Thursday, July 31, 2008

Panic! At The Metroplex

It has been a little uneasy around the Dallas/Fort Worth area ever since the news of Ron Artest signing with the team down the highway, the Houston Rockets. DallasDedicated is here to calm your nerves and keep you from hitting that panic button...

Ok, I too wrote just two weeks ago about how disappointed I have been with the Mavs organization as of late. While some moves have been very premature and even a little panicked, trying to get Ron Artest by giving away Stack and Bass was part of the dumb decisions I was talking about. This is what I wrote about trying to get Ron Ron:
"Jerry Stackhouse for Ron Artest straight up is a head-scratcher but arguable, but throwing in the young Brandon Bass with nothing but upside ahead of him is just idiotic! Brandon Bass has improved dramatically in just the one season he has worn a Mavs uniform. He out-hustles anyone and everyone, he is by far the strongest player on the roster, and he is ever-improving. GM Donnie Nelson has sent scouts all over the world to find young, raw talent and we finally get one in Bass and he attempts to trade him for a nutcase. Who would you rather have, a young player that is nicknamed "The Animal", or a player that would rather rap than play basketball and started the biggest brawl any sport has ever seen? We can all thank God that Sacramento did not accept this deal (how dumb are they?)"

Now less than 2 weeks later you are freaking out because the Houston Rockets got Artest? We should all thank Rockets GM Daryl Morey that he made a trade happen before the Mavs organization decided to give in to Sacramento and send away Josh Howard for the loon. Some Mavs fans cannot fathom why Sacramento took a deal that involved washed up Bobby Jackson, a young and unproven rookie, and a draft pick but denied the trade that would get "The Animal" Brandon Bass and a veteran shooter. The approved deal actually works better for the Kings than the Bass/Stack combo. Sacramento is already in abundance at the 2 guard position (Douby/Salmons/Martin/Garcia) and already has three power forwards that are undersized at 6-10 (Shelden Williams/Kenny Thomas/Abdur-Rahim). Sacramento needed a veteran backup point guard that was a positive leader in the locker room, which they got in Bobby Jackson. Jackson was also already a crowd-favorite in Sacto. Donte Greene replaces Artest at the SF spot, and a desirable first round draft pick was thrown in to sweeten the deal. So, let's forget about Artest until we have to face Houston in the regular season.

North Texas is panicking far too early, not realizing that the Mavs roster is nowhere near set for the upcoming season. History of the Mavs have shown us that deals happen frequently in the month of August. All in the month of August, the Mavs signed Eddie Jones (Aug. 6, 2007), Devean George (Aug. 1, 2006), Doug Christie and Diop (Aug. 19, 2005). In August 2004, the Mavs made two big trades to acquire Damp and Jason Terry too. Josh Smith is still looking for a different city to play basketball in, but reports around the league are that Atlanta wants far too much for him in return. It's very hard to know if this deal would ever happen, but let's not get our hopes too high. However, do not put ANYTHING past Mark Cuban, because we all know he's willing to do anything that he thinks will help the team.

The problem is this: What does Cuban think will help the team? If he believes trading Josh Howard is the answer, he is wrong. If he believes shopping Bass around to pick up a shooter is the answer, he is wrong. Shan Foster would fit that role, and that can happen without anyone being traded. Who is to say this team is not a contender? Just 3 short years ago, this team was in the Finals! A year after that, 67 wins happened! Last year did not go at all according to plan, but little tweaks have been made to improve this basketball team. A new coach with a new philosophy is encouraging, and Jason Kidd will be much more "Jason Kidd-like" this season. Two big men, Juwan Howard and Malik Allen, were non-factors, and they have been replaced with DeSagana Diop and James Singleton. Summer league star Charles Rhodes could soon be signed as well. Tyronn Lue never proved he could backup Jason Kidd, and he has since been replaced with Keith McLeod. Gerald Green was very impressive in summer league play, and his new attitude can only help this team. The team this year compared to last year is younger, more athletic, deeper, and isn't even close to complete yet.

The Mavs are just as much contenders as they were two years ago. If this year does end in heart-breaking fashion (which you'd think Mavs fans would be used to by now), Kidd will most likely not be asked to return. That frees up around 19 million dollars in cap space to make a run at the free agency fest of 2010, where big names like LeBron, Wade, Bosh, McGrady, Nash, and Ginobili all hit the market. How is that for off-season options?

Hands off the panic button Mavs fans, I see playoff wins and good times ahead. Just be patient, relax, and wait to see what happens. The Dallas Mavericks run at their first NBA championship is in no way over.

Elsewhere in the Dallas sports world: The Texas Rangers are just 4.5 games back in the Al wild card race. Things are beginning to look up after last night's one-run win against Seattle. Michael Young thought he would have the night off, but instead came in to pinch-hit in the bottom of the 8th. He had the winning sacrifice fly, and CJ Wilson looked sharp to close the game out. Texas faces Seattle tonight looking to capture the series win and move a step closer to capturing a playoff spot.


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Mavs Summer Squad, Part II

The Summer League is officially finished, and the training camp invites have been dished out. My fellow blogger Nate gave a breakdown of each player invited to camp earlier today, so my task is to delve a little deeper and break down exactly who we believe should and who will be wearing a Mavericks jersey (or very nice "street" clothes) on opening night.

