<![CDATA[NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth - Dallas-Fort Worth Sports News, Analysis, and Scores for the Giants, Jets. Patriots, Huskies, Knicks and More]]> Copyright 2015 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 Wed, 07 Oct 2015 01:57:22 -0500 Wed, 07 Oct 2015 01:57:22 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA['Strip-Mall Wormhole': Toronto Writer Slams Arlington]]> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 22:20:05 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Rangers+red+up.jpg

As the Texas Rangers get set to play the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League Division Series, a Toronto columnist is picking a fight with Arlington.

Cathal Kelly, a sportswriter at the Globe and Mail, took a shot at the home of the Rangers, calling it the "strip-mall wormhole you pass through on the way to Fort Worth."

Kelly goes to write, "They have the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame, but Arlington is mainly the place to which Dallas outsources its live baseball and football."

"Three hours before a game in Arlington, there's no one around. An hour after a game, it returns to that state," Kelly wrote.

The Rangers are in Toronto for the first two games of the postseason series. They then host the Blue Jays at Globe Life Park on Sunday for Game 3.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Newy Bets Canadian Reporter on ALDS]]> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 19:12:39 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/vlcsnap-2015-10-06-19h05m27s134.jpg NBC 5's Newy Scruggs talks with Canadian broadcaster Sébastien StFrançois about the Rangers-Blue Jays match-up in the ALDS, and they make a friendly wager with some poutine.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 Sports]]>
<![CDATA[5 to Know for the Rangers in the ALDS]]> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 18:40:41 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-491329110.jpg NBC 5's Newy Scruggs is in Toronto, where the Texas Rangers begin the American League Division Series against the Blue Jays on Thursday. Here's his 5 to Know in the 2015 ALDS.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Giants Player Diagnosed With MRSA]]> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 16:58:40 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/mrsa+daniel+fells+ny.jpg

The Giants scrubbed down their locker room, meeting areas and training rooms out of an abundance of caution this week after tight end Daniel Fells was diagnosed with MRSA, a potentially deadly antibiotic-resistant staph infection that can be transmitted by skin-to-skin contact or sharing towels, the team confirmed Tuesday.

Fells, a 32-year-old tight end signed by the Giants last year after stints with half a dozen NFL teams, including the Patriots, was placed on injured reserve Monday with an ankle injury. Doctors treating him for that issue discovered the staph infection, which turned out to be MRSA.

MRSA, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, is notoriously difficult to treat because it has become resistant to many antibiotics traditionally used to treat staph infections.

While one type of MRSA occurs primarily in hospitalized populations, another form occurs in healthy people -- and can spread easily through cuts and abrasions, skin-to-skin contact and sharing facilities or certain equipment.

The infection may become life-threatening, causing complications in one's bloodstream, lungs, heart, bones and joints. It is diagnosed by checking a tissue sample or nasal secretions for signs of drug-resistant bacteria.

In a statement Tuesday, Giants spokesman Pat Hanlon said, "We are working with infectious disease specialists, and we have defined protocols that we are following in consultation with the Duke Infection Control Outreach Network and local infectious disease specialists. Those protocols are being followed carefully."

Fells caught just six balls for 60 yards in two active games for Big Blue this season. His condition Tuesday wasn't immediately known; he had been hospitalized Monday, though it wasn't clear if he had been discharged.

Though the Jets and Giants share a home stadium, they use different practice facilities and locker rooms so Gang Green wasn't expected to be affected by Fells' diagnosis.

Two years ago, three players with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers contracted MRSA during an outbreak at one of the team's training facilities. One of the players, Carl Nicks, a high-profile guard in the league, had to permanently step away from football because of the illness. The infection also ended the career of Lawrence Tynes, a former Giants kicker who was diagnosed with MRSA during his tenure with the Bucs. The third player affected recovered and remains with the team.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Here's a Playoff Roster For Ya]]> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 14:30:07 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/470584790.jpg

The Rangers, like every team in baseball, have had the luxury of an expanded roster for the past month with September call-ups, and when the season ended, they had 38 players on the active roster.

But before Thursday's postseason opener in Toronto, the Rangers and everyone else must cut their roster back to the 25 they play the first five months of the season with.

After a lot of guesswork and some spitballin', here's a pretty viable roster that I came up with if Jeff Banister and Jon Daniels would like to take notes:

C: Robinson Chirinos/Chris Gimenez (2)

1B: Mitch Moreland/Mike Napoli (2)

2B: Rougned Odor/Hanser Alberto (2)

SS: Elvis Andrus (1)

3B: Adrian Beltre (1)

Thoughts: Two catchers, with Gimenez catching Cole Hamels and Chirinos the rest. Mike Napoli starts against lefties, Moreland against righties, and Hanser Alberto is the utility infielder in case of injury.

OF: Josh Hamilton/Delino DeShields/Shin-Soo Choo/Drew Stubbs/Will Venable (5)

DH: Prince Fielder (1)

Thoughts: Fielder is a no-brainer at DH, as he's settled into that role well this year. I'm carrying Venable and Stubbs here as defensive replacements in left and center field for late in the game if there's a Rangers lead. Hamilton has to be an everyday starter in left field after he showed in the last seven games that his knee is well enough, and his timing at the plate has been improving.

SP: Cole Hamels/Yovani Gallardo/Derek Holland/Colby Lewis (4)

Thoughts: Perez is the odd man out here, partly because of his unpredictability coming off Tommy John surgery and partly because the Blue Jays kill lefties, so you don't need three of them. Perez has pitched well his last two times out, but you never know what you're going to get next.

Long relief: RHP Chi Chi Gonzalez (1)

LHP Relief: Jake Diekman/Andrew Faulkner (2)

RHP Relief: Sam Dyson/Keone Kela/Shawn Tolleson/Luke Jackson (4)

Thoughts: Perez would be the long man if not for the Blue Jays' tendency to kill left-handers, so the righty Gonzalez gets the nod, and he's been good in his role for the past month or so. Sam Freeman also takes a seat, and Faulkner is a Wild Card because of the fact the Rangers shouldn't need many lefties with the Jays' righty-heavy lineup. For that reason, Luke Jackson is in the fold because he has swing-and-miss stuff when he's on and he throws from the right side. It'd be throwing the youngster into the fire, sure, but if he's on, he's tough.

Final Wild Card: Leonys Martin. The veteran has a great tool in his defense and his arm in center field, but he's not going to contribute at the plate and his baserunning is a question mark given his long layoff. But, if the Rangers wanted to carry him for defensive purposes, Faulkner could be left off and you ride with Diekman as your only lefty out of the bullpen, but that's a risky proposition.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[On Deck: AL Wild Card Game]]> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 14:25:36 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-487838036.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 playoff series during the 2015 season. 

The Teams: The Astros collapsed then surged to end up holding off the Angels but falling short of the Rangers in the AL West. Regardless, they're in the postseason for the first time as an American League team and the first time since they reached the 2005 World Series. The Yankees persevered through injury and roster turnover to hang with Toronto much of the season and easily claim a Wild Card spot.

