Special contributor to WFAA.com
Posted on January 31, 2012 at 12:30 PM
Wednesday, Feb 8 at 1:03 PM
Dallas is a Cowboys town. During football season, the spotlight is almost exclusively on the Cowboys, even if they’re turning in a miserable result. If they’re able to put together a season of substance, the other franchises in the Metroplex flirt with irrelevance.
That’s how it is and how it always will be in North Texas. During the 90’s for the Mavericks and up through most of the 2000’s for the Rangers, the lack of attention didn’t help much in terms of attendance and television numbers, but that was fine with the two downtrodden franchises, who didn’t want the focus to be on their shortcomings.
In the Rangers' case specifically, the team's front office was able to avoid a lot of ruthless scrutiny from fans and media due to the giant collective shadow of Tom Landry, Roger Staubach, Troy Aikman, and Emmitt Smith hovering over them. The attention may have been overwhelmingly focused on Irving rather than Arlington, but the Rangers front office definitely wasn’t doing anything to wrestle away that limelight.
That perception is quite different today, no?
The Rangers, led by General Manager Jon Daniels, seem to be turning everything to gold right now. So much so that it’s now the Cowboys and Jerry Jones trying wrestle away that spotlight.
The spotlight of perceived success, anyway.
More than success, the new DFW franchise darling has even earned an air of invincibility when it comes to moves and decisions from their front office. Examples of that can be found in recent months, even weeks.
Take a look at the Rangers' recent transactions. Granted, they’re made consecutive trips to the World Series. That always garners some leniency from fans. The front office of Daniels, Thad Levine, and Company, however, have also allowed their number one pitchers to walk after both World Series appearances.
There was some initial backlash when Cliff Lee made it clear that North Texas would no longer be the home of his displays of perfect pitching accuracy, but that was almost immediately silenced once the regular season started. When the Rangers heavily outperformed Lee's Philadelphia Phillis in the playoffs, the silence turned into praise of the front office decisions.
Despite recent postseason failure, it can’t be argued that CJ Wilson was a great asset for the Rangers. In his first year as a starter, he posted a 3.35 ERA . In his second, he dropped under 3.00. He won 31 games in those two years and only showed signs the he would improve and get better at the craft of starting pitching.
Some of his habits and mannerisms made us dislike him, but Wilson played a large role in the franchise hitting highs they had never seen before. The Rangers’ front office not only let CJ Wilson leave via free agency this offseason, but saw him jump to the team's archrival Angels. There was tons of negative reaction from Rangers nation, right?
Actually, it wasn’t complete silence; fans actually seemed to approve. Wilson didn’t help himself with his tired act and less than stellar back to back postseasons, but think about that for a second. Jon Daniels let his two best pitchers leave in consecutive years and got APPROVAL in the court of public opinion for it. Unbelievable.
Obviously, JD didn’t gain this armored reputation by doing nothing. His Mark Teixeira trade for Elvis Adrus, Matt Harrison, and Neftali Feliz certainly helped things. The deal to bring in Cliff Lee for Justin Smoak and spare parts to spark their first World Series run won hearts.
The decision to switch CJ Wilson to a starter, which seemed like a stab in the dark to many of us, was well calculated and paid immediate dividends. Still, to see the General Manger of the Texas Rangers earn “untouchable” status seems like borderline insanity.
The leniency for the Rangers right now seemed unfathomable during the era of hopelessness between 2000 and 2008 -- in fact, it would be odd during nearly any point of the franchise's history.
In a city where the football team demands Super Bowls every year regardless of the actual talent level on the roster or inept coaches leading the way, it seems like an odd amount of trust to put into a sports franchise. But the Rangers have earned it. For that matter, so have the Mavericks. It’s different times in the Metroplex, but nobody's complaining. Times are good.
The Cowboys may be down, but the two “sideshows” have put in the work to win respect and understanding. Credit them for earning it and credit DFW fans for recognizing and lauding the current sports landscape in front of them.
The Cowboys may not bear the torch anymore, but being privileged enough to witness this kind of success is rare territory for the sports fan.
Agree? Disagree? Let us know below in the comments and join the conversation!