In a COMPLETELY ideal world, DallasDedicated would like to see Charles Rhodes and Shan Foster nabbing the final two roster spots, waiving James Singleton and his guaranteed money (or possibly an unproductive veteran). Simply put, Rhodes showed more talent than Singleton, and Foster is a much needed shooter. Ranking the hopefuls--in an ideal world, remember--would look like this:

1) Shan Foster--Needed the most on the roster. For years Dallas has lacked a pure shooter.
2) Charles Rhodes--Performed so well it would be foolish not to have him on the roster...which could happen due to some premature contractual dealings.
3) Reyshawn Terry--Rick Carlisle noted Terry's improvement after his move to power forward this season (played the 3 last year). Like Rhodes, he is 6'8", so in a man for man decision, Rhodes has the upper hand as of now.
4) JaJuan Smith--Would be a much better prospect and would have a much greater chance to make the roster if he wasn't so undersized. As a 6'2" shooting guard, he has point guard height and shooting guard skills.

Now, of course, this is not a perfect world, and there are many hitches and bumps in every plan.

Bump #1: James Singleton is not only already signed, but his contract is guaranteed. We've beat this like a dead horse, but it is such a shocking move by the Mavs front office that we are still puzzled. Donnie Nelson, however, is not closing the door anything. If current performances continue throughout camp, don't be surprised if Donnie decides to take the hit and make room for Rhodes. This is a lot of maneuvering for a player who will most likely get few minutes, though.

Bump #2: Again with more Charles Rhodes. Art Garcia reports that Rhodes has gotten "various European offers" and is weighing the pros and cons of pulling a Josh Childress. All this talk and petition about Charles being on the final team could be for not if he decides to jump the pond. Really, anything could happen at this point in the hunt for Charles "Rocky" Rhodes.

Bump #3: Mark Cuban. This is not a bad bump. This is a bump of unpredictability. Don't count out Cubes to make a drastic roster altering trade before the start of the season. Predicting the final roster is easy now, but throw in a trade and every is changed. In the blink of an eye an integral part of this team could be on his way out (see: Artest trade rumors. But now he is gone to Houston).

Hitch #1: This is a "hitch" rather than a "bump" because it is not as deterring to opening up room for the final roster. Another viable option--if the front office wants to make room for any of the competing players--would be to cut a veteran. This would most likely be Eddie Jones. In a period which the Mavs are beginning to age, this would make the team younger and would give it more potential to grow.

Hitch #2: The Mavs say no to Shan Foster. Although illogical in the eyes of DallasDedicated, this also seems quite possible--judging by the organization's reaction to his play. The front office has shown more of an interest in JaJuan Smith and his incessant hustle than the 3-point Vandy bomber. Hopefully this is just a momentary infatuation and Foster will have no problem. Yet another undersized two-guard is not what the Mavericks need; a pure shooter with size, however, is in their best interest.

OVERALL, look for Singleton to become even more motivated as he now has Charles Rhodes and his large fan club breathing down his neck. Shan Foster should take the final spot regardless of what happens with Rhodes and Singleton. Terry and Smith will most likely be left off, but should have the ability to land with other, not as talented teams.

ELSEWHERE around Dallas...

The Rangers pulled off a bottom of the 9th comeback against Seattle, thanks to Ramon Vazquez's walk off double. He was able to redeem himself after a sub-par day in the field, in which he committed three errors. It wasn't a pretty win, but the squad won on a night in which most wild-card contenders lost. With the Angels running away with the division (and Mark Teixeira), the Wild Card Race is now just that...a race. With a lot of teams.

Positivity ensues around Terrell Owens.'s Matt Mosley caught up with T.O at training camp and has this to say about him:

"Well, it appears we're still waiting. Believe it or not, Owens is viewed as the consummate teammate in the Cowboys' locker room. He's the one player who somehow remembers to text birthday messages to all the quarterbacks and wide receivers. And when he burns a young cornerback in training camp, he'll stop and explain to him why it happened. Oh, and he keeps bringing hundreds of T-shirts to camp for his teammates, which isn't normal protocol for All-Pro receivers. Yesterday, tight end Jason Witten was wearing his "iCatch" T-shirt while Leonard Davis had on an XXXL "iBlock."".

Very lofty compliments towards a guy who, a couple years ago, was the most hated man in the league. And they seem like well deserved compliments at that.

Be on the look out for a report on how the Rocket's acquiring of Ron Artest will affect the Mavericks.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Mavs Summer Squad: Who's Dream Will Become a Reality?

It's time to go jersey shopping with Dallas Dedicated!
As the NBA Summer League is now over, next for the Mavericks is filling the final two roster spots. The Mavericks currently have 13 guaranteed contracts. Guard Keith McLeod is also under contract, but it is not guaranteed. If McLeod is asked to stay, just one lone spot remains. 4 players that made a well enough impression to be invited to fall training camp are:

Shan Foster:The Mavs draft pick had a tough time getting off the bench, but once he did, he shot over 48 percent and averaged 8.6 points despite only playing 19 minutes per game. Shan Foster really looks like a player that the Mavs could use, and we here at DallasDedicated hope he can prove that at camp.

JaJuan Smith: JaJuan Smith is an undersized shooting guard at 6-2, but the rookie definitely showed his hustle in every game. We are not sure why Donnie Nelson is so keen on this young guy, he averaged only 7.6 points per game and really didn't stand out besides the game against Minnesota. We will see what is to come of the man with the best first name in summer league...JaJuan!