Past 2015 Meetings: The Astros won the season series 4-3 and took two of three in The Bronx back in August.

Pitching Matchup: Tuesday — Dallas Keuchel (20-8, 2.48 ERA) vs. Masahiro Tanaka (12-7, 3.51)

What's Hot: Part-timer Luis Valbuena has been red-hot, hitting .538 with a .600 on-base percentage over his last five games. In those 13 at-bats, he has three doubles, two homers and two walks with three RBIs. Young star George Springer is hitting .458 in full-time action over his past five games with three doubles and a homer. Pint-sized hit machine Jose Altuve is batting .348 with three doubles, a triple, a homer and five RBIs in his last five games. Keuchel is going on three days' rest Tuesday and worked six innings his last time out in Arizona.

The Yankees' best two hitters over the past week are two guys I've honestly never heard of until just now — a perfect illustration of just how different this Yankees team is from the Yankees teams of the past. Rob Refsnyder and Greg Bird have been carrying the lineup over the past week, while veteran Carlos Beltran is hitting .316 with a homer and four RBIs in his last five games.

What's Not: Rookie sensation Carlos Correa has a team-high seven RBIs in his last five games but he's hitting just .238 in that time, while catcher Jason Castro is batting .200 in his last four. Some of the Astros' key relievers — Oliver Perez, Pat Neshek and Chad Qualls — have struggled over the past week.

Tanaka is coming off a pretty so-so outing his last time out, as he worked five innings and allowing four runs on five hits. All of the big-name veterans in pinstripes are struggling at the plate over the last week as Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Chase Headley are all hitting under .200, and Alex Rodriguez is batting just .211.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Choo Earns September Honor]]> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 14:27:15 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/210*120/GettyImages-490903900.jpg

Shin-Soo Choo was simply awesome in September, and he's really been a completely different player since the all-star break. Up to that point, Choo had basically become a platoon player in right field and was high on the list of worst contracts in Rangers history, right up there with countryman Chan-Ho Park.

But since the break, Choo has been a man possessed and has been exactly the player the Rangers envisioned when they gave him a big $130 million deal before the 2014 season. Injuries and ineffectiveness plagued him, but for the past two and a half months, he's been a beast.

The last month, however, was at a different level for Choo, and on Monday he was rewarded for his month by earning AL Player of the Month honors after putting the Rangers on his back at the plate.

In his September, and few games of October to end the regular season, Choo hit .404 with a .515 on-base percentage to lead the American League in both categories. He also tied for the lead with 42 hits and 26 runs scored in that span.

Thanks to the wonderful research of Gerry Fraley, we learned Choo became the first player since Willie Mays to lead the league or tie for the lead league in September in those four categories.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Beltre Earns Season's Last Weekly Honor]]> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 14:28:28 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/202*120/GettyImages-489217504.jpg

Adrian Beltre was one of three heart-of-the-order hitters for the Rangers who carried the team over the final month of the season, which saw the Rangers pass the Astros in the AL West and hold on to clinch on the final day of the season.

On Monday, Beltre was rewarded for his spectacular close to the season when he was given AL Player of the Week honors, while no-hit machine Max Scherzer took home NL honors after tossing his second no-no of the season in his final start of 2015.

Beltre was a run-producing force for the Rangers over the final week as he hit .448 with two homers and 13 RBIs over the Rangers' final seven games of the season — four wins and three losses. It was Beltre's fifth such honor in the career of the future Hall of Famer.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Gallardo Going Game 1 Good for Pen]]> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 13:27:55 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-481339834.jpg

Yovani Gallardo starting Game 1 of the Texas Rangers' ALDS series against the Blue Jays on Thursday afternoon might seem like an odd call on the surface, but a slightly deeper look makes it make all the sense in the world.

It's been well documented by now Gallardo's success against the best lineup in the league this year, a bit of an oddity given his struggles for much of the year. But the proof is in the pudding, and the veteran righty has owned the Blue Jays this year in two starts against them.

Gallardo (13-11, 3.42 ERA) won both of his starts this season against the Blue Jays, the only Texas wins against the AL East champs. The right-hander threw 13 2/3 scoreless innings, as Toronto had six hits and batted .136 against him.

That's all great, obviously. What's bad is that Gallardo has struggled to get out of the sixth inning much of this year. That means a quicker entry into the game by the Rangers' bullpen, which has been a strength since the all-star break and the retooling that took place at the trade deadline.

The thought is that if Gallardo doesn't have one of his dominant starts, the Rangers will have a fresh bullpen with four days of rest to go to. Or Gallardo could even have one of his typical scoreless five innings before giving way to them for the final four frames.

It sets up nicely for the Rangers, especially when you consider Cole Hamels will be going in Game 2 before the Rangers head home.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jerry Jones Thinks Dez Could Return in Week 7]]> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 13:21:46 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/dez-bryant-injured-return.jpg

It still hasn’t been a month since Dallas Cowboys All-Pro receiver Dez Bryant had surgery to repair a fractured bone in his right foot, a procedure that involved inserting a bone graft and a screw into the foot, but owner and general manager Jerry Jones is already eyeing a potential return date for Bryant--and it’s an early one.

Jones told 105.3-FM The Fan’s Shan & RJ Show this week that he’s looking at the Week 7 matchup with the Giants as the target at this point, which would mean Bryant would only miss one more game--this week’s matchup with the Patriots--with the injury that caused some to wonder (ahem, Roddy White) if he would be back at all this season.

"Dez, of course, is Superman," Jones said, per the Dallas Morning News. "I say that without a smile. He heals extraordinarily quick. His procedure went well. He's sound with the procedure. Everything they did, by the way, the graft all that, it enhances his chance to get out there. I think he's got a chance to do it after the bye."

Bryant, who hasn’t played since Week 1, had five catches for 48 yards against the Giants in the opener before he went down with the broken foot.

<![CDATA[Rangers' Reward For Never Ever Quitting: Date With World Series Favorites ]]> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 13:16:27 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-491329110.jpg

The Rangers never ever quit this season. They overcame back-breaking injuries to Jurickson Profar and Yu Darvish and Derek Holland. They survived an 8-16 start, staged one of baseball’s biggest late-season rallies, hung on to win the AL West and became one of baseball’s feel-good stories.

Their reward? A date with the overwhelming favorite to win the World Series. Meet the 2015 Toronto Blue Jays, the closest thing you’ll find to the legendary 1927 New York Yankees.

Of ESPN’s 22 baseball experts, exactly 0 picked the Rangers to win their Best of 5 ALDS that starts Thursday in Canada. And with good reason. While the Rangers are scrappy, the Blue Jays are scary.


Led by Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and probable AL MVP Josh Donaldson – who led the league in both runs and RBI – the Blue Jays led all of baseball in runs, homers, extra-base hits, walks, on-base percentage, slugging and OPS. They scored 891 runs. No other team scored 800. Simply put, they are by far the best offense in baseball this year and one of the greatest of all- time. Their run margin over the next-best team of +127 has been achieved only four times in baseball history, including once by the “Murderer’s Row” Yanks led by guys named Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. How dominant was Toronto in the regular season? It outscored opponents by a whopping 221 runs. The Rangers outscored theirs by 18.


