Dallas Motorsports: Texas Rangers

Current, former Rangers attend Cup race

November, 6, 2011
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Texas Motor Speedway had a bit of Ranger flare to it on Sunday.

Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux and bullpen coach Andy Hawkins came to the race to check things out. Maddux said he's been to one NASCAR event and this is Hawkins' first.

It's the start of a big week for Maddux, who will interview with the Red Sox on Tuesday and the Cubs on Wednesday for their managerial openings.

Maddux, by the way, sounded much better Sunday and could talk, though he was a little hoarse. He's been battling laryngitis.

Reliever Arthur Rhodes also attended the race for a few days this weekend. Rhodes started the 2011 season with the Rangers and then won a World Series ring with the St. Louis Cardinals as a situational lefty out of their bullpen.

Head athletic trainer Jamie Reed, a fan of Richard Childress Racing, was also on hand for the race.

Enjoy golden age of sports in Dallas-Fort Worth

September, 29, 2011
Is there a better sports market than Dallas-Fort Worth?

I know the ink-stained sportswriting elitists of New York City would scoff and say Gotham is the best. Chicago beat writers would down another bratwurst an tell you Da’ Windy City wins. Boston’s haughty scribes would slam down their glass, wipe the froth from their upper lip and remind that they have Fenway, the Pats and "The Gah-den." The L.A. sports media would hit you back that they, uh, have ... you know ... perfect weather.

But there is simply no contest. None. Give it up for North Texas. We have it all. And it’s not even close. This is the golden age of sports in Dallas-Fort Worth.

Look at the local venues. Look at the local teams. Look at the local colleges. Look at the local events. In no particular order, in the last year we've:

  • Hosted the World Series.
  • Won the NBA Finals.
  • A local university won the Rose Bowl.
  • Hosted two of America’s biggest NASCAR races.
  • Staged the Super Bowl.
  • Put on two of the PGA Tour’s iconic golf tournaments.
  • Been the site of three college football bowl games in a span of nine days.
  • Hosted several months of thoroughbred and quarter-horse racing.
  • Site of local college stadium building boom.
  • Uniquely promoted twin Indy Car races in one night -- the first time that's been done in 30 years.
  • Oh ... and our high school football team can beat up your high school football team. That goes without saying.


    Part of it are the teams. The Mavericks took their talents to South Beach and slapped LeBron James and the Heat. The Horned Frogs proved bigger than the Big Ten's Badgers in the "Grandaddy of Them All." The Rangers made it to the Fall Classic before falling to the Beard, but "that's the way baseball go."

    But a big part of it are the venues. Check your big screen because Cowboys Stadium is a lone star without peer. Texas Motor Speedway is the biggest -- as big as, well, Texas. The local golf tournaments are as venerable as the Colonial and lord over others like Byron himself. Horses simply ought to be racing in Texas at impressive and stately Lone Star Park. The Ballpark in Arlington is a classic throwback. American Airlines Center is home to Mavericks and Stars, yet is big enough to park the locally-based airlines' biggest jets inside.

    Want more?

    A few years ago SMU renovated its football stadium, and June Jones finally resurrected the Mustangs to a bowl game victory. TCU's stadium is expanding along with the school's rose garden. The University of North Texas built a new stadium for its Mean Green, complete with wings in the end zone (which we like, even though we don't really know why). And the Cotton Bowl, which no longer hosts the Cotton Bowl, may be prehistoric but it could be the greatest site in college football when it is decorated in burnt orange and crimson right on the 50-yard line.

    And did I mention that our high school football team can beat up your high school football team?

    So give credit to Cuban and Jerry and Bruton and Nolan and TCU, SMU and UNT and the Colonial and The Byron and the Chickasaw Nation for Lone Star Park and the rest for the great teams, venues and events -- we'll leave Tom Hicks out of this conversation.