Charles Rhodes: Has made by far the biggest impression on the Mavs organization. Not a lot of expectations coming in for this guy, and he made sure everyone took notice. Rhodes reminds DallasDedicated of Brandon Bass, and really...who can't use another Bass? The rookie from Mississippi State shot an unbelievable 64 percent from the floor while also pulling down 6 boards and 11 points per game. We here at DallasDedicated are hoping to have a number 23 Mavs Rhodes jersey in the near future!

Reyshawn Terry: Started off very slow, but when McLeod was sent back to Dallas, Terry really showed that he could handle the point guard position. Terry displayed the consistency the coaching staff wanted to see during his second summer league season, averaging nearly 10 and 6, and even had a double-double in the last game. Will it be enough to get to play with the big boys?
A thought: Jason Terry is probably already confused in practice when coaches yell, "Jason" at Jason Kidd. Can you imagine now a player with the same last name on the team too?

We believe at DallasDedicated that James Singleton was given a guaranteed contract WAY too early. The staff really didn't get a chance to see everyone else's strengths before deciding to keep Singelton. It's hard to imagine Charles Rhodes getting a spot on the team with Singleton essentially blocking him. The good news though, is what GM Donnie Nelson said before leaving for China. "Rhodes is real athletic and showed really good promise," Nelson said. "We’re planning on having a good old-fashioned training camp with spots that are going to be won. We have 13 players with guarantees, but if one of the veterans shows up and is not prepared, we’re not afraid to cut guaranteed money." Maybe Eddie Jones or James Singleton will be cut after all to free up room for the explosive Charles Rhodes or sharp-shooting Shan Foster. Sources have also said that Charles Rhodes has recieved many European contract offers, which shows that he turned a lot of heads around not just the NBA, but the world.

In other Mavs news: Dirk had a great interview with about his dream coming true, being able to take Germany to the olympics. You can read the interview here.

Later: My co-bloggger Patrick will give you his take on the Mavs Summer League...stay tuned!


Sunday, July 27, 2008

DallasDedicated Plays Rangers GM

As the July 31st trade deadline approaches, the Texas Rangers seem to be at a stand still. The Rangers currently stand 5.5 games out in the wild card race, and double that in the AL west behind the Angels. While this year isn't the make or break year for this Rangers squad, we here at DallasDedicated believe that all it would take to get a legitimate push for a playoff spot is a step towards improved pitching. Texas has the firepower and confidence to outscore their opponents, but pitching continues to be the Achilles heel of this baseball team. Don't sweat it though, DallasDedicated is here to give Rangers GM Jon Daniels all the tools he needs to pull off a major deal.

Despite what critics have said, Daniels has done a pretty good job in putting this Rangers team together. We all knew Mark Teixeira was not going to return to this team coming into this season, so before last season's trade deadline Daniels dealt him to Atlanta for Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Same with Eric Gagne, who was dealt to Boston for David Murphy. Then Daniels traded the veteran Kenny Lofton for young Max Ramirez, who has been a gem this season when Laird was put on the disabled list. All those deals have paid off, but the pitching problems were once again ignored. The trade deadline is about 4 days away, and it's time to make some changes...

On the Rangers trading block:
Daniels says that they are not trying to get short term improvement that is a long-term risk. (remember Carlos Lee? Sammy Sosa?) That is a smart decision, which is why Daniels is wanting to especially get some young pitching. So who are the Rangers willing to say goodbye to?

Hank Blalock: Major League sources said there has been "medium interest" in Blalock, mostly from the Dodgers, Twins and Giants. All three teams are looking for a third baseman, and Blalock has shown since coming off the disabled list that he can still handle the position defensively. Let me be the first to say: Michael Young will be the Rangers third basemen next season. I have been saying for years that trading Blalock for a rotational pitcher would be a wise bet. Blalock has had trouble staying healthy, and our backups at third base can fill the void for the remainder of this season. Trading Hank to the Twins could get us a starter and a solid reliever.
DallasDedicated's Deal: Trade Hank Blalock and Eric Hurley to Minnesota Twins for Kevin Slowey
and Francisco Liriano.
Slowey is the 4th man in the Twins rotation, a Texas native, and has had a pretty strong season. Liriano has a dreadful 11.32 ERA in the majors, but has had three straight strong outings in the minors. He could be the possible 8th inning pitcher if Guardado is dealt, who is rumored to be pursued by the Cardinals.

Gerald Laird or Jarrod Saltalamacchia: The Yankees are looking for a catcher and have asked about both Laird and Saltalamacchia. The Rangers have an abundance at the backstop position, so dealing one of them wouldn't be a problem. Texas has their eyes on some young pitching, and here's the deal that should be sought after...
DD's Deal: Trade Gerald Laird, Vicente Padilla and Eddie Guardado to New York Yankees for Phil Hughes.
While Texas would essentially be giving up two pitchers for one, Hughes is more affordable, younger and with more upside. Hughes is ever-improving and could be the number 2 on a pitching rotation by next year. Plus, moving Padilla's $11 million contract off the books for 2009 gives the Rangers a lot more money to pursue a big-time free agent such as CC Sabathia or Ben Sheets. Guardado has pitched well this year, but he is a free agent this off season and nobody knows if he will be back or not.

