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AROUND THE AREA

March 2-8, 2012 Volume 10, Issue 28 sportspagedfw.com

FC Dallas defender returns from loan

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AROUND THE AREA

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BASEBALL

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FISHER

8

GOLF

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BASEBALL

FC DALLAS PLAYER RETURNS

GEORGE JOHN RETURNS FROM TWOMONTH LOAN STINT WITH WEST HAM UNITED

SPRING TRAINING

MAVS & THE OSCARS

Center back excited to return in time for First Kick versus Red Bull New York.

RANGERS NOTES

10

COVER STORY

12

HOCKEY

THE SURPRISE OF SURPRISE

STARS STAND PAT

SPORT SHORTS JOSH’S COMMENTS

13

BASEBALL

14

TICKET WINDOW

17

DINING

RANGERS QUESTIONS

TOM GAGLARDI W/ THE HARDLINE

THE BEST HOTEL RESTAURANT IN DALLAS

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“We’re very excited to have a player of George John’s caliber return to our team,” said FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman. “He has been one of our most consistent players. Without question, FC Dallas is a better team with George John. In speaking with George, he’s very excited to rejoin our team and help FC Dallas compete for a return trip to MLS Cup.” The young center back will be available for First Kick 2012, Sunday, March 11 versus the New York Red Bulls at FC Dallas Stadium. “I’m glad I had this opportunity and experience, and I want to thank MLS, FC Dallas and West Ham,” said John. “Right now I’m really looking forward to getting back to Dallas. I’ve been in touch with Schellas and I’m ready to get to work.”

Photo courtesy FC Dallas

FC Dallas defender George John is set to return to FC Dallas following a two-month loan with English Championship side West Ham United.

GET A LIFT

“It was unfortunate that I didn’t get to play, but it really was understandable given the circumstances,” said John, who scored a goal in his first Reserve game with the English side. “I hope West Ham continues its good form and gets back to the Premier League. That’s certainly where the club belongs.” John started 31 regular season matches for FC Dallas in 2011, accumulating a careerhigh 2,781 minutes played. Only goalkeeper Kevin Hartman (2,970) logged more minutes for Dallas in MLS competition.

John scored three goals and added one assist. He also finished eighth in the 2011 MLS Castrol Index, which analyzes player performance throughout the season. A native of Shoreline, WA, John logged 25 starts and 2,138 minutes played during the 2010 season. His lone goal of the year was a timely one, coming in FC Dallas’ 3-0 win over the L.A. Galaxy in the Western Conference Semifinal. John’s presence on FC Dallas’ backline helped the team set a franchise record for fewest goals allowed in a season.

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Drafted by FC Dallas in the first round (14th overall) of the 2009 MLS SuperDraft, John made his professional debut on April 4, 2009. The 24-year old center back scored his first career goal on Oct. 17, 2009 in a 2-1 win over the Colorado Rapids. John finished his rookie season with 16 appearances and 1,162 minutes played. West Ham United elected not to turn the loan into a transfer based on their club’s current top-of-the-table success and the current form of the club’s two starting center backs.

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Mavericks at Hornets 7:00 PM FSSW

Jazz at Mavericks 7:30 PM FSSW

Mavericks at Thunder 7:30 PM FSSW

Knicks at Mavericks 7:30 PM FSSW

Mavericks at Suns 9:30 PM TNT/FSSW

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Stars at Oilers 8:30 PM FSSW+ Austin at Legends 7:00 PM

Americans at Bucks 7:30 PM

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Tornado at Topeka 7:05 PM

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MARCH


BASEBALL

Rangers farm system making future bright by DIC HUMPHREY SENIOR COLUMNIST dic.humphrey@yahoo.com

been the loss of front office personnel. Other teams have noticed what Daniels has built, and want to attract the architects of the farm system. Jerry Dipoto was hired to be the Angels' general manager this winter. He took Scott Servais with him. Thad Levine was mentioned to be of interest for GM openings this winter, and he likely will be wooed away in the near future.

When Jon Daniels was hired to be the Rangers' General Manager, he pledged to build a quality farm system. Ranger fan reaction was “ho hum.” They had heard this before. Then owner Tom Hicks let GM Doug Melvin go after the 2000 season citing the farm system bereft of talent as one of the reasons. He wanted a GM that would build a better farm system, but five years later the system had not improved, and Hicks once again changed GMs. The long and the short is that building a quality farm system is not very sexy. It doesn't sell tickets, and the term “rebuilding” translates to “we're not going to be very good this year.” RANGERS FINALLY GET THEIR MAN Daniels has broken the mold. The Rangers have been to the World Series the past two seasons, and are positioned to be a solid contender for at least another five years. The backbone of that success is the farm system. The Ranger team on the field is largely home grown with players essentially developed from within. All five members of last year's starting rotation made their Major League debuts with the Rangers. The farm system has also provided the currency to make trades for significant in-season additions to the team. Players such as Cliff Lee, Jeff Francoer, Mike Adams, and Koji Uehara were acquired because the Rangers had the prospects to make deals for the pennant race help they needed. The Rangers' farm system was ranked number one by Baseball America since Daniels took over. In the years since, the Rangers have graduated many of those prospects to the Major Leagues, players

such as Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, Derek Holland and Mitch Moreland. More of those prospects have been dealt in trades for pennant race help, players such as Justin Smoak, Blake Beaven and Michael Main. Despite the graduations and trades, ESPN's Keith Law currently ranks the Rangers farm system seventh, and that ranking did not consider Yu Darvish. As for individual prospects in the system, there is no better source for Ranger fans than Jamey Newberg. Each winter, he publishes a bound edition of The Newberg Report which lists the top 72 prospects in the Rangers' system. (Again, Darvish is not included as this was published before he signed,) Newberg's top 10 prospects are: 1. 2. 3.

