A WORLD SERIES WOULD MEAN MOREBy Jeff Caplan
I chronicled every moment of the Dallas Mavericks' championship season, so I witnessed first-hand what the franchise's first title meant to the good citizens of North Texas.
Throughout the 1990s, the Mavs languished as a laughingstock -- not just in the NBA, but in all of sports. Dirk Nowitzki and owner Mark Cuban spent the 2000s rebuilding everything from the bottom up, including the fan base.
Through failings finally came success when few believed it could or would happen. When it did, and in a team-oriented, feel-good way that touched fans at their core, some 200,000 fans crammed into downtown Dallas for a long-awaited parade that was scrapped once in 2006, and many figured for good.
"You think what it would be like to bring a first championship here, but I don't think my mind had an opportunity to go that far about a parade," Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington said before leaving for St. Louis and second consecutive World Series. "Yes, you think about, 'Gee, it would be nice to win a championship.' But you have to go play and win it. We haven't won anything. But, yeah, we think about how we'd like to bring the championship here."
If that happens, look out. From Fort Worth to the west and Dallas to the east, the Metroplex will revel in a World Series championship like nothing ever seen in these parts.
This is baseball, after all. And baseball, despite the NFL's hostile takeover as America's pasttime, remains a part of our fabric. That includes Arlington, Texas, the home of the Rangers since the franchise plunked down in 1972, beating the Mavs to town by eight years.
Even through all those lean years, decent teams and those first playoff teams in the late 1990s that offered little postseason glory, the Rangers were always an endearing franchise. And fans were always there to cheer on their Rangers during our blast-furnace summers.
Nearly 3 million fans piled into the Ballpark during this summer of record heat. A four-decade love affair has certainly had its highs and lows, but baseball still always manages to capture our imaginations more than any other sport.
Every championship in every sport is a special moment. But if this hustling and affable group of Rangers wins the World Series, well watch out. It's going to get crazy.
"I'm quite sure," Washington said, "it could be very crazy."
THE MAVS' TITLE MEANS MOREBy Jeff "Skin" Wade
"Ben & Skin Show"
It goes without saying that winning the World Series would be a massive score for the Metroplex and lead to a 24/7 sports party that everyone could ride out through the winter months -- er uhh, winter weekend. But would it mean more to the folks around here than what the Dallas Mavericks just accomplished? Nope -- the Texas Rangers are 12 months late for pulling off that feat.
Had the Rangers been able to finish their magical run last fall, it would have gone down as perhaps the single greatest sports story in DFW history. The twists and turns from Ron Washington's positive drug test to the team's bankruptcy to stealing Cliff Lee from the New York Yankees are all well-chronicled. It was a magical season, but the fairy tale didn't end perfectly.
The Mavericks' improbable story did.
They were a team that local sports fans and media had written off. They were old, didn't have enough firepower and, in the minds of many, were "soft." My esteemed colleague Ben Rogers dubbed them the "one-and-done boys" referring to what many thought would be a quick in-and-out playoff showing. The predictions of that unfortunate narrative only intensified when the Mavs pulled a Tony Romo in Game 4 in Portland and gave away a sure victory on the road.
And then a giant, heaping helping of awesome happened. The Mavs swept the champs in the next round, completely annihilating the Los Angeles Lakers in every way. They pummeled everyone's darlings, the upstart Oklahoma City Thunder, in the Western Conference finals before taking on what was the basketball equivalent of the Evil Empire and undressing the Miami Heat on the biggest national stage.
Though Dirk Nowitzki was the best player in the world for a two-month run, every player on the roster delivered, capturing the Metroplex's imagination with a team game that shined brighter than the mega-watt star power of Miami's "big three." It was the type of beautiful message that every coach has been trying to preach to young'uns learning the game since peach baskets made sense.
The Mavs exorcised not only the demons of 2006, but finally brought closure to the wildly popular 1980s team that could never topple the Lakers, while also putting to bed the dreaded '90s in which they were at the bottom of all professional sports teams. And they shut down all the doubters in glorious fashion, bringing Dallas its first major championship in more than a decade.
The Rangers are at the starting gate of something magical, but they're 12 months late to the party the Mavs just started, and that's why the Mavs victory means a little bit more.