Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Rangers Ballpark Improvements: Isn't It Really All About the Cupholders?

The Rangers are giving the Ballpark in Arlington a much-needed facelift.  The team is spending north of $13 million to install a new video board (THANK GOD!!!!!) on the Right Field Porch.  Fans will also see more than 800 Sony professional-grade LCD monitors and hear a much-improved audio system.

All that stuff, I call the Big Sexy.  Those improvements make a splash.  How about the stuff that makes a real difference?

The Rangers found out, through fan feedback, that the cupholders on certain seats, quite frankly, sucked.  So the team has a crew going seat to seat, cupholder to cupholder to make they are all in proper working order.  Anyone with a Texas-sized SUV knows all about the importance of a good cupholder.

I might make another suggestion: get rid of the leather seats in the swanky, outdoor sections.  Pull back the curtain time, when it is crazy hot in the summer, the leather seats exacerbate the sweat factor on the back of your legs.  For the ladies, dressed in cute dresses and outfits, trying to impress their dates/husbands/boyfriends or get dates/husbands/boyfriends this blows.  Big time.  I have a number of girlfriends who had cute little white summer dresses ruined from those leather seats.  The gals don't want to go back because of the leg sweat.  And we all know, if the gals don't want to go, the guys aren't going either.

Just a suggestion from my gals who have paid those high dry cleaning bills trying to get their sweat-stained clothing cleaned.

Now, the cool thing is that you can keep up with the progress of the work bein done on the Ballpark.  The Rangers have a live webcam monitoring all the progress.  Go here to check it out.  It's a cool little feature.
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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Michael Young Reports to Spring Training 2011, Nolan & JD's Reaction

Michael Young reported to Rangers spring training on Saturday, delivering a big hug to Ron Washington the moment he walked into the clubhouse. It's clear he has no issues with the Rangers manager. What's also crystal clear is that the issues lies with general manager Jon Daniels.

"I never in a million years thought this offseason would unfold the way it has," he said during a 20-plus minute press conference. "What I am gonna do is focus on the things I can control, helping my teammates get better, letting my manager know he can count on me."

He pointed out how much he respected Washington and team president Nolan Ryan, failing to mention Daniels. When pressed, he said he had no plans to talk to to him.

Daniels and Ryan met with the media about a half-hour later for a solid 30 minutes. Daniels addressed the apparent fracture that he has with Young.

"I would love to walk in hug everyone every day but that's not critical for us to win," he admitted. "I have good relationship with most but I think time will heal EVERYTHNG and we'll leave it at that."

Click on the video for more observations from what was an interesting (to say the least) Saturday in Surprise.

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Friday, February 18, 2011

Rangers Pitcher Tommy Hunter Hunting for a Job and a Healthy Spring Training

There are few people in the Rangers clubhouse who will make you laugh harder than pitcher Tommy Hunter.  I'm not even going to try to quote him in that regard.  I wouldn't do it justice.  Just trust me.  The man has a career in comedy or tv once he's done with baseball. 

But what's impressive is that he's serious when it comes to his job.  He realized that despite starting 2010 8-0 and posting a 2.31 ERA he was inconsistent.  He went 5-4 in his last 12 starts with an ERA of more than 5.  Then there was the postseason.  Three starts.  0-2 record, 5.56 ERA.   He understands that's not good enough, even bringing it up himself in a conversation Friday morning before the Rangers workout.

"I wouldn't mind going back to the World Series, changing some perspectives about, I guess, myself and the post season," he said.  "I would love to have another chance to do that.  It didn't end on a note I wanted to, personally or as a team."

Hunter is also cool with competing for a spot in the starting rotation, despite having a job in the rotation last season.  In fact, he welcomes the chance to compete, which Rangers manager Ron Washington has said he will have to do. 

"You can't be complacent with what you did last year you," he says, doing his best self-help guru impression.   "You can't be satisfied.  That's life, do better than what you did the year before."

Another big goal is to simply leave Surprise, AZ healthy.  He was injured coming out of Spring Training the last two years.

"Being there opening day is going to be a goal of mine.  The last two years, I wasn't able to get out.  I had a groin (in 2009) and then my oblique last year, so staying healthy and having a job, those are the goals right now."
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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Mavs Get Roddy B Back Tonight, What Should You Expect


Plus who is your All-Star break MVP?
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Friday, February 11, 2011

Collecting Hockey Jerseys IS a Sport and YOU Decide Who Wins

At least that's what two CBS11/TXA21 colleagues have proven the last five days during the unofficial "Wear Your Hockey Jersey to Work" week.