SS Jurickson Profar LHP Martin Perez 3B Mike Olt

4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

OF Leonys Martin C Jorge Alfaro RHP David Perez 1B Ronald Guzman RHP Neil Ramirez RHP Tanner Scheppers OF Jordan Akins

Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus rates the top 101 Major League prospects. He did not consider Darvish, and has five Rangers included: Profar 4th, Martin Perez 36th, Olt 45th, Ramirez 77th, and Alfaro 101st. Interestingly, Robbie Erlin (53rd) and Joe Wieland (74th) make Goldstein's list. These are the two players traded for Mike Adams last July. Baseball America revealed their top 10 this week and list Darvish fourth and Profar eighth. One indication of the success of the Rangers' farm system in recent years has

NO WHINING FOR ARMS ANYMORE For most of the history of the Texas Rangers, the problem has been pitching. Even the teams that made the playoffs in the late 90's had a tacked together veteran staffs. Now the Rangers have a log jam of starting pitchers, with seven solid candidates in spring training. Martin Perez and Neil Ramirez are the top two minor league pitching prospects. The log jam in Arlington probably sends this pair to Round Rock to start the season. However, these two will soon be knocking on the Rangers' door, or will be prizes for another organization to acquire for help the Rangers need in other areas. Having prospects of this ilk being blocked at the major league level rather than being installed as the number three and four starters in the rotation is another indication of how far this organization has come in recent years, and why the Rangers have become a model franchise rather than the laughing stock of baseball. ESPN's Buster Olney wrote an article recently where he named the top teams for success over the next five years. He took into account factors such as the team on the field, the farm system, and ownership capability. The Rangers graded out number one on that list. The ground work over the past few years to procure and develop quality players has this team set up nicely for the future.

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Olivia YOU’VE GOT TO GO TO 3RD BASE BEFORE HOME!

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THE FISH

SPORTS TALK WITH MIKE FISHER

Merging Mavs storylines with the Oscars 8: Drive: Marion gets to the hole; he's in the top 20 in the NBA when it comes to shot attempts inside 10 feet. Vince Carter can drive and finish and has done so consistently. Delonte does it. Roddy B can do it. And watch Dirk in the second half: I confidently predict he will increasingly work his way to the basket, his spinning layups joining his One-Legged Euro FadeAway as Dirk Trademarks.

by MIKE FISHER FISH fish@dallasbasketball.com

This weekend was a fine time to watch Dirk in the AllStar Game while contemplating the Mavs' second half … or a fine time to watch the Oscars while contemplating the best in film … or, why not combine the two with my Evaluation of the Mavs' 10 Issues at the Break -- OscarsStyle?

But a vignette from the Lakers loss keeps flashing through my mind: In the fourth quarter of that game, with the traditional terrific free-throw-shooting Mavs in the bonus ... the Mavs settled for bombs, taking only two shots in the paint in the final 12 minutes. 9: Beginners: We have to remind ourselves occasionally that while it's fun to unwrap new toys, the established toys you have work just fine. Consider very seriously Carlisle's remark going into the break:

All 2012 Mavs issues. All 2012 Academy-Award-nominated films. Somebody pop the popcorn … 1: The Artist: Dirk remains one of the 10 finest basketball players on the planet.

"We're playing playoff-style,'' he says. "The team that has the best defense and flow game wins the championship. That's the history of this league in the last 10 years. That's how we did it last year, and that's how we're going to have to do it this year."

In the 11 games since Barkley's maddening "Dirk is Done'' proclamation, The UberMan is at 25.4 points, 48.5 FG percentage, 37.8 3-point percentage, 8.4 rebounds, .8 blocks, .8 steals, 2.4 assists, 1.9 TOs and (subpar for him) 83.8 percent from the line. "I feel good now,'' said Dirk."I'm back.'' 2: The Help: Jason Terry leads a Dallas bench that has consistently been among the top three in the NBA so far this season. The Mavs also without doubt one of the three deepest teams in the league as well. But ultimately, this bench is Jet's bench. And Terry's struggling on the road has become a trend. Home: 18 games - 16.9 points, 51.1 FG%, 44 3PT%, 3.6 assists, 2.1 rebounds, 2.1 TOs Road: 14 games - 12.0 points, 33.2 FG%, 31.1 3PT%, 3.9 assists, 2.2 rebounds, 2.1 TOs 3: War Horse: Of Jason Kidd and his "minutes limit,'' coach Rick Carlisle says, "We want to be vigilant about it. You never say never, but right now we've been pretty consistent with it.” The goal is to keep Kidd, at age 38, below 30 minutes a game. Vigilant? Yes, as Kidd is averaging a career-low 28.3 minutes per game. 4: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close: Lamar Odom represents this year's most high-profile NBA bust. "I would love for Lamar to be the kind of high-impact player that he is supposedly advertised as being,'' Carlisle says."But the truth is, he has been a consistent player.''

Rick is being kind -- and "kindness'' is what the exLakers standout requires. "In need of constant validation'' is what a source close to Lamar tells me about him, and while he needs validation, it would be nice if he'd give the Mavs something ... anything ... back in return. 5: Midnight in Paris: The Mavs' French Connection, Roddy Beaubois and Ian Mahinmi, represents a great deal of promise. But that promise might end up being realized elsewhere. The French Connection will be Mavs assets in one form or another. They are players now, they are prospects even in the future, they can serve as bait in The 3D Blueprint or they can remain in Dallas as part of the affordable supporting cast necessary to make expensive acquisitions affordable. 6: Warrior: There have been enough ups and downs, even in a successful 21-13 first half that puts Dallas close enough to a pace for the 61-percent wins that equate to a 12th straight 50-win seasons, to deeply ponder individual grades. But for certain, Rick Carlisle's coaching staff gets that 'A.' 7: The Tree of Life: Everything Dallas has done defensively this year -- and what the Mavs have done there is create a new "identity,'' as Carlisle says, as the NBA's No. 1 team in FG percentage allowed, is rooted in the work of Shawn Marion.

