Friday was a good day to wake up as sports fan in the city of Dallas. There was that something that seemed to linger in the air... something that was vaguely familiar yet hadn't really been around since last November when Tony Romo threw 4 touchdown passes in the Cowboys 37 to 27 win over Green Bay. I suppose you could call it what you want, but whatever you call it, it's back and it's unmistakable--I call it hope.
I call it hope because in one night we simultaneously celebrated the 40th birthday of both Dirk Nowitzki and Marty Turco (for those of you who don't catch the Mike Gundy reference), and for the first time in I don't know how many years, the Texas Rangers have a winning record (or did when I originally drafted this).
No Josh Howard? No problem. Dirk Nowitzki's 34 points will the Mavs to victory over the Utah Jazz and their 3rd win in their last 4 games against teams with a winning record. But the box score aside, did anyone else get the feeling that Dirk at some point decided that he just wasn't going to lose? At least not that game, not that day. And if you had been skeptical of Dirk's resolve up to now, his game-winning 3 pointer with 2 seconds left on the clock (and no timeouts) which hit nothing but the bottom of the net, convinced you. Say what you want about the Maverick's problems this year and in years past, Dirk's not part of them and now he's anything but soft.
Marty Turco's 23 save shut-out leads the Stars to their first game 1 victory in a playoff series since 2001. For the first time, in a LONG time, the Stars seemed liked they had any interest whatsoever in winning a playoff game. The Stars looked more hungry, more youthful, more athletic, and more desirous than the defending cup champion Anaheim Ducks. The Stars finally decided that defense wins championships and Marty Turco lead the way. And if you had been skeptical of Marty's resolve till now, his save of a point blank Todd Marchant slapshot in the 3rd period, when the Stars were already up 4-0, which was created off a inexcusably bad turnover right in front of his goal, convinced you. Turco decided he wasn't losing that game, not that day. Say what you want about the Stars' problems this year and in years past but Marty Turco has now pitched shut-outs in 4 of his last 8 playoff games--he's not part of them.
Lets forget for the moment that in the past two years, the Rangers have traded Alfonso Soriano, Chris Young, Adrian Gonzalez, Francisco Cordero and Mark Teixeira and did not have a single player on their opening day 25-man roster to show for it. Lets forget that Texas seems to be the place where good pitching goes to die, so the general manager seems to have let that ship sail. Lets even forget, in the spirit of things, that the Rangers have been in a "rebuilding" year since 1999. The Texas Rangers are above .500 for the first time in a long time--or were when I initially wrote this, but are at .500 now and that's still good.
Will the Mavericks actually compete in the playoffs this year? Will the Stars actually make it out of the first round? That is yet to be seen and history is against them. But credit is deserved for two teams and two players that decided that day, that they weren't going to lose at least not that day and in doing so gave this sports fan hope.