News assignment manager/Minnesota native Mike Pool along with 10pm producer/resident Canadian Tom Duerr came up with the idea last year during a discussion of mine's better than yours.  Hockey jersey collection, that is.  So, in effort to see just whose was more interesting, authentic and fabulous (my description) they threw down the gauntlet:  one week, 10 jerseys.  Could there be a winner?  You decide.

Mr. Poole went with the “NHL Hockey Teams Which No Longer Exist” theme.  "There has been some debate when a team moves, is it the same team or not," he says.  "I say 'no' because the atmosphere and fans change.  Even though the team recognizes its history in its previous city, the team is different."

Mr. Duerr went with something simpler:  "Simply the Best." 

"We didn’t start off with a competitive nature in mind, but it quickly degraded into one (and a fierce one at that)," Mr. Duerr discovered.  "Some teeth were knocked out and there were a few facial lacerations but what else would you expect from this week?" 

So without further ado, here are the jerseys each man brought to battle.  Strong choices, good design, interesting colors. Which one was better?

Check them all out, consider their stories and you be the judge.  Cast your vote in the comments section.
Day 1: competition remains friendly
Mr. Pool going with the crisp, reddish-orange of the Atlanta Flames.  Mr. Duerr pulling out one he calls "very special", Buffalo's Ryan Miller #30.

Day 2: still partners in hockey crime
Tuesday, Mr. Pool produced another strong old-school contender with his Cleveland Barons jersey.  They were only in Cleveland from 1976-78.  Mr. Duerr, sticking with the modern theme, sporting Alex Ovechkin's Capitals jersey.

Day 3: battle heats up so they take it outside
Mr. Pool, again, with the "team no longer there" mindset, sporting Hartford Whalers green.  Mr. Duerr breaking out the Canadiens' Patrick Roy red, a strategic move on his part.

Day 4: now it gets interesting
Mr. Pool was racked with bitterness wearing this North Stars jersey.  "Being from Minnesota and seeing the North Stars leave was extremely sad," he lamented.  "The team will always be the North Stars.  The North Stars jersey is by far the favorite."

Mr. Duerr, donned Wayne Gretzky's Edmonton #9.  "Pulling out the Roy and the Gretzky made this a special competition for me, and I think it helped boost Mike’s game as well," he said.

Day 5: the calm before the storm
Neither man pulled any punches on the fifth and final day of the jersey competition, with Mr. Pool donning Bobby Hull's colorful Winnepeg Jets jersey and Mr. Duerr opting for something more on-trend with a Blue Jackets number.

Even during their Day 5 interview, the tone was respectful.

"I would also like to say that Mike was tremendous competition this week," Mr. Duerr admitted with a hint of melancholy.  "He has a couple of jerseys of which I am very jealous.  I mean, when I saw him with the Gordie Howe Whalers jersey on, I just, I knew this was going to be a tough one." 

*But overcome with the emotion of being a North Stars fan on the Dallas Stars hockey set, Mr. Pool couldn't bring himself to comment.  And, well, just being an aggressive 10pm producer, Mr. Duerr couldn't help but taunt.  Then it got ugly. 

It was a challenging and exhausting week for both men.  So much so that it manifested into both dropping the gloves (actually clipboards) and going at it, appropriately so, in the Saturday Night Hockey studio.

Both men showing nice form, Sevy would be proud
While the competition was fierce, there can only be one winner.  Who is it?  Cast your vote in the comments section.  Vote for the first-ever "Wear Your Hockey Jersey to Work Week".  Their bragging rights depend on it.  

*The following account might have been dramatized for blogging purposes.

Photos provided by our resident Ansel Adams, web producer Ryan Crowe.
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Monday, February 7, 2011

Josh Hamilton vs Texas Rangers: The 2-Year Deal Development

The Rangers are getting creative in their attempts to avoid arbitration with outfielder Josh Hamilton.  Texas has offered Hamilton a two-year contract in effort to avoid a Valentine's Day date at an arbitration hearing on February 14th.

Hamilton is arbitration eligible both this year and next, so a two-year contract would take care of both seasons.  The Rangers offered the reigning AL MVP $8.7 million for next season while he requested a $12 million salary for 2011. 

Hamilton, Darren Oliver & Champ unfurl the "It's Time" (for spring training) banner
"They (the Rangers) just threw it out there," Hamilton said Monday while movers were loading equipment into moving vans bound for spring training in Surprise, AZ.

"The main focus is one year.  Two-year gets done, that's great plus it takes a little stress off and this situation doesn't have to happen next year."