This is a team with a purpose. The purpose isn't to unveil new toys. The purpose is to ready the established toys. The purpose is to get to the Tournament. 10: Moneybal: One of my favorite NBA games is “Asset Management.'' We are blessed to be able to study a Dallas Mavericks front office with a mastery of it to match our fascination with it. In the case of Cuban, Donnie, Keith Grant and the rest, I truly believe they gobbled up the new CBA and its implications as efficiently and as effectively as possible. And then they took a bold and proper stand: We are coming into The Era of the SuperTeam. You are either going to play by SuperTeam rules or you are destined to be an alsoran. The Mavs are preparing for The SuperTeam Era (Plan A) while also attempting to position themselves for a run at repeating as champions. (Plan A2? Plan B?) It's the simultaneous operation of two distinctly different plans, some might say "conflicting'' plans. But they are working. Both plans are working.

Check out Mike Fisher on Twitter at FishSports, on the Mavs telecasts on Fox Sports Southwest, and at DallasBasketball.com

sportspagedfw.com | The Sports Page | March 2-8, 2012

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GOLF

WITH TOM WARD

“Lift Off” to improve your ball striking by TOM WARD S P E C IAL C O NTR I B UTO R tompward@sbcglobal.net

I have an incredibly simple golf tip for you this week that can help you improve your shot making skills and make better contact with the ball. One of the most chronic issues golfers encounter with on a regular basis is the takeaway. It’s how you make your club head start back that will determine what type of success you’re going to have on the course. Doing this drill will help you become more proficient in your takeaway technique putting your club on the right path to achieving your golfing goals. One sure fire way to sabotage your golf game is to add more tension into your swing than is necessary. As golfers we already have enough stress and anxiety when we are playing regardless if it’s a social outing with clients or friends or whether it’s a match against a tough opponent at you club. No one likes to lose or embarrass themselves out on the links, but unless you take care of some important components in your swing like your takeaway you’ll be setting yourself up for major disappointment. What should be a no-brainer –placing the club head down behind the ball—can add fuel to your already combustible fire if you’re not careful. I’m here to help extinguish your fears and get you back on track. A SIMPLE CURE So next time you head out to practice or play I want you to try this drill as it can be a real game changer for you if you put in some time. First, as you set up over your shot I don’t want you to ground your club.

Instead, try to let the club head hover slightly above the ball as demonstrated by the young golfer in the photograph. Initially, this move will feel somewhat awkward. That’s because we have conditioned ourselves to always have the club head lying behind the ball touching the surface of the ground. The only time we don’t ground the club head is when we are in a hazard or a sand trap. When the club head is on the ground it’s really easy to accidently apply to much pressure starting from the grip transferring more tension downward towards the club head. That’s because the only contact we have with the club is in our hands. This, in turn, makes us push or drag the club head back on our takeaway along the surface of the ground catching too much grass which can inhibit the natural flow of the golf swing. Some people do this more dramatically than others, but either way it can be destructive to your game. Having grass, sand or dirt nicking your club head as you make your backswing can not only throw off your timing, it can also alter the path upon which your club travels. Usually, if your club head drags the ground too much as you make your takeaway, then your club’s path will be traveling in a very steep or upright position. This directional path will force your club to get too far outside of your intended swing plane and pull you off balance. It will then be a crapshoot to see if you can re-route the club head back in time prior to making contact with the ball. Personally, I

cially when you start getting antsy under pressure. An exercise I have all my students perform is to take their stance over the ball like they are about to make a swing. I ask them to close their eyes as well. Next, I slowly take their club back for them as they remain in their setup position. Then I proceed to take the club too upright (outside) on their respective takeaways and ask them where they feel the club head is going. They only can respond with three answers: Too much outside, too much inside or square. Of course, to drive my point home I take the club further inside or outside than any golfer typically would to hammer home the importance of knowing where the club head is. I promise you after two or three times doing this I can’t fool them anymore.

don’t like your chances as the odds and percentages are stacked against you. KEEP IT OFF THE GROUND TO IMPROVE YOUR FEEL One of the great benefits of allowing the club head to dangle slightly off the ground is that you can actually feel the transition of the club going back without any disruption. That sensation helps you play great golf by feel instead of having a grocery list of random swing thoughts that come and go. When you put in sometime with this drill you’ll marvel at how well you can discern the subtle differences of the directional path the club can travel. Everything about this particular drill is designed to help you counteract the tendency of utilizing your hands and wrists too much espe-

The analogy I use with golfers is like the boxer who comes to the corner after a round and is quite woozy after taking some big hits. The boxer says to his trainer. “ I see three guys out there.” The trainer tells him.”Just hit the middle one.” Once you know and feel the correct swing path, which is neither too upright( steep) nor too flat( shallow), all you have to do is take the middle road to success. If the path of your club is being deflected off line because you apply too much tension and misguided force in making your takeaway, then it’s time to transform your outlook and try this tip. All you have to do is lift your club head off the ground before you make your swing and you’ll be dialing up your launch codes for success. This tip is guaranteed to give your game a much need lift. Tom Ward can be reached at www.teetimewithtom.com