Marlon Byrd: The Newark-Star Ledger reported that the Mets sent a scout to a recent Rangers game to scout Byrd and Milton Bradley. The Rangers have repeatedly assured that Bradley is in no way a trade assett, so I don't see him leaving our team. Byrd is a very likeable guy, but the Rangers have too many outfielders and need to move one. Plus, AAA outfielder Nelson Cruz is tearing up the minors and is MLB ready to join the Rangers. So what could the Rangers get for Marlon Byrd? It's hard to tell, but says that the Mets are shopping starting pitcher Oliver Perez. JACKPOT!
DD's Deal: Trade Marlon Byrd to New York Mets for Oliver Perez
I'm not sure if Byrd is enough to entice the Mets to give Texas Perez, but switching Bradley for Byrd would definitely do the trick. Milton Bradley has slowly become one Arlington favorite, but his contract is up after this season. Frank Catalanotto might also be the ex-factor for a deal with New York. Any combination of these players could land this pitcher, who is currently third on the Mets rotation. Can you imagine getting him? Playoffs here we come!

Attention Jon Daniels! If you listen to DallasDedicated, fortune and playoff wins await you in the future. A weak pitching rotation becomes powerful, and no players traded away is cause for regret. Padilla would be the best player you give up, but saving 11 million dollars will dry those tears. So go make these deals can thank me later!

Next time on DallasDedicated: Patrick and I will give you our final thoughts on the Mavs summer league, which ended last week. There are roster spots left and we know what the Mavs should do. Stay tuned!


Friday, July 25, 2008

Dallas Dedicated's Ultimate Guide To The Cowboy's Training Camp

The 'Boys open training camp Friday in Oxnard, California after a year hiatus of camp in San Antonio. If the hype of the position battles (Cornerback, Safety, and Running Back notably), Terrell Owens, Jerry Jones and Pacman "Adam" Jones aren't enough to entice you, don't forget about the fleet of cameras documenting every moment for the new HBO reality show Hard Knocks. Yes, this training camp has much to offer. We will break it all down for you, and give you the inside scoop on what the organization is thinking.

Key Losses:

RB Julius Jones (Seahawks)
S Kieth Davis (Dolphins)
CB Jacques Reeves (Texans)
RB Tyson Thompson (FA)
LB Akin Ayodele (Dolphins)
TE Anthony Fasano (Dolphins)

Key Acquisitions:

CB Pacman "Adam" Jones (Titans/Suspension)
LB Zach Thomas (Dolphins)

Big Position Battles:

-Running Back
Marion Barber obviously has the starting job, so no controversy here. However, the backup/3rd down back is up for grabs. First round pick Felix Jones has the upper hand, but don't count out fellow draftee Tashard "Hopefully the Right" Choice.
Choice is an interesting story. He was the heir-apparent to Adrian Peterson at Oklahoma, but decided to transfer to Georgia Tech to be close to his mother who was injured and could no longer work. He shined his junior season, to the point he was mentioned in some preseason Heisman trophy lists. His senior year, though, ended in a knee injury, which, as Mel Kiper put it, was the reason he "didn't go higher" in the draft. He runs with a bruising style, and is an effective pass blocker.

Much of the cornerback debate hinges on two points: 1) the reinstatement of Adam "Strip Club" Jones and 2) the positioning of Anthony Henry. Henry has been practicing at safety, but this training camp will determine where he will play. Terrence Newman and Adam "I didn't shoot anyone" Jones will nab the starting spots, with the third corner spot getting some serious competition. Assuming Henry stays at CB, he, Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick will all be viable options. Jenkins and Scandrick are both rookies, but have tremendous talent...who could be closer in skill level than many think. Mel Kiper, the NFL's personal genius, had Scandrick going in the 2nd round, but dropped to the 5th. Lucky for us. Hopeful Tyler Everett is probably next in line. He will most likely be rooting for a Henry move to safety to keep him off the practice squad.

Again, this all hinges on Anthony Henry. Should he replace the struggling Roy Williams? Ken Hamlin is now the feature safety. Henry or Williams? Wade Phillips will spend much time pondering this. With all the talent in the secondary, Henry could conceivably be without a starting job on opening day--a big deal for the team leader in interceptions last season. On the other hand, if he replaces Williams, the Cowboys now have a pro-bowler on the bench. Too much talent is a good problem to have, but a very tricky one.

Probably the most stacked position, and if you don't agree, listen to the following names: DaMarcus Ware, Zach Thomas, Greg Ellis, Bradie James and Anthony Spencer. All five of these players are easily starters on most NFL teams. It would prove useless to lure Zach Thomas over to have him on the bench and DaMarcus "every" Ware is one of the best in the League, meaning that, along with fellow starters Greg Ellis and Bradie James, Dallas will have one of the most unstoppable LB corps in the League. Thomas is a great addition to the 3-4 defense and now will make opposing teams fear throwing over the middle.

