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Leading Off (10/24/14)

Porsche at Center of New Allegations Against DA’s Office. The car was parked for months at the courthouse parking garage before Ace Parking (which manages the garage) asked United Tows to haul it away. Thing is it was a vehicle belonging to the county government and intended to be used in drug stings. The owners of United Tows says Craig Watkins’ staff accused them of car theft, even though it appears the company followed all the legal procedures required of it. The Morning News sought records detailing the process by which the DA’s office bought back the car from United Tows, but has had to file a lawsuit to get those details released.

It’s Going to be in the 90s This Weekend. Yes, we’re getting to the later part of October, when things would — you’d expect — be cooling down a bit. But instead the forecast calls for unusually high temperatures for the season. Meanwhile the continued drought is prompting more significant watering restrictions, and we have an unusually cold winter to look forward to.

SMU Makes Offer to Mack Brown. The school’s football team is looking for new leadership after former coach June Jones bolted after the second game of what’s been a dreadful season for the Mustangs. They’ve reportedly had “preliminary discussions” with Brown, the former University of Texas at Austin head coach who led the Longhorns to a national title for the 2005 season. The dollar figures they’ve discussed are $4 million a year for eight years.

Lawn Care Company Flying Too Many Flags. If you’ve ever trekked up to my hometown of Denton and exited onto Dallas Drive on your way to the Courthouse Square, after you descended the hill along which I received the first two speeding tickets of my life, you saw a fleet of orange trucks sitting along the right side of the road, usually adorned with letters spelling out some community announcement about a Knights of Columbus pancake breakfast or a VFW barbecue or somesuch.  And you saw a whole lot of American flags.  The orange trucks belong to Frenchy’s Lawn Care, which is owned by Vietnam vet Andre “Frenchy” Rheault. Well, after many years of displaying as many Old Glories as he likes, the city’s code enforcement department has told Rheault that the flags have to come down. Only one American flag, one Texas flag, and one miscellaneous flag are allowed on any one property. Rheault plans to fight.

Topless Cheerleaders Use Drugs. Photos of the Lamar High School students engaging in naughty behavior made the rounds of social media and have caused quite a ruckus in Arlington.

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C.J. Wilson Picks Up a Fancy Car in Dallas

Over on the site Jalopnik, former Texas Rangers (and current Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) pitcher C.J. Wilson has authored a post in which he discusses his recent trip to Dallas to pick up some sort of high-performance automobile from Park Place McLaren. He described the vehicle as a “Hyperblurprle McLaren P1.” I assume that will mean something to some of you. He ordered it a few years ago, which seems like an awful long time to wait for a car. He opted to drive it from Dallas to California rather than have it shipped:

I drove over to DFW to pick up my wife, who just started laughing and walking circles around the car with her iPhone. We squeezed into the carbon fiber and alcantara seats and headed towards Albuquerque. Each fuel stop was full of questions, photos and smiles.

Sure, you can take photos. Yep, it’s a McLaren. No, the F1 has the seat in the middle. 903. Yep.Yes it is fast. No I haven’t gone 200 yet. She is a car nut like me and loves the noise and was blown away by the accelerating despite going for rides in fast cars and her prior Porsche Driving School seat time.

Here’s a picture of the car. Here’s a picture of his wife.

Reminder: Wilson bombed badly in this year’s American League playoffs against the Kansas City Royals.

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Texas Rangers Have a New Manager

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports was the first to report that Jeff Banister, who’s been the bench coach (sort of like the assistant manager) for the Pittsburgh Pirates the last four years, will be the Texas Rangers’ new manager.

The Rangers had narrowed the field to three, and in choosing Banister they are bypassing in-house candidate Tim Bogar, who led the team to a 14-8 record after Ron Washington’s resignation in September.

UPDATE: As a player, Banister was a career 1.000 hitter in MLB. #analysis

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Leading Off (10/13/14)

More About the Second Ebola Case: There’s more info about the Dallas healthcare worker diagnosed with Ebola here, here, and here. And you should be following the reporting of our Matt Goodman here. Among other things, we know that, unlike in the recent case in Spain, this Ebola patient’s dog will not be euthanized.

Wright Amendment Is No More: The 1980 law restricting flights to and from Love Field becomes history today. Southwest, Virgin, and Delta will have dozens of new direct routes heading to nine new airports. It’s been a long time coming, and under other circumstances, this would probably be the biggest news of the week. But these are strange days in Dallas.

