Nothing cures heartache like a new love. When you’ve been crushed and you lie drowning in the depths of despair, often the easiest way to peel yourself off the floor, pat the dust from your unwashed sweatpants, gather the redwood tree’s worth of tissues littering the ground around you that have been dutifully collecting your tears as well as smears of Wolf Brand™ chili eaten straight from the can over the sink for unknown lengths of days, and begin the long climb back upon the proverbial equine is a sudden interest in somebody else. Some spark of attraction to a heretofore stranger that reanimates the atrophied muscles in your bruised and battered blood pumper can reinstate your zeal for life!
My new crush is the Texas Rangers. With the way my main squeeze has been treating me of late, those handsome Boys in Powder Blue have stolen my heart just in the nick of time.
Like many local sports fans, I have been in a one-sided relationship with the Dallas Cowboys for longer than I care to remember, and the up-and-down nature of their season so far seems to suggest that my love for them will likely again remain unrequited. With their MNF win against the Los Angeles Chargers, Dallas heads into the bye week with a 4-2 record one third of the way through the season. That’s certainly not bad, by any means. It’s just that the nature of those two losses — both defined by horrendously stagnant offensive performances coupled with a disturbing defensive vulnerability to splash plays — was so demoralizing, they tend to paint a bigger picture in the minds of fans, one that tells us just who this year’s Cowboys might actually be beyond the four W’s.
In general, the Silver and Blue offense looks as comfortable in Head Coach Mike McCarthy’s new “Texas Coast” scheme as I am in a room of more than three actual human people. Which is to say, not at all. The disconnect seems to compound the closer the team gets to the goal line, resulting in their red-zone efficiency being cut in half from where it was a year ago. It would confuse me why fans were so eager to cut ties with former OC Kellen Moore, who led the Cowboys offense to Top-3 finishes in each of the last three years, if I didn’t also witness the stilted, ineffective play-calling he committed for his new team in the Chargers on Monday.
More troubling, the Cowboys’ defense everyone was ready to anoint as the next 2000 Baltimore Ravens has come back to Earth a bit. Injuries among key personnel are mounting with All-Pro corner Trevon Diggs gone for the year with a torn ACL and linebacker Leighton Vander Esch out indefinitely with a neck injury. The safeties have become penalty machines, and the one-time Defensive Player of the Year in all but name in Micah Parsons has been taken out of recent games. Barring a turnaround, he’s headed more for a JAG award than a DPOTY.
The win in L.A. is nice, but last week’s game against the San Francisco 49ers was supposed to be the real measuring stick that would define how Dallas stacks up against the best in the NFC. That 42-10 public spanking proved the Cowboys are about as close to the Niners as Danny DeVito compares to his counterpart Arnie in the strikingly unfunny ’90s hit comedy Twins. Which is to say, not at all.
But who cares? I have my eyes on a new prize. As of this writing, my new boo, whom I affectionately refer to simply as the ’Gers (soft G like “giraffe,” not hard as in “GIF”), has surprisingly found itself in the American League Championship Series. After limping their way into the postseason, these plucky purveyors of America’s pastime are just two wins away from their first World Series appearance in 12 years. They followed up a disappointing final regular season series against the Mariners which cost them the division title by winning seven straight playoff games! Seven games that I am proud to say I have watched in their entirety. Which makes it about seven more baseball games than I usually find myself watching over the course of a season.
What makes these wins most impressive is the fashion in which they’ve come. As I’ve recently learned, opposite the big offensive production that usually compensates for the Rangers’ suspect relief pitching, it’s the bullpen that has afforded Texas a dip in their normally high run scoring, and so far it hasn’t cost them. And it’s the 6-9 slots that have been doing it.
How has the bottom of the lineup carried the offensive load over the highly compensated sluggers at the top of the order? Who knows what accounts for the sudden stalwartness of Josh Sborz, which is a name I now know? Certainly not me. But scootch over fellow Ranger bandwagon riders. I am coming along for the ride — for as long as the train is running. I’m so all-in, I can overlook the team’s recent adoption of Creed as their playoff-run soundtrack. If they break my heart, too, I know the cold comfort of Cowboys fandom all too well, and their arms are waiting for me.