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Poll: How Far Will the Texas Rangers Go?

The Texas Rangers’ improbable season continues this afternoon at 2:30 p.m. in Canada. (Do they even play baseball up there in that frozen wasteland?) They’re considered the underdogs in their best-of-five series against the Toronto Blue Jays for the right to advance to the American League Championship Series.

But the Rangers weren’t even supposed to make it this far, so what do you think will happen?

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The Cubs Pitcher From Plano Who’s About to Win the Cy Young Award

Tonight Jake Arrieta, a Plano East High School graduate and former TCU student, will take the mound for the mighty Chicago Cubs against some team from godforsaken western Pennsylvania in the National League Wild Card Game. This season Arrieta posted the best second-half earned-run average in the history of Major League Baseball (0.75) and is the favorite to win the Cy Young Award as the top pitcher in the National League.

In a column today, Rick Gosselin looks back at Arrieta’s high school days:

So how does a guy go from compiling two wins pitching against the likes of Lake Highlands, McKinney, Richardson Berkner, Rockwall and the Plano schools to a major-league-leading 22 victories with a microscopic 1.77 earned run average in 2015?

“That’s a good question,” said Plano East baseball coach Travis Collins.

But Gosselin actually undersells just how much of a late bloomer Arrieta was. Even after he’d established himself as a starter with the Orioles, he was not particularly good at getting batters out. His last full season in Baltimore (2012), he posted a 6.20 ERA. Which is why they were willing to trade him to the Cubs.

The Cubs’ pitching gurus don’t have Baltimore’s irrational hatred of pitching “cutters,” which has a lot to do with why Arrieta became an ace in Chicago. Watch him work his magic for the good guys tonight.

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Toronto Columnist Bad-Mouths Arlington Ahead of Rangers-Blue Jays Series

As the baseball playoff series between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Texas Rangers approaches, a writer for the Toronto Globe and Mail explains why it’ll be difficult to jumpstart a rivalry between the respective homes of each team: the fourth-largest city in North America and “the strip-mall wormhole you pass through on the way to Fort Worth.”

Three hours before a game in Arlington, there’s no one around. An hour after a game, it returns to that state. You find yourself drifting toward the light – which is always a highway. It’s as if the city itself knows you don’t belong here and would like to point toward somewhere a little more happening.

But when a game’s on, people just appear. Where are they from? How did they get here? No one knows. Or, at least, I didn’t bother asking. The press box is air conditioned, and only a maniac with reptile blood would go out into the stands for more than a minute.

It’s generally a good crowd, buoyed by a few years of good teams. They play Deep in the Heart of Texas mid-game, which is fun. I’ll take their word for it that that’s where we are. If so, it’s a weird place. Friendly locals, but an odd locale. It’s like Robert Moses doing the set-dressing for David Lynch.

Arlingtonians – our temporary enemies. Since the whole point of the postseason is picking a (gentle) fight with the fans of the other city, this could be a tough one.

There’s no history between us. Beyond the most tiresome clichés, they have no idiosyncrasies to poke fun at. Also, I’m still not sure if they actually exist.

You really should read the whole thing. (H/T Bud Kennedy)

Seattle Seahawks Player Blames Matthew Stafford for JFK Assassination

Sure you’ve probably seen the traffic downtown today. As Tim mentioned in Leading Off, James Franco and Stephen King are making a movie about this thing that happened here a while back where a President got killed. D Magazine has written about that thing a little. It’s the kind of event football players who were not born yet blame on other football players who were not born yet.

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford grew up in Dallas. He graduated from Highland Park. Last night his team lost to the Seattle Seahawks. The victory was especially sweet for Michael Bennett, a defensive end on the Seahawks who told reporters that he had been holding an insane grudge against Stafford. Bennett, whose brother Martellus used to play for the Cowboys and says plenty of strange things himself, went all 1963, saying, “I don’t like Matt Stafford much. He’s from Dallas. They killed the President (JFK). … I hold it against him.”

People are funny.

Arlington Is Mad About the Texas Rangers’ AL West Champions T-Shirts

I mentioned it this morning. The team, sportswriters, Arlingtonians (Arlingtonites? Arlingtony Toni Tone?) are mad because the shirt features a Dallas skyline. I guess there won’t be any more of those available, so maybe there is some sort of eBay reseller scam happening. I don’t know. I was able to track down this video showing what happened when the shirts were unveiled. Watch out. There might be some language. It got pretty heated.

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A Pretty Fantastic, Unofficial, Redesigned Mavs Logo

Addison Foote gave himself a challenge: redesign all 30 NBA team logos in 30 days. The result is here, and his reworked and updated takes on the logos are almost all really good (I’m not crazy about the Atlanta one), most with subtle shapes that represent something iconic about the city without screaming and pointing. I really like his throwback Mavs logo, because I’ve always loved the original and have never fallen in love with what the team uses now. “I used both old and new Mavs logos as inspiration for this,” Foote writes. “I based it mainly off the old logo where the ‘M’ is wearing a cowboy hat. I updated it a bit and used negative space to showcase a horses ears and head.”

