disciplinary hearing to determine personal responsibility.  Upon determination, the student may face consequences from the University, and possibly the football team, above and beyond any legal consequences the student might face.”

At this time, police have revealed no further information about the arrest.

<![CDATA[Perez Facing Off Against A's Youngster]]> Wed, 23 Apr 2014 13:15:51 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/perez-sonny-gray.jpg

When Martin Perez takes the hill today at the O.co Coliseum for a series finale against the Oakland A's, he'll be looking to do a few things.

First off, he'll be looking to have another strong start to continue to build on what has been a fine start to what we all hope is his first full season as a big-leaguer. Secondly, he'll be looking to pitch a makeshift Rangers team to a three-game sweep of the team with the best record in the AL and give the Rangers that title. And finally, he'll be looking to extend his 17-inning scoreless streak after his complete-game shutout in his last outing against the Chicago White Sox and an 8-inning scoreless outing previous to that against lowly Houston.

To do so, he'll have to outpitch the A's own version of Perez — a young, promising pitcher with a 3-0 record and a sub-2.00 ERA.

Let's take a look at the tale of the tape for today's big pitching matchup featuring two of the game's best young pitchers.

Martin Perez: Age 23, 3-0 record, 1.86 ERA, 20 strikeouts, seven walks in 29 innings

Sonny Gray: Age 24, 3-0 record, 1.80 ERA, 23 strikeouts, nine walks in 25 innings

As you can see, Gray has struggled a bit more with his control than Perez, who has two three-walk outings on his ledger. Perez will need to be on point against a disciplined Oakland lineup. But something here has to give. The Rangers just hope it's Gray.

<![CDATA[Martinez Hangs In There For Rangers]]> Wed, 23 Apr 2014 11:47:27 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/486176307.jpg

Nick Martinez was nowhere near the radar of projected starting pitchers during spring training. The former college shortstop who had pitched just five games above the Single-A level prior to this season should not have been on the mound for the Rangers at any point this season.

But on Tuesday night in Oakland, he toed the rubber as the Rangers' starter for the second time this season. He struggled, but he pitched well enough to keep the team in the game and watched as his teammates pulled a ninth-inning win out of their rears on Tuesday to set up a potential series sweep on Wednesday afternoon.

"It was a lot of fun," Martinez told reporters after the game. "It was a great game the way the guys came through with big hits."

Martinez was far from great, and was really not even good. But he navigated his way through trouble, which is far more than what you should expect from a guy of his track record.

Martinez had one clean inning in his five innings of work, gave up four runs (two earned) on six hits and three walks. He struck out just one batter and had runners on base in every inning but the perfect third.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Wilson Makes Up For Botched Play]]> Wed, 23 Apr 2014 11:45:24 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/486182663.jpg

Josh Wilson was the Texas Rangers' starting second baseman on Tuesday night, a night after playing a large role in the Rangers' comeback win over division rival Oakland, one of Wilson's former teams.

By the time the fourth inning had rolled around on Tuesday, Wilson was playing at third base after the Rangers' hottest player, Kevin Kouzmanoff, was forced to leave the game with back stiffness. That's when Wilson booted a routine ball that allowed the A's to score two unearned runs to take a 4-3 lead that was held until the ninth inning.

That's when Wilson's two-strike, two-out laser double off the left field wall scored Leonys Martin to tie the game, and right before another former Athletic, Michael Choice singled in Wilson for the go-ahead run in what ended up being one of the most improbable wins you'll ever see.

"We've been on the other end of a couple of those, and they sting a little bit, especially against a division rival," Wilson said. "It's a great to win a game like that in the ninth inning."

Just add Wilson's name to the list of guys who have been surprising contributors to the Rangers, who are a surprising win Wednesday away from having the best record in the American League despite having 10 players on the DL.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Choo MRI Reveals Rare Good News]]> Wed, 23 Apr 2014 10:02:13 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/shin-soo-choo-april-1-phillies.jpg

The Texas Rangers got a serious scare on Monday night when left fielder and leadoff man Shin-Soo Choo stepped awkwardly on the first base bag while trying to beat out an infield hit and removed himself from the game with an ankle injury.

Choo attempted to go back out in the field after having his ankle taped by the Rangers' training staff but decided he couldn't go, giving way to Michael Choice. Crippling fear set in wondering if the Rangers were losing yet another key cog in their lineup to the disabled list, which currently has 10 players on it.

