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Rangers fans have a lot to be hopeful for because in just a few days, this lot’s going to be full. Photo by Ozzie Garza

Ah, spring. The heavenly vanguard season that, along with the two and a half weeks we get of fall, brackets the 16-month long actual living hell that is the Texas summer. These beautiful, sunny 70-degree days absolutely make it worth battling random flash floods and hailstorms, dodging squadrons of kamikaze crane flies crash landing into screen doors, front porch lights, and children’s hair, and struggling through the steady firebombing of foliaceous sexual microgametophytes on our defenseless histamine systems.

It also happens to be one of the best times of year for sports, a euphoric cosmic convergence when NHL and NBA teams are jockeying for playoff position, Major League Baseball is cranking up, and the dude-bros are pounding Ultras and sweet tea shots over the PGA tour. It’s also when you must endure that guy from work whose name you can’t remember but with whom you acquiesce in idle sports-related chitchat when crossing paths in the breakroom or the john, lamenting his busted bracket. (Don’t ask me about March Madness. I go passively catatonic, playing the Ally McBeal dancing baby in my head any time anyone talks about college basketball. There’s only so much room in this whiskey- and late-stage-capitalism-addled sports brain.) Even the NFL has the titillating frenzy of free agency and the draft.

For followers of local teams, most of the goings-on are cause for elation. The Rangers begin their quest for a championship repeat Monday at Globe Life Field. There are some serious questions about their starting pitching with Jacob DeGrom and Max Scherzer still recovering from serious injuries and Jordan Montgomery remaining (as of this writing *fingers still tightly crossed*) unsigned, but there’s still a ton of offensive lift. The dynamic rookie(-ish) duo of Evan Carter and Wyatt Langford, each hitting comfortably above .300 so far in Surprise, will join a smashing lineup already filled with World Series MVP Corey Seager, Marcus Semien, and ALCS MVP Adolis Garcia. The bats might keep the ’Gers in more games than their rotation pitches them out of. Vegas gives Texas the fifth best odds to hoist the Commissioner’s Trophy in October.

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After Kyrie Irving’s instantly iconic left-handed buzzer-beating hook shot to take down the defending NBA champion Denver Nuggets 107-105 on Sunday, the Mavericks now sit seventh in the Western Conference. Not sure what being the best team currently in the play-in tournament means, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that Dallas probably is. Their defensive struggles remain, but the two rotational big men in rookie Derek Lively and trade-deadline acquisition Daniel Gafford have certainly helped with rebounding, which in turn is giving Irving and fellow superstar Luka Dončić more attempts at the basket. This team still doesn’t feel like it has a deep playoff run ahead of it, but I’m confident they will make it to the postseason.

The local team to feel most hopeful about is the Stars. Bolstered by their own dynamic rookie(-ish) duo with another Wyatt — center Wyatt Johnston plus forward Logan Stankoven — the high-scoring Stars shored up their defense by adding shutdown D-liner Chris Tanev before the trade deadline. The immortalization of the greatest American-born scorer ever, Stars legend Mike Modano, with a killer statue outside American Airlines Center adding some extra motivation, the boys in Victory Green™ rank third in the Western Conference and are primed to still be playing in June.

Sadly, the hope fades when considering the area’s — and the country’s — most popular team. Owner, GM, and erstwhile Victorian-era snake oil salesman Jerral Wayne Jones tried to assuage a deflated Cowboys fanbase after their annual early playoff exit in January by assuring the faithful that it would be “all in” next year. After he walked back the statement quite a bit by noting that his definition of “all in” might be “different than yours” just a few weeks later, the beginning of free agency has proven that his definition is quite different indeed. Judging by the offseason moves made so far, he seems to think the word “in” actually means “over.” So far, seven Cowboys have headed for greener pastures, leaving the team without a starting running back, center, left tackle, middle linebacker, and a total of four linemen. In fairness, Jerry did poach a decent linebacker from the clutches of the 49ers in Eric Kendricks, but that won’t be near enough to solidify the staggering weakness up the middle of the defense alone.

None of this is surprising, really. The Cowboys never spend in free agency. They build through the draft and have been one of the most successful teams at doing so over the last decade. Which is fine as long as your draft picks hit. Considering last year’s haul, which saw no significant impact from any single player taken, the method has proven to be too many eggs in one proverbial basket. The team’s shopping list is long heading into next month’s player selection extravaganza, and due to swapping three picks for current players last year, the Cowboys have far too few picks to fill all their holes. Barring a miracle, the tenuous Dak Prescott-era Super Bowl window seems like it could be “all over” indeed.

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