Each Tuesday, the Star-Telegram’s Charean Williams and Ray Buck go point-counterpoint on some of the hot topics in sports. Combined, they’ve covered more than 40 Super Bowls. Charean is also president of the Pro Football Writers of America.
Who’s been a better story this season for the Rangers: Elvis Andrus or Nellie Cruz?
CHAREAN: That’s a hard question to answer. Can I say “both”? Since the Rangers haven’t missed Josh Hamilton yet, I guess I’ll say “Cruz”. No one thought he’d have 17 home runs and 42 RBI after 57 games. But if you said “Elvis”, how could I argue, Ray?
BUCK: Cruz is this year’s Josh Hamilton (minus the conquest of drug demons). He’s the story that keeps on making folks look more and more wrong every day. Through the first week of June, Nellie is clearly the best story on the team. But I’d sure like to be the agent of 20-year-old Elvis Andrus for the rest of that career.
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Who gets less credit than he deserves for the Rangers’ success: Ron Washington or Jon Daniels?
CHAREAN: The Rangers just exercised the option on Ron Washington’s contract, so I’d say he’s getting credit. (Though that should have been done before now.) Jon Daniels has had people calling for his job since he started. It’s now time to give him some credit. I’m done second-guessing his decisions ... at least for today!
BUCK: Ron Washington has been the most underrated manager in the majors over the last 13 or 14 months, so it has to be him. Players play for this guy. Like Daniels said, “This was a no-brainer” to get Wash signed through 2010, which tells you something about JD’s growth on the job, too. Still ... the answer to this question is Wash.
What grade would you give Jerry Jones this off-season strictly as a general manager?
CHAREAN: That depends. Is he bringing back Pacman Jones? Seriously, although I think he improved chemistry in the locker room by getting rid of T.O. and Pacman and not re-signing Tank Johnson, Jerry the GM has not improved the Cowboys from last season — at least on paper. They did not have a draft choice in the first two rounds, and the free agents they signed are not better than the players they are replacing. I don’t know what that grades out to — a C?
BUCK: This has been 1998 all over all for Jerry. He had his fill with bad behavior then, too ... and drafted Greg Ellis instead of Randy Moss. So, once again, he gets an A for effort, but the real grade comes in December and (if he’s lucky) January. Ironically, part of his hell-bent nature this time around came at Ellis’ expense.
Shoulder angel vs. shoulder devil … OK, who has Jerry’s ear when it comes to Pacman Jones?
CHAREAN: Jerry has Jerry’s ear. He loves players he thinks are talented but troubled, which Pacman is. But Pacman cannot come back here, just as Michael Vick cannot ever come here. They are talented but too troubled to play here or perhaps anywhere, even Cincinnati.
BUCK: I blame it all on the bodyguard for making Jerry say things he doesn’t mean to say.
Roger Federer vs. Pete Sampras (in his prime): Which all-time Grand Slam winner (14 apiece) would dominate the men’s tennis stage, if they shared it?
CHAREAN: I would love to go with the American, but Pete calls Roger “the greatest ever” so who am I to argue? Pete never won the French, which Roger just did.
BUCK: Two great forehands. Two great masters of self-control (OK, Sampras was downright boring at times). But I think Sampras would press the action on grass and hard court, and be able to pull Federer out of his comfort zone more often than the other way around. I just wish we could see it.