Thursday, March 07, 2013

Worst Years EVER

This post is a bit of an update on something we talked about in this space about 5 years ago (granted, this space has changed title sponsors about 3 times since then - Thanks, Fox Sports Southwest for their continued employment).

I have always had the theory that cities like ours, as opposed to the "one-horse towns" do not experience prolonged depression and mourning when our teams fail...we just move on to the next one. The Mavs make us sad? Its' Rangers season! The Rangers are fading? Hello, Cowboys Camp! And so on, and so on...

Conversely, in San Antonio, for instance, when the Spurs fail, it is time for Spurs off-season mourning. That is a totally different way of sports way of life. Much like the way the folks in England live life with their soccer teams.  They care about one team and one team only.  The victories are higher, but the failures - of which there are many - are much more profoundly painful.

Admirable in some ways, maddening in others. Anyway, here is Trey's question.

With the Mavs struggling coming down the stretch I started thinking about all the major Dallas sports teams missing the playoffs in the same year. Obviously we are used to seeing this from the Rangers and the Mavs had that awful stretch in the 90’s but I couldn’t find a year where this has happened since the Stars came to town in ’93. However, I’ll admit my research was quick and not that thorough. Also, with the way the sports calendar wraps around from year to year I kinda got tired-head looking at it. I was wondering if you had any better insight on this in your sports brain...



Could 2013 be the worst year in the history of this 4-sport town?

This kind of reminds me of a book I once enjoyed, True Believers by Joe Queenan, where he claimed sports was one big shell-game of hope.  They put enough franchises in each city that invariably, one will capture our imagination and keep us locked into the industry while the others are allowed to exist until they figure something out.  We are never able to walk away because while 3 screw around, one is always bound to be at least good enough to keep us.

Anyway, below is what my newest chart looks like dating back to 1994, the first year we were officially a 4-horse town:

1994NFC Champ2nd RoundMissedNO PLAYOFFS
1995NFL Champions1st RoundMissedMissed
19962nd RoundMissedMissed1st Round
1997Missed1st RoundMissedMissed
19981st Round3rd RoundMissed1st Round
19991st RoundNHL ChampionsMissed1st Round
2000MissedLost in FinalsMissedMissed
2001Missed2nd Round2nd RoundMissed
2002MissedMissed2nd RoundMissed
20031st Round2nd Round3rd RoundMissed
2004Missed1st Round1st RoundMissed
2005MissedNO SEASON2nd RoundMissed
20061st Round1st RoundLost in FinalsMissed
20071st Round1st Round1st RoundMissed
2008Missed3rd Round1st RoundMissed
20092nd RoundMissed2nd RoundMissed
2010MissedMissed1st RoundLost in W Series
2011Missed MissedNBA ChampionsLost in W Series
2012MissedMissed1st RoundWildcard

Totals9 of 1913 of 1812 of 196 of 18

After accounting for each year, and changing the math to not penalize the Stars and Rangers for each sport canceling its championship one year, here are the findings.

On a sport by sport basis, we can see that the Stars are going through their worst run in Dallas by a mile.  So much so that after playing their first 15 years with 13 playoff berths, they are now on the verge of going 5 straight unless they can get in this spring.  That is still doable.

The Mavericks are 2nd, after digging a huge hole in the 1990s, they haven't missed since Dave Campo's 1st year in office.

The Cowboys are the Cowboys, and now having gone 3 seasons without the playoffs are technically in the exact same place they were after the 3 missed seasons with Campo.  That hurts.

And the Rangers have hit 3 playoffs in a row (although 2012 is a bit of a wildcard technicality - in any other year before 2012, that is not the playoffs.  But, with the "expanded Wildcard format" we must concede that what used to be a play-in game is now a play-off games) and try to keep their good fortune going this season.

So, no years where all 4 teams missed the playoffs, but some less than stellar years were mixed in, including 3 years where 3 of the 4 teams missed. They are below with painful videos provided by youtube:

1997 - A year in which the Cowboys, Mavericks, and Rangers all missed. This was a particularly rare performance from the Cowboys who made the playoffs every other year from 1991 to 1999. The Rangers missed for the only year between 1996-1999. The Mavericks never went once in the 1990's, and the Stars, who were the only team to make the playoffs, were kicked out promptly on the Todd Marchant goal in Game 7's overtime. Below, find the painful evidence.

2000 - This year is tough to call a "down" year, given that the Stars were in the Stanley Cup Finals (Stinking Jason Arnott). But, the Mavs were in year 1 of the Cuban experiment (Best remembered as the Dennis Rodman year, even if he only did play 12 memorable games). The Cowboys were in year 1 of the Campo era, and the Rangers traded Juan Gonzalez after the 1999 playoff year and dropped 24 games in the standings. Below, find the quietest moment in Reunion Arena hockey history (provided the Marchant goal above wasn't):

2002 - This year saw the Stars with a rare playoff miss (Goodbye, Ken Hitchcock); A somewhat ordinary Cowboys playoff miss (Goodbye, Dave Campo); and, another miss of the playoffs by the Rangers (Hello, Jerry Narron. Goodbye, Jerry Narron). But, the new darling of the metro-plex, those Dallas Mavericks were in. After sweeping the Timberwolves, despite Chauncey Billups and Kevin Garnett doing well, the Mavs hit the buzzsaw that was the Sacramento Kings. The Mavs split in No-Cal in the first two games, before losing both games in Dallas and then dropping Game 5 back at Arco to fall to the Kings, 4 games to 1. You may recall that 2002 was the year the Kings seemed to have the best team in the league (they had the best record), but dropped a very hotly contested 7 game war with the Lakers in the Western Finals. If you can handle the upset stomach, below see the Game 4 winner from Mike Bibby as he put the Mavs to the sword:

2005 - This year, the rather non-descript Rangers put 4 all-stars in the mid-summer classic but finished under .500 yet again, the Cowboys lost 4 of 6 on the way in and missed the playoffs in Drew Bledsoe's 1 full year under center, and the NHL decided the best way to fix their sport was to basically try to murder it in cold blood.

Meanwhile, the Mavericks had a crazy 2005 season, which started the summer before by letting Steve Nash get away.  This brought in young Devin Harris and Jason Terry to try to sort out the point guard situation that never was fully sorted.  To make matters crazier, they opened with the Houston Rockets in the playoffs and quickly lost both games 1 and 2 at home.  Then, they stormed back with a giant win in Game 7 by blowing out the Rockets by 40, 116-76.  From there, they were reunited with Nash in the 2nd round of the playoffs and gutted in Game 6 by Nash and friends in Dallas.  This game is known for many moments, most of which can be seen below:

So, in 19 years, only 4 have had happened where only 1 team went to the post-season.  Of those, 2000 was a Stanley Cup Finals and 2002 and 2005 at least had a series win for the one team to get through.

That leaves 1997 as the year to beat for worst year ever in DFW's 4-team era.

2013, though, should not be underestimated.  The Mavs look lost, the Stars are borderline, the Rangers appear to have taken a step back, and the Cowboys are anyone's guess.

Could this be the first year everyone is out?  At this moment, it remains a story worth tracking for sure.

1 comment:

gregw said...

Great blog bob , I fear we have seen the last of the cowboys being a contender for some time - I wonder what Stephen jones thinks about when pondering the pile of crud his dad will leave him ? Oh well - lets go RANGERS