*I still don't fully understand Michael Young leaving Rangers spring training for two days. The team announced it was a "family matter." Manager Ron Washington said Young "has a family thing." And Young, as he left, told reporters in Surprise, Arizona that "Everything's great." But yesterday on 105.3 The Fan outfielder Nelson Cruz told Greggo and me that Young left to attend the funeral of a family friend. A thing? Everything's great? Why didn't the Rangers and Young just announce he was attending a funeral in the first place? Probably totally legit and I'm not saying otherwise on any level. What I am saying is that calling it merely a "family matter" leaves the whole departure -- considering Young's recent trade demands - open to second-guessing and skepticism.
*Cruz, who had two hits in yesterday's intrasquad scrimmage, also said after his first hit that teammates in the dugout flashed him the "Claw." Funny. I figured both "Claw" and "Antlers" were one-year wonders.
*Despite making no trade, the Mavs were significantly better this week. With the departures of Carmelo Anthony and Deron Williams to the East, to me it's clear the NBA's Western Conference will be won by one of our teams: Dallas, San Antonio, the Lakers or Oklahoma City. The weakened West means easier first-round matchups for teams with home-court advantage. I fully realize they've imploded in recent years at Nos. 1 and 2 seeds, but this year the Mavs' opening opponent will be severely diluted.
*Sorry ESPN "Breaking News" scroll, but the Cowboys planning to talk with Cam Newton at the NFL Scouting Combine isn't breaking news. Won't every team talk to him? If not, there's your breaking news: The teams who totally ignore him.
*I think I've been pretty up front and honest with radio ratings in this here blog. I've admitted time and again that 1310 The Ticket is the unchallenged dynasty and that my station -- The Fan -- is at this point merely jockeying with 103.3 ESPN for second place. What I would like to refute is the lazy, dismissive criticism that generally goes along the lines of "The Fan and its 17 listeners." How does this grab you? The Fan actually has more listeners, or a larger "cume," than The Ticket. In January, in fact, 72,400 more. From January 6-February 2 among Men 25-54, The Fan attracted 236,400 unique visitors who spent at least five minutes listening, more than ESPN (215,800) and The Ticket (164,000). You can point out that The Fan's 100,000-watt signal helps that number and that The Ticket's smaller audience tunes in for much longer periods of time - hence, better ratings -- and you'd be right on both counts. But as for customers walking through the front door...well, just remember those numbers the next time you start to lean on the tired old crutch of "The Fan and its 17 listeners." And, as for my specific time slot -- 3 to 7 p.m. -- The Fan in January attracted 89,300 unique listeners, behind ESPN (126,600) and The Ticket (112,600). Compared to January 2010, however, The Fan's afternoon drive cume is up 14,000, ESPN's is flat and The Ticket's down 24,000. Small steps. And, by the way, those of you -- you know who you are -- who confidently wagered that The Fan would flip formats by March 1, um, time to pay up. Next month we'll be at Rangers spring training, then we'll be the broadcast home of March Madness and in April we're planning a trip/show to The Masters and serving as the home of the NFL Draft. You get the point.
*Is it Dallas police or all police? And does it happen more now or do we now just see it more thanks to dash-cam video? On the heels of the Ryan Moats incident and the motorcyclist incident comes this week's month-old news -- better late than never -- that a white officer maced and kicked a black suspect who was tazed, handcuffed and on the ground. I say if you resist arrest, all bets are off. Police should be allowed to use the appropriate amount of force necessary to restrain a suspect. But once restrained, that's when "excessive" kicks in. And no doubt officer Quaitemes Williams should've been fired for his abuse of Rodarick Lyles. But Rodarick, if you want to avoid the chance of future such encounters, don't drive with a suspended license. Pretty simple. Lots of us do it every day. Without incident.
*How much would you have bet against Quaitemes being...red-headed?
*Kudos to Rangers owner Chuck Greenberg. Said he'd improve the ballpark experience for Rangers fans and he's putting his money where his mouth is. A total of $17 million in upgrades to the joint in Arlington, including a 40-yard HD video board (JumboJerry down the street stretches 60 yards) atop right field and a personal inspection and fixing of every cup holder.
*I remember when you'd call your friends and invite them over to watch MTV. Hours upon hours of checking out videos. Last weekend in Daytona during some down time I flipped on the music television network and caught a show called Silent Library. Dumbest thing I've ever seen. Basically six contestants have to perform stunts -- such as licking a dirty plate or absorbing kisses from a clown -- while being totally quiet. But they're not quiet. At all. Even when they're drawing cards to see which member of the group has to perform the challenge, they violently slap the cards on the table and then laugh at each other. If I was going to lose $600 for being too loud, I'd probably just gently turn the cards over. But that's just me. I loved Beavis & Butt-head and Jackass, but this one's lost on me.
*One of the coolest things about the Daytona 500 -- or any NASCAR race for that matter -- is the ability to listen to driver/team communications via scanners. Last weekend Dale Earnhardt Jr. was dropping at least one eff-bomb per lap. You can rent the scanner and headphones for $35. I'd pay at least that much for the ability to hear the chatter between Tony Romo and Jason Garrett.
*Very sad news that the European Crossroads is being bulldozed. R.I.P., Amnizia, site of my last fistfight. 1984ish. In the parking lot. Shirtless. Over some girl. Extremely likely that alcohol was involved on some level.
*When he's being a regular 20-year-old dork, Daytona 500 champ Trevor Bayne drives a Ford F-150 pickup. Thankfully he says it's red, not white.
*UFC 127 is tomorrow night in, of all places, Sydney, Australia. Give me B.J. Penn over Jon Fitch.
*Surprised that -- considering they were missionaries en route to delivering Bibles -- God didn't better protect the four folks killed by Somali pirates last week. Maybe he was too busy orchestrating the 6.3 earthquake in New Zealand?
*This weekend? Feels like a good time to watch UFC Saturday night and soak in some Oscars Sunday night. Don't be a stranger.