Predicting The Roster:

QB (3): Tony Romo, Brad Johnson, Richard Bartel
RB (3): Marion Barber, Felix Jones, Tashard Choice
FB (1): Deon Anderson
WR (6): Terrell Owens, Terry Glenn, Patrick Crayton, Sam Hurd, Miles Austin, Isiah Stanback
TE (3): Jason Witten, Martellus Bennet, Tony Curtis
C (2): Andre Gurode, Cory Proctor
OT (4): Flozell Adams, Marc Colombo, James Marten, Doug Free
G (3): Leonard Davis, Kyle Kosier, Joe Berger

DT (3): Tank Johnson, Remi Ayodele, Junior Siavii
DE (4): Jay Ratliff, Marcus Spears, Chris Canty, Stephen Bowen
LB (9): DaMarcus Ware, Zach Thomas, Greg Ellis, Bradie James, Anthony Spencer, Bobby Carpenter, Kevin Burnett, Eric Walden, Justin Rogers
CB (5): Terrence Newman, Adam Jones, Mike Jenkins, Orlando Scandrick, Tyler Everett
S (4): Ken Hamlin, Anthony Henry, Roy Williams, Pat Watkins

K (1): Nick Folk
P (1): Mat McBriar
LS (1): LP Ladouceur

Other Big Stories to Follow:

-Will Pacman be reinstated? Hopefully the answer is yes.

-Will Terry Glenn and Jerry Jones move on amicably? Hopefully the answer is yes. (UPDATE: Terry Glenn has been waived. Wide Receiver position now very thin...pray Hurd, Miles and Stanback have substantially improved or Jones can bring in a solid #2.)

-Will Hard Knocks distract the team? Hopefully the answer is no.

-Is it possible that we have entered the age of T.O no longer being a distraction? He has been nothing but a good teammate (see: Defending his teammate....with tears) that truly wants nothing more than to win. LZ Granderson writes a great article about him and his undeserved rep.

-Can Romo stay out of the gossip column? It's not all his fault--being the QB of America's team somewhat thrusts one into the limelight--but he has an inkling towards the high profile woman.

-What is the over/under on the amount of anti-aging operations Jerry Jones will undergo? I say 3 is a safe number. And botox counts!

In other news...
-Josh Childress is the latest--and most high profile--to take his NBA game to choice. If this becomes a trend, there are scary implications.

-No one likes hurricanes, but if Dolly had to hit somewhere, San Antonio wasn't a bad choice.

-Vicente Padilla on the trade block? Sources say yes. GM Jon Daniels will listen to anything that "makes sense" it Padilla, Millwood, Blalock or Byrd.

-Mark Cuban is one of the three finalists in the bidding for the Chicago Cubbies. The estimated value of the club is projected at more than $660 million, which was the previous record for purchasing of the Boston Red Sox and 2002. The bidding is expected to be anywhere between $700 and $900 million.

-A nice feature on Felix "the cat" Jones. He's a really humble guy, and a great addition to the team.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Hump Day Tidbits

-The Rangers, as always, are not having a good post-all star break run. Rangers had a great oppurtunity to keep in the AL West pennant race by stealing a win on the road against Chicago today, but going into the 8th with a 3 run lead, Guardado gave up 2 and then CJ gave up a 3-run homer to recieve his third blown save as the Rangers lost the game, 10-8. Not only that, but they lose their second series in a row. To make matters worse, Millwood left the game early in the second inning with a possible sore groin. Millwood didn't look in pain as he walked off the field with two team trainers, but it's the third time this season he's left a game with the same injury. Hopefully the Rangers can turn this around quickly, because the first place Angels are playing with serious momentum and Texas can't afford to trail them by this many games. Rangers get a much needed day off tomorrow and then face off in a 3 game series against the second place Oakland A's.

In Dallas Mavericks news:
-We here at DallasDedicated couldn't be happier for Dirk, as his life-long dream of representing his country in the olympics is finally coming true. He was in tears as Germany finally reached an olympic berth with Nowitzki at the helm. Another honor that could come true for Dirk would be if he was given the oppurtunity to be the flag-bearer for Germany. An official petition has been released, and everybody can do their part by signing it here.

-Speaking of the olympics, Jason Kidd is leading our country in a run for a gold medal, and he spoke with in an exclusive interview. Kidd didn't just talk about Bejing, but also about what his role is coming into a fresh new season with the Mavs.

-ESPN's Marc Stein reports that Josh Smith wants out of Atlanta, and that Dallas could be a possible destination. A possible sign-and-trade could occur since the Mavs are not willing to part with J-Ho (thank God). Josh Smith would be a great fit on this team, I just hope the Mavs organization don't attempt something dumb to get him, like throw "The Animal" Brandon Bass. We will see how this all shapes up soon.

As for those Cowboys...
-The Dallas Cowboys are returning to California for training camp starting Friday. The team expects to contend for nothing less than a Super Bowl championship. My co-blogger Patrick will have everything Cowboys for you later this week, so stay tuned!


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Thanks For The Memories Reunion

As all national stadium talk is either about Yankee Stadium closing or the new Cowboys stadium opening in 2009 (which is yet to have a name still...Jerry Jones Field? Corporate Chapel? The House that Jerry Built?), nobody seems to care about the official closing of Reunion Arena. While the arena was no spectacle of sight, there were many Dallas memories that occurred at Reunion, and we here at DallasDedicated will miss them all...

My first memory at Reunion Arena was going to a Dallas Mavericks game. I can remember vividly sitting at the very top as the Mavs were demolished (something that happened a lot those days) by the Miami Heat. By the middle of the 4th quarter, as the rest of the crowd had shuffled out of the building, I was nearly courtside as I cheered on Jim Jackson, Jamal Mashburn, and Jason Kidd. I think the Mavs lost by about 40 that night, but ever since then I was hooked. There are many different memories people have of Reunion Arena.

