Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I Could Do (insert anything) Better Than That Guy!

So Mark Cuban made some comments about how he thinks this year’s Mavs team is the best in at least five years. He also says that this team is better than the Finals team of a few years ago. He’s seen more of them than I have so I can’t argue. Yet. On the website on which I read this interview, there were a few supportive and optimistic comments. They talked about the additions of Marion, Gooden and Beaubois being positive things. Then the grand tidal wave of negativity was unleashed. “They will be lucky to win half their games!”* “They should have gotten Kobe when they had the chance!”** “Mark Cuban is a businessman!”***

*We’ll see. But pray tell where you came up with this mathematical formula?
**NO THEY SHOULDN’T HAVE GOTTEN KOBE. And no, Kobe did not want to come to Dallas. He wanted to get out of LA. Big difference.
***Yes, Mark Cuban is a businessman.

Then the comparisons to the Stars, the Rangers and the Cowboys began. Which seems, at best, unfair. At worst, it seems delusional. They are four different teams playing four different sports in four different leagues. I get it that everyone (myself included) is Cowboys angry right now. And some people have only recently made the bumpy and frustrating transition from Rangers angry to Cowboys angry. If I knew any hockey fans, I could tell you whether or not they are angry. When I meet one, I will let you know.

And don’t try to bring the fans into it and question their loyalty or support. I have lived in other cities where a large swath of people didn’t even know that their home team was playing on a given day. I have lived in places where, if you walked into a bar and asked them politely to turn a TV over to a regular season basketball game being played by the local team, they would look at you like you were from Mars. In fact, the average Metroplex sports fan shows an overwhelming amount of support for teams who, collectively, have not given them anything to show for it in a very long time.

Then comes the venom directed at Mark Cuban. I am, apart from a few bumps in the road here and there, a Mark Cuban fan to the point of being an apologist. I don’t hide it. I said I thought it was dumb when he did Dancing With the Stars but I thought it was dumb when Emmitt did it too. Does that negate my love for Emmitt “Seranate the Stadium” Smith in the least? Nope. The lesson that I am learning as the Cowboys season heads toward the iceberg is this: nobody wants to be an armchair QB as much as they want to be the armchair team owner.

Trust me, I get it. I would love to have the keys to Dallas Cowboys Big Ass TV Stadium or the AAC. But I wouldn’t profess to know how to run the team better than the current team owner. It’s fun to call into a sports radio station (I guess) and give the owner of _______ sports franchise some pointers in how to do their jobs better. But the fact that the same argument is being used against Jerry Jones and Mark Cuban is baffling.

People hate Jerry Jones because he refuses to fire a coach who is obviously not suited to do his job. People hate Jerry Jones because he built a