Monday, March 31, 2014

2014 Playoff Drought Update

Today is Opening Day in Major League Baseball.  It is a day of enthusiasm around the sport and the highest water mark of hope springing eternal for the 30 major league franchises.  That will last for about another few hours and then the party will dissipate rather early for many teams as their weaknesses begin to bubble up to the surface.

For the Rangers, this is not likely to be the case (at least early in the year), but it has been a historic spring training where the usual over-reaction to every negative piece of news has not really felt like an over-reaction because the cumulative total of the news has actually been quite disheartening.

What started as merely Derek Holland and his dog falling on the stairs (60 Day DL, Knee Surgery) has added up into stress regarding Harrison, Lewis, Profar, Andrus, Soto, and yes, even the indestructible baseball cyborg named Darvish.

Nevertheless, the Rangers are considered a contender as we open the season today to the AL West crown and to return to the post-season after a 1-year (feels more like 2 years given the 1 game of 2012 - JOE SAUNDERS!!!!!) absence.  That can go south in a hurry if health doesn't start cooperating, but at least for now, take heart, everybody.

Now, what about the area colleagues?

Well, on the morning of Opening Day, The Dallas Stars are said to have a 63% chance of making the playoffs with 8 games left to play according to various computer simulations.  They are a young and exciting team with what appears to be a very bright future, but whether this might be the year they can get back in the playoffs and keep their drought from reaching 6 playoff years remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, the last champions from our fair city, the Dallas Mavericks wake up this morning with a 79% chance of getting in (thanks to the Phoenix Suns losing last night) and appear to have a pretty good chance of making sure their one year out of the playoffs doesn't become two in a row.  They have been the model of quality for over a decade (never leave us and never get old, Dirk) and while we don't have a great idea of what the future holds with the Mavericks like we might with the Stars, they have certainly earned the benefit of the doubt due to their reputation and their owner who likes losing about as much as he likes referees.

The Cowboys are the Cowboys and therefore to say they won't make the playoffs is ridiculous because they have been playing for the post-season in each of the last 3 years in the final game, but they have also lost all 3 of those final games and therefore, to say they will make the playoffs is equally ridiculous.  They are close enough to be in the mix, but far enough to be a punchline as well.

8-8.  But, as you can see, with one more missed postseason this fall, they will equal the 1986-1990 drought that is the longest since the franchise first made the playoffs back in 1966.  That, for one of the proudest franchises in the business, is clearly a very poor sign of what is to come, and with an aging Tony Romo it is tough to say there is a bright future straight ahead.

I have been tracking these numbers for quite a while, but not since 2013.  So, below is a chart that runs from 1994 until today. Why 1994?  Because that was the first time our city had a team in each of the "Big 4" sports.  Since then, every year at least one of the big 4 would be in the post-season.  Until 2013.

In 2013, the Mavs, Rangers, Stars, and Cowboys all fell just short of their respective post-seasons.  Take a look:

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 2013 of 1912 of 206 of 19

Now, in 2014, the Stars and Mavericks look like they have a solid chance of breaking this drought, but I am not sure with 2 weeks to play that anyone is willing to bet on it.  At best, it looks like #8 seeds and that could be a playoff time and over within a week.  But, of course, the whole point of all of this is supposed to be getting in and seeing if you can get on that Cinderella run.  Not overly realistic, but since the #8 seed Los Angeles Kings won the Cup, then there is always that chance.

So, after a historically bad 2013, they are trying collectively to rebound in 2014.  We won't hold our collective breath just yet, but with the Stars, Mavericks, Rangers, and Cowboys all on the fringe, the odds of going 0 for 4 again aren't great, but also aren't impossible.

This is the longest city-wide drought since the Big 4 have all been here.  Will it end this month?

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