With catcher Russell Martin, 2nd baseman Ryan Goins, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and center-fielder Kevin Pillar, the Jays are as strong up the middle as any team in baseball. By most metrics they are Top 5 in defensive efficiency. They made 88 errors this season; the Rangers 119.


We can highlight the bats and gloves all we want, but we’ve learned time and again that a World Series can be won almost single-handedly by a hot pitcher. Right, Madison Bumgarner? The Jays have their candidate, and the Rangers will fully recognize him: David Price.

The Rangers have their ace in Cole Hamels but because they were stretched to the final day of the season to clinch their division he won’t start until Game 2. Price could conceivably start Games 1 and 5, if necessary. The good news? While he was with Tampa, the Rangers have beaten Price in the postseason – part of his 0-5 record in the playoffs. The bad news? This is a new-and-improved Price.

Since arriving via trade from the Tigers, he’s 9-1 with a 2.31 ERA.

And he’s just the beginning of the trouble. Toronto backs up their ace with Marco Estrada, former Ranger R.A. Dickey and Marcus Stroman, who has returned from knee surgery to go 4-0 with a 1.67 ERA down the stretch. Price and Stroman can blow you away with heat, Estrada has one of the best change-ups in the game and then there’s Dickey and his knuckleball. It’s variety. And it’s quality.

Only hope is that the Jay’s bullpen is too young – set-up man Aaron Sanchez is 23; closer Roberto Osuna is 20 – to handle the situation.

In short the Jays are the ’10 Rangers. With an ace like Cliff Lee, an MVP-candidate like Josh Hamilton and a young fire-balling closer like Neftali Feliz.

Since beginning the season 51-51, the Jays finished 42-18. They might win the World Series, but if they don’t beat the heavily underdog Rangers it will be a colossal upset.

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 lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[On Deck: New England Patriots]]> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 13:20:22 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/214*120/brady+poll+down.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 Cowboys game during the 2015 season.

The Opponent: The Patriots are undefeated and coming off a bye week, which is a scary combination for the reeling Cowboys. And not to mention the fact that they appear hell-bent on the Tom Brady revenge tour this year. This game could get ugly in a hurry.

Past Meetings: The Cowboys are 7-4 all-time against the Patriots.

Who's Hot: Brandon Weeden was actually decent on Sunday night and wasn't the problem in the Cowboys' loss, as he threw for 246 yards and a touchdown in the waning seconds to tie the game before the Saints won the game on the second play of overtime. Cole Beasley had six catches for 62 yards, and Anthony Hitchens had a pretty nice day in relief of the concussed Sean Lee.

The Patriots last played two weeks ago and took down Jacksonville with a 51-17 defeat behind Tom Brady's 358 passing yards and two scores. Rob Gronkowski, perhaps the biggest mismatch in the league, had four catches for 101 yards and LeGarrette Blount had three touchdowns on the ground to go with 78 rushing yards.

Who's Not: Joseph Randle had a rough day at the office on Sunday night, running for 26 yards on 11 carries (2.4 yards per carry) and a touchdown, while Darren McFadden had 31 yards on 10 carries.

Not really much to speak of in regards to the Patriots, as the defending champs are rolling at the moment and not just beating teams, but embarrassing them. The Cowboys might be next.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Mo Claiborne Playing Well, Feeling Better Than Ever]]> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 13:06:23 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/mo-claiborne10.2.15.jpg

This time last year, Morris Claiborne’s 2014 season had just come to an unfortunate end on the turf at AT&T Stadium.

In that Week 4 home win over the Saints, Claiborne suffered a non-contact ruptured patellar tendon in his left knee, an injury that--even with Claiborne’s history of injuries--stands out as one that is very difficult to return from. To add to Claiborne’s extended, no-fun offseason, he had arthroscopic surgery to strengthen the patellar tendon in his right knee.

But that’s all behind Claiborne now. The former No. 6 overall pick out of LSU says it’d be fair to say he’s playing as well this season as he ever has since coming into the league in 2012--perhaps because he’s feeling better than he ever has since coming into the league.

Definitely, you could say that,” Claiborne told Ben & Skin on 105.3-FM The Fan, via the Dallas Morning News. “I feel better than I've ever felt since entering the NFL, and I feel like I'm moving better, running better, trying to stay as sticky as I can on the receivers, matching them out of breaks. I feel good.”

Through four games, Claiborne has 14 tackles and two passes defensed, but is still looking for his first interception.

<![CDATA[Trying to Overcome Dunbar Injury, Garrett Glad to Have Scott Linehan]]> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 13:08:50 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/457508598.jpg

Lance Dunbar is a man who wears a lot of hats for the Cowboys.

Through four games in 2015, Dunbar worked mostly as a pass-catching option out of the backfield and had 21 catches for 215 yards receiving before going down with what turned out to be a season-ending torn ACL on Sunday night. But he also got some carries (three for 54 yards against the Saints), and returned kicks and punts.

Which is to say, his loss hurts the team in several different areas.

"He's gotten more opportunities this year," Garrett said of Dunbar, per ESPN Dallas. "I think he just shows how versatile and productive a player he can be. You saw that last night, he ran the ball from the backfield, a big run early on in the ball game, he's shown he can catch the ball out of the backfield, he's shown he can line up as a receive and catch the ball and make plays. He's a good return guy. He's just one of those guys when the ball is in his hands he does a lot of positive things for your football team. He's a hell of a kid, and he's got a great future ahead of him. He's going to come back. He's going to handle it the right way. He'll be better than ever."

Where traversing this latest injury is concerned, Garrett was quick to put his faith in his staff, particularly offensive coordinator Scott Linehan--who, he says, is among the best there is at working with what he has, and making it work.

"One of the things we really pride ourselves on as coaches, and I think what [offensive coordinator] Scott Linehan does such a great job of is using the personnel that we have," Garrett said. "Lance was a weapon for us and we tried to use him as a weapon in a lot of different ways to impact our offense and impact the game. To say we have someone in house who is going to do those same kinds of things, I don't know that we have somebody like that, but we have guys in house who can do different things, and hopefully we'll play to those strengths."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Garrett Confident in Former Teammate, New Dolphins Coach Dan Campbell ]]> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 13:10:59 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/dan-campbell10.6.15.jpg

Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett has faith that his old friend and teammate Dan Campbell will be able to right the ship in Miami--at least, as much as the ship can be righted.

Garrett is uniquely qualified to discuss the hiring of Campbell, which was announced Monday along with the firing of Joe Philbin. He knows the Dolphins franchise (having worked for them), Campbell the man (having played with him), and he certainly knows what it’s like to take over as an NFL head coach for the first time as the result of a brutal start to a season. Garrett did that five years ago, after Wade Phillips led the Cowboys to a 1-7 start and was fired.