Cowboys Win Big Game: Dallas defeated the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks in Seattle yesterday, marking only the second time the Seahawks have lost at home in the last three years. DeMarco Murray is almost certainly the leading candidate for league MVP at the moment, and he just tied a 56-year-old record held by Jim Brown. The win puts the Cowboys’ record at 5-1 and gives all Cowboys fans the sick agony of expectation.

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Leading Off (10/10/14)

Baylor Hospital Could Lose Hundreds of Millions in Federal Funds. Inspectors for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recently found several instances of psychiatric patients walking away from the emergency department at Baylor University Medical Center. The violations potentially could cost the hospital up to $300 million in annual revenue it receives from Medicare, though Baylor is devising a plan to fix its problems, which it will submit to Texas Department of State Health Services by Monday.

Judge Rules Texas Voter ID Law Unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos issued an opinion late Thursday holding that the 2011 bill requiring photo identification for anyone to cast a valid election ballot places an undue burden on the right to vote and has a discriminatory effect on Hispanics and African-Americans. Attorney general Greg Abbott, who is also running for governor (in case you haven’t heard), announced immediately that his office would appeal the decision. It’s not clear yet how the ruling will affect the election that’s only a few weeks away.

Dallas Stars Lose Season Opener. They played great against a great team, but fell to the Chicago Blackhawks in a shootout.

Scam Targets Morning News Subscribers. Do not send $600 to an Oregon post office box to get the newspaper.

Today is Double Tenth National Day in Taiwan. It commemorates the start of the 1911 uprising that led to the collapse of the Qing Dynasty and establishment of the Republic of China. It’s also an office holiday for D Magazine Partners, celebrated in lieu of Columbus Day this weekend because of the horrific crimes Christopher Columbus committed against the native peoples of the Americas. (To be honest, I think it’s just because we decided we preferred getting a Friday off to getting a Monday off.)

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Dirk Nowitzki Is (No Surprise) the Best Shooter In the NBA

So says Grantland’s numbers guy Kirk Goldsberry:

Nowitzki integrates volume, efficiency, and ubiquity better than anyone right now. Moreover, he is hardly ever wide open when he shoots, with many of his attempts including a massive defender draped all over him. His quintessential move involves creating just a hair of separation from a defending forward like Ibaka and launching that fadeaway that never seems to miss. It’s unfair.

You know I — the man who popularized I SEE YOU, BIG GERMAN — am not going to disagree. That said, it’s pretty crazy, and strangely beautiful, seeing it all put together in a shot chart.

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Marcus Smart’s Crazy Back Story in Lancaster

Marcus Smart, the sixth overall pick in last June’s NBA draft, was, until recently, most famous for shoving a Texas Tech fan in the middle of a game earlier this year. (He also had a pretty good two-year career at Oklahoma State.) Then the Celtics drafted him, and he got a multi-year endorsement deal from Adidas worth $1 million. Now, Baxter Holmes at the Boston Globe has a profile that includes harrowing details from Smart growing up in Lancaster.

The story has bullets flying, a mentor half-brother dying of cancer, a teammate hit by a train, and eventually Smart breaking down in tears. He took Holmes to several of his old houses and apartment buildings.

From the story:

Marcus recalls the area, known as the “1500 block,” as a place where Crips and Bloods gangs waged war, where drugs were rampant, where police sirens howled, where the Fourth of July was an excuse to fire off more gunshots than normal because outsiders mistook them for fireworks.

“At the time when I was here,” Marcus says, “if you heard ‘Lancaster, 1500 block, Meadows,’ everybody said, ‘Oh, you live by the Meadows. We won’t come over there. We’ll talk to you later.’ ”

Read the entire thing here.

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Why Texas Rangers Fans Need to Root Against the Rangers This Weekend

The Texas Rangers have been having a lousy season. That much you know because you checked out on baseball season back in July, when the team (beset by injuries) collapsed to the bottom of the standings. You probably also heard something about manager Ron Washington resigning because he cheated on his wife.

Fans could take some solace this season in the fact that the Rangers weren’t just playing mediocre baseball — they were terrible, laying claim to the worst record in all of MLB. That meant they were in line to get the No. 1 pick in the 2015 first-year player draft because those selections are awarded to teams in reverse order of their win-loss records from the previous season.

