Parcells is Due

Bill Parcells is a baseball guy. When in North Texas in the spring, he'll make an occasional appearance at a Texas Rangers game.

During the same time of year, when he's on the East Coast, he'll sometimes pop into Florida Spring Training to visit with pal Tony LaRussa, the Cardinals' skipper.

And when Cowboys PR boss Rich Dalrymple says something about the true test of a sports guy being whether he can identify the only man to pitch a perfect game in a World Series, Parcells insists on being Mr. Baseball by topping his trivia-minded aide, saying the truer test is whether one knows the identity of the losing pitcher in that game.

(Author's note: Don Larsen, Yankees. Sal Maglie, Dodgers. Oh, and I'll top both of you: the final out Larsen got was against hitter Dale Mitchell. Don't test me, boys.)

Anyway, we'll offer up a batting-average analogy that coach Parcells will surely understand (but, we can say with equal assuredness, not enjoy):

In 2004, Bill Parcells, as a personnel boss, was a .200 hitter.

We calculate it thusly: We figure Parcells oversaw 20 major personnel decisions last year (you'll have to bend with us a bit here; we understand that in absolute truth, he oversaw a skillion decisions). From free-agent moves to draft picks to the care and feeding of his charge, we can come up with 20 biggies.

And 16 of them went sour. Let's let Bill step into the batter's box:

1) Bradie James is better than Dexter Coakley.

2) We don't need to sign Antoine Winfield; we've got Pete Hunter.

3) Eddie George has gas left in the tank.

4) Marcellus Wiley is the pass-rusher we've been needing.

5) Roy Williams can play either safety spot.

6) Quincy Carter must be released – right after we start camp.

7) I can handle Antonio Bryant.

8) Rookie offensive lineman Stephen Peterman, go play hurt!

9) You, too, rookie running back Julius Jones!

10) Willie Blade is too heavy. Or maybe not.

11) I can always rely on Chad Eaton.

12) We'll just stick somebody back there to return kicks.

13) We're going to play a season without a backup QB.

14) Not even in lost causes is Drew Henson ready to play QB.

15) Why do we need insurance behind Darren Woodson?

16) Somebody will eventually emerge at right tackle.

Those are his downs. He gets ups for:

17) His positive handling of Larry Allen.

18) His nurturing of Jason Witten.

19) His drafting of Julius Jones.

20) His signing of Vinny Testaverde AS A BACKUP.

And there you have it. Four-for-20. A .200 batting average for Mr. Baseball, in the most "I-have-to-cook-the-meal-so-I-should-buy-the-groceries'' season of his long and illustrious career. (You might have other at-bats, hits and misses you'd like registered. Go to TheRanchReport.com's discussion boards and let's have at it!)

You cannot explain the inexplicable.

How do you explain the decision to let Mario Edwards, a starting cornerback in that No. 1-ranked defense form '03, go via free agency, and to instead bumble through 2004 with an assortment of late-round rookies?

How do you explain the decision to skip on acquiring backup help for bad-backed 35-year-old safety Darren Woodson, whose season-long absence would cause a trickle-down effect that would ruin this defense?

How do you explain the release of starting defensive tackle Willie Blade, and of another defensive tackle, Daleroy Stewart, only to replace them with Chad Eaton, a retired ex-journeyman whose only real credential is that his number was in Bill's Rolodex?

How do you explain the big-money signing of ex-Charger Marcellus Wiley, considered a cancer in San Diego and completely lacking in playmaking ability in Dallas?

How do you explain Parcells' willingness to go naked along the right side of the offensive line, to leave in a game a prized running back (Julius Jones) who was too intimidated to exit a game despite sustaining a broken shoulder, to putter along with too-diminutive linebackers, to sign tread-less runners Eddie George and Richie Anderson, to ask aging Keyshawn Johnson and Dedrick Ward to be the explosive threats at wideout, to jerk temperamental wide receiver Antonio Bryant on the team, then off the team, then on the team, then off again?

And most of all, how to explain Parcells' unprecedented-in-the-modern-history-of-the-NFL mishandling of the Cowboys' quarterbacking situation?

This team knew '03 starter Quincy Carter had a drug issue, yet it took him to training camp. … and then cut him in the first week, leaving the position in the hands of soon-to-be-41 backup Vinny Testaverde, and two kids, undrafted small-college product Tony Romo and ex-baseballer Drew Henson.

By the time 2004 was over, Parcells stubbornly allowed Testaverde enough throws to make him the NFL interceptions leader, and Romo and Henson were junk-piled, as Carter and another young prospect, Chad Hutchinson, had been in the summer.

How do you explain all of this? Parcells had a hitch in his swing. Or something.

There is a traditional strategic debate in baseball, the centerpiece of which is "The Due Theory.'' It goes like this: If a hitter is 0-for his last eight at-bats, do you keep playing him? He's due to get a hit on at-bat No. 9, right? Yeah, if he's Willie Mays, he's due. But if he's Mario Mendoza, he's quite likely to become 0-for-9.

Is Bill Parcells, after hitting .200 last season, due?

Last year, Parcells was right at the Mendoza Line.

This year, he needs to be The Say Hey Kid.

Mike Fisher is the editor of www.DallasBasketball.com and hosts a daily sports-talk show, "Fish For Lunch,'' noon-to-3 on 990 Texas Talk Radio (990am in North Texas, and www.990texastalkradio.com on the web.) Contact him at Fish@DallasBasketball.com.

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