    Nobody -- not NYC, not Chi-Town, not Boston, not L.A., not St. Louis, not Miami, not Atlanta, not Detroit, not San Fran, not PHX, not Houston, not anybody -- has been on a roll in sports the way Dallas-Fort Worth is right now. If you are a sports fan, this is THE place to be. This is the golden age. This could well be the golden year for sports for any community -- ever.

    And you know our high school football team can beat up your high school football team.
  • Vote for your DFW favorites on ESPY ballot

    June, 24, 2011
    PM CT
    The ESPY ballot is out, and it's no surprise that Dirk Nowitzki and representatives from your Dallas Mavericks are represented in multiple categories.

    But they're not the only local representatives who are on the ballots. Here are your local choices:

    * Male Athlete of the Year: Dirk Nowitzki
    * Team of the Year: Dallas Mavericks, Texas A&M women's basketball
    * NBA Player of the Year: Dirk Nowitzki
    * Coach of the Year: Rick Carlisle
    * MLB Player of the Year: Josh Hamilton
    * MLS Player of the Year: David Ferreira

    So vote, and then tell your friends to vote. Click here to get to the ballot. Enjoy!

    Local giants gather to talk sports, economy

    January, 6, 2011
    PM CT
    DALLAS -- A lively discussion took place on a stage on floor of the American Airlines Center with a star-studded panel of the area's biggest sports movers and shakers.

    The National Sports Marketing Network North Texas Chapter held its inaugural event and attracted to its panel Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, Texas Rangers general managing partner and CEO Chuck Greenberg, Hunt Sports Group chairman Clark Hunt, and Bill Lively, the president and CEO of the North Texas Super Bowl XLV Host Committee.

    The umbrella discussion topic was the economics and growth of sports in Dallas-Fort Worth. Take for instance, the major sporting events in here just in this past calendar year starting February 2010: The NBA All-Star Game, the World Series and coming in 32 days, the Super Bowl.

    Other topics ranged from selling tickets to social media to broadcast rights. The first portion of the discussion dealt with the difficulties of attracting fans to games during the continuing economic downturn and in the face of steep sports competition with all four major professional sports, Texas Motor Speedway, plus Major League Soccer's FC Dallas and even TCU and SMU.

    President of Texas Motor Speedway Eddie Gossage joins Ben and Skin to talk about the Sports Marketing Summit that was held at the American Airlines Center last night, the sport of racing, and more.

    Listen Listen
    Cuban, whose Mavs continue a sellout streak that's surpassed 300 games, but have had to hustle more to keep it going, put it this way: "I liked it when the Stars sucked. I liked it when the Cowboys sucked. Life was easy."

    Greenberg is the new guy in town, a Pittsburgher who took over the reins of the Rangers franchise along with Nolan Ryan and a group of investors. He came on at the perfect time. The team was young and on the rise. The franchise successfully traded for ace Cliff Lee and advanced to its first World Series, attracting and re-attracting a bandwagon of fans.

    Now, he said his job is to cater to a fractured fan base from the previous ownership that is rejuvinated and to get them to buy seats at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. The team has concentrated on selling newcomers on smaller ticket packages and then escalating to full-blown season tickets. "It's like a first date and building it up to a marriage," Greenberg said. "If in this community we can't draw 3 million people, we're just not very good. We think we can do that."

    Gossage has seen a drop-off of casual fans that catapulted NASCAR to a major boon not too long ago. Selling tickets to the massive superspeedway has become more difficult and in no small part to the sports competition in the area.

    Gossage didn't hold back when he said, "That giant sucking sound you hear is Cowboys Stadium. The Cowboys are sucking up all the money and making things more difficult."

    Lively eloquently dished on the coming of Super Bowl XLV to Cowboys Stadium. He stressed that once the game comes and goes, the North Texas Super Bowl committee won't pack up and go away. They will be busy on their next bid, which he said will come in 2012. The next possible Super Bowl back here? 2016 -- Super Bowl L.