At the time of Washington’s departure, the Rangers’ record stood at 53-87, a .379 win percentage that made them a safe bet to finish with 100 losses, the standard measure in MLB for separating bad seasons from god-awful ones.

Then interim manager Tim Bogar took over, and it all fell apart.

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Mavericks Unveil Alternate Jerseys For 2015-16 Season

The team introduced all (or most, or at least the ones that will actually make the squad) of its offseason acquisitions today. They also unveiled a prototype of the alternate jersey they will wear next season. Why not this season? I think it probably has something to do with NBA uniform rules. I would actually investigate the matter if I was excited about the team wearing these jerseys, but I am not. I am sure the designer, Geoff Case, is a nice enough fella. And this was an interesting idea, crowd-sourcing a new look. But this jersey is so generic. And the colors make think of the Cowboys, not the Mavericks. I don’t like thinking about the Cowboys, ever.

My ex-wife used to do corporate design work, and this reminds me of the end product of a lot of those projects, where a million different people had a billion different suggestions and tweaks, and once they are all incorporated, because they all have to be incorporated, it ends up looking like nothing. It is safe and fake local. It’s a skyline. Whatever.

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Ron Washington Holds Another Press Conference

In the lobby of the Super 8 off South Hampton Road, a corporate securities lawyer that no one recognizes steps up to a lectern. He surveys the crowd, which includes an elderly couple from Shreveport checking in for the night.

UNIDENTIFIED LAWYER

I’d like to thank everyone for coming. Yesterday Ron Washington held a press conference to explain his decision to step down as manager of the Texas Rangers baseball team. This press conference is to answer all the questions left unanswered at the previous press conference, plus some new questions that the aforementioned press conference raised.

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Lee Nguyen’s Journey From Plano To Vietnam To MLS Stardom

I remember first noticing Lee Nguyen a few years ago, when ESPN Magazine ran an infographic listing the highest-paid athletes in every country. Nguyen was the highest-paid athlete in Vietnam, and the note next to his name mentioned he was from here. Through a mutual friend, we ended up talking on the phone, and I had planned on doing a story expanding on what it was like for him to be a star in Vietnam. But shortly after that, he came back to the United States. Which is where this story picks up.

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Ron Washington Resigned Because He Cheated on His Wife

In a press conference this afternoon, Ron Washington finally explained why, on September 5, he stepped down as manager of the Rangers. “I’m embarrassed,” he said, “more than I’ve ever been in my life.” And then he gave us the reason: “I was not true to my wife, after 42 years.”

I guess I really don’t understand this. He resigned because he cheated on his wife? Aside from him, his wife, and the lady he slept with — who cares?

The only thing I can imagine is that his wife told him: “It’s me or baseball. Pick.”

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How Will You Feel When Adrian Peterson Is Playing For The Cowboys Next Season?

1. Adrian Peterson won’t play another down for the Vikings this season, and most likely, because of his contract if nothing else, he won’t play another down for the team, period.

2. The Cowboys are still owned by Jerry Jones. He’s only ever shied away from a player for moral reasons once (Randy Moss) and regretted it ever since. Also, from Don Van Natta Jr.’s celebrated profile:

Then a man taps Jones on the shoulder, says Adrian Peterson wants to say hello and hands over an iPhone. Jones says hi to the Minnesota Vikings’ star running back and listens, nodding but not smiling. “Well, I understand, Adrian,” he says into the phone. The slanted smile returns. “I’d like that, too. … Well, I love your story. I love your daddy’s story. I’ve always respected what you’ve been about. I’ve always been a fan of yours.”

Listening to half the conversation, it is obvious Peterson is telling Jones he wants to play for the Cowboys. Peterson, 29, is in the fourth year of a seven-year, $100 million contract that will pay him $11.75 million this autumn to play for the Vikings.

“Well, we’ll see what we can do, if we can make that happen,” Jones is now saying. “Hmm-hmm. … I’d like that, too. … Well, we’re talking pig Latin here, but let’s see if we can do that.” Jones listens, nods and says again, “We’re talking pig Latin here, but let’s see what we can do about that. OK, Adrian, thanks.”

3. The Cowboys will be coming off another 8-8 season and will need to stay in the headlines.

So, again, how will you feel when Adrian Peterson is playing for the Cowboys next season?

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