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BASEBALL

TEXAS RANGERS

Spring training notes: rotation and defense by DIC HUMPHREY SENIOR COLUMNIST dic.humphrey@yahoo.com Spring training is in full swing this week. The Rangers held their first full squad workout Sunday, after position players reported a day earlier, following pitchers and catchers, who had reported mid-week. This first week is filled with conditioning drills and work on baseball fundamentals in preparation for spring games that begin this Sunday afternoon against Kansas City. YU-SANITY IN FULL SWING So far the media attention for Yu Darvish has been every bit the circus that was anticipated. No detail of his spring training day appears too trivial for the horde of Asian press that numbers more than 100. Bullpen catchers, batters faced in batting practice and observers are grilled after every session, and every report has been overwhelmingly positive. So far the Rangers appear to be trying to lessen the pressure on Darvish. For example, his early batting practice throwing sessions have been against minor league players on back fields, not Ranger regulars. Earlier this week, manager Ron Washington announced the first round of game appearances for his seven starting rotation candidates, which will most likely entail just two or perhaps three innings. Darvish's first game action follows five of the other six candidates. The team obviously wants him to watch games to get a first hand feel for American baseball prior to taking the mound himself. Shortly after Washington announced his pitching plans, it was also announced that next Wednesday's game against the Padres when Darvish debuts will be webcast in the US and televised in Japan. The balance of the first round of appearances for the rotation candidates are Colby Lewis and Scott Feldman in Sunday's opener, followed by Derek Holland and Alexi Ogando in game two, Matt Harrison in game three, and Neftali Feliz in game five. It has been generally assumed that Alexi Ogando will be one of the two odd men out in the game of musical rotation chairs, but his early work is showing every indication that he is not easily giving up the spot in the rotation he held last season. “Lights out” is one recent comment that has been reported about Ogando's early throwing sessions. He was outstanding

last year with 13 wins, a 3.51 ERA and an All-Star appearance. It would be a shame not to build on that performance in his first year as a starter. WILL FELIZ REMAIN A STARTER? So far, Texas seems committed to Neftali Feliz in the rotation. However, it will be interesting to see where the team goes if Ogando clearly out-pitches Feliz this spring. One of Feliz's recent batting practice throwing sessions was reported as not very good. The batters he faced though were Josh Hamilton, David Murphy and Nelson Cruz, any of whom can make pitchers look bad. One of the big questions for a reliever converted to starter is the development of secondary pitches. As closer, Feliz mainly threw fastballs, and occasionally mixed in an off speed pitch to keep the hitters honest. As a starter, he will need to command three or even four pitches to work through an opposing team's batting order three times in a night. Another pitcher that has especially caught the eye is Koji Uehara. Texas is reportedly a “tweak” over their salary budget and unloading Uehara's $4.0 million would solve the problem. One potential trade to Toronto was cancelled when Uehara nixed the deal through a limited no-trade clause in his contract. In the past couple of weeks another trade to Oakland fizzled. This may be good news. So far, Uehara has been outstanding. Actually, he compiled a 2.35 ERA in 65 appearances last season, an outstanding total that the

Rangers will be happy to have for $4.0 million if he can duplicate those figures this year. Unfortunately, his numbers were much better in Baltimore before the July trade to Texas last July. Another reason that Uehara could end up being a valued bullpen member is that he is very good against left-handed batters. If he throws well, it is possible Texas will end up foregoing a left-handed bullpen specialist, a role manned by Darren Oliver the past two seasons. Washington has already said he is not opposed to an all right handed bullpen if Uehara becomes his best option against left-handed batters. Michael Kirkman is also getting strong reviews for his throwing sessions. One area of the Rangers that can definitely improve is team defense. Texas is generally thought to be a good defensive team because there are so many talented players that make great plays, but the team commits far too many errors. That obscene total was 126 last year, ranking them 12th in the league in fielding percentage, which was actually one of the better showings for Texas since Washington took over as manager. Pitchers committed 16 of those errors. The biggest offender has been Colby Lewis, who has committed nine errors over the past two seasons, one of the highest pitcher totals in baseball. Consequently, there has been a stronger emphasis on pitchers' fielding practice (PFP's) this spring.

The biggest offender in the Rangers' error total was Elvis Andrus, who committed 25, approximately 20% of the team total. That was definitely a regression from 2010's error total of 16, which still isn't good. Andrus obviously has the talent, but the problem seems to be in focus. He simply makes careless errors on routine plays, especially throwing errors. It is probably not a coincidence that the Rangers have hired Tony Fernandez, once an All-Star shortstop, as a special assistant who is in uniform this spring. EXUDING CONFIDENCE Perhaps the biggest difference in this year's team is attitude. Evan Grant reported in The Dallas Morning News this week that this team knows that it is good and knows what it needs to do to prepare for the season. This is the residue of having played a dozen World Series games over the past two seasons. This team is still very young, but very few teams have the playoff experience in their backgrounds that this group of players have. This can be nothing but good for Ranger fans. National writer Jayson Starke tweeted last weekend that last Saturday will be the final Saturday without a major league baseball game until November. What a great thought. Let the games begin!

sportspagedfw.com | The Sports Page | March 2-8, 2012

9


COVER STORY

TEXAS RANGERS

The biggest surprise out of Surprise: Koji Uehara by MIKE McGEHEE CONTRIBUTOR

Tommy Hunter was a big personality in the Texas sports market.

Photo: YahooSports.com

His jovial smile and larger than life personality was embraced by Texas Ranger fans all across the board. His stuff was inconsistent, but flashes of brilliance enticed Ranger fans abroad. He laughed, drank beer, and picked on Craig Sager in the 2010 playoffs. And all of the sudden, he was shipped off to Baltimore in a package with strikeout king Chris Davis for a lauded AL East pitcher, Koji Uehara. THOUGHT TO BE A TOP RELIEVER... Often described as one of the best lateinning relievers in baseball, the Rangers front office believed that had hit a gold mine in Uehara. And in a flash, the well liked Hunter and the often lauded hitter and first basemen Davis were Rangers history. Fans and front office alike thought they were getting on of the best bullpen additions in a season when the pen had been called into question. Most found themselves rooting for Uehara. His stuff was unquestionably sneaky good and all were drawn in by the infectious enthusiasm the man showed on the mound. After any dominant inning, he would slam his fist into his glove and high five every player on the bench on the way back in. He seemed to be a perfect fit in Texas early. BUT UNABLE TO DELIVER IN TEXAS Baseball doesn't always provide the dream scenario, however. While allowing only 11 home runs in 86 previous innings with Baltimore, Uehara gave up five in just 22 innings with the Rangers. His off-speed stuff was not moving

like it used to. His fastball command was not as pinpoint as it used to be. Many who found themselves cheering the trade for Uehara now were groaning when a nod from the pitching coach went his way. When the playoffs rolled around, Uehara was often left on the bench in high pressure situations he seemed fit for. Koji Uehara was born in Neyagawa, Osaka, Japan in 1973. As a pitcher, he enjoyed great success until 2009, when he was finally given a chance by a Major League Baseball team in the Baltimore Orioles. He was given the opportunity to start for the team, but didn't find much success in his first year with