The man knows he's going to get paid one way or the other.  He's at "peace" with the process and optimistic about whatever happens.

"The talks have gotten better and I feel like we're moving in right direction towards each other so that's a positive."

Another positive is that he's regained the weight he lost while he was hospitalized with a bout of pneumonia in mid-January.  He dropped about 10 pounds when he was sick but has regained all the weight.  He's currently 233 but would like to add about six of seven more pounds.

"Only reason I like to be heavier is because I lose weight playing during the summer months," he said.  "As far as strength and everything, weight doesn't have anything to do with that."
Dollies and boxes of kettle bells being loaded on the truck
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Josh Hamilton Talks to Michael Young, Offers Thoughts on Young Trade Reports

During an interview last year, Michael Young told me that he wanted to finish his career with the Texas Rangers.  Now, according to too many reports to list,Young hopes to finish that career with a team not named the Rangers.

How do his teammates feel about that?

"If we lose him, it's a big loss," outfielder Josh Hamilton said Monday as the Rangers loaded moving vans bound for spring training in Surprise, AZ.

Hamilton visited with Young Monday morning during a workout and talked to 34-year old for the first time since the latest round of trade rumors emerged. 

"Obviously he'd be disappointed," Hamilton said.  "He's been here a long time, this is all he's known for his whole career."

And if Young is moved?

"It's definitely a concern.  You think about his leadership, how long he's been with this organization."

"It's going to be different if something happens and he's not here but we'll have to step up and focus on what got us to where we were last year.  That was having that chemistry encouraging each other, loving each other and backing each other up."

"Anytime you lose a player like Michael it's hard on the team.  Hopefully we can keep chemistry there, hopefully somebody will step up and be a leader."

Those leaders are hard to find (are you listening, Dallas Cowboys????) and perhaps even more difficult to replace.

UPDATE:
The Rangers held 5pm conference call with Jon Daniels and Nolan Ryan.   Daniels confirms Young has a requested a trade and that they will try to accommodate his request.  Young initially agreed to move to DH but had a change of heart.  Daniels said he wishes "it hadn't come to this."

Stay tuned!!!!!
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Has This Media Game Changed or What? How I Watched SB45 Commercials

I feel like I'm late to this party, but this morning was as big a light bulb moment as I've had in a long time and it's all because I watched some of more interesting Super Bowl XLV commercials.

I didn't get the chance to watch much of the game because I was working on a story on the people who paid $200 to watch SB45 on the Party Plazas at Cowboys Stadium. They were stuck outside, in the cold rain and had to use portable, unisex toilets. EEEWWWWW. Some people even paid more than the $200 face value for the tickets, buying them on Ebay or from scalpers. Here is a link to my video blog about the experience.

So, this morning, still a little pre-coffee groggy but wanting to see what's going on in the world, I fire up the Ipad while still in bed. I go to my new favorite app, Flipboard. From the Huffington Post feed, I read a story about the 10 best Super Bowl commercials which provides YouTube links to each.

Maybe this is how you consume your visual media but this was a moment for me. I have gone from being upset I missed the ads, to recording them on a VCR, to the DVR to now watching them on an IPad screen at my leisure at any time of day I want.

That's the future. And it's kind of exciting.

Ironically, my favorite Super Bowl commercial was the most nostalgic: The NFL's Best Fans Ever commercial that used clips from some of our favorite sitcoms. Anything that incorporates Happy Days, The Sopranos, Seinfeld and Family Guy in one spot is a hit.   I didn't even mind all the product placement.

You can actually view and vote for your favorite ad here.

Here's mine:




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Saturday, February 5, 2011

Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement: What It REALLY Means to an Inductee's Bottom Line

There are some nervous men waking up across North Texas Saturday morning.  Not members of the Packers or Steelers competing in Super Bowl XLV.  It's the men who will find out on this very day if they will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, OH later this year.

Finalists include former Cowboys Deion Sanders and Charles Haley as well as Dallas native Tim Brown.  Here is a complete rundown of the 17 finalists.

Enshrinement in football's most exclusive club is a true honor.  The Hall of Fame weekend is August serves as reunion for some of the sports most cherished contributors.  Having been to three of them, it's the real deal.

But going into the Hall is about a lot more than prestige.  It's about the cash, marketing opportunities and exposure.  I talked to one finalist who told me that if he gets in, it's a complete game-changer.  If he gets to hang the gold jacket in his closet, he will sign about a half-million dollar autograph deal.  He has three huge household name sponsors anxious to use him as a spokesman if he is a Hall of Famer.

