Commentary

Rangers reminiscent of '90s Cowboys

Organization has built a winner full of talent, personality -- and staying power

Updated: March 12, 2012, 7:57 PM ET
By Jean-Jacques Taylor | ESPNDallas.com

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- These Texas Rangers remind me of the Dallas Cowboys from the early '90s.

They win. They have a plethora of all-stars. They have a clubhouse full of personalities. They have a high-profile front office that includes a Hall of Fame pitcher and a GM who was once the youngest in baseball.

Yu Darvish is intriguing and mysterious, and Josh Hamilton provides a hint of scandal, whether we're discussing his potential free agency or sobriety.

[+] EnlargeRon Washington and Jon Daniels
Matthew Emmons-US PresswireJon Daniels and Ron Washington have helped turn the Rangers into a perennial contender.

All the national media is making its way through Surprise -- about 35 miles northwest of Phoenix -- at some point during spring training because the Rangers have more titillating storylines than any other club in baseball.

Yes, even more than the New York Yankees.

Overcoming the Game 6 World Series loss, the cruelest in baseball history. Their quest to play in a third consecutive World Series. Will Neftali Feliz be a successful starter after blowing Game 6? Will Darvish, who cost nearly $112 million, be a star or a bust? Will Hamilton sign a long-term deal?

Frankly, it's surprising HBO isn't filming a baseball version of Hard Knocks starring the Rangers. Or that the MLB Network isn't doing a documentary on a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels.

When ESPN announced its early-season Sunday night baseball schedule, the Rangers and Yankees each had three appearances. No other team has more than two.

Now, tell me the Rangers don't remind you of the Cowboys of the early '90s, when it was all about "The Triplets." And Jerry Jones and Jimmy Johnson. And Deion Sanders. And Charles Haley. And Nate Newton and Moose Johnston.

You can't.

"People used to come to Rangers games to see the other team, whether it was the Yankees or the Red Sox or someone else," Ian Kinsler said. "Or they wanted to see players like Griffey Jr. on other teams. Now, they're coming to see the Texas Rangers -- and that's fun for us."

Most of all, it's all about winning.

The Cowboys won a then-unprecedented three Super Bowls in four seasons, so we dealt with their excesses. It's one of the reasons the current Cowboys have a sense of entitlement, though they've accomplished virtually nothing as a team in the new millennium.

The Rangers have won 186 games the past two seasons, and they've had more postseason champagne and ginger ale showers than any other club.

But they still haven't captured the ultimate prize: A World Series championship.

Close doesn't count. Winning is a pass/fail course.

This franchise, from the front office to the clubhouse, believes it'll win a title sooner or later. That kind of belief has not always permeated throughout the organization. How could it?

When I grew up in Oak Cliff during the '80s, the Rangers were a beer-league softball team. They scored a bunch of runs, put on a great show and lost.

In their first 38 seasons, the Rangers notched a single playoff victory and failed to win a postseason series. They have 18 postseason wins and have won four playoff series in the past two seasons.

Hey, the Cowboys were 1-15 in the first year of the Jimmy-Jerry regime. By the time the Cowboys' run ended in 1997, they had won three Super Bowls, made four trips to the NFC Championship game, won five NFC East titles and made six trips to the playoffs.

The Cowboys, though, have slipped into an abyss of mediocrity. We no longer trust their judgment or decision-making, so every move is scrutinized and dissected.

After one playoff win in nearly 20 years, the Cowboys no longer deserve our benefit of the doubt.

The Rangers do.

We believe Ryan, Jon Daniels and Thad Levine have a strategy to make the Rangers winners today and in the future. No one expects the Rangers to win the World Series every year. Or even make the playoffs every year.

We can, however, expect them to start every season as contenders with this management group, which is always massaging its short-term and long-term goals to ensure they coincide.

"It's fun to be a Texas Ranger right now," Michael Young said. "In the past, we used to say if one or two guys have a great year and the other clubs have a down year or an injury or two, maybe we can get to the playoffs. Now, all we do is worry about ourselves. If we play our game, it's good enough to win."

These Rangers have swag. They know they're good, and they're not afraid to say it, if asked.

It's why they remind me of the Cowboys -- and if they ever earn a ring, it'll be obvious to everyone.

Jean-Jacques Taylor is a columnist for ESPNDallas.com.

Jean-Jacques Taylor joined ESPNDallas.com in August 2011. A native of Dallas, Taylor spent the past 20 years writing for The Dallas Morning News, where he covered high schools sports, the Texas Rangers and spent 11 seasons covering the Dallas Cowboys before becoming a general columnist in 2006.

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