*Finally some good news for Texas Rangers fans. After whiffing on Cliff Lee and having face-of-the-franchise Michael Young demand a trade, locking up Josh Hamilton for two years relieves some winter stress. Still, not sure the Rangers are better now than they were headed to spring training a year ago. Music to our ears: Pitchers and catchers report on Thursday.
*Mavs blow a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter in a 121-120 loss in Denver last night. Shawn Marion plays decent defense but can't stop the buzzer-beating jumper by...Arron Afflalo? Blame this one on Dirk Nowitzki. He missed two free throws in the final 2:50, including one with :19 remaining that allowed Afflalo's shot to be a game-winner instead of merely an overtime-forcer.
*And, we're still hearing that Caron Butler thinks he can return for the playoffs. It's a tantalizing prospect, because the Mavs -- despite the recent 10-game winning streak -- are just a different, better animal with him in the mix.
*Read where the Super Bowl XLV flyover cost $450,000. Inside Cowboys Stadium no one even noticed. Has the flyover's time come and gone?
*I know the Saints signed off on Sean Payton's relocation, but can you imagine the local uproar if Jason Garrett announced that he was moving to New Orleans? The commute is supposedly 90 minutes door-to-door, but in the wake of Katrina it just doesn't look or feel good for New Orleans. Payton's moving to Westlake, also home to Rangers owner Chuck Greenberg, the Jonas Brothers and a bunch of other people who don't have to do their own grocery shopping.
*Speaking of XLV, after further review Fergie is still hot. Something sexy about the way she was writhing all over Slash during "Sweet Child O' Mine." And something cool about the way he didn't even seem to notice.
*Kinda lost track of the Dallas Stars in the middle of XLV. Looks like they're fallen back to earth, with a game against the defending champs tomorrow night at AAC. And, hey, look who's back in town. And in goal. Marty Turco.
*President Obama has stopped smoking and now you can't smoke in New York City parks. There will be a day -- perhaps in our lifetime -- when cigarettes are as rare and obsolete as black-and-white televisions.
*When I write I usually listen to music with the muted TV on ESPN. This morning's mood: Tchaikovsky. Who knows why? Couple days ago I was typing to Foo Fighters.
*Peja Stojakovic has been horrible so far in three starts. He's missed 15 of his 20 shots, including all but one of his nine 3-pointers. So far he's nothing more than the failed 2003 experiment of Antoine Rigaudeau.
*Gonna be a weird NBA without Jerry Sloan. On consecutive days the NBA lost two dinosaurs who had held their posts for 23 years: Sloan and Bob Ortegel. And think about this: In the last year sports has seen the departures of Bobby Cox, Jeff Fisher and Sloan. But somehow Joe Paterno marches on toward 50 years in the same job. Amazing.
*Monday is one of the worst days of the year: Valentine's. It's forced. It's fake. It's a no-win. If you get your girl something it was because you were supposed to, and if you don't...well. Every girlfriend I've ever had, I've been up front about it: I don't acknowledge, much less celebrate February 14. Surprisingly, most have been OK with it. At least on the outside.
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*I can't wait for spring, but there's something really cozy and comforting about a bowl of chili in front of a fire on a night when temperatures are in the teens.
*Two groups were ecstatic about the last two weeks of nasty weather: Tow trucks and car washes.
*If I had like 10 lives to live, I'd choose to be a professional gambler in one of them. Live in Las Vegas. Sleep until 10. Go out by the pool and study stats and trends and whatnot over lunch. Then make some bets and at night watch sports on TV. Everyone says gambling is this horrible addiction, but what if you're really good at it? I've got two friends who do it for a living in Vegas and laugh at the rest of us who have real jobs.
*This weekend? The calm before another couple whirlwind storms. Next week let's head to the Daytona 500. When I get back, the following week is off to Vegas for a quick vacation before the annual trip to Surprise, Arizona, and Rangers spring training.