At the only NBA all star game to ever be played in Dallas, the unlikliest of dunkers was crowned king. In the 1986 all star game at Reunion Arena, Spud Webb not only unseated defending champion and favored teammate Dominique Wilkins, Webb did it in style. For someone of Webb’s stature (5-6) to even be able to complete a slam dunk is amazing enough, but Webb reversed, spun and double-clutched his way to the title.

That same year, Reunion played host to the men's Final Four, where Louisville beat Duke in a nail-biting 72-69 victory. Freshman Pervis "Never Nervous" Ellison was named the Most Outstanding Player over All-American Danny Ferry.

When Reunion Arena opened on April 28, 1980, for the first night of the weeklong WCT Finals tennis event, the city instantly became a major market for U.S. professional sports. The arena was enough to convince the NBA to open a franchise here, the Dallas Mavs. Ironically though, interest and fanhood didn't start to fully develop at Reunion Arena until after the game that came across town, at Moody Coliseum. The WCT Finals forced the Mavericks to move the deciding game of their first playoff series – against Seattle, on April 26, 1984 – to SMU. Dallas advanced with a dramatic 105-104 victory as a sellout crowd of 9,007 cheered in approval. The game is now known as "Moody Madness", and a legend of fan support that would follow the Mavericks to Reunion Arena was born.

Starting the next season, the Mavs would play to at least 98 percent of the 17,007 seat capacity for the next seven years. What makes this even more impressive is the fact that they only achieved a postseason berth in a couple of those years. The crowd got loud. Headache loud. Can't hear your coach loud. Technicians measured the noise at 112 decibels in the mid-1980s.

One of the noisiest, most captivating games in NBA playoff history was played on the Reunion floor on June 2, 1988. As 17,007 towel-waving fans chanted, "Beat LA! Beat LA!" and a national-television audience looked on, the Mavericks beat the Los Angeles Lakers, 105-103, to force a Game 7 of the Western Conference finals. "That was the most effective crowd I've seen in my 25 years in the NBA," legendary Lakers broadcaster Chick Hearn said after Game 6. Dallas lost two nights later in LA, but Reunion Arena was forever carved into the nation's mind.

As the Mavs attendance dramatically declined in the mid-90s, the arrival of the NHL's Stars from Minnesota in 1993 became the big story. The Stars drew an average of 16,119 fans in their first season and averaged no fewer than 15,572 fans at Reunion Arena since. Crowds were intense and the arena's hockey atmosphere made a strong home-ice advantage, just like the Mavs had during their playoff runs. "Reunion Arena is the way hockey arenas used to be – tight crowds, everybody right on top of you, strong atmosphere," Stars wing Brett Hull said. "It's a great hockey building. I'll miss the tightness and camaraderie."

With Brett Hull, center Mike Modano and goaltender Ed Belfour leading Dallas' first major hockey team, the Stars reached the Stanley Cup Finals against the Buffalo Sabres in 1999. Game 6 was won in a triple-overtime thriller in Buffalo. The real celebration happened two days later as the city held a parade that ended inside Reunion Arena. It was the first (and still only) non-Cowboys championship by a Dallas major sports team.

American Airlines Center opened, and both the Mavs and Stars moved on to the bigger and better arena. Now Reunion Arena is just an empty bulding that city leaders still aren't quite sure what to do with. For having sports teams play there just two decades, Reunion Arena had it's fair share of fond memories.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Still On (All Star) Break?

The Rangers pulled out a 1-0 victory against the surging Minnesota Twins tonight, avoiding the series sweep. The Rangers-typical post all-star break collapse appeared imminent, but a great performance from ace Vincent Padilla put those claims on hold for the time being. Still, though, questions remain about the offensive production. In the three game series, the squad scored only 3 runs, compared to the 20 put up by the Twins. Essentially, if Padilla hadn't been on the mound, I suspect we would have another "L" in the loss column. Run support is what has given this team a fighting chance for a playoff birth. Without it...well, just think back to the previous 7 seasons.

Now, we've all been told that this is still a team in the 'building' phase, so making the playoffs would just be an added bonus (that is quickly slipping away). However, a close fight for a birth in post-season play would help the Rangers in more ways than just being a good team. Despite the relative "success" this season, attendance is down almost 5,000 a game from last year, and is the lowest since 1988. Nothing would be better, then, for this team than a race to the playoffs. Dallas has become a die hard Mavericks city after its playoff performances, and the Rangers may need such success, as well.


As an often neglected area of baseball, we here at Dallas Dedicated feel like the farm system needs some coverage--after all, they are the budding stars of this well as frequently mentioned as "prospects to be named" in trades. Yet no one ever knows who they are. So, according to some elementary logic, we feel that it would be to everyone's benefit to give a rundown of the Next in Line:

Elvis Andrus: AA Frisco Roughriders
Only 19, and is batting .293. Not a power hitter (only 1 HR), but does a good job of getting on base, which is great as he leads the team in stolen bases. Plus, his name is Elvis.

Tommy Hunter: AAA Oklahoma RedHawks
At 21, has just moved up from AA, after performing well there. He is now 1-1 with a 2.01 ERA at the next level.

Blake Beavan: A Clinton LumberKings
The 19 year old future of Rangers baseball is performing nicely in the first season. At 6-6 with a 2.57 ERA, Beavan looks poised for great things. He has struck out 42 batters and walked only 12. You'll be hearing much more from this Irving product in the near future.