"Sometimes these things happen," Garrett said, per Todd Archer of ESPN Dallas. "It's a challenge when they happen during the season but Dan Campbell was a teammate of mine and he's just a hell of a guy and I think he's a really good football guy. I think somehow someway he's going to help that football team get righted and he's going to do that because he's a really willful guy. He's got a great personality and he's a tough guy and I just wish him nothing but the best."
Garrett and Campbell spent three seasons, from 2000-2002, as teammates with the New York Giants. Campbell left the Giants for the Cowboys in 2003, as one of the first free agent signings of the Bill Parcells era. He played three years in Dallas, and served as something of a mentor for Jason Witten through the first three seasons of his career.

"Always a very smart guy," Garrett said. "Knew the game really well, knew things beyond his position and really cared about it, cared about detail, always wanted to know more and loved to play, has a great passion for playing, a great passion for teams and a great passion for the game of football."

<![CDATA[Already Depleted, Cowboys' Offense Will Struggle To Replace Dunbar]]> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 13:12:30 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-491358482.jpg

The committee has lost a key member.

Just as in the injury-related departures of Tony Romo and Dez Bryant, the Cowboys’ offensive plan has taken another hit in the loss of running back Lance Dunbar. He tore his ACL on the second-half kickoff return against the Saints, and will undergo season-ending surgery this week.

It further weakens an offense that was already struggling without its stars. And if further dilutes the “committee” of running backs that was supposed to compensate for the loss of last year’s leading rusher, DeMarco Murray.

Dunbar was having a fantastic season reminiscent of Cowboys’ receiving running backs of old

He already had 21 catches, had a 45-yard run against New Orleans and had five plays of 20+ yards. Without Bryant, he was the Cowboys’ most explosive weapon. But on a night when he bought 17 tickets for family – including his grandmother, who’d never seen him play in person – Dunbar’s bad choice to return a kick-off from eight yards deep in the end zone resulted in a horrible injury.

He suffered a season-ending injury to the same left knee in 2013 and who knows if he’ll ever return with the same burst and electricity.

Without him, head coach Jason Garrett will deliver his “next man up!” mantra. It sounds great in the pre-game huddle and looks good on motivational T-shirts, but, in reality, what’s it mean?

Without Dunbar who is now the Cowboys’ main receiver out of the backfield? Who returns kickoffs? Who is their third-down back?

“Lance was a weapon for us and we tried to use him as a weapon in a lot of different ways to impact our offense and impact the game,” said head coach Jason Garrett. “To say we have someone in house who is going to do those same kinds of things, I don't know that we have somebody like that. But we have guys in house who can do different things, and hopefully we'll play to those strengths.”

“Next man up!” would indicate those answers come from Darren McFadden (receiver out of backfield and third-down back) and Lucky Whitehead (kick returner). But, to say the least, a sputtering offense that can’t afford it is about to endure another downshift. The loss will likely mean more involvement for Christine Michael and perhaps even Whitehead in the backfield on third downs.

Problem is the Cowboys don’t have another Romo. Another Dez. And now I’m afraid we’re about to find out, not another Dunbar either.

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 lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jerry Says Cowboys Didn't Bench Randle]]> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 13:26:06 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-491357526.jpg

In an appearance on 105.3-FM The Fan on Tuesday morning, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones denied that running back Joseph Randle was benched after using a jumping, stretching goal line move (that he had been warned against using by the coaches the week before) on a second quarter touchdown run.

"No, we didn't bench him," Jones said, via the Dallas Morning News. "We did not bench him. We just wanted [Darren] McFadden in there at that time. Seriously, it was not a bench."

Just the day before, on Monday, head coach Jason Garrett seemed to suggest that Randle’s high-risk move had played a role in his being sparsely seen throughout the rest of the loss. But Jones insists that wasn’t the case.

Of course, that’s not to say Jones is a fan of the move that got Randle uh, not benched, but pulled from the game in favor of Darren McFadden.

"We teach, they teach, everybody teaches take that ball out down there," Jones said. "It's one of the premium thoughts that you have on the goal line, 'Get the ball out!' That's one of the real opportunities the defense has when they get their back against the wall like that. You got to protect the ball near that goal line."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Fantasy Sports Companies Dispute Allegations of Unfair Betting]]> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 11:29:37 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/FanDuel.jpg

Two companies in the booming, unregulated world of online fantasy sports issued statements Monday after recent allegations that employees may have access to insider data that could allow unfair, highly profitable bets. 

In the statement posted on FanDuel's website, the company said that despite "recent attention on industry employees," FanDuel — as well as a second sports site, DraftKings — valued "the integrity of the games we offer to our customers."

"Both companies have strong policies in place to ensure that employees do not misuse any information at their disposal and strictly limit access to company data to only those employees who require it to do their jobs," the statement said.

Photo Credit: File--AP]]>
<![CDATA[Weeden Draws Some Praise After Loss to Saints]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 14:05:44 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-491357506.jpg

Somewhat lost in the ugliness of the Dallas Cowboys’ loss to the Saints in New Orleans on Sunday night is the fact that backup quarterback Brandon Weeden looked pretty darn good for most of the night.

Weeden played well two weeks ago in the loss to the Falcons as well, but failed to complete any long passes downfield, leading to criticism that he was powerless to do anything but dink and dunk the ball down the field. Against the Saints, he answered the calls for more throws downfield with a beautiful toss to Brice Butler for a 67-yard gain, and a 17-yard fade to Terrance Williams in the end zone for the game-tying touchdown.

To borrow a phrase from Jerry Jones, both passes were things of beauty. Jones offered up some high praise for Weeden after the game, before ending on a kind of weird note about Weeden's limitations.

I thought he did really good and he did good all night,” Jones said, per Todd Archer of ESPN Dallas. “When he took his initial look he threw it, and he did all night. He does some real good things, though it’s not quite apples to oranges when the other guy on the other side is Brees and you’re dealing with a guy that is as limited as Weeden.”

Weeden finished the night 16-of-26 passing for 246 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions. He was sacked three times.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[New Rangers Playoff Menu ]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 15:21:02 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Sweet-Spot-Cotton-Candy-Dog.jpg The Texas Rangers are headed to the playoffs, so in addition to creative ballpark favorites like the Boomstick and Choomongous, new items have been added to the menu.

Photo Credit: Delaware North]]>
<![CDATA[Drew Brees' 400th Career TD Pass a Killer for the Cowboys]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 13:56:37 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/drew-brees-cowboys10.4.15.jpg

Fans of the New Orleans Saints won’t soon forget the night Drew Brees threw his 400th career touchdown pass. Neither will Cowboys fans, but for entirely different reasons.

Brees saved the milestone for the second play of overtime on Sunday night, when he hit C.J. Spiller on a wheel route and watched him go 80 yards for the game-winning touchdown. For Cowboys, it was an ugly end to an ugly night of football. For the Saints, it was a fun milestone on top a desperately needed victory, their first at home in their last seven games.

I was aware of it,” Brees told the team’s official website after the 26-20 win. “You try to tune a lot of stuff out, but kind of like the passing record back in 2011, you hear guys whispering, and then somebody kind of makes the mistake, just like in a dugout when somebody’s got a no-hitter, saying ‘Hey, did you know that it’s the seventh inning and they don’t have a hit on you?’ I guess I was aware of it, and just kind of made that part of my thought process.

