Lists, Rankings and Guesstimations

Ten Items Worth a Look-See: Mavs, Stars, Cowboys, Rangers and Fox News Pundit Says Michael Vick "Should Have Been Executed"

10. Mark Teixeira says teammate Andy Pettitte's "probably leaning toward retirement," which is good news for the Texas Rangers and everyone else aiming to win the AL pennant next year. With the Yankees missing out on Cliff Lee, their rotation is shaky with CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Phillip Hughes and two open spots.

If the 16-year veteran calls it quits, he'll retire at 38 with 240 career regular season wins and another 19 in 42 postseason starts, along with five World Series rings. However, Pettitte posted his lowest ERA since 2005 and best career winning percentage this year, so he could return for a shot at a sixth ring. As Teixeira said, "In a month and a half, a lot can happen."

New York's backup plan could be an aggressive push to trade for Tampa Bay right-hander Matt Garza, who would be a good fit to replace Lee in the Rangers rotation.

9. Somehow the San Antonio Spurs dominated the Los Angeles Lakers last night, winning by 15 points despite just two points from Tim Duncan and 3-for-12 shooting from Manu Ginobili. Are the Spurs that good or the Lakers that bad? It's probably a mixture of both, but the Dallas Mavericks find out tomorrow night when San Antonio visits the American Airlines Center.

8. The Philadelphia Eagles botched an opportunity for a first-round playoff bye with a 24-14 loss at home to third-string quarterback Joe Webb and the Minnesota Vikings. With Sunday's Eagles-Cowboys match-up meaningless to Philly's playoff standing, I'd be surprised if their starters play much -- if at all. So Dallas appears poised to end the season on a high note, although if it can't beat an awful Arizona Cardinals team, a win against a bunch of second and third stringers is hardly a given.

7. For those convinced that the Rangers are set to put closer Neftali Feliz into the rotation, consider that they pondered signing former Chicago White Sox closer Bobby Jenks and making him a starter before he inked with the Boston Red Sox as a setup man. I just don't think Feliz is ready yet, and it would appear Texas agrees.

6. SMU fans can breathe a sigh of relief as June Jones reportedly turned down a $1.5 million annual raise to become the next head coach at the University of Maryland. Jones also rejected more dough when declining the head coaching job with the San Diego Chargers when he took the gig at the University of Hawaii. He's one of the rare guys out there not willing to jump for the most bucks, which makes me appreciate him even more.

5. ESPN's Tim Kurkjian penned a great story about Rafael Palmeiro, who's on the Hall-of-Fame ballot for the first time. I strongly believe that Raffy should get the nod because it seems likely that other steroid and performance-enhancing drug users like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Alex Rodriguez will find their way to Cooperstown. But, as Kurkjian points out, he's likely to receive around the same support as Mark McGwire, who hasn't come close.

Kurkjian rattled off some impressive stats, reminding voters that everyone eligible with 500 career homers (aside from McGwire) are in the Hall, as are all the players with 3,000 hits. And, of course, Palmeiro joined Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Eddie Murray as the only players in history to accomplish both feats.

"Palmeiro's numbers are overwhelming, numbers that are the product partly of great timing and a beautiful swing, a swing that was so effortless, a swing almost never changed, a swing he could repeat every single at-bat," Kurkjian says.

4. As if Cowboys fans needed more validation that this year has been an underachievement unlike any the organization has ever seen, five Dallas players -- Jason Witten, DeMarcus Ware, Jay Ratliff, Andre Gurode and Matt McBriar -- were named as starters to the Pro Bowl. That's the most starters from any team, and only the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons had more players named.

Apparently, Michael Vick's transgressions are long forgotten as he was named starting quarterback to the NFC squad. Yet Vick's naming wasn't the most surprising. Now with his eighth team following his release from the Cowboys five years ago, Baltimore kicker Billy Cundiff is an AFC starter. Cundiff has converted 24-of-27 field goal attempts and leads the NFL with 38 touchbacks. Good thing Dallas has no need for his services.

3. Speaking of Vick, who woulda thought Sean Hannity of Fox News would take a vacation and his replacement would be the one to make a shocking declaration? While talking about a phone call from President Obama to Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie congratulating him for giving a second chance to Vick, Tucker Carlson offered a slightly different take.

"Michael Vick killed dogs, and he did in a heartless and cruel way," he said. "And I think personally he should have been executed for that."

Wow. I'd love to hear his proposed punishments for murderers and rapists.

2. The Dallas Stars rebounded from Sunday's tough 1-0 loss to Phoenix with a 4-2 win against the Nashville Predators. Down 2-1 early in the third period, Dallas responded with three unanswered goals, including the first of the season by both defenseman Mark Fistric and winger Krys Barch. Goalie Andrew Raycroft also chipped in with 44 saves in the game.

The Stars remain atop the Pacific Division with 48 points -- three ahead of the Los Angeles Kings and the sixth most in the NHL. They're sneaking up on the league this year much like the Rangers eventually emerged as the AL's best club. All the Stars need now is for the team to declare bankruptcy (which actually could happen), and their path to the Stanley Cup Finals is secure.

1. After all my talk about the Dallas Mavericks as the NBA's best team, it was inevitable that they'd find a way to lose 84-76 to the Toronto Raptors last night at home. Sure, they didn't have Dirk Nowitzki, but the Raptors had several injuries to their team as well, including ones that kept leading scorer Andrea Bargnani and guards Jose Calderon and Peja Stojakovic out of action.

The Mavs shot poorly in the first quarter, hitting just four of 20 shots, but they tied up the score several times in the second and were down just three points with less than six minutes left in the game. Dallas led 1-0 to begin the game and never took the lead again, shooting 41.3 percent on the night and failing to play consistently on either end of the floor.

It was an embarrassing loss and effort from the team, but they can quickly put this one in the rear view mirror with a win at home against the Spurs tomorrow. If not, it's time to hand over the title of NBA's best to San Antonio.

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Sam Merten
Contact: Sam Merten