    Lively also announced the hope for a sports commission for North Texas to work collectively and bid on major sporting events to bring to Cowboys Stadium, Rangers Ballpark, American Airlines Center, Texas Motor Speedway, Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, among others.

    And, oh, there is also a push to bring the 2020 Summer Games to Dallas-Fort Worth.

    C.J. Wilson to drive pace car at TMS

    November, 4, 2010
    PM CT

    Texas Motor Speedway announced that Texas Rangers pitcher C.J. Wilson will drive the official pace car that leads the 43-car field to the green flag at Sunday's AAA Texas 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup race.

    It's a rare honor for Wilson, who helped the Rangers reach their first World Series. Usually, honored race guests ride along in the official pace car or drive a secondary pace vehicle. NASCAR granted special permission to TMS to let Wilson drive the lead pace car.

    The only previous celebrity to drive the lead pace car at TMS was actor Vince Vaughn, who did it for the November 2007 Sprint Cup race.

    The AAA Texas 500 is scheduled for 2 p.m. CT Sunday and will be televised on ESPN.

    Rangers' celebration echoes similar scenario at TMS

    October, 13, 2010
    PM CT
    Last night’s Texas Rangers victory over the Tampa Bay Rays is not only being recognized as the Rangers’ biggest win in the team’s 39-year history but also as one of sport’s classiest moments ever when the team chose to celebrate in their clubhouse by spraying ginger ale instead of champagne after winning their American League Division Series.

    The team chose to do so as a nod of support to center fielder Josh Hamilton, who’s battle with drugs and alcohol have been well chronicled. When the Rangers earlier won the American League West crown in Oakland, Hamilton missed the clubhouse celebration choosing to remain in the training room so as to avoid the traditional alcohol bath in the postgame celebration.

    Hamilton, who could well be the American League MVP this season, is a big reason for the Rangers success this season. Having him not participate in any celebration is a shame regardless of the good reason behind his decision.
    [+] EnlargeAl Unser Jr.
    Darrell Ingham /Getty ImagesIn June 2003, Al Unser Jr. celebrated a victory at Texas Motor Speedway shortly after completing rehab for alcohol problems.

    So, here’s to ginger ale.

    But it reminded me of a similar situation here at Texas Motor Speedway in June 2003.

    Al Unser Jr. won the Indy Car race that night by an eyelash, just edging out Tony Kanaan by 0.081 of a second. It came on the heels of Unser having completed rehab for alcohol problems. One of the biggest and most recognizable names in American sports, Unser entered rehab after having a very public incident in Indiana.

    Proud of his recovery, Unser celebrated with his crew in Victory Lane which, in his mind, signified completion of a tough chapter in his life. The ear-to-ear smile on Unser’s face, though, disappeared when I told him we had to go to The Speedway Club for the traditional post race champagne toast -- something we do with the winner of every Indy Car and NASCAR Sprint Cup race here at Texas Motor Speedway. The drivers look forward to the traditional celebration and are always stunned to walk in the club’s Grand Ballroom to find a thousand members of The Speedway Club ready to toast the new champion .

    Not Unser.

    “I don’t want to be around champagne, Eddie,” he said. “But I don’t want to disappoint those people. I want to celebrate. Just no champagne. I’ve worked hard on my recovery and I don’t want to mess that up.”

    I had an idea. I told Unser to keep celebrating. We were going to The Speedway Club and the last thing I wanted to do was cause any problems to his rehab. Little Al had been a friend for a long time and I was proud that he not only had worked hard to overcome the problem, he seemed to love talking about it to anyone who would listen. He was a good witness.

    So we went to The Speedway Club. The crowd cheered when we came in the door. And we stepped on stage Unser saw our solution and quickly picked up the champagne glass. So did all the club members in the room. And we toasted the winner of the race that night, everyone raising their champagne glass along with Al Unser Jr.

    Only our glasses were full of milk, the traditional drink in Victory lane at the Indy 500.

    Congratulations, Josh Hamilton and the Rangers. Not only on winning the ALDS but also in supporting each other.