10 March 2-8, 2012 | The Sports Page | sportspagedfw.com

the team, going 2-4 with a 4.05 ERA and a .270 batting average against. Baltimore then tried their hand at moving Uehara to relief in 2010. He appeared in 43 games and amassed 13 saves. He then first showed his pinpoint command by racking up 55 strikeouts against on five walks in 44 total innings. He was able to drop his WHIP to 0.95 and his BAA to .220. It was in the first half of 2011 that Uehara would truly shine with the Baltimore Oriels. Before the trade deadline he pitches in 47 innings only allowing 25 hits. He was able to strikeout 62 while only walking eight. He

also dropped his BAA to an astonishing .151. This was the kind of relief dominance that made the Rangers very interested in the player, and he was doing it against the offensively heavy AL East. The Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, and Blue Jays were all equally flustered by the array of pinpoint pitches Uehara was able to roll out in each appearance. After the Rangers made the move for Uehara, he was the subject of much scrutiny. The team hoped he would be the answer to their bullpen woes, yet his numbers didn't quite add up with the gravity of the situations he was placed in. His stat line with the


Tateyama (left) and Uehara will make Darvish’s transition easier this season. (Photo: Norm Hall)

Texas Rangers wasn't unimpressive; it just seemed to be filled with ill timing. He allowed 13 hits in 18 innings and eight earned runs. Still, he struck out 23 while only allowing one walk. LOOKING FOR A BOUNCE BACK YEAR Now, Uehara has dealt with an offseason filled with a myriad of trade rumors that would make anyone question just how much he was truly wanted. He lived in a hotel for the second half of the Rangers season and longed for his home in Baltimore. However, he nixed a potential trade to Toronto, showing his desire to prove his worth in Texas. Many have cited Koji Uehara and Yoshinori Tateyama as big reasons that standout Yu Darvish will be able to succeed in Texas. A good base and an ability to communicate with teammates have to help Darvish with the culture change into the wide world of American baseball. As of February 28th, Darvish was already tweeting in English with his catcher Mike Napoli and fans alike. Any casual fans can look at Uehara's numbers and wish that he can return to that clutch form and dominate. And who doesn't enjoy a good celebration on the mound. A few stats that do not show in the forefront with his time in Texas are WHIP (walks/hits per inning pitched) and BAA (batting average against) which were 0.78 and .191 respectively. Both of these numbers are well above impressive and kept his worth high in the minds of Jon Daniels and company. The Rangers were very high on Tommy Hunter. Barring an injury, fans would have seen him in the starting rotation for the ball club. Chris Davis was the ultimate talking

point. A guy with plus power and plus defense who just couldn't piece it together in the big leagues. It felt as if every at bat would either be a strikeout or a home run for Davis. These were two huge pieces in the Rangers 40 man roster, though to be a factor for the future. Still, Jon Daniels saw the value in Uehara, and made a move to try to win now. All fans should be rooting for the success of Uehara, because he can be truly dominant. The team is moving onto spring training this year with questions and expectations abound. Many have pegged Uehara as being a standout. He seems to have regained some of his dominating stuff, all while pitching in hitter friendly Surprise, Arizona. He has shown a bit of a return to form, and no one is more thrilled that Uehara with the steps he is taking. Ready to prove he is still a force to be reckoned with in the bullpen, Uehara is walking tall among Rangers pitchers quietly, beneath the shadow of the Japanese pitching legend Yu Darvish. If Uehara can truly return to form, the questionable Rangers bullpen becomes instantly stronger, and in a big way. His delivery has baffled hitters in both than Japanese leagues and the MLB and he becomes a certified weapon in the late innings to back up Mike Adams and Joe Nathan. Tommy Hunter is ready to fight for a top rotation spot in the Baltimore rotation, Chris Davis will be a favorite for their first base job. And Koji Uehara sits quietly ready in the Rangers bullpen, ready to make hitters fear him again.

sportspagedfw.com | The Sports Page | March 2-8, 2012

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WITH KATE DELANEY

SPORTS SHORTS

Josh may lose fans with statements DOES HAMILTON “OWE” FANS ANYTHING?

POLITICS MOVE THE START OF THE NFL We are all creatures of habit, aren't we? So when I heard that this year's NFL season wasn't starting on a Thursday I was a bit surprised. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is accommodating the Democrats. Yep, the President's address at the Democratic National Convention is scheduled for Thursday, September 6th so the opener was shifted to Wednesday.

by KATE DELANEY S P E C IAL C O NTR I B UTO R katesdelaney@gmail.com

WORDS CAN STING One of the most popular athletes in these parts hands down is Texas Ranger Josh Hamilton, but he's doing his best to put himself on another list. Once Hamilton let it fly that he doesn't owe the Rangers anything, he became a prime target for massive criticism. Arrogant, cocky, and ungrateful just a few of the words I heard flipping back and forth through the local sports radio fare.

lot for the Rangers? I think I've given them everything thing I've had.” I love Texas. I love fans of the Rangers. I love the organization. I love my teammates. I love everything about it - but I'm not going to sit here and say I owe the Rangers. I don't feel like I owe the Rangers.” It's a slippery slope for Hamilton when you think of his slip-ups and backing he's gotten from the team - is there any doubt he's grateful? No. He just mangled his response or got his back up when he was hounded about a new contract. On that front, the team is waiting to let him sort out his personal demons. He will, and the Rangers will extend his contract.