“I knew we were going to out there and win this game. Right when the play call came in out of Sean Payton’s mouth for C.J., I thought ‘This was it. This one is going the distance.’”

For what it’s worth, Brees was the fastest quarterback in history to reach 400 touchdowns.

<![CDATA[Cowboys Staff Miffed by Randle's Risky, Over-the-Top Effort]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 13:18:36 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/490301432.jpg

Not that anyone had to wait until the postgame press conference to learn that the Dallas Cowboys’ staff was less than thrilled with Joseph Randle’s approach to what turned out to be a second quarter touchdown--even after the play was called a touchdown, coaches were visibly incensed--but Jason Garrett left no question when he took the podium.

Obviously it worked out,” Garrett said, per Todd Archer of ESPN Dallas. “We scored the touchdown there. He got in before the ball came out. That is something we discussed with him and our other running backs how we want to handle that situation. It’s a dangerous play when you extend the ball like that. It worked out for us but we don’t want to do that in that situation.”

The fury over Randle’s leap of faith comes in part from last week’s loss to the Falcons, when coaches saw Randle attempt to extend the ball over a plane and told him not to do that again--it’s just too dangerous. That he did the move again, a week later, had the coaches fit to be tied.

Randle finished with a modest 26 yards and the touchdown on 11 carries.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Beltre Finishes Off Insane Stretch With Big Day]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 13:04:09 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/208*120/GettyImages-491323186.jpg

Adrian Beltre looked on his way to having the worst year of his career for much of the 2015 season, then the calendar hit mid-August and Beltre reverted back to his 2011 and 2012 days, putting the Rangers on his back along with Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo with an insane stretch of baseball from the veteran.

Beltre finished the year hitting .287, which was nearly 20 points higher than his batting average on Aug. 15, and from that day through Sunday, his numbers rivaled anyone's in recent memory as far as offensive production down the stretch in a pennant chase.

Beltre hit .332 over those final 48 games with a .386 on-base percentage and a .947 OPS. He had 14 doubles and nine homers and drove in an incredible 53 runs over those final 48 games, a number boosted by the three RBIs he had on Sunday, including his big go-ahead home run. It was Beltre's third game of the four-game set against the Angels with three RBIs.

With that production, you almost wish the Rangers could open the postseason on Monday, but Beltre and lots of other folks in the Rangers clubhouse need a few days to recharge, and the Rangers hope Beltre and his friends can pick up where they left off come Thursday in Toronto.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rangers' Rotation Should Shape Up Like This]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 13:07:55 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/490739192.jpg

Would you freak out a little if you heard Yovani Gallardo was going to start Game 1 of a postseason series? It's OK if you answer "yes," because he's a great influencer of the freakout factor.

Gallardo hasn't been terrible, in fact, he's been pretty good in terms of allowing runs. But, his problem all year has been working deep into games, and lately, he's had trouble getting out of the fifth inning and anything he does in the sixth is seen as a bonus.

But look at what Gallardo has done against the Toronto Blue Jays this year, and it's pretty clear he belongs in the Rangers' playoff rotation for this series.

Gallardo went 13-11 and compiled a 3.42 ERA this year — a career-best ERA in his first season in the American League, which is pretty remarkable in itself, especially when you look at recent Rangers acquisitions like Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster and how they fared for the Rangers after coming over from the NL.

But against the Blue Jays, who have the best offense in the game, he's been an ace.

In two starts against Toronto, he's gone 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA in 13 2/3 innings of work. He's given up six hits, struck out six and has walked five. The Blue Jays hit .136 against him in those two games.

Sure, it's a small sample, but it's impressive, and for that, Gallardo should be the Game 1 starter against a team he's dominated this year.

So here would be my Rangers' rotation for the ALDS:

Gallardo — 13-11, 3.42 ERA; Cole Hamels — 7-1, 3.66; Colby Lewis — 17-9, 4.66; Derek Holland — 4-3, 4.91; Hamels.

Perez would've been a candidate over Gallardo had the Rangers drawn the Royals, but you can't not throw Gallardo against the Blue Jays and Perez has been massively up and down coming off Tommy John surgery, even though he's been really good his last two starts. He'll be the first guy out of the bullpen if things turn sour.

Now, we just have to wait and see what Jeff Banister and Mike Maddux decide.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Christine Michael Loses a Yard in Cowboys Debut]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 13:02:39 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/christine-michael-debut.jpg

Ahead of Sunday night’s matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and the New Orleans Saints, a fair amount was made of the fact that running back Christine Michael was active.

Michael was acquired by the Cowboys in a trade almost a month ago, but until last night, he hadn’t so much as been on the field for a snap.

"You'll see him on real short-yardage situations, especially if we get a chance in the red zone," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told 105.3-FM The Fan before the game, via the Dallas Morning News. “That's where we think he can add something. He's low to the ground.”

Indeed, the Cowboys attempted to use Michael in this way in the fourth quarter, on a 3rd-and-1, but the former Seahawk really never had a chance on the play. He hit the hole--or rather, the area where the hole was presumably supposed to be--and was pushed back, losing a yard on the play.

<![CDATA[Yankees' CC Sabathia Checking Into Alcohol Rehab ]]> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 03:52:53 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/sabathia+rehab+center.jpg

Yankees' CC Sabathia is checking into an alcohol rehabilitation center and will miss the postseason, the pitcher said Monday in a statement released by the team.

In the statement, the 35-year-old Sabathia said he was seeking "the professional care and assistance needed to treat my disease."

He said he wanted to thank the Yankees organization for "their encouragement and understanding."

Sabathia's move comes the day before the Yankees take on the Houston Astros in a critical one-and-done AL Wild Card game. It's the team's first postseason appearance since 2012.

“I love baseball and I love my teammates like brothers, and I am also fully aware that I am leaving at a time when we should all be coming together for one last push toward the World Series," the 2007 AL Young Award winner said. "It hurts me deeply to do this now, but I owe it to myself and to my family to get myself right. I want to take control of my disease, and I want to be a better man, father and player."

Sabathia said it was difficult to publicly share his decision, but he didn't want to "run and hide." He also asked for privacy for him and his family.

“Being an adult means being accountable. Being a baseball player means that others look up to you," Sabathia added. I want my kids -- and others who may have become fans of mine over the years -- to know that I am not too big of a man to ask for help. I want to hold my head up high, have a full heart and be the type of person again that I can be proud of. And that’s exactly what I am going to do."

Sabathia was 6-10 with a 4.73 ERA this year, slowed by his surgically repaired right knee. After returning from the disabled list and using a tighter brace, the portly left-hander was 2-1 with a 2.17 ERA in five starts and got the win against Boston that week that clinched the Yankees' return to the postseason following a rare two-year absence.

Sabathia, who helped New York win the 2009 World Series during his first season in the Bronx, is signed through next season. His deal includes a 2017 club option that would become guaranteed if his left shoulder doesn't get hurt.

