Saturday, October 23, 2010

Why there will be no World Series parade in Dallas

One of the easiest ways to jinx any run to a major sports championship is planning a parade for that city. The Dallas Mavericks of 2006 discovered such a curse when the Dallas City Council began to plan for a premature celebration (route and all) when the squad was up 2-0 against Miami.
What then happened? Miami proceeded to win the next four games and that festival happened in South Florida.
Parades for World Series or Super Bowl winners should be spontaneous (even if every city has a contingency for such events). To announce these things prior to the actual clinching victory smacks goes against the Gods of sports and spits in their eyes. You don’t tug on Superman’s cape and you don’t take ANYTHING for granted (even 3-0 leads in a best-of-seven series).
However, I can make this prediction: there will be NO World Series parade in downtown Dallas if (or when) the Texas Rangers win the World Series. It’s not that this 2010 team, which just upset the defending champion New York Yankees by outplaying that club six ways to Sunday, won’t defeat either San Francisco or Philadelphia (beating the Giants will be easier than trying to knock off the former champion Phillies).
It’s that the Rangers have never REALLY been Dallas’ team; they’ve belonged, from the start, to the METROPLEX (the all-encompassing region from east of Dallas to the western Fort Worth border). If anything, a parade would be more justified in Fort Worth than Dallas and it won’t happen there, either. Any post-Series celebration will take place in the home the Rangers have only known – Arlington.
The franchise was the dream of the former Tarrant County Judge (and auto dealer) Tom Vandergriff, who could have cared less about Dallas or Dallas County. It was his drive and determination to bring pro sports to Tarrant County and break the domination of Dallas.
Of course, when the Rangers arrived in 1972, there was only ONE other professional franchise – the DALLAS Cowboys (even though the team has already relocated to Irving). Neither the NHL Stars nor NBA Mavericks were on the scene. And Vandergriff, with then owner Bob Short, made sure the name “Dallas” didn’t appear in the franchise’s name.
In its 38 years in the Metroplex, there has never been any serious discussion of moving the team to Dallas; there’s not been a realistic presentation of a downtown Dallas stadium that would have enticed the Rangers to make such a move. Arlington has been the ONLY home the Rangers have ever known.
The route might well wind through Six Flags over Texas, which was the first attraction in the complex along Interstate-30 and Highway 360. Fans can celebrate and cheer along midway and where the Texas Giant used to flank the I-30 access road.
The procession can then drive past the monstrosity that is Cowboys Stadium and flaunt its World Series trophy (should the Rangers do fortunate enough to win it) in front of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones (whose own unit will NOT be playing in the Super Bowl this February). Before the “Death Star” was built, the Rangers had Arlington all to themselves and families and businesses were not displaced for one man’s ego.
The route should then stop at the site of the old Turnpike Stadium, which became Arlington Stadium – the Rangers’ home until 1994 when the George W. Bush-built (by getting the taxpayers of Arlington to foot the bill) Ballpark in Arlington opened its door. Many trustworthy fans went to the old field to see baseball, which was actually more fan-friendly in terms of ticket prices, cheap seats (bleachers) and sight lines.
If they really wanted to end the parade some place of immediate import and impact, the parade would conclude at the federal courthouse in downtown Fort Worth, where, only a few months earlier, the fate of the Texas Rangers was settled in the middle of a July night. The team, which had been crippled by the financial woes and inept ownership of Tom Hicks, was auctioned – like a foreclosed home – in bankruptcy court. The eventual bid winners were Pittsburgh lawyer Chuck Greenberg and the man who has become the face, voice and attitude of the franchise – Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan.
Somehow, under his leadership, Ryan and general manager John Daniels were able to swing three mid-season deals – the most important of which brought rent-an-ace Cliff Lee to be the pitching ace the Rangers hadn’t had since Kevin Brown in the late 1980s. By stockpiling young talent in the minor league system (until their cup runneth over), Texas swung all these deals that didn’t impact its bank account (frozen by the court) yet stunned the MLB world for the sheer chutzpah of the action.
Lee not only brought a shutdown ability on the mound, it was a signal that the marketing slogan, “It’s Our Time,” wasn’t just a cliché – it was believable.
So now the Rangers stand on the improbable moment of history – the chance to win a World Series title that nary a single person ever believe would come to the Metroplex.
Yes, Metroplex and NOT Dallas.

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