I talked to John Randle about just that Friday night at the NFL Alumni's Player of the Year Awards.  The former Vikings defensive tackle was a member of the 2010 Hall of Fame class.  When I asked how much things have changed for him this last year, he respond with sort of a half-smirk/half-smile.

"Let me tell you this," he said.  "I haven't paid for one round of golf the entire year."

He wouldn't elaborate but he made his point.

The Selection Committee meets today in Dallas to elect the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2011. The election results will be announced at 6 p.m. during a one-hour NFL Network special, live from the Super Bowl Media Center.
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Friday, February 4, 2011

Super Bowl XLV Snowmageddon: It's Gone from Worse to Worst

Icepocalypse 2011 had visiting media, athletes, owners and other random hangers-on in North Texas for Super Bowl XLV complaining but dealing with it.   Snowmageddon 2011 has turned this week into a full-on disaster from a national perspective.  

At least Birdie likes it!
I spoke with a number of visiting media types on Tuesday.  Radio guys from Green Bay, New York and Pittsburgh all got a kick how the "Texans" were handling the weather.  They understood there was nothing we could do about the ice but had a simple "we're all dealing with it attitude" in terms of transportation and day-to-day operations.

One Green Bay talk show host quipped that we should take all the salt we use for our margaritas and put it on the roadways.

Points for humor. 

This latest round of snow is the flake that broke the tree's branch.  Sports Illustrated writer (and fabulous guy, I might add) Peter King tweeted "I'm telling you: I-30 between Dallas + Fort Worth is a plow-less, snow-windswept moonscape. This is officially a debacle."

He's right on all fronts.  While our hospitality has been appreciated and praised, we are now getting blasted with the snow and media hot air.  The weather isn't so much the issue, it's been our inability to deal with it that has people frustrated.

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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Ain't No Party Like a Super Bowl Party.....at the White House

Parties galore kick-off in full-wing across Dallas Thursday night in advance of Super Bowl XLV.


Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and his family are hosting a bash for NFL owners at Cowboys Stadium.  Jamie Foxx is reportedly performing.

My mother is actually sponsoring one benefiting the Ron Springs and Everson Walls Gift for Life Foundation at the Fashion Industry Gallery.

How surreal is that? At least I'm assured of getting into that one. I hope.

None of those compare to the ultimate party invite. President Obama is hosting one at the White House. The guest list includes Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony as well as elected officials from Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

A White House spokesman says about 100 people are expected to attend including Attorney General Eric Holder, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Pennsylvania Senators Pat Toomey and Roberty Casey Jr. and Wisconsin congressman Reid Ribble.

So, is that the ultimate Super Bowl party invite? (I would kill to attend) Regardless of your political affiliation would you go?
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Mike Tomlin isn't Concerned About Big Ben's Fort Worth Night Out "One Iota"

And neither should we.

By now you might have seen the TMZ video of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger singing Billy Joel's "Piano Man" at downtown Fort Worth's Pete's Dueling Piano Bar Tuesday night.  Big Ben reportedly bought a round of drinks for the bar, rang up an $800 tab and took care of the servers, tipping $200.

THEN there's this about Hines Ward, Ike Taylor and "a number of other pro athletes" enjoying a Dallas strip club Monday night.  Ward skirted the issue.

Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin says that his players being spotted out and about is a non-issue.

"I am not concerned about that one iota," Tomlin said at Thursday's media session at Daniel Meyer Coliseum. "It's normal for guys to eat dinner, believe it or not, every now and then during the course of a week leading up to a game. So this week is no different from any other."

Tomlin wants his team to treat Super Bowl week just like any other game week.

"I understand things may be viewed and reported differently but that's not our concern," he added.

Apparently it's been a tradition for Roethlisberger to take his teammates out to eat during Tuesday nights during the week.  They enjoyed bar-b-que before their trip to Pete's.

Lots of media types have been on the record criticizing the Steelers for their after-work activities this week.  "Why can't they just stay at the hotel and watch movies?"  is one refrain.  I get it that Roethlisberger's situation is marred by a number of incidents, having been accused of rape twice but never brought up on charges.  His appearance anywhere in cell-phone video world will raise eyebrows, especially during Super Bowl week.  But I also think that too many people have unreal expectations on athletes.  They're no different from any of us, just paid better.

"Believe it or not - guys live lives," Tomlin said this morning.

Trust me. You don't want to know what Cowboys players were doing when they won those three Super Bowls in the 90's

Issue?  Non-issue?  What are your thoughts?
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