"I am looking forward to being out on the field with my team next season playing the game that brings me so much happiness," Sabathia said. 

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Banister Owes Hamels a Cold Beverage]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 13:10:16 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/479974946.jpg

The Rangers had the AL West in their hands on Saturday as they entered the ninth inning with a four-run lead over the Angels. They just couldn't hold on to it.

While the Rangers' pitchers in that inning failed them, it was a horrible decision by rookie skipper Jeff Banister that led the disaster in the first place.

Banister pitched Sam Dyson for the fifth straight day in the eighth inning, and he had very little problem getting out of the inning on just more than 20 pitches. He looked fresh and dominant. Yet, with the four-run lead, Banister went to closer Shawn Tolleson for the fifth straight day after he'd been hit hard all series. Tolleson promptly gave up back-to-back homers to start the inning and was toast.

Of course, after that, Ross Ohlendorf kicked away the Rangers lead and Andrew Faulkner finished the inning after the Angels had come back to score five runs in the ninth to save their season and prolong the Rangers' tension.

That put the Rangers in a huge bind on Sunday as Dyson and Tolleson were fried, and Keone Kela had pitched on Saturday and therefore wouldn't be available. That meant the Rangers were going into Sunday with Derek Holland being a probable high-leverage option out of the bullpen, along with Jake Diekman, and then not much else.

So what did Cole Hamels do? How about a complete-game three-hitter to win the West and keep the bullpen from anything more than a mid-innings stir from long reliever Nick Martinez. It was a gem, and it saved Banister's backside from some serious criticism had they not won Sunday's game.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Sean Lee Dealing With Concussion]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 12:11:56 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-488181450.jpg

The Dallas Cowboys just can’t get away from the injury bug.

During the first half of Sunday night’s overtime loss to the Saints in New Orleans, Dallas lost linebacker Sean Lee to a concussion. He left fairly quietly really, after being hurt on the Saints’ second possession of the night, and went to the locker room to undergo further testing.

Lee never did return, leaving the Cowboys defense without their leader and leading tackler. He finished with three tackles.

Of course, Lee missed all of last season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in OTAs. He has still yet to play 16 games in a season, though he came close in 2011, when he appeared in 15 games. He’ll have to go through the NFL concussion protocol this week to be cleared for next week’s matchup with the Patriots.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Hamels Did Hamels on Sunday]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 12:01:48 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/485015006.jpg

When Cole Hamels watched Rougned Odor throw out Rangers dreamkiller David Freese for the final out of Sunday's game, and the Rangers began pouring out of the dugout toward him, Hamels took a laid back approach to what was coming.

The ace lefty simply began walking toward second base for the Rangers' customary post-win handshake line — no fist pump, no nothing.

But he knew what was coming, and it was a deluge of water and hugs from his teammates after they'd won the AL West behind a complete-game masterpiece from Hamels — his first with the Rangers and second of the season, his other being his no-hitter in his final start with the Phillies.

Hamels deserved every bit of praise he got. He was a warrior. He gave up first-inning two-run homer to Albert Pujols and a double in the second, and then no more hits over the final six-plus. Most importantly, he prevented the Rangers from needing to dip into their exhausted, overworked bullpen that had nothing left.

When the Rangers acquired Hamels at the trade deadline, the prevailing thought was that it would be for the next couple of seasons of Hamels and Darvish atop the rotation. Little did we know, it was for Sunday, and boy, did he deliver.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Memo: Try Keeping Perspective of Rangers Season]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 12:03:50 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-482223816.jpg

If the Rangers had not won Sunday's game, lost Monday's AL West title game with Houston and then fallen in the AL Wild Card Game on Tuesday, you would've been pretty upset, right?

Sure you would've been. And that's OK, but it's not necessarily fair.

As the Rangers head into the ALDS against quite possibly the best team in the American League on Thursday, keep something in mind when the Rangers are trying to upset the Blue Jays — this isn't supposed to be happening.

The Rangers lost Yu Darvish before the gates opened at Globe Life Park, and it took exactly one inning after that moment for them to lose Derek Holland for an extended period of time (four months). Colby Lewis, on a new hip, held the Rangers' pitching staff together by leading the team in innings pitched and wins.

The Rangers actually brought back Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli on cheap deals, and got some serious contributions from them. That doesn't even begin to mention the rejuvenation of Shin-Soo Choo and Elvis Andrus, who were two of the best players on the team post-All-Star break after being the target of some mass vitriol from fans and media alike through the first half.

Sure, your expectations have gone up over the last month and a half, and that's human nature. But try to reel it in a bit. Remember where this club was in April, and where they were in early July when they suffered an embarrassing sweep at home to the Angels, and when they lost 21-5 in late July to the Yankees. Remember all of that, and just rejoice in what a great year this has been.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Three Phases: Cowboys-Saints]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 12:09:46 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-491357506.jpg

Every week, we'll grade the Cowboys on the three phases of the weekend's game.

Offense: C

The offensive line is struggling. The running game was terrible once again outside of an early 45-yard run from third-down back Lance Dunbar, who ended up leaving the game with injury and is probably done for the season. Brandon Weeden was better and found some of his wide receivers, eventually making a clutch TD pass to Terrance Williams on fourth down to tie the game in the waning seconds of regulation.

Defense: F

Drew Brees marched down the field with no timeouts on what should've been a game-winning drive in the final seconds — reminiscent of how Tony Romo toyed with the Giants in Week 1. That, of course, failed thanks to a missed field goal. But it didn't matter because on the second play of overtime, C.J. Spiller was left all alone and scurried 80 yards to paydirt, and a Saints win.

Special teams: B

Dan Bailey and Chris Jones did their thing in the kicking game, and the coverage units didn't blow anything. They took a big blow when they lost Dunbar.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cuban Understanding Of Chandler's Hurt Feelings]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 11:18:44 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/113540424.jpg

Mark Cuban claimed he learned his lesson from the mistake of letting Tyson Chandler leave in free agency after their 2011 championship season, but apparently it was just lip service, as the Mavs turned their back on the best center in franchise history four summers later.

And now, the Mavs’ owner must be understanding if Chandler isn’t all too thrilled by the way he was disrespected — twice — in Dallas.

“He does have the right to be salty,” Cuban said Friday on 103.3 FM.

After reacquiring Chandler from the Knicks, the Mavs again dumped him when they felt convinced they had a legitimate shot to sign NBA leading rebounder DeAndre Jordan.

“The opportunity for DeAndre came along and we were pretty straightforward,” Cuban said in the radio interview. “Tyson or his agent gave us the ultimatum before the decision was made. He said he wouldn't wait. That's his decision. It is what it is. He does have a right to be salty, because I really did suggest to him — and it's exactly the way I thought — that he'd be here for a long time.”

Jordan, of course, changed his mind, stayed with the Clippers and left Dallas grasping at a gaggle of Plan C center including Zaza Pachulia, JaVale McGee and Samuel Dalembert.

“I thought it was crazy,” Chandler told reporters during the Phoenix Suns’ Media Day last week. “I never thought that DeAndre was going to sign with the Mavs, to be honest. Him going back on it, I actually thought that he got a good look at the picture.”

