The Texas Rangers desperately want to be on the same plane as the Dallas Cowboys, or the Dallas Mavericks, but they have repeatedly shown they can’t take a hit like Jerry.
In fairness, the only thing that can take a hit better than Jerry Jones is Kevlar.
The last time a team this good – and these Rangers were good – disappointed us this much was the Cowboys, and yet the response and fallout could not be any more dramatic, or revealing.
Basically, there has been no fallout.
In January of 2008, Wade Phillips’ Cowboys opened the playoffs at home as seven-point favorites against the New York Giants in the NFC Divisional Round. The Cowboys lost 21-17, and the best Cowboys’ season of this century was trashed.
Fans and media put Wade on the fillet board, and Jerry was kicked over the edge back into the DFW shark pit.
The Rangers just completed a 95-win season as the best team in the American League and yet were swept in the AL Division Series by the Blue Jays.
Sweep is a kind word. Start with embarrassed, and then move down the list of four-letter adjectives.
The Texas Rangers have had winning seasons in seven out of the last eight years.
The reaction has been a variety of excuses for the eighth-highest payroll in baseball, to “What time do the Cowboys kick off?” (3:25 central in Green Bay).
Since 2010, the Rangers have re-defined their level of expectations yet fans (media?) have not come along. Either that or the Rangers have cultivated a culture of contentment.
No team enjoys a double standard in DFW more than the local baseball club, led by executives who make the final decisions on personnel.
The Rangers have collapsed each of the last two years, both playoff losses to the Blue Jays.
In ’15, they led the ALDS 2-0, and 3-2 in the seventh inning of Game 5 before Elvis happened.
In ’16, they played dead quite effectively against the Blue Jays.
Switch the Rangers with the Cowboys and ponder the reaction – i.e. apoplectic hostile outrage – to these respective finishes.
In their history, the Texas Rangers have won at least 90 games eight times, five since 2010.
The Rangers have admirably made their franchise about more than just the playoffs yet the local reaction remains decidedly satisfied with just that. The Rangers have invested a small fortune of their roster to make the product World Series-caliber, which they are.
A team does not win 95 games on accident, and make the playoffs four times in the last seven seasons because they had a lucky run.
And yet, if the Cowboys did what the Rangers just pulled off – flop after a brilliant regular season – they would face a sports firing squad.
That’s part of the expectation. That is part of the job responsibility. Packers head coach Mike McCarthy on inheriting high expectations for a storied franchise.
Launch the Dallas Mavericks into this pot as well. All basketball decisions with the Mavs, up to and including calls on marketing proposals, go through Mark Cuban.
As such, he receives credit when the Mavericks work. When the Mavs won the NBA title in 2011, he deserved due recognition.
When the Mavs’ decisions don’t work, for instance his laughably predictable misread of the NBA collective bargaining agreement in 2011 or his embarrassingly executed free-agent plan, he gets crushed.
Can you imagine how “smart” Mark would look had he not inherited Dirk Nowitzki?
The Rangers’ equivalent to Cuban or Jerry is GM/President Jon Daniels. JD has absolute baseball authority in Arlington.
Yet unlike Jerry or Cuban, when things go awry for the Rangers, it bounces away like a passed ball in May. Whatever happens with the Rangers, JD enjoys a hall pass like few others in sports.
In the case of the Rangers, “It’s the players.”
That’s fine, but if we as sports fans/media are going to swing our lightsaber at Jerry or Cuban, or Rick Carlisle or Jason Garrett, then JD and Rangers manager Jeff Banister merit similar “praise.”
JD deserves credit, but he has also been handed unlimited control, the power to continually raise the Rangers “debt ceiling,” and has built a team that is inferior defensively.
And, yet, there remains a roof over the Ballpark, even if the actual lid and the air conditioning have not been approved with a vote yet. This crew is just happy with being happy, and is impervious to criticism.
Perhaps this treatment is born from a franchise that built no expectations for nearly its first 30 years in Arlington. Or because Josh Hamilton is right – our obsession with football reduces baseball to filler between spring practice and preseason.
Consider this piece of putrid sports history: The team was created in 1961, and since that time has finished over .500 a total of 23 times. Seven of those seasons have occurred in the last eight years.
Perhaps this double standard stems from a franchise that has never won a World Series. The Cowboys haven’t sniffed a Super Bowl since the ’90s, but they were born on championships.
“That is part of the sporting world – storied franchises are expected to do that,” veteran Cowboys linebacker Justin Durant said. “Is it fair? No. But it is what it is.”
When the Cowboys blow it, they get it. The same for the Mavs.
The Rangers? They just get a pass.
Listen to Mac Engel every Tuesday and Thursday on Shan & RJ from 5:30-10 a.m. on 105.3 The Fan.