I was reflecting on how depressing it is that the BTB Countdown Clock is for the Lockout Court Trial. Next to Anthony Weiner's Twitter account, I can't think of anything that symbolizes how wrong things have gone. Except, of course, the Cowboys' dismal performance last season.
Seeking some solace, and being an unabashed homer, I checked out some NBA and MLB pages. Hey, things aren't so bad in Dallas. The Mavs are one win away from a championship, the Rangers are defending AL champs . . .
Alarms blare! The massive starship shudders! Capt Picard barks out "What is going on???"
Mr. Data looks up. "Sir, we seem to have passed through a rift in the space/time continuum."
I suppose I have been aware that the proper cosmic order of things has been a bit disturbed, but for some reason it just gobsmacked me tonight. The Rangers playing in the World Series, the Mavericks in one of the best, hardest fought NBA finals in years, and the Cowboys saved from being the laughingstock of the NFC East only by dint of the Herculean efforts of Dan Snyder to turn the Redskins into The Worst Sports Franchise Ever. I have been following sports for a long, long time (just in case the Next Generation reference wasn't tipoff enough), and this is just totally, completely bizarre. For decades, the Rangers were a team that usually could bash the ball, but never had the pitching to go anywhere. For decades, the Mavericks were too soft and lacked the big talent. For decades, the Cowboys were the pride of Dallas, the championship winning team that didn't just have fans in north Texas, but that inspired either rabid support or fanatical hate throughout the nation, if not the world. To have the local baseball and basketball franchise suddenly among the elite in their leagues, and the Cowboys seen as (and I shudder to even say this) irrelevant in the NFL? It is a disaster that will take more than some CGI special effects, hokey scientific theories, and a cultured British accent to escape.
OK, just a moment, for all you who are venting steam out your ears because I dared use the words "Cowboys" and "irrelavant" in the same sentence: Yes, I know I speak sacriledge, but come on. The team was out of the playoffs by about week six, no matter how much we wished it otherwise. And really: Switzer, Gailey, Campo, Phillips? One playoff win since 1997? Face the truth, it will set you free.
And now, the twist. Instead of being dismayed over dropping to number three out of three in the Dallas sports rankings (Star fans, I'm sorry. I will not consider anything that involves ice skating in Texas. It just ain't natural.), we have every reason to feel good.
You see, I think the 'boys are on the same trajectory the Rangers and the Mavericks are on, just a year or two behind. I base this on one thing, what I, in my humble-yet-still-smartass way consider to be the most important factor.
It's the leadership.
That's right. This post, in it's meandering way, is a vote of confidence for Jerry Jones. Well, in a way.
Before I clarify, let's look at the other shows in town.
The Rangers stunned the American League when they did not pull the traditional late season swoon, hanging on through August and September, and then (thank you Lord for the blessings you have so graciously bestowed upon us) putting a beatdown on the New Yawk Yankees. Where did that come from? After all those years, what changed?
Nolan Ryan. A man who pitched baseball games like Dick Butkus played linebacker, by putting fear into the hearts of the opponents. He came in, became part of the management team and eventually part owner, and most of all he provided adult leadership. Now, I don't know much about baseball, and can't speak much to how the players think, but I'll guarantee one things: When Nolan Ryan starts talking, the rest of the organization shuts up and listens. He commands respect. And he can probably still do this: http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=aa1_1280296883
The point is, he knows what he is doing. He provides gravitas. He commands tremendous respect. And he knows how to be the leader without interfering with Ron Washington managing the team or getting foolishly overinvolved in front office moves. The results speak for themselves.
Now, for those with even the most cursory knowledge of recent Mavericks history, this may not seem to have any similarity. Just see 2006, the guarantee by Mark Cuban (who at times makes Jerry Jones look like a stateman) after going 2-0 over the Heat, the resulting meltdown, and the ensuing reputation that the Mavs were soft, with no heart. But this year, there is an odd thing about the Mark Cuban stories: There are no Mark Cuban stories. He has shut his mouth and turned things over to RIck Carlisle. Cuban did his part in building the supporting cast for Dirk, and now all reports are that Carlisle is coaching rings around everyone else. And nobody is calling this edition of the team soft. FIve fourth quarter comebacks in one postseason? Holy crap.
(On a related tie-in to BTB: In basketball, the ultimate RKG is 7 feet tall, blonde, and has a German accent, don't you think?)
If you are still with me, you may be asking, so what the heck does this have to do with the Cowboys?
Jason Garrett. Rob Ryan. Adult leadership has arrived at Valley Ranch. The Braveheart post from Chia sums up the argument, and, truth be told, was the jumping off point for my ramblings, along with Rabble's three parter on Right/Wrong Kind of Guys. After all the months of discussion about whether RHG and the Big Robowski were good hires (OK, I realize most have come to believe the answer is HELL YES, but there are always dissenters), I just thought I would point out two examples of why we should be full of hope, in two winning teams that seem to have suddenly turned everything around. And there are signs that Jerry, if not adopting the vow of silence Mark Cuban has, at least has decided to step back a bit and let the coaches (and maybe Stephen) run the show. After, most importantly, picking the right man to coach the team.
Well done, Jerry. I believe good times are coming for Dallas, because I think good leadership will make the rest happen. Now, just END THE M$%(#%&*%G LOCKOUT!