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Leading Off (10/2/15)

Texas Rangers Clinch Playoff Spot. With a 5-3 win over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Thursday, the team secured a spot in Major League Baseball’s postseason. They also sit three games ahead of Houston in the American League West standings, meaning with just one more win or a single Astros lost over the final three games of the regular season, they’ll claim their first division title since 2011. You remember what happened that year, right? The next stage in this remarkable, unexpected season for the Rangers is likely a visit to either Toronto or Kansas City for the first game of the Division Series next Thursday. If the Angels somehow take the final three games against the Rangers and the Astros win out, there’d be a tie atop the AL West. In that case, the Rangers would host a tiebreaker game in Arlington on Monday. The winner of that tiebreaker would advance to the Division Series, and the loser would get to play the Yankees in the Wild Card game.

Neiman Marcus Lays Off 500. The number of corporate and support positions eliminated by the luxury retailer represents 3 percent of its workforce of 16,000. CEO Karen Katz said the job cuts were made to save money that can be used to invest in future growth.

Arlington Family Accused of Faking Mental Illness. 55-year-old Doreen Mitchell, 29-year-old Michael Mitchell, 27-year-old Sonny Mitchell, and 58-year-old John Mitchell are charged with defrauding the Social Security Administration of $462,000 in benefits.

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Leading Off (10/1/15)

Susan Hawk to return to work today. Today´s the day that a lot of people have wondered about. Will Dallas County DA Susan Hawk be at her desk and ready to work? The past nine months have been troublesome for her and others—only time will tell if she regains her footing.

MACARTHUR high school bomb threat turns out to be hoax. Yesterday, Irving´s MacArthur High School was evacuated due to a bomb threat. After officers searched the building and came up empty-handed, they allowed the students to return. No word yet on who called in the threat. With the Ahmed saga, MacArthur High has had a month.

Police investigate possible kidnapping of teenage girl in Arlington. Yesterday evening, a teenage girl reported that men in a dark blue SUV had tried to kidnap her while she was jogging. Police are still investigating the whereabouts of these men.

National soccer hall of fame museum to come to frisco. The U.S. Soccer Federation and FC Dallas announced yesterday that Frisco will be home to the National Soccer Hall of Fame Museum by 2017. More details to come at a news conference on October 14. Soccer!

Now Is the Time for Dallas to Pounce on a Rangers Relocation to Downtown

Tarrant County is getting nervous about losing the Texas Rangers.

Over the weekend, there was a story in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram about how the Rangers, who began the season in miserable shape, have turned in a remarkable second half of the season, running their way up the standings and currently sitting 1.5 games ahead of the Houston Astros in first place of the American League West. And yet despite the storybook season, the Rangers are pulling terrible attendance numbers. That doesn’t bode well for Arlington as the team mulls their options ahead of the expiration of their stadium lease in 2024:

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Let Me, Zac Crain, Play QB For the Cowboys

First, a few caveats. I’m 41. I haven’t played football since I was a sophomore in high school, and I missed most of that season due to a really nasty illness that required surgery, and when I did play it wasn’t quarterback. I played, very sparingly, center and defensive tackle, and honestly I wasn’t great at either. (I preferred — and was actually decent at — basketball.)

Also, I’m left-handed, and so all the formations and plays will have to be adjusted to reflect that.

Furthermore, I don’t have a “prototypical QB body,” either. I’m 6 feet tall and of average build. Actually, that’s not a caveat. I’m taller than Drew Brees and Russell Wilson, so forget that. But, physically, yes, I do have some issues: I’ve got creaky knees, one ankle that is just this side of fictional, and an inherited tire fire of a back that has been going out on me since I was 18.

I also can’t throw too well. Not in terms of accuracy, or distance. I mean, I can throw, OK? But basically you’re going to have to just rip any sideline outs or deep passes right out of the playbook.

Also, I don’t have a passion for the sport. As I mentioned before, I prefer basketball, and after that soccer, and after that The Challenge on MTV. But I do watch football. Some. I mean, I’m not going to freak out if my Sunday takes me away from the games.

OK, and I have a demand for perfection that sometimes rubs my co-workers the wrong way, and that may be a problem if my co-workers are 300 pounds.

Now that all that is out of the way, here is my case: I’m available, I’m cheap, my clavicle bones are in perfect working order, I’ve never lost an NFL game, I definitely won’t be out hunting for my own stats, I already live here, I’m interested in a new career challenge, and I’m friendly with all the sports radio hosts that matter. You probably could use someone who can run a charm offensive right now.

And it’s not like I’m asking to play defense. That would just be dumb.

