When the Cowboys make their first selection in the draft on April 28, as long as they don’t trade out of the number four slot it will be the third time that they and the Rangers have called names in the same first-round position in adjacent drafts.
In June of 1973, Texas took Houston high school lefthander David Clyde first overall, seven months after which Dallas used the draft’s number one selection (acquired from Houston for defensive end Tody Smith and receiver Billy Parks, I kid you not) on Tennessee State defensive end Ed “Too Tall” Jones. (The Cowboys also got the Oilers’ third-rounder in the trade, using that pick on quarterback Danny White. I’m serious.)
(Two picks after the Rangers drafted Clyde, Milwaukee took California high school shortstop Robin Yount. A pick after that, San Diego chose University of Minnesota outfielder Dave Winfield. Don’t worry about that.)
In June of 1974, Texas stayed home again and used the number two overall pick on Austin high school righthander Tommy Boggs (passing on the likes of fellow high school first-rounders Dale Murphy, Willie Wilson, Lance Parrish, Rick Sutcliffe, Lonnie Smith, and Garry Templeton).
Seven months later, Dallas had the second overall pick in its draft (picked up from the Giants along with a second-rounder for its 31-year-old backup quarterback Craig Morton, who had also signed a deal giving him an option to play in the WFL the following season) and used it on University of Maryland defensive tackle Randy White.
Seven months ago, in June 2015, the Rangers had the fourth pick in the MLB draft (after picking no higher than 23 the previous four drafts), collectively bargained consolation for a 2014 season brutalized by a record number of games lost to injury. They used the opportunity to draft UCSB righthander Dillon Tate, the first pitcher to come off the board (after the first three teams went with shortstops).
Three months from now, barring a trade, the Cowboys, besieged themselves this season by a handful of key injuries they couldn’t overcome, will also draft in the fourth slot.
Maybe they’ll take a quarterback (Jared Goff or Paxton Lynch), or perhaps the best player available approach will lead them to Joey Bosa or Laremy Tunsil or Jalen Ramsey or Laquon Treadwell or Myles Jack. They’ve got to get the pick right, more so than in baseball, given the salary cap implications and immediate roster needs, not to mention the fact that NFL players are almost all brought into the league via the draft, dramatically unlike MLB, where a huge segment of high-end talent arrives outside the draft, internationally, and where roster-retrenching trades for young talent are far more feasible.
Also, to be fair on some level, drafting in baseball is much, much tougher than in football, as even the most decorated amateur baseball players generally spend years of development between signing a pro contract and reaching the big leagues, while football players who go early in the draft typically step right into a starting NFL lineup. The slugging percentage in the baseball draft is a lot more challenging.
But the other thing is this: The Rangers are much better at scouting and drafting and developing than they were 40-plus years ago. Not that Clyde was necessarily the wrong pick at the time, for example, but the organization’s decision to immediately thrust the 18-year-old into a big league rotation just wasn’t real smart.
Maybe the Cowboys will come away in April with a player at number four who earns All-Pro recognition at the rate White and Jones did.
Maybe Tate will top out as a mediocre big league pitcher never reaching 162+, just as Clyde and Boggs did.
Doubt that, too.
There’s really no point to my decision to write this report (and to hit “send” rather than “delete”), other than to commemorate the humane euthanasia of a dreadful football season, one significance of which, aside from the resulting draft position bonanza, is a happy reminder that, at least locally, football is over, and Pitchers & Catchers will Report to complexes all over Arizona and Florida in a month and a half, which on the one hand is real, real soon — and on the other can’t get here soon enough.