Sports Fan Insider
There’s a famous line in Dumb & Dumber where Lloyd has just traded a gas-guzzlling, sheep dog shaped van for a Moped so that he and his best friend can get to Aspen on the limited amount of money they have.
Harry responds to Lloyd pulling up on the tiny scooter by saying “just when I think you can’t be any dumber, you go and do something like this…and TOTALLY redeem yourself.”
I hope in the very near future, I can say that about all four Metroplex teams. With the recent bad contracts, failure in big games, complete organizational overhauls and questionable free agency tactics, the Cowboys, Rangers, Stars and Mavs are all searching for redemption. But who needs it most? Who will get there the quickest?
THE DALLAS COWBOYS
The Cowboys continue to build on the franchises longest tenure of futility. Soon-to-be college freshmen in the DFW were born the same year the Cowboys last hoisted the Lombardi trophy. Those same college bound co-eds have only seen the Boys win one playoff game.
Biggest redemption needed: Make a legitimate playoff run…it’s not quite Super Bowl or bust, but the Boys need to show this core can actually sniff a title run.
Most recent success: The 2009 NFC Wildcard round win over the Eagles seems like decades ago, with their 13-3 season and first round exit even farther in the distance. Jerry’s crew has had two recent opportunities to prove the critics wrong but have failed in the clutch and fallen into a Groundhog’s Day type repeat of mediocre seasons.
Fans view: The product doesn’t meet the hype. With future Hall of Famers at tight end and defensive end, a budding superstar at wide receiver and a $100 million quarterback, the Cowboys, on paper, are expected to excel. Unfortunately, bad contracts to disappointing, aging or under-performing players have hamstrung the team’s ability to build a foundation where it matters…the trenches.
Next opportunity for redemption: The “closing window” isn’t slowing down anytime soon and whether or not you think Romo is the answer, No. 9 at quarterback is the plan for the future. Before he and his long-time teammates call it quits the Cowboys need to make the playoffs – and then some noise. Garrett’s job depends on it.
- Redemption level: 9.5/10. Jerry doesn’t have time to have a bad time.
- Expected date of Redemption: A Cowboys playoff berth is not out of the question, but a deep run in a loaded NFC is quite possibly 3-4 years and another coaching regime away. However, a Bill Callahan called offense paired with the 4-3 defensive styling of the ageless one Monte Kiffen could be the start of something special.
If you ask Jerry, they’re just one “2011 Giants” run away from making everything right in Cowboyland.
THE TEXAS RANGERS
The sole fact that fans recall Game 6 of the 2011 World Series every time…EVERY single time…Nelson Cruz made a bad play on a ball over his head means the wounds still haven’t healed. There is no doubt Wash’s club is one of the top five teams in the Majors in the past five years, but without that elusive championship this team could be viewed as the Buffalo Bills of baseball.
Biggest redemption needed: Exercise the ghosts of Neftali Feliz’s confidence issues, Nelson Cruz’s right field adventures and Josh Hamilton’s effort level in Oakland. If you would have told Ranger fans in 2008 that the team would make back-to-back World Series and go to the playoffs 3 years in a row they would all take it in a heartbeat. But the scars of two fall classic failures will linger until a parade happens in Arlington or the team is overhauled. Maybe not even then.
Most recent success: In the Rangers defense, they are currently presiding in their most fruitful era. Three straight post season trips with another possibly in the cards for 2013. The Rangers have seen unparalleled success as individual players…as well as in the standings, the stands and the postseason.
Fans view: The opportunity to win a World Series doesn’t arrive very often, especially for a franchise that struggled in futility for the better part of 30 years. With a young nucleus and high quality rotation, the time to win is both now and can be in the future (nice huh?).
General Manager Jon Daniels and the Rangers front office showed they believe they can go for it this year with trades to acquire Matt Garza and Alex Rios, but with continued injuries and setbacks to their pitching staff, and no Nelson Cruz to play postseason hero, it almost takes on a “hey, we don’t HAVE to win it now…but we probably should try anyways” feel.
Next opportunity for redemption: September/October of 2013. With the recent run by random teams to get to the World Series, there is nothing that says this team can’t win the AL West and make another run. The Rangers easily have the clearest path to redemption.
- Redemption level: 4.5/10. JD has shown he can get the right moves made and Wash has shown his gut is pretty reliable. Just keep winning and making the playoffs…just finish the job one time. 3 million people a year tells me “Bobby Ranger Fan” isn’t so upset he won’t go to the Ballpark.
- Expected date of Redemption: With the addition of Garza (hopefully for longer than a 2 month rental) and the gained experience of 20-something, future stars, the ETA of redemption should be coming to a Fall near you within the next two Octobers. (You heard me!)
