Thanks to the Dallas Mavericks and their efforts in each of the last two years, absolutely no hearts were broken or spirits were crushed when Mark Cuban’s toy stunk it up despite the presence of Dirk Nowitzki.
We all expected the Mavs to stink in each of the last two seasons, and to their credit they kicked over the Porta-Potty with authority.
The rest of our local teams, however, let us all believe that we would have a reason to celebrate something big only to pull a Nicholas Sparks-like last chapter; the type where our love interest contracts an incurable disease while dying in a mudslide in a South American rain forest as they delivered food to the needy.
The only creative mind who killed more than Nick Sparks was Walt Disney.
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Check out this diorama of pain delivered by our local professional sports teams:
DALLAS STARS: In the 2015-’16 season, the hockey team finished with the most points in the Western Conference, and the second most in the NHL. That was good enough for home ice throughout until the Stanley Cup Finals. Of course, the Stars were “blowed out” at home in Game 7 of the Western semis by the St. Louis Blues.
This season, the Stars missed the playoffs and finished with a mere 79 points; that is the lowest for the team in a full season since the 1995-’96 season. The Stars axed head coach Lindy Ruff and brought back Ken Hitchcock.
Kick to the crotch meter: 8 out of 10. The Stars team from ‘15-’16 should have been a Western Conference finalist. And the ‘16-’17 season was embarrassing.
TEXAS RANGERS: For the second consecutive season the Texas Rangers won the American League West, this time with a 95-67 record, the best mark in the AL.
And for a second consecutive year, the team had it handed to them by the Toronto Blue Jays in the AL Division Series. Call it progress; whereas in 2015 the Rangers lost the series to the Blue Jays 3-2 with an epic gag in the final three innings of Game 5, they were swept in 2016.
Kick to the crotch meter: 11 out of 10. Humiliating.
DALLAS COWBOYS: The Cowboys were the surprise of the 2016 NFL season with a 13-3 record, good for home field throughout the playoffs. Of course, the home team lost at home in the NFC Divisional round to Olivia Munn’s then-boyfriend and the Green Bay Packers, 34-31.
Kick to the crotch meter: 7 out of 10. No one was expecting that season.
FC DALLAS: The club led MLS with 60 points during the regular season and, naturally, lost in the Western Conference semifinals to the Seattle Sounders. FC Dallas was eliminated by a 4-2 aggregate score to end what should have been an MLS cup season.
Kick to the crotch meter: 9 out of 10. The loss of midfielder Mauro Diaz to a torn Achilles in October made a title unrealistic, but this finale was a thundering pile of dog mess.
Now ... how to evaluate such things? Are these good seasons if the finish is so unsightly?
“It’s both. We are proud of winning those two championships — The Open Cup and The Supporter’s Shield — that is something this franchise has never done,” FC Dallas defender Walker Zimmerman told me. “And if you look at that alone, that is a successful season. So we are proud of those accomplishments and those moments, for sure.
“Then you look at our playoff run, and how it ended, and it’s super disappointing to know that, ‘You are one of the best teams in the league and you made an early exit in the playoffs.’ That is disappointing. But if you look at the season as a whole, it wasn’t a disappointing season.”
This is evolutionary thinking, of course. Time is required before a player, coach, front office exec or a fan can say, “That was a great year.”
In the recent examples provided by the Stars, Rangers, Cowboys and FC Dallas, it is easily justified tot say each had a great season. The question is to what degree can each be celebrated when the conclusions were just so awful.
“It is something to build on and not a disappointing year,” Zimmerman said. “It was a successful year.”
It was a noteworthy run of good fortune for so many teams in one concentrated area to each enjoy such wonderful regular season records where they were the best teams in their leagues. They all provided relevant seasons with plenty of fun superlatives.
For each one to fall on their collective faces in the postseason is mathematically impressive. What are the odds of that happening to us fans in a short time span? That has to be worth at least a T-shirt.
The problem we are a playoff-driven sports culture so to hell with regular season success.
It’s OK to be disappointed with these finales, but always take the relevant team that is trying to win over the ones that just want the check (looking at you Cincy Bengals).
Losing in the end stinks, but never take for granted if your team is good enough to be there.
Ask the Browns about this.