The Mavs open the season against Chandler and the Suns Oct. 28 in Phoenix. And, yes, they’ll be a severe disadvantage in the middle.

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 lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cowboys Get Boost With Return of McClain, Hardy]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 12:20:37 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/greg-hardy-9.8.15.jpg

The Cowboys probably won’t win against the New England Patriots Sunday, but they will begin to look more like the team that will win consistently come December.

In a season that has seen the injury-related departures of Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, Randy Gregory, Sean Lee and Lance Dunbar, the pendulum will at least begin to swing in the Cowboys’ favor. Appearing at AT&T Stadium for the first time this season: linebacker Rolando McClain and defensive end Greg Hardy. Both of their league-mandated four-game suspensions are over, and they’re expected to practice Tuesday and play Sunday.

It’ll be a sight for sore eyes, seeing that on the Saints’ game-ending touchdown in overtime the Cowboys had on the field role-playing linebackers named Keith Smith and Damien Wilson. And after strong first-half showings against the Falcons and Saints, the defense visibly wore down late in the game in both losses. Late in last night’s game the Cowboys couldn’t produce any pressure on New Orleans’ quarterback Drew Brees.

Hardy has 27 sacks in his last 32 NFL games. And McClain was one of Dallas’ most productive playmakers last season.

The Cowboys won’t look like themselves until around Thanksgiving. But against the Patriots that long transformation will at least commence.

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 lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.

<![CDATA[Rangers Are Alive, Curse Of Nolan Is Dead]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 12:06:21 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/jon-daniels.jpg

Hello, playoffs.

Bye bye, "Curse of Nolan."

That is, assuming it ever existed. Which, of course, it did not.

Among the most rewarding elements to the Rangers’ amazing season — climaxed by Sunday’s 9-2 win over the Angels, which won them the AL West — is the burying of the irrational idea that former President Nolan Ryan built the Rangers’ previous success and that general manager Jon Daniels would never field a winning team without him.

Sorry, Nolan Ryan die-hards. Today is your discombobulated theory’s funeral. I suggest wearing, um, red.

Ryan is a national treasure, a local icon and a 10-gallon hero. He has the 7 no-hitters, 300 wins, 5,000 strikeouts and he’ll always be revered for putting Robin Ventura in that bloody headlock. But — admit it — Daniels is a younger, brighter baseball mind.


The Rangers were on their way up well before Ryan arrived in ’08. Daniels had already hired Ron Washington, acquired Josh Hamilton and engineered the Mark Teixeira trade that produced Matt Harrison, Elvis Andrus and Neftali Feliz. But after two World Series appearances and a change of ownership, Ryan and Daniels got into a tug-of-war for control of the baseball operations. New management controversially sided with the kid educated at Cornell over the legend who grew up in a clubhouse.

It was — and still is — the right move.

Daniels’ hire, Jeff Banister, will likely win AL Manager of the Year. Prince Fielder for Ian Kinsler looks pretty good right about now. His plug-a-hole finds have helped the Rangers win when we figured all was lost. Mike Napoli. Drew Stubbs. Chris Giminez. Sam Dyson. Delino DeShields, stolen from the Astros in last Winter’s Rule 5 Draft. And Hamilton, hitting two homers Saturday and producing a key hit in Sunday’s crucial 7th inning — all on the Angels’ dime.

And let’s not forget Sunday’s pitcher, Cole Hamels. It might go down as one of the most savvy acquisitions in the history of the franchise.

In late July the Rangers got Hamels and lefty reliever Jake Diekman in exchange for Matt Harrison and five prospects. We saw how dominant Hamels can be, as he shut down Anaheim on three hits. The best part? The Phillies also sent Texas $9 million in the trade, meaning it will get an ace at the low-budget cost of around $12 million per year over the next three seasons. And in 2016? Imagine Hamels alongside one of Daniels’ other accessories, fellow named Yu Darvish.

No offense to the legacy of Nolan Ryan, but it’s Daniels’ moves that have led the Rangers back in the postseason.

Big Tex? These days he’s merely the Big Ex.

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 lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[5 Things To Know: Cowboys OT Loss to Saints]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 00:30:17 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-491357970.jpg NBC 5's Pat Doney discusses Sunday's memorable moments in the Cowboys' loss to the Saints at the Superdome in New Orleans.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Saints 26, Cowboys 20: My Top 10 Whitty Comments]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 00:19:29 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-491357506.jpg

10. Sorry, but part of Sean Lee’s job is to remain healthy and stay on the field. Whether it’s bad luck or bad form (leading with his helmet), Lee will merely frustrate and tease us until he finds a way to avoid injuries. Lee’s the Cowboys’ best defensive player, but critics that say “he’s too small to play so violently” have another card in their deck tonight after his concussion.

9. I contribute the following analysis fully aware that I expect too much logic from TV commercials. But … Good try by Subway with its “Trophy Talk”, but it’s gonna take more than Davey O’Brien’s statue to make us forget Jared Fogle’s pedophilia. And in the US Bank ad, the woman buys the giant helmet blocking her view only to put it on and thereby block the view of the poor fan behind her? Real nice.

8. The Cowboys are too hurt and too mediocre to play dumb. What’s dumb? A penalty for 12 men on the field during that turns a punt into a field goal. 3-point mistakes in overtime games are killers. And, yep, dumb.

7. The Cowboys are besieged by injuries, but not along the offensive line. I watched the lowly Buccaneers run for 139 yards against Rob Ryan’s porous Saints’ defense. But tonight? Only 115 for the Cowboys. Unacceptable.

6. Brandon Weeden doesn’t know how to “climb the pocket” to avoid sacks and he salivates over check-down throws like we do free buffets, but I give him credit for at times looking like an NFL quarterback. His throw to Brice Butler for a 67-yard gain was a beauty, and his game-tying touchdown to Terrance Williams on 4th-and-7 was both gutsy and glorious. Still, there’s a reason he’s lost his last 10 NFL starts and we saw it on display for most of the game.

5. Tough night for Lance Dunbar. He buys 17 tickets for family members, and has his grandmother watching him play live for the first time. But for some reason he returns the second-half kickoff from eight yards deep in the end zone and promptly injures his knee. Game over. Season likely in limbo.

4. Joseph Randle obviously has talent, but not a lick of sense around the goal line. He fumbled last week diving across the goal line against the Falcons and tonight he, well, I’m not sure what to call it. Let’s try this: Randle took a hand-off at the 1 and attempted a spinning, whirling, Peter-Pan finesse move punctuated by him sticking the ball out with one hand and trying a George Gervin-like finger roll. That about right? It resulted in a touchdown, but also a tongue-lashing from both Jason Garrett and running backs coach Gary Brown. My $1 says Dallas’ next goal-line hand-off is to someone other than Randle.

3. At least one team that calls Arlington home won a big game on Sunday. Sorry Cowboys, but considering your plight and the Rangers’ play, our sports spotlight will be focused on baseball for a week or so. Or longer.