Chris Kyle Fans’ Corny Homage to the American Sniper

You remember Chris Kyle, right? Of course you do. He’s the American Sniper. He’s a modern-day folk hero. He was honored on the Cowboys star. He is beloved by people who go to Patriot Tour events, which are sort of like DigiTour for people who crush on ammo. Our own Michael J. Mooney wrote the book on Kyle. Sure, Kyle wrote a book on Kyle, but Mike’s is the book because Kyle’s book is filled with lies.

Mike’s article on Kyle is still one of the most read things on this website. That’s because people love Chris Kyle. But no one loves Kyle more than this guy in Walton County, Georgia, who turned a corn field into a labyrinthine homage to the Navy Seal sniper who is said to have killed more people in combat than any other sniper in U.S. history.

“We are not only honoring Chris Kyle but we are honoring all men and women who have served and are serving our great country,” [Corn Dogs Adventure Park] said on its Facebook page.

The maze opens today, if you’re itching for a road trip. In its own way, this thing is amazing. I mean, can you think of a more appropriate way to pay tribute to Kyle than getting lost in a tangle of out-sized and out-of-context patriotic messaging?

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Leading Off (9/18/15)

Rangers Sweep the Astros. Texas beat slumping Houston, 8-2, on Thursday night behind a six-inning effort from Colby Lewis and a three-run homer by Mitch Moreland. The win expands the team’s American League West division lead to 2.5 games with 16 left to play (including another three-game series in Houston next weekend). The overachieving Rangers are getting hot at the right time and now boast an 84-percent chance of making the playoffs, a 55.6-percent shot of winning the division outright, and a 100-percent chance of winning the World Series, according to every fan walking out of the Globe last night.

Ahmed Sucked Into ‘Viral Vortex.’ That’s how the Morning News describes the onslaught of media attention the Irving teenager arrested for building a clock has endured in the last couple days.  Here’s hoping he’s soon raking in some of that sweet, sweet ‘Alex From Target’ money.

North Texas Giving Day Raises $33.1 Million. The annual binge-donating effort for area nonprofits yesterday received 118,667 donations from 71,743 donors on behalf of 2,022 organizations. It’s a record. Give yourselves a pat on the back, everybody.

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How Are the Texas Rangers in Playoff Contention?

Back in April, no one gave the Texas Rangers much of a chance of making the playoffs this year. I wrote that a lot would have to break right for the team to even finish in third place. My bold prediction was a 76-win season.

Well, after last night’s victory over the Astros — and with 19 games left to play — the Rangers have already tallied 76 wins. They sit in second place, only a half-game out of first. Beating Houston tonight puts them atop the American League West standings. Take a gander at this line graph, which represents a season-long view of the playoff odds for each team in that division, according to FanGraphs:

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Leading Off (9/11/15)

Hinojosa to Get Dallas ISD Super’s Job. To the surprise of no one, interim district superintendent Michael Hinojosa is likely to be named the lone finalist to keep the gig permanently. DISD board president Eric Cowan said last night that’s what he expects to happen at a meeting on Tuesday afternoon. Hinojosa, who was previously superintendent from 2005 to 2011 before jumping ship to take a job in Georgia, has been back in the saddle for the last two months following the resignation of Mike Miles.

Jerry Jones Gets Second Hip Replaced. Indications are the Dallas Cowboys owner is recovering well after surgery last Friday, about six weeks after having his other hip overhauled. There’s no indication that Arlington voters were required to kick in half the cost.

Hall Arts Brings New Light Show to Downtown. Add the Arts District building to the growing list of structures that are Las Vegas-fying the Dallas skyline.

WARNING: Mid-Life Crisis Man in Uptown. The neighborhood’s walkable live-work-play environment is attracting a “new generation of renters.” Twenty-somethings are advised to be on the look out for older fellows who dress and style their hair like John Tesh, boast about how many people they can crowd onto their apartment balconies, and are known to be afflicted by goose bumps whenever seeing all that’s on display at Whole Foods. While unconfirmed, the scent of patchouli and the frequent playing of the trendiest world music are other possible warning signs.

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Rick Carlisle Believes He Can Fly

Rick Carlisle, the coach of the Dallas Mavericks, apparently owns a pretty sweet 26-foot-long Cirrus SR22 turbo plane, which generally starts at about $360,000. And the coach has been learning how to fly. According to this ESPN story, from Tim MacMahon, Carlisle has logged around 180 hours of flying time — all in the offseason and during breaks. He’s preparing for his next ratings test.

Most of the ESPN story is about all the safety precautions the coach takes, from his pre-takeoff checklist to the people he hired to train him to the rocket-propelled parachute attached to the entire plane (it has reportedly saved over 100 lives already). One other precaution he takes: he won’t fly with his wife and daughter.

“In due time, they’ll come up,” Carlisle says, “but I’m going to make sure I do all the work and have the appropriate ratings. It’ll happen when it happens. Donna and Abby are looking forward to doing it at the right time. I haven’t determined that it’s the right time yet.”