His grenade-throwing comments came after a typical spring training interaction with the media. Let me flush it out a bit more to be fair. Last Friday Hamilton said, “The Rangers have done a lot for me, but I have a question for y'all: Have I done a

Am I making a mountain out of a mole hill? It's the first time that the kick - off to the season hasn't been played on a Thursday since 2002. Since sports is about stats and facts here's another one for you. An NFL game hasn't been played on Wednesday since the Rams faced the Lions in 1948. There is a laundry list of major sporting events that have had to be shifted because of earthquakes, floods and unforeseen accidents that caused a game to be moved even to a different venue. Do you remember the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake? Game 3 of the World Series between the Oakland A's and the Giants was moved for

a week. When you look at the video of Candlestick Park you can see the stadium swaying - it's a miracle that nobody was hurt. That Sunday- October 22nd - just five days later, the 49ers game against the Patriots was played at Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto. The Niners won 37-20. Remember the Wildfires in Southern California in October of 2003? Charger fans certainly do as the game against the Dolphins on the 27th meant a road trip to Tempe, Arizona. They lost 26 - 10. Hurricane Katrina in 2005 tore apart so many lives and the city lost the Saints for a season as they were unable to play in the Superdome. The Saints played four games in Baton Rouge, three in San Antonio and one in East Rutherford, New York. Let's face it the world was cheering for New Orleans that season no matter where they played. Maybe moving the NFL Opener isn't such a big deal after all. Kate Delaney hosts "America Tonight," which airs from 11p.m. - 2a.m. on KKGM 1630AM.

DALLAS STARS

HOCKEY

Stars stand pat at trade deadline by Richard S. Pollak, The Hockey Attitude SPECIAL CONTRIBUTOR Dallasentertain@aol.com

STARS TARGETED PLAYER AT TRADE DEADLINE DEALT TO BUFFALO INSTEAD Dallas Stars GM Joe Niewendyk said," that they were going to be active but not going to be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline." As the trade deadline came and went last Monday, the Stars added 2 future draft picks in exchange for seasoned veteran defenseman Nick Grossman,who will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. Cody Hodgson, ,the young former number #1 draft pick of the Vancouver Canucks in 2008, and the focus of the Stars hockey management team, was instead traded to the Buffalo Sabres. Hodgson has registered 16 goals and 33 points this season so far while assuming a more productive role with the team. His name came up several times in serious discussions according to members of the Vancouver Press in Dallas for last

Sunday night's game. No pro scouts from any NHL teams were present for the last Stars home game prior to the trade deadline. Only the Montreal Canadiens scout had requested seating in the Press Box but didn't show up. The entire Dallas Stars Hockey braintrust spent the game in GM Joe Nieuwendyk's Press Box Suite with new Stars owner Tom Gaglardi and his checkbook.

YOU'RE INVITED: "A NIGHT WITH THE STARS" EXCLUSIVE GALA TO MEET NEW STARS OWNER TOM GAGLARDI Yes, DSPW Hockey readers, you are invited to join me at the exclusive "A NIGHT WITH THE STARS" gala at the new Omni Hotel for the introduction of new Stars Owner Tom Gaglardi to the Stars Suite Owners and Dallas Society VIP's. Just because your not La Creme de la Creme in Dallas High Society doesn't mean you can't take a peak behind the curtain as I recap the event for you. Once again, it was Alan Peppard, the Dallas Morning News Society/Gossip Columnist

12 March 2-8, 2012 | The Sports Page | sportspagedfw.com

and I as the only media to attend. Last time, Alan and I were covering the Tony Romo Wedding from the lawn outside the tightly secured Tent at Arlington Hall at Lee Park I was pointing out the Dallas Cowboys and other High Profile Sports Personalities while the DMN gossip maven let me know who's the riches of the rich and who's just pretending. Jerry Jones and his family entourage were there to meet the newest member of the Dallas Sports Ownership Club. Interestingly, the Cowboys Owner had to get special permission from the commissioner to attend the Wedding during the NFL lockout. Dallas Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk was seen throughout the evening happily celebrating the passing the NHL Trade Deadline and a 4 game winning streak. Hully and Mo of 1999 Stars Stanley Cup fame led the Hockey Alumni contingent along with several Canucks executives. Celelna Rae and the Emerald City Band sang, " OH WHAT A NIGHT" and it surely was that for the highest of the Dallas Elite

who had no idea of what hockey was or where Vancouver is! Alan and I were munching on Ritz crackers topped with Lobster in a Caviar specked Bernaise sauce and Kobe Steak Sliders, we had our own personal security guards even escort us out of the party to Valet. I assume it was to avoid the rush!

CHARLIE, WILL YOU MARRY ME? Dallas Stars All-Star Jamie Benn leads the American Airlines Center in teen girls’ hand made " WILL YOU MARRY ME" posters this season. However, it was Gary Heiskala who stole all of the romantic attention when he proposed to his girlfriend Charlie during the KISS-FM Kiss Cam Promo on the Jumbotrons coreboard. Thank the Stars that she said,"YES" as it inspired the new pre-recorded (not live) AAC organ player to chime out ," HOW DEEP IS YOUR LOVE " by the Bee Gees.


BASEBALL

TEXAS RANGERS

Many questions loom for 2012 Rangers by MIKE KRAVIK CONTRIBUTOR mikek@davstan.com

loyalty is owed. My hope is that there's a sense of urgency …a “this might be our last chance to win it all together” thing that happens with the team and that we see 2010 Josh once again but so far his impending free agency has become a dominant story the first week of Spring Training.

