Mike Minor hadn't started a major league game in three seasons when the Rangers signed him leading up to the 2018 season. You'd never know from his performances during his first two seasons with the team. After a good 2018, Minor's been great in 2019, making the American League All-Star team and hanging around the league's leaders in ERA throughout the season. When Globe Life Field, the Rangers' new stadium, opens in 2020, it is likely to be Minor who throws the first pitch.

The Grease Monkey

If you've been to a Cowboys or a Rangers game, you know what a nightmare parking can be. You have to fight traffic on the way to the stadium, find a place to park, pay through the nose and walk half a mile to the stadium, knowing you'll have to walk the same half a mile after the game and fight the same traffic to get out. Or you could stop by the Grease Monkey before the game for a burger and a beer and take their game-day shuttle. At $5 per passenger, you might even come out ahead. But even if you don't, you won't have to deal with the sea of stadium parking lots, which makes you a winner.

Amari Cooper is No. 89
Keith Allison
Amari Cooper is No. 89

After dropping to 3-4 after a loss to the Redskins, the Cowboys front office made a desperate move. In exchange for wide receiver Amari Cooper, the Cowboys gave the Raiders their 2019 first-round draft pick. Cooper, a two-time Pro Bowler, was better than advertised down the stretch in 2018, resuscitating an offense that had been dormant most of the season. While the Cowboys lost in the divisional playoffs, Cooper is the No. 1 wide receiver for the foreseeable future.

If this were a just world, Cowboys defensive play-caller Kris Richard would have an NFL team of his own to coach in 2019. It isn't, though, so the Cowboys will benefit from his outstanding motivational and scheme work for at least one more season. With Richard, the Cowboys defense is capable of scaling great heights, as it did when it held the Saints' prolific offense to 10 points the Thursday after Thanksgiving. Without him, it's merely average.

Cowboys linebacker Leighton Vander Esch is a fan favorite after just one season, thanks to the joy and reckless abandon he brings to the Cowboys defense. He'd be cool enough without a nickname, thanks to his myth-like childhood in the Idaho mountains, but the one he's got — "Wolf Hunter" — is the perfect cherry on top.

Jaylon Smith
Keith Allison
Jaylon Smith

In 2017, Jaylon Smith was back, but he wasn't back. Playing in his first games since having his college career ended by a horrific left knee injury — seriously, the video is not for the faint of heart — Smith lacked the lateral movement to compete in the NFL, leading many to question his future. The Notre Dame product changed everybody's mind in 2018, combining with Leighton Vander Esch to form one of the league's most dynamic young linebacking duos. Smith is a great story who's on his way to becoming a great player.

According to the University of North Texas' media guide, Mean Green quarterback Mason Fine is 5 feet, 11 inches. That's being generous. However tall Fine is — we'd guess 5-9 — he is, headed into his senior season, the most important player to the North Texas football program since Mean Joe Greene, having led the Denton school to back-to-back nine-win seasons. Whether he's able to lead UNT to its first-ever Conference USA championship, Fine has turned a long-term laughingstock into a football contender.

Flywheel
Kathy Tran
Flywheel

Flywheel Sports offerers classes ranging from 30 to 90 minutes. Upper-body exercises are incorporated for a full-body workout, and all classes are set to music. Not for the faint of heart, Flywheel is a favorite among those best motivated by a little friendly competition. Compete with classmates to see your name climb the TorqBoard at the front of the room. You can also view performance stats via Flywheel's app and website. Shoes, towels and lockers are complimentary. Single classes start at $28; unlimited packages start at $195 a month. Their Oak Lawn studio has closed, but Plano pedals on.

The timing was not ideal: The September day Texas oilman and philanthropist T. Boone Pickens died, administrators of the downtown YMCA to which he gave his name and lots of money inadvertently announced plans to sell the building. It was an awkward coincidence, but the downtown Y sits on valuable land in the heart of the city. Its managers had been contemplating a sale and move for about a year, thanks partly to the growing number of apartment buildings and offices offering their own workout rooms, according to news reports. So, the Y's plans to look at relocating make sense, but we doubt many of those workout rooms offer a full sauna and steamroom, a gigantic swimming pool, floors of equipment and trainers to help members get in shape. The Observer's editor learned to swim at the downtown Y, and staff is frequently somewhat grateful he hasn't drowned. Does your dinky "fitness center" have that? Does it have old guys who lose all sense of modesty when they enter a gym? The sight of naked old dudes imparts a valuable, Ozymandias-like life lesson to young men: This is your future; flesh is frail; be humble and polite. The downtown Y is a great community gathering and learning place; membership fees are reasonable and services are broad. Here's hoping it's replaced with something equally awesome. In the meantime ...

Sunstone Yoga
Kathy Tran
Sunstone Yoga

While Sunstone FIT has grown to offer a wider variety of fitness classes — hence a rebranding from Sunstone Yoga years back — yoga is still the studio's bread and butter. Sunstone offers eight yoga series with options including classes in hot or warm rooms. Hot Yoga (originally called Fire) is Sunstone's signature series. The class takes place in a carefully controlled room with a temperature of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit and -60% humidity and is based on a series of sequenced yoga postures, which can be adapted based on flexibility and fitness level. Single classes are $30; unlimited monthly memberships start at $99.

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