Up Next: The Chicago White Sox. Hopefully the Rangers can steal the series and Hamilton and Co. can get back on track.


--Dirk and Germany made the Olympics for the first time in their country's history. Big ups to Dirk for essentially being the team.

--Charles Rhodes continues to impress us at Dallas Dedicated, and would even go so far as to say he might be desired over James Singleton. Too bad Singleton's contract was rushed....and guaranteed.

--How can ESPN do Power Rankings during the offseason? Rankings such as these don't take into account ANY player improvement over the break and training camp. Basically, the rankings should be termed "Based on last year, with transactions". They completely miss the entire concept of improving players...the job of a coaching staff.

--FC Dallas remains winless under new coach Schellas Hyndman. They drew 2-2 with the Colorado Rapids on Saturday. However, there is a bright spot: for the first time since May 28th they scored multiple goals.

--Midfielder Juan Toja may be on his way out. Europeans clubs are calling, and the rumor is he may be going to play for an unpronounceable team in Romania. Lucky for him, mullets are in style there.


Friday, July 18, 2008

Mavs GM: GiganticMorons

Excuse me as I let a little steam off. I've sat around and watched the Mavs make panicked premature dumb moves for half a year now, and frankly, I'm tired of this. Let's go back and look at the last couple of moves made by the Mavericks organization:

February 19: Mavs recieve Jason Kidd, Malik Allen, and Antoine Wright for Devin Harris, DeSagana Diop, Trenton Hassell, Maurice Ager, Keith Van Horn and first-round draft picks in 2008 and 2010
We could all argue back and forth about this trade for a year and everybody would still disagree. We here at DallasDedicated STILL do not agree whether this trade was the right move or not. What we are sure of is this...the trade seemed very premature and panicked. First of all, is it the smartest thing to trade your starting point guard for another starting point guard at the midway point of the season? The point guard position is the most important position in basketball, and making a trade that involves the starting point position will dramatically change one's chemistry.

Secondly, the real underlying issue with the Devin/Kidd trade was this...head coach Avery Johnson and Devin Harris just simply did not work together. The General used the pre-season, as well as the first week of the regular season, to let Devin call all the offensive plays and set up the offense. After a couple of regular season games, the control freak known as Avery Johnson went back to making every and all offensive play decisions. Devin Harris is/was a great point guard, the only point guard this franchise has ever had to take us to the NBA Finals. However, Devin Harris could not ever fully develop into what is needed from a playoff point guard because AJ would not let him. So what do the Mavs do to fix this problem? They trade away Devin for a hall of fame point guard. Only one problem: that same control freak of a coach is still running things. Jason Kidd is known for his quick thinking on the fast break. Unfortunately, Avery Johnson decides he would rather "re-tool" the future hall of famer. Instead of running plays that emphasize Kidd's strenghts, most of the offensive plays are isolation plays, making Jason Kidd just another average guard.

We all know what happened after that: The Mavericks regular season ends on a decline, the team doesn't seem to have the chemistry that is needed, Kidd's numbers significantly drop (especially in the scoring department), and the Mavs lose in the first round AGAIN. Mavs GM Donnie Nelson and owner Mark Cuban know that someone needs to be held accountable, so the next move is made...

April 30: Avery Johnson is fired
Honestly, I thought this move had to happen. The players no longer listened to Johnson, plays continually were broken immediately as they were called, and Johnson refused to admit when he made any mistakes. While the firing was very much called for, doesn't it seem too little too late at that point? Devin Harris couldn't develop with Avery Johnson at the helm, so why didn't Cuban/Donnie just wait until the end of the season before making a blockbuster trade? Firing Avery most likely solves the "Devin isn't developing quick enough" problem. Instead, they pulled the trigger on the blockbuster Kidd trade, making this Maverick team older, less deep, no first round pick in last month's and 2010's draft, and less money to spend. This window of "elite team" status is closing for our basketball team, and all we have to show for it is playoff after playoff heartbreak. Now on to the next move...

May 10: Rick Carlisle named head coach
While we here at DallasDedicated predict that Rick is a perfect fit with this team, nobody can be quite sure yet. However, we will say this: Carlisle has bonded with Dirk in Germany, had multiple private dinners and conversations with Josh Howard, and has spent a lot of extra time working out with new Mavs Diop and Green. Most importantly, all current and former players have nothing negative to say about this guy. After watching the first few games of summer league basketball, we are beginning to see how different the offense will look like under Carlisle. A lot of motion without the ball, a lot of fast breaking, and a lot of spot up shooting. These are all sure signs that "Rick was a great pick!" (t-shirt sold seperately)

July 4-12: Mavs re-sign JJ Barea and Antoine Wright; sign DeSagana Diop, James Singleton, and Keith McLeod
As this off-season began, a lot of questions arose about who would make up this team's bench. Over half of the bench was a free agent and it was hard to tell who would get re-signed over the other. Also, the free agency market contained a lot of big names and role players that would fit quite nicely into the Mavericks rotation. The first free agent signed was Gerald Green, the young 6-8 swingman who has been granted a second, er a fourth, chance in the NBA here in North Texas. Gerald Green is explosive, athletic, and isn't afraid to get to the basket (and blow out a candle on a cupcake once he gets there). All these things the Mavs need, and we got it for the league minimum of a contract.

