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Just Joshin’

The Top 15 Individual Athletic Performances In The History Of Dallas/Fort Worth
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Awesome. Epic. Legendary. Historic. And, yep, dang entertaining.

Josh Hamilton’s four homers in Tuesday night’s 10-3 win by the Rangers in Baltimore was the greatest show of power in franchise history. But that’s it. Let’s not get carried away.

Amidst Hamilton’s Quatro de Mayo arose a mindless, blind dog pile of enthusiasm and hyperbole that was trumpeted by none other than my respected 105.3 The Fan co-worker R.J. Choppy. His knee-jerk Tweet:

Josh’s 4HR game is the greatest single game feat by an individual in DFW sports history. And its not close

At this point in the conversation some of you are going to bitch and moan that I’m a cynical bastard wrapped in a wet blanket. And then there’s the mindful minority rational enough to realize that performances like last night — though spectacular — must be put into context.

And here’s the stark truth that Choppy and the legion of Hamilton homers don’t want to read: No way it’s the best performance in Metroplex history. And it’s not even close.

Again, I’m not diminishing the feat. Just applying the finishing touches of perspective on his masterpiece. If, in the wake of Josh’s performance, you’re going to blare “greatest ever!”, someone that cherishes Dallas-Fort Worth sports history has the obligation to do a little fact-checking.

Right?

Josh hit four homers off the Orioles in a seven-run win on May 8. And away we go…

First and foremost, the stage upon which the act was performed is vital. As long as, that is, you consider playoff games more important than regular-season games. So, in the big scheme, Josh’s performance led to an early-season victory in which the Rangers will win 90-something more sorta like it. Pretty as it is, it guarantees the Rangers nothing more than lead billing on ESPN’s SportsCenter for 24 hours.

Josh’s night is indeed an indelible memory. But to be truly landmark doesn’t there need to be an accompanying long-range implication? As in, meaningful? And doesn’t it need to be accomplished under extreme pressure?

In other words, you can have quantity. I’ll take quality.

Troy Aikman’s four touchdown passes in Super Bowl XXVII, Dirk Nowitzki’s 50-point performance in Game 5 of the 2006 NBA Western Conference Finals and even Adrian Beltre’s three-homer game in the closeout victory over the Tampa Bay Rays last October all trump Hamilton. Why? Context.

A tall glass of ice water is more precious when you’re in the middle of the desert than when you’re in the air conditioning on your couch. And athletic achievements that lead directly to trophies are greater than ones that simply lead to another singular hash mark in the regular-season W column. Context.

This much is clear: Hamilton’s night was the best by an American Leaguer in the regular season. With four homers and a double, his 18 total bases is a record. His four-homer game is the 16th in baseball history, the first since Carlos Delgado in 2003. The feat is more rare than anything in baseball this side of the unassisted triple play (15) and the 20-strikeout game (5).

If we agree that playoff performances trump his night, surely Hamilton’s four-homer game is the most impressive in Metroplex regular-season history? Nope. Remember, Emmitt Smith’s “shoulder game” came on the final regular-season Sunday of the ’92 Cowboys’ season.

And, get this, Josh’s feat isn’t even the Metroplex’s best — or most rare — in the last seven months.

On Oct. 23, 2011 Cowboys’ rookie running back Demarco Murray rushed for 253 yards in a victory over the Rams at Cowboys Stadium. Context? Only 10 running backs in the history of the NFL have topped 250 in a game. Yep, more players have hit four homers in a game than have rushed for 250+ yards.

No denying this: Josh Hamilton’s night was great. And so too, the ensuing debate.

I’m sure somewhere in Garland last night somebody bowled a perfect game of 300. Sure it was a great individual performance.

But, remember… context.

15. Marty Turco: 61 Saves – Goalie wills Stars to four-overtime win over Red Wings in ’08 Playoffs.

14. Miles Austin: 250 Yards – In first Cowboys start catches 10 passes for a franchise-record 250 yards and overtime touchdown at Kansas City in ‘09.

13. Dirk Nowitzki: 24 Free Throws – Scores 48 points on 15 shots (24-24 from free-throw line) in win over Thunder in ’11 West Finals.

12. Emmitt Smith: 35 Carries – Rushes for 150 yards and three touchdowns in ’95 NFC Championship Game over Packers.

11. Roy Tarpley: 21-20 – Mavs’ Sixth Man of Year dominates Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with 21 points and 20 rebounds in Game 3 of the ’88 NBA Playoff series with Lakers.

10. Tony Dorsett: 99-Yard Run – Achieved with only 10 men on the field in ’83, his record will never be broken.

9. Chuck Howley: V MVP – Cowboys’ linebacker intercepts two passes, recovers a fumble and makes 12 tackles, only MVP of a losing Super Bowl team.

8. Cliff Lee: 13 Strikeouts – With the ’10 ALCS tied 1-1, totally smothers Yankees on two hits to help Rangers into first World Series.

7. Demarco Murray: 253 Yards – Accomplished against Rams last October, he is one of only 10 NFL running backs to surpass 250 in a game.

6. Josh Hamilton: 4 Homers – Four bombs and 18 total bases (an all-time American League record) on a memorable night in Baltimore.

5. Dirk Nowitzki: Flu Game – Battling a 101-degree fever, he hits a driving layup to cap a 10-point 4th quarter in Dallas’ comeback win to even ’11 Finals with Miami at 2-2.

4. Adrian Beltre: 3 Homers – Hits three (only seven players have done so in post-season) in a 4-3 playoff-clinching win at Tampa Bay last October, vaulting Rangers into ALCS.

3. Emmitt Smith: Shoulder Game – Playing with one arm, he wills Cowboys past Giants to NFC East crown and home-field advantage throughout ’93 NFC Playoffs.

2. Dirk Nowitzki: 50 Points – 22 in the 4th to lead Mavs to brink of first NBA Finals in ‘06. One of only 20 50-point games in playoff history.

1. Troy Aikman: 4 TDs in XXVII – It gets no bigger than winning MVP of a Super Bowl with a nearly flawless game.

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