2. The trouble on Drew Brees’ game-winning touchdown pass to C.J. Spiller actually started the play before, when linebacker Andrew Gachkar was picked by a Saints’ receiver and had to leave the field with a leg injury. Enter Keith Smith, who has been on and off the Cowboys’ roster constantly the last two years. Unsure of where to line up, Smith was consulting with rookie Damien Wilson when the ball was snapped to Brees, a wily veteran who obviously sensed Dallas’ defensive confusion. Spiller got a step immediately on the out-of-place, out-of-sorts Wilson, then somehow eluded safety Barry Church’s feeble tackle attempt around midfield and scampered 80 yards. Reminiscent of the Cowboys’ loss in Arizona in 2011 when LaRod Stephens-Howling took a pass 52 yards for the game-winning score on the first possession of overtime.

1. You catch the break of a season when the Saints’ miss a 30-yard field goal, then lose the game two plays later? This was the worst possible scenario for Cowboys. Not only did they lose an offensive playmaker (Dunbar), their defensive quarterback (Lee) and a heart-breaking, overtime game, but Weeden looked just competent enough on Dallas’ last drive to earn a third start next week. Which, yep – against the Patriots – means a third straight loss.

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 lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Top NFL Photos: Week 4]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 23:19:04 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-491476626.jpg See the top photos from week 4 of the NFL.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cowboys Fall to Saints in Overtime, 26-20]]> Sun, 04 Oct 2015 23:58:48 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/drew-brees-cowboys10.4.15.jpg

The Saints needed overtime to beat a depleted Cowboys team on Sunday night in New Orleans, but beat them they did, 26-20.

The Cowboys are now 0-2 with Brandon Weeden at quarterback, though once again, Weeden played well.

Sprung by a couple of big runs, Weeden led the Cowboys 74 yards down the field on their opening drive, but they ultimately stalled and gave way to Dan Bailey, who knocked a 30-yard field goal through the uprights to give Dallas a 3-0 lead.

The Saints answered immediately with an 11-play, 80-yard drive capped by a three-yard touchdown pass from Brees to Josh Hill to take the lead, at 7-3.

The Cowboys then took the kickoff and marched 80 yards on 10 plays, with Joseph Randle going over the top for a one-yard touchdown run--a play that was called a fumble at first, but a touchdown upon further review. The touchdown gave the Cowboys a 10-7 lead going into halftime.

After intermission, the Saints wasted no time in tying it up. Zach Hocker hit a 51-yarder to open the scoring in the half and, after Dallas took the lead again on a 38-yarder from Bailey, Hocker tied it again at 13-13 with a 29 yarder.

In the fourth quarter, Brees led an 11-play, 67-yard touchdown drive, capped by a one-yard run by Khiry Robinson, to give the Saints the lead. The Cowboys responded with a 91-yard drive, capped by a 17-yard pass from Weeden to Terrance Williams, to tie it at 20-20. Hocker missed a 30-yard field goal attempt that would have given the Saints a win, which took us to overtime.

In overtime, the Saints needed two plays to beat the Cowboys for good. On the second, C.J. Spiller took a run 80 yards to send the Cowboys home in about the most demoralizing possible way.

To add injury to insult, Dallas lost Lance Dunbar to a knee injury, and Sean Lee to a concussion during the loss.

Weeden finished 16-of-26 passing for 246 yards and a touchdown.

Lance Dunbar had 54 yards on three carries, Darren McFadden had 31 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries, and Joseph Randle had 26 on 11 carries. As in last week’s loss, the vast majority of the running production came in the first half.

On the other side, Drew Brees finished 33-of-41 passing for 359 yards and two touchdowns. Mark Ingram went for 77 yards on 17 carries, and Robinson and CJ Spiller combined for another 26 yards on eight carries.

At 2-2, the Cowboys will host the Patriots at JerryWorld next week.

<![CDATA[Sideline Photos: Cowboys at Saints ]]> Sun, 04 Oct 2015 23:31:13 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Cowboys-Saints-October-4-2015.jpg Sideline photos: Cowboys at Saints

Photo Credit: Getty Images/NBC 5 Sports ]]>
<![CDATA[Rangers' T-Shirt That Sparks Social Media Buzz Discontinued]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 14:57:58 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/rangers-shirt.jpg

Major League Baseball knows it made a mistake in creating the official AL West Championship shirts for the Texas Rangers and says no more shirts will be shipped.

Fans lined up to buy the postseason gear after the Rangers beat the Angels 9-2, and some fans — like Arlington City Council Member Robert Rivera — took offense the design of the postseason shirt, which depicts the Dallas skyline.

According to Rangers' spokesman John Blake, the design was commissioned by Major League Baseball, which keeps shirt designs a secret from all clubs until they are released.

"The Rangers had nothing to do with the design of this T-shirt," said Blake. "MLB keeps the design a secret and we didn't see the shirts until the boxes were opened today."

The Rangers canceled additional designs of the shirt and requested the MLB to remove the design, Blake said.

On Monday, the MLB said no more shirts would be shipped.

"When designing shirts for teams that advanced to the Postseason, we incorporated a skyline theme for clubs," said VP of MLB Public Relations, Matt Bourne. "We made a mistake in using this design for the Rangers.  As a result we are not shipping any more skyline t-shirts to retailers and we are instead offering alternate Rangers Postseason shirts."

It had been a rough ride for the Rangers and their fans during the weekend. A dramatic loss on Saturday led to the division-clinching game Sunday, leaving the Ranger's pro shop packed full of fans ready to swipe up the championship gear.

"We waited in line and they were sold out," Siovhan Peoples said.

The Rangers head to Toronto Thursday to face off against the Blue Jays in the first round of the American League Divisional Series.

NBC 5's Amanda Guerra and Jocelyn Lockwood contributed to this story.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Cowboys Lead Saints at Half, 10-7]]> Sun, 04 Oct 2015 21:07:54 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/lance-dunbar-saints-10.4.15.jpg

After a half of football in New Orleans, the Dallas Cowboys lead the Saints, 10-7.

Sprung by a couple of big runs, Brandon Weeden led the Cowboys 74 yards down the field on their opening drive, but they ultimately stalled and gave way to Dan Bailey, who knocked a 30-yard field goal through the uprights to give Dallas a 3-0 lead.

The Saints answered immediately with an 11-play, 80-yard drive capped by a three-yard touchdown pass from Brees to Josh Hill to take the lead, at 7-3.

The Cowboys then took the kickoff and marched 80 yards on 10 plays, with Joseph Randle going over the top for a one-yard touchdown run--a play that was called a fumble at first, but a touchdown upon further review. The touchdown gave the Cowboys a 10-7 lead, which stands as the tally at halftime.

Weeden is 8-of-12 passing on the evening for 66 yards.

Lance Dunbar has 54 yards on three carries, Joseph Randle has 25 and a touchdown on seven carries, and Darren McFadden has five on four carries.

On the other side, Drew Brees is 17-of-20 passing for 115 yards and a touchdown. Mark Ingram has 26 yards on four carries.

The Cowboys will receive the kick to open the second half.