The Summer of Wrong
It's August now--a traditionally disastrous stretch for the Dallas Observer sports desk. By this time, the Rangers are usually out of it, and I'm so bored that I have to amuse myself by stealing things from my co-workers--pens, computers, wallets, but never story ideas. I leave that last bit to the rest of the rabble around here. I'm telling you: Some of them have no soul.
Thankfully, this summer has been different. The Rangers continue to battle toward the postseason, while the Mavs and Cowboys--especially the Mavs--continue to make changes to their rosters with alarming frequency. The Mavs have at least 20 players on their team now, I'm sure of it. And I think something is going on with the Stars and the NHL, too, but who the hell cares about hockey at this time of year (or ever)?
On this end, I've been busy--but not because of any sports-related distractions. For the uninformed, I'm running for U.S. Congress in District 5 against a Republican incumbent named Jeb Hensarling. I've spent most of my time digging up dirt on Hensarling, who I'm convinced is a dirty pol with nefarious intentions. I've found no evidence of that, mind you, but I'm sure of it nonetheless--as sure as I am of the fact that the Mavs have something like 32 ballers on their roster.
Either way, this politics business has been a drain on my energy and my bank account (which is why you should volunteer and/or send money to my campaign; visit www.johngonzalez4congress.com). I'm mentally fatigued and sorely in need of a vacation, even though I just got back from one. But I'll adjust. By the time you read this, I'll be in Oxnard, California, for Cowboys training camp. But don't expect any insight from me about the Pokes. Instead, I'll be sunning myself on a beach somewhere, tossing back strong drinks and cursing the lot of you--especially that horrible Hensarling. Point is, no matter where you are right now, it's probably a lot cooler on my end.
I leave you to think about all that, and the rest of this, too.
There's about a month and a half left in the baseball season, and even with some rough patches here and there, the Texas Rangers keep fighting for a playoff spot. Unless Ameriquest Field spontaneously combusts, the Rangers figure to at least remain in the wild card race, if not contend for the A.L. West. And who saw that coming? Certainly not me. First I wrote a spring training feature predicting the usual collapse. Wrong. Then I wrote a column a few months after the season began that advised overzealous fans to ration their excitement because the usual collapse was likely closing in. Wrong. Then I said the Rangers would bring about the usual collapse by not trading for a starting pitcher--which was also wrong. If nothing else, I've been consistent. I make an art form of being wrong--it's a beautiful thing in an abstract sort of way.
The Rangers, owner Tom Hicks, manager Buck Showalter and even general manager John Hart have been proven correct. Even if they don't make the postseason, it would be hard to categorize this year as anything but a success. Their plan of attack--to let the nucleus of young, talented players develop--looks far more sound today than anyone believed back in February when they reported for spring training without league MVP Alex Rodriguez. It makes sense now, with the team winning, that the Rangers wouldn't want to make any changes. Why tinker with something that works? That's what I always say. That and "believe in the Rangers; those guys are winners."
That's the way I remember it, anyway.
Forget Quincy Carter for a moment; the biggest preseason shakeup was at running back. I was sure the Cowboys would pass on Eddie George. If head coach Bill Parcells has been adamant about anything, it's that he's not the type to add big names with large price tags draped around their necks. Those kinds of moves, the thinking went, can handicap you for the future. It made more sense that George, the former Titans running back and Pro Bowler, would end up with the Eagles--he's from Philly, and they signed just about everyone else during the off-season, so why not George, too? It made sense that he'd sign with the Birds because they figured to throw more money at him, or at least more contract years.
Didn't happen that way. Instead, the 'Boys, to their credit, immediately stepped up and expressed interest in George, who cited the team's enthusiasm as a chief reason why he decided to play in Dallas rather than Philly. The Cowboys got George for a one-year deal worth $2.2 million (but it could be worth as much as $5.1 mil with incentives). The base contract was an awfully good price for the Pokes, even though some suspect that George's best days are behind him.
Make no mistake, getting George was a key acquisition. Regardless of the fact that the Cowboys were trumpeting rookie draftee Julius Jones, the idea that he could have handled the majority of the running back responsibilities by himself was questionable. Now, with Jones, George, Richie Anderson and Aveion Cason, the Cowboys appear to have upgraded a position that was dreadful last year. And, beyond that, by getting George, Dallas also managed to keep him out of Philly's backfield. It was win-win for the 'Boys--a fine move all around.
I've now written supportive words about the Cowboys and the Rangers in the same column. I feel like a shell of a man.
The Mavs have made two trades in the last month or so, but neither was the high-profile deal you probably would have liked. First they sent Danny Fortson to Seattle for Calvin Booth. The same Calvin Booth who used to play here. Then they shipped Tony Delk and Antoine Walker to the Hawks for Jason Terry, Alan Henderson and a first-round pick. Ugh.
Over the off-season, they also managed to recycle Christian Laettner and bring in Jerry Stackhouse and a host of others, running their total of roster players to 57, or roughly the population of Tyler.
The initial thought was that Dallas and Mad Mark Cuban were stockpiling talent in order to trade for Shaquille O'Neal. Too late for that now. Shaq was dealt to Miami. Which leaves the Mavs with a whole lot of players (did I mention they have more players on their roster than they should?) but not many options.
So what happens from here? I'm not sure what will happen, but I can tell you what I'd like to see happen: I'd like to see the Mavs get stuck with each and every player they have, including the two useless 7-footers, Shawn Bradley and Pavel Podkolzin. Then I'd like to see those two goofs fight to the death for the right to star opposite Billy Crystal in a remake of the cinematic classic My Giant.
Is that so wrong?
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