THE DALLAS STARS
Because of geography and the size of the fan base for the team and sport, the Stars might have the least amount of pressure to gain redemption in the DFW, but they also might be the farthest away. After giving up on an aging nucleus, new ownership has cleaned house and left a bunch of guys that aren’t old enough rent cars to be the leaders of the franchise going forward. New jerseys, coaches, players and GM might be a start…but the result of that is yet to be seen.
Biggest redemption needed: Put a product on the ice that can at least be perceived as a playoff contender without selling the entire team to help the budget.
Most recent success: Ummm…yeah. Robidas and Daley are the only two players left from the 2007-2008 team that rode a #5 seed all the way to the Western Conference Finals. To tell you how long ago that was in sports years, the two biggest names on that squad (Modano and Turco) are now in the front office of the organization.
Fans view: Who are these guys and why should I show up? The team has shipped off every notable player (Ribeiro, Morrow, Neal, Richards, Eriksson) in the past 2 years and left a bunch of unproven prospects in their wake. Jamie Benn and Kari Lehtonen are a solid core to build with and the new and improved version of Tyler Seguin will intrigue hardcore Stars fans. That being said, wake me up when this team is a playoff contender.
Next opportunity for redemption: The 2013 NHL season. Lindy Ruff and a completely rebuilt roster have a chance to erase the past few seasons of futility like Will Smith’s ‘neuralyzer’ in Men In Black.
- Redemption level: 5.5/10. The marketing department has the biggest job…make the players on this team known, so fans can watch “their” team of young players compete. Expectations of Lord Stanley’s Cup visiting the triple digit temperatures of DFW anytime soon aren’t super high.
- Expected date of Redemption: Give Lindy Ruff two seasons to grow his young players into a legit team and hope Kari Lehtonen’s groin stays healthy. That’s a solid 7 or 8 seed team then, but for now…the players on this team are just as green as their new jerseys. (RIMSHOT)
THE DALLAS MAVERICKS
As long as Dirk Nowitzki, Rick Carlisle, Donnie Nelson and Mark Cuban are the four horseman of the AAC, the ghosts of the 2011 dismantled NBA title team will always linger. The euphoria of the Larry O’Brien Trophy being paraded through downtown Dallas has worn off and now, even above winning, proving that not “bringing the band back” was the right move.
Biggest redemption needed: Free agent and draft success. The sales pitch of Dirk, max contracts, strip clubs and mild winters apparently wasn’t enough to get the big fish to come swim in the Trinity River (not that you should do that anyways). While the plan smelled like a shot of Avion tequila, (Cuban did a great job selling it in Entourage) the taste was closer to a well shot. Even though the Mavs constructed what can be viewed as a viable, playoff-worthy roster, the dust from the summer of ’11 demolition won’t settle until the dry powder is used on a worthy hired gun (ammunition humor).
Most recent success: The Mavericks decade plus run of success was like sleeping with a really attractive girl…after a while you start to take it for granted and then when it’s gone, you remember how much life sucked before you we’re getting it on a daily basis.
The 2011 championship vindicated many things, including Cuban’s ownership tenure, Dirk’s career and Carlisle’s “close, but not quite” winning resume. Fond memories of “We are the Champions” are still echoing…just barely.
Fans view: The daydream of a Ferrari and Bugatti (D-12 and CP3), turned into a reality a Lexus, two Hondas and a Kia…Monte Ellis, Devin Harris, Dejuan Blair and Wayne Ellington. MFFL! Even though that doesn’t scream title contender, it’s better than whatever type of Astro Vans that Chris Kamaan, Darren Collison and OJ Mayo turned out to be.
Next opportunity for redemption: The 2014 NBA offseason. Regardless of the outcome of the Mavericks upcoming season, the front office needs to show Plan A: Using big money to lure superstars to Dallas, can indeed work – Plan B: Use solid pieces around Dirk to build a contending roster - Plan C: Tank for Wiggins, will become the used car of fall-back plans going forward.
- Redemption level: 8.5/10 Mark Cuban was very transparent about the planning and execution of their post-championship roster and the reasoning for everything they’ve done in the past few off seasons, but the fans saw a lot of online dating photos of franchise centers and future HOF point guards to have a decent looking combo guard show up to the blind date.
- They don’t have to win another title, but they do have to show they didn’t cut short their window for another title because they were trying to catch a very expensive and apparently elusive free agent unicorn.
You can catch MRod and myself on Saturday afternoons from 2:00 – 6:00 pm on 105.3 The Fan.
You can also follow my random thoughts on twitter @itsnatewood
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