The Texas Rangers have given their fans a magical ride the last two years and accomplished just about everything except win a championship. Nothing in baseball is ever static and the Rangers have a new set of challenges in 2012. Here are some of the questions the Rangers face in 2012 and I consulted baseball history in search of answers.

3) WILL YU DARVISH BECOME A SUPERSTAR AND JUSTIFY THE $ 110 MILLION INVESTMENT THE TEXAS RANGERS MADE IN HIM? Mike Tyson was once asked about the strategy opposing boxers used against him and he very famously said “Everybody's got a plan until they get hit in the mouth.” Rangers Ballpark in Arlington is a lot like Tyson circa '88 - a terrifying confluence (the heat, the jet stream, the American League) where the challenge is every bit mental as it is physical.

1A) WHAT HAPPENS TO TEAMS THAT LOSE BACK-TO-BACK WORLD SERIES? The 2012 Texas Rangers are dealing with a double whammy so the first two questions are related. They went to the World Series two years in a row and not only came up short but also experienced a Bucknerian soul crushing loss of a championship in the process. Going through history to find this answer is kind of like George Bailey going on a tour of Pottersville with Clarence and seeing what life would have been like without him, “You're not gonna like what you see, George.” It's virtually unheard of (hasn't happened since 1923) to go back to the World Series a third year after losing twice in a row. The last three teams to lose two World Series in a row were the '92 Atlanta Braves, the '78 Los Angeles Dodgers and the '64 New York Yankees. The '93 Braves won the NL West but were knocked out by the Phillies in the playoffs. The '79 Dodgers and '65 Yankees both finished under .500. 1B) THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM NOBODY WANTS TO DISCUSS…WHAT HAPPENS TO TEAMS WHO CHOKE ON OPPORTUNITIES FOR GREATNESS LIKE THE RANGERS DID IN GAME 6? In Game 6 of the 2002 World Series, the San Francisco Giants led the Anaheim Angels 3-2 and held a 5-0 lead in the bottom of the 7th inning only to cough up that game and Game 7. The next year the Giants won the NL West but were knocked out in the LDS by the Florida Marlins.

the '86 Boston Red Sox in Game 6 of the World Series. The Red Sox held a two-run lead in the 10th inning and were one out and one strike away from a championship when disaster struck (“…the ball gets through Buckner, here comes Knight and the Mets win it!!!”). The '87 Red Sox, a team stocked with players like Roger Clemens, Wade Boggs, Dwight Evans and Jim Rice didn't get over what happened in 1986 and somehow went 78-84. Given their talent, the age of the team and the weak division they play in, I can't fathom the Rangers finishing below .500 in 2012 but getting over what happened last year is my biggest worry with the team. One thing about the 2011 Texas Rangers team is certain is that all of them will take what happened in Game 6 to their bleeping graves. 2) IS THIS JOSH HAMILTON'S LAST SEASON WITH THE RANGERS AND WILL HIS IMPENDING FREE AGENCY BECOME A DISTRACTION?

The '97 Cleveland Indians took a 2-1 lead to the 9th inning of Game 7 but lost in extra innings. The Indians won the AL Central three of the next four years but have never been back to the World Series.

Three of the most popular players I can remember playing for the Texas Rangers are Nolan Ryan, Pudge Rodriguez and Josh Hamilton. In 1997, Pudge was a 25 year old star and eligible to hit free agency but he had made it public that he wanted to stay.

Perhaps the most similar thing that happened to the Rangers is what happened to

Rangers ownership (Tom Schieffer Years) at the time was renowned for throwing

nickels around like man-hole covers. Several young players (Raffy Palmeiro, Kevin Brown, Kenny Rogers, Dean Palmer) who were about to become expensive, were traded or allowed to hit free agency. Making obscene amounts of money (the Rangers averaged 36,000+ fans per game in '97) trumped baseball decisions at the time.

Kevin Millwood was the American League ERA leader (2.86) in 2005 and that off-season signed as a free agent with the Rangers. Millwood sported a 5.38 ERA in his first year with the Texas Rangers. Millwood is not alone when it comes to struggling at RBiA. . Cliff Lee (5.07), Tim Hudson (6.80), Roy Halladay (6.34), Dan Haren (5.05), Ervin Santana (7.17), Colby Lewis (5.26) Felix Hernandez (4.35) are all good to great pitchers that have ridiculously high career ERA's in Arlington.

Nobody could believe ownership would let Pudge go (remember the “Sign Pudge” bumper stickers?) but that narrative gripped the team early and put it in a headlock. By the time Pudge signed (4 months into the season) the Rangers were 7 games under .500 / 10 games back and the season was essentially lost.

Yu Darvish has so many other adjustments (the quality of hitters, stricter pitch counts, size of baseballs, pitching every 5 days instead of once a week, the travel) to make this season to go along with pitching in Texas that I don't think he will be a superstar in his rookie year.

In the modern world of baseball statistics I'd get laughed at by sabermetric types for saying that Pudge's contract was the reason the team played so badly but I have to believe it had some kind of effect because it was the dominant media topic that season.

I expect Darvish to experience labor pains in his rookie year - neither Roy Halladay nor Cliff Lee could pitch well in Texas and my hope is that he survives 2012 and becomes a good pitcher. A 14-10 record with a 3.50ish ERA in 200 innings pitched would be a good start to his major league career and a possible foundation for greatness.

The Rangers won 3 AL West titles from '96-99 and the one year in that span they didn't win the AL West (when Pudge's future was uncertain), the Rangers went 77-85

4) WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE THE 2012 TEXAS RANGERS FACE? That's easy, defying major league history.