The hardest thing to let go out of the Jason Kidd trade last season was losing the backup force known as DeSagana Diop. When the Mavs got him to boomerang back to Dallas on July 10 (as well as re-signing Barea), it definitely lessened the blow of the downfall of the Kidd trade. Now this Maverick team has a legitimate backup center, something that we didn't have in the short lived playoff run last season (see Jamaal Magloire). Having Diop back definitely improves the bench of this Dallas team.

On July 12, after re-signing Texas A&M alum Antoine Wright, the Mavs organization decided to once again make a premature move. 6-8 forward James Singleton and point guard Keith McLeod, both on the Mavs summer league roster, were signed to contracts. Let me add: this was all without playing in a single summer league game. The NBA summer league is all about watching and scouting players that could possibly make it onto one's permanent roster, so why would GM Donnie Nelson decide to sign two players before summer league even gets underway? Now there is only one roster spot left, not to mention that Singleton and McLeod are not even playing the best on the summer squad. Charles Rhodes, the 6-8 rookie from Mississippi State, has outplayed Singleton in very outing. While Singleton is coming off major knee surgery, Rhodes has been impressive and has outhustled opponents on both ends of the floor. Also, the 51st pick in the draft, Vanderbilt alum Shan Foster, has made a name for himself as of late with his lights out shooting. Yet, both, maybe even neither, can make it onto the permanent roster because the Mavs staff once again made a premature decision.
But nothing made me more angry than the happening of this week....

July 16: Multiple sources (Sacramento Bee, Hoopsworld) report and confirm that Mavs offer Brandon Bass and Jerry Stackhouse to the Kings for Ron Artest
I refused to believe this to be true and had to do some snooping around to make sure that these sources are correct. Sadly, they are. What on earth are the Maverick heads thinking offering this deal? Jerry Stackhouse for Ron Artest straight up is a head-scratcher but arguable, but throwing in the young Brandon Bass with nothing but upside ahead of him is just idiotic! Brandon Bass has improved dramatically in just the one season he has worn a Mavs uniform. He out-hustles anyone and everyone, he is by far the strongest player on the roster, and he is ever-improving. GM Donnie Nelson has sent scouts all over the world to find young, raw talent and we finally get one in Bass and he attempts to trade him for a nutcase. Who would you rather have, a young player that is nicknamed "The Animal", or a player that would rather rap than play basketball and started the biggest brawl any sport has ever seen? We can all thank God that Sacramento did not accept this deal (how dumb are they?). Sacramento countered this trade with a proposition of their own: Josh Howard for Ron Artest straight up. The Dallas Morning News reported this morning that the Mavs refuse to part ways with Josh Howard. At least they made the right decision there! I only pray that the Mavs don't continue this habit of over-thinking and premature decision making.

Donnie Nelson and Mark Cuban have always had my confidence. Yet lately, I am starting to question exactly what these two guys are thinking. Josh Howard was questioned by the organization for admiting to marijuana use, yet the only question I have for the Mavs is what are Mark and Donnie smoking on?


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A Midsummer Night's Dream

"I got a chance, when I was in the middle of that [home run] streak, to look up and see my mom and dad and family and everybody, just absolutely laughing and cheering. And I mean, that's priceless."
-- Josh Hamilton

Josh Hamilton dreamed of Monday night a few years back. As I wrote in a previous DD column Wild, Wild AL West, Hamilton spoke to reporters saying, "I had a dream just before I got back into baseball, probably three months before I was reinstated, that I was in a home run derby, and it happened to be in Yankee Stadium. I didn't see myself hit or anything, but a lady stuck a microphone in my face and I got to tell everyone why I was there." Not only did Josh's dream come true, he made the night memorable, setting the all-time record for home runs in a first round with 28! Bobby Abreu had the previous record with 24, and Hamilton crushed that. If you have not seen this amazing performance, check this out...

Needless to say, the first round wore out Hamilton. Justin Morneau took home the trophy, but all everyone will remember from this magical night was Hamilton's show-stopping performance.

Those weren't the only actions by a Texas Ranger during the all star festivities that makes us here in North Texas proud. Michael Young, named the All-Star MVP in Pittsburgh two years ago after hitting a two-run triple in the ninth inning, supplied the game-winning RBI for the American League again Tuesday with a 15th-inning sacrifice fly that ended an epic 4-3 battle in the midsummer classic. "He's just so good in those situations," fellow all star Ian Kinsler said. "In every situation, really. That's why he's a five-time All-Star." Even more impressive was the fact that the Rangers became the first team to have three All-Stars steal a base in the same game. Bradley, Kinsler and Hamilton all went 1-3 and had a stolen base. Michael Young though, stole the show.

In other Dallas sports news:
We haven't heard from the Cowboys in awhile, what could they be up to? Well, apparently Adam "Don't Call Me Pacman" Jones is making commercials with Deion Sanders?

There's nothing like a strip club obsessed football player's promotion that makes me want to buy a vehicle!

Also, the Dallas Stars rewarded coach Dave Tippett for a trip to the Western Conference finals by adding two years to his deal, keeping him under contract through the 2010-11 season. He has taken his share of criticism for the Stars' recent playoff woes, and it's good to see that he is finally getting the credit he deserves.

As for that other team that plays at the AAC, Mavs expert Art Garcia had a nice interview with newest Mav James Singleton. You can check out Singleton in the summer league, as the Mavs take on Sacramento at 5 tonight. The game will be on a 2-hour tape delay on KTXA-21...