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Biggest sports week ever in D-FW, with Rangers and Cowboys fighting for ratings bragging rights while the Mavs hope to avoid "hashmarks" (no measurable audience)

No, it's not a paste-on. But San Francisco Giants closer Brian Wilson is no Beach Boy with his dyed beard by the Bay. Photo: Ed Bark

Get ready for the bearded laddies, sharing a diamond with the Texas Rangers as part of the biggest Monday-Sunday sports week in D-FW history.

It climaxes on Halloween, when the Dallas Cowboys play the Jacksonville Jaguars by day at Jerry's Palace before the Rangers own the night in Game 4 of the World Series in Arlington's comparatively cozy brickyard.

The Cowboys have the noon game -- on CBS. So everyone should be cleared out by the time Texas faces the San Francisco Giants at 7 p.m. (central) on Fox. There's a third angle to who wins and who loses. Which team will command the biggest TV audience in D-FW?

The Rangers have never come close to outdrawing the Cowboys when the two teams play on the same day. But this is different, of course. And the ratings outcome may well depend on how both the Cowboys and Rangers stand heading into Sunday's costumed ball.

The 1-4 Cowboys begin the week with ESPN's Monday Night Football home game against the New York Giants (TXA21 has the local broadcast rights.) Another loss would pretty much doom their playoff hopes and perhaps signal the beginning of a big tune-out as the season plods on.

Meanwhile, the Rangers possibly could be on the brink of a Series sweep -- or elimination by the Giants. More likely, though, someone will have a 2-1 edge in the best-of-seven Series. Only a 3-0 Giants lead could severely dampen interest. And if the Cowboys beat New York, the tune-in potential for their game against Jacksonville is greatly enhanced.

I'm going to go ahead and bet on the Rangers drawing a bigger crowd than the Cowboys Sunday. And really, it's about time.

Lost in the shuffle is Wednesday's Dallas Mavericks regular season opener at home against Charlotte. The game is on Fox Sports Southwest. But realistically, the audience for Mavs-Bobcats may be pretty much restricted to those on site at the American Airlines Center.

Does anyone out there in TV land plan to watch the Mavericks instead of Game 1 of that night's World Series? Maybe during commercials. It's a punch in the gut for Mavs owner Mark Cuban, who unsuccessfully tried to buy the Rangers. Now his team is fated to start the NBA season in near-obscurity against a non-marquee opponent.

Fox4 can't stop grinning ear-to-ear. It won't have the Cowboys at all this week, but it will have four World Series games. Local Fox stations get only a small window of advertising time per hour. But the promotional possibilities are endless, and Fox4 will milk every last one of them for a Rangers-spiked World Series that starts on the eve of the November "sweeps" ratings period and could continue all the way through Thursday, Nov. 4th.

This isn't the ideal matchup for the Fox network at large. It would have preferred a World Series re-do of last year's combatants, the Yankees and the Phillies. Two years ago, the rain-soaked Phils-Tampa Bay Rays Series was the least-watched ever. The presence of the Yankees punched those numbers up last fall.

Texas has a salable number of nationally known players, led by Cliff Lee, Josh Hamilton and Vladimir Guerrero. The Giants may be the biggest no-name team in World Series history, better known for the relief pitchers' beards and clean-shaven Game 1 starter Tim Lincecum's shoulder-length medieval times hair.

The Giants' best-known offensive player, catcher Buster Posey, is an appealing kid catcher with an easily grasped name. But try selling America on the likes of other San Francisco starters such as Aubrey Huff, Freddy Sanchez, Juan Uribe, Cody Ross and Andres Torres. It might be easier to peddle peanut butter in the Mojave.

One of these teams will make history, though. This is the Rangers' first-ever appearance in a World Series. So obviously they've never won one. And the Giants haven't won a championship since relocating from New York to San Francisco after the 1957 season. This was much bemoaned by whining sportswriter/Giants fan Marcos Breton during the course of Ken Burns' recent The 10th Inning, sequel to his acclaimed 1994 Baseball. But as any Rangers, Cubs, Indians or Brewers fan knows, Breton hasn't even begun to suffer.

The Giants' last World Series championship was in 1954, when centerfielder Willie Mays made his famed over-the-shoulder, cap-flying-off-his-head catch against the Cleveland Indians' Vic Wertz. Prepare for constant replays.

Absent any World Series history for the Rangers, Fox is likely to resort to owner Nolan Ryan's only appearance as a player. He was just a 22-year-old kid when he entered Game 3 of the 1969 World Series as a New York Mets relief pitcher. That year's "Miracle Mets" won it all against the Baltimore Orioles.

Rival local stations will basically go unwatched during Fox4's prime-time World Series games. But their sports anchors and reporters will be dispatched to San Francisco and then to Arlington in hopes that the games will end early enough for them to show highlights and player interviews during 10 p.m. newscasts.

Things didn't work out too well in New York, with anchors standing live outside Yankee Stadium while Games 3 and 4 played on and most D-FW viewers watched the TBS coverage. If anyone's left back home, though, they could capture all of the excitement of the Mavericks' well-hidden Wednesday season-opener. That should end in plenty of time.