Early returns for the 2012 season are not promising. The Rangers front office has said the talks have been tabled for now while Josh keeps bringing up how much sportspagedfw.com | The Sports Page | March 2-8, 2012

13


TICKET WINDOW Tom Gaglardi with The Hardline

The Hardline Weekdays, 3:00-7:00 PM Mike: So the trade deadline has come and gone now, and you guys on the strength of a four game winning streak have held tight. You've decided to play your hand close to the vest and hold what you've got? Tom: Yeah I think the four game win streak was a bit of a factor for us. If you look back, we've always thought this team was a playoff team and was capable

of getting there. After a great start, we had a bit of inconsistent play throughout the middle of the season. So we've seen now what we've put together and what was supposed to happen and it shows up now in the nick of time. There were some interesting discussions over the last couple of weeks with some teams, and we're committed to being better for longer. If that means we get a little younger right now, that was something we were going to consider doing. We worked hard and listened a lot, but in the end there wasn't a deal there that made us a better hockey team so we decided to stand pat. Mike: Would you have had to touch the core of the team? Was anything that tempting for you? Tom: In the end maybe not. For a bunch of reasons the market changed a little in terms of the prices being pretty high for the types of players that we coveted. When we talk about our core here with the Stars, we're talking about guys in their mid 20's. We're talking about

14 March 2-8, 2012 | The Sports Page | sportspagedfw.com

Jamie Benn, Kari Lehtonen, Trevor Daley, Loui Eriksson, and Goligosky I guess would be in that group. Those guys were untouchable for us. We've got some pieces we love that are older. Steve Ott for instance is 29 and under contract. A lot of teams were coveting Steve, and I'm happy he's still a Dallas Star today but there's tough decisions to be made here in Dallas, and we want to take the next step forward and be a better team longer term. Corby: How difficult is it as a new owner? You want to make your imprint, or make a splash maybe. Does that enter your head when the trade deadline comes and goes? Tom: I don't really care to make a big splash. I've been around the game a long time watching how teams are built and studying that. I've got a pretty good idea of what we want to do here, and frankly i'd prefer to do something over the summer. It's always a worry when you tinker with the locker room when you like what's going on in the room. We've had

some bad luck with injuries. We lost our goalie for a month to a freaky injury, and Jamie Benn our best young player had a freak skate cut to the leg and missed some games. Our captain Brendan Morrow has missed large chunks of the season. We've had some unlucky things happen to us in terms of being injured, and right now we're not the deepest team around. I think that plays a factor in the inconsistency that we went through in the middle of the season. But we're pretty excited about our group. We beat the Canucks without our best player and our captain, we've beaten the Bruins, the Stanley Cup Champions. We've beaten some good teams, and there's some teams that fear us. We want to be a championship caliber team, but we've got to get better on the ice and we've got to be more competitive, but we don't want to make mistakes on the way. We've got a good farm system, and we've got some really nice things happening with the core group I mentioned earlier.


sportspagedfw.com | The Sports Page | March 2-8, 2012

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DINING

Dallas’ top hotel restaurant is at the Fairmont by RICHARD POLLAK, The Traveling Gourmet SPECIAL CONTRIBUTOR Dallasentertain@aol.com

Peddle (2011 White Wine winner), and Pyramid Sous Chef Andrew McDonald (2011 Red Wine winner),took part in the event.

Yes, Dallas, everyone already knows about Fearing's at the Ritz and Tom Colicchio's Craft at the W . There is also a lot of foodies talk about Rex Turner's Q de Cheval at the Hotel Intercontinental. However, the best kept secret in hotel restaurants in Dallas is the Pyramid Restaurant & Bar at the Fairmont Hotel! The Fairmont's major renovation campaign brought about a new sleek, yet warm,stylish and confortable feeling to the old restaurant that has long been known as one of the old standards in Dallas dining. Executive Chef Andre Natera has recreated a "fresh approach" by utilizing his 3,000 square foot garden on the Hotel's roof full of home grown herbs, spices, fruits and vegetables to bring to cutting edge flavor to the dining table.

Fairmont Ballroom brought the hotel's three executives from the kitchen to a challenge. Three past winners of Dallas Food and Wine’s Rising Star Chefs, including Executive Chef Andre Natera (2003 White Wine winner), Executive Sous Chef Paul

To celebrate these Rising Stars Trifecta of accomplishments, The Pyramid Restaurant hosted the chef's tasting dinner and live cooking demonstration. Each Rising Star Chef prepared an interpretation of their signature award-winning dish, along with a special dessert course by Pastry Chef Maggie Huff. AMUSE BOUCHE AT THE MENU TASTING The Faimont's Pyramid room Fall menu continues the fresh-from-the-roof top garden to the table theme. Highlighted by a dynamic Thanksgiving Feast of Roasted Butternut Squash Bisque & Spanish Chorizo along with a Rosemary Roulade Turkey, Mushroom Stuffing Souflles Cranberry Compote and Pumpkin Cheesecake with Fresh Chantilly Cream, Berry Compote and Cinnamon Spiced Tuile.

FALL COCKTAIL SELECTIONS The Lobby Bar at the Fairmont has long been known for it's creative libations in Downtown Dallas and the complimentary home-made Potato Chips are the best Bar nibbles in town! The Dallas Dining scene will rediscover the Fairmont Hotel's Pyramid Restaurant and Bar as the Best Hotel Restaurant in Dallas.

Pyramid Restaurant & Bar at The Fairmont Hotel 1717 North Akard Dallas, TX 75201 (214)720-2020 www.fairmont.com/dallas

The amazing Trifecta Dinner held in the

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1/2 price pizzas during cowboy games! sportspagedfw.com | The Sports Page | March 2-8, 2012

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sportspagedfw.com | The Sports Page | March 2-8, 2012

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The Sports Page Weekly  

A look at Texas Rangers Spring Traininig, the Dallas Mavericks, Dallas Stars and SMU Mustangs

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