An MRI Tuesday revealed Choo's ankle was simply sprained and not a victim of the dreaded, more serious high ankle sprain, and the Rangers are listing him as day-to-day, saying nothing more than he will not play in Wednesday's matinee in Oakland before a Thursday off-day and a Friday game in Seattle, for which third baseman Adrian Beltre is set to return from the 15-day DL.

So far this year, Choo is hitting .314 and sports an on-base percentage of .432 in his first season with the Rangers.

"We view this as very positive news considering, as high ankle sprains from our past experience ... are a little more of a lengthier time frame for recovery," assistant GM Thad Levine told reporters in Oakland.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Orton's Absence Prompts Red Flags at Valley Ranch]]> Wed, 23 Apr 2014 09:46:51 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/2013-cowboys-eagles--%28147%29.jpg

If red flags were raised by quarterbacks during the Cowboys’ first week of off-season workouts at Valley Ranch, we expected them to be Tony Romo’s back.

Nope, try Kyle Orton’s absence.

The veteran backup makes $3.2 million and is the NFL’s second-highest paid No. 2 behind the Dolphins’ Matt Moore. His agent has said repeatedly that his client isn’t contemplating retirement. He played admirably in last season’s finale against the Eagles, throwing for 358 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He’s only 31. And, above all else, the workouts are voluntary.

Orton will not be fined for missing days. But he will create doubt.

Is Romo’s backup flirting with retirement? Is he making a contract negotiation ploy? Or did he just decide to sleep in?

The Cowboys won’t panic about Orton’s status until the mandatory June minicamp. But by then will it be too late?

They obviously acquired an insurance policy by signing Brandon Weeden, but the prospect of not having a more proven backup to Romo is scary. The Cowboys attended the pro day of Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray last week and at their recent “Dallas Day” tryouts they invited Garrett Gilbert (SMU) and Casey Pachall (TCU).

If worse comes to worse, the Cowboys can always trade or even release Orton. All that is premature as we sit here in mid-April.

But questions at quarterback always raise red flags. Even when it’s not Romo’s back.

A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.

Photo Credit: Frank Heinz, NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Rangers Have Kouzmanoff Dilemma On Horizon]]> Tue, 22 Apr 2014 14:22:52 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/486008885.jpg

Friday is going to be a big day for the Texas Rangers as they open a three-game series in Seattle against the struggling Mariners.

That's because the rock of the club, veteran third baseman Adrian Beltre, is scheduled to return to the lineup after a stint on the 15-day disabled list with a mild quadriceps strain.

But that begs a big question. What will the Rangers do about Beltre's backup, who wasn't even on the Opening Day roster and doesn't really have a position once Beltre returns to the hot corner? Kevin Kouzmanoff had a great spring training but was relegated to the minors due to his positional inflexibility, but when Beltre went down, the choice for his replacement was obvious.

All Kouzmanoff has done since Beltre went down is hit .370 with a .408 on-base percentage and an out-of-this-world 1.039 OPS in his 12 games with the big-league club. He won AL Player of the Week honors for last week and had another big night on Monday night in Oakland.

With the way Kouzmanoff has played, it's impossible to send him back to the minors, and it's going to be very hard for Ron Washington to take his bat out of the lineup. Beltre is a better defensive third baseman than Kouzmanoff, even in Beltre's slightly declining state defensively. Kouzmanoff can't play anywhere else on the diamond.

He could be a designated hitter, taking Michael Choice's place against left-handed pitchers, but even then, you'd have to think the Rangers would want Kouzmanoff's hot bat in the lineup more than 2-3 times a week, at least while he remains hot.

The fact of the matter is, Kouzmanoff won't be this good for the entire season, and most likely it won't last much longer. There's a reason he's been a career journeyman and wasn't even in the bigs for the past two seasons. But right now, it sure is fun to watch and it's going to be a nice problem for the Rangers and Washington to navigate when Beltre returns.

If Shin-Soo Choo misses time with his ankle injury, the Rangers could put Choice in as a full-time left fielder while Choo mends, and then use Kouzmanoff as a full-time DH. Kouzmanoff could also get the start at third on days the Rangers want to rest Beltre's aging legs and let him DH.

So there you go. There are options for Kouzmanoff. None of them are fantastic if he keeps up this hot hitting. Worst-case scenario? He heads back to the bench, and that gives the Rangers a big upgraded and a trusted bat on the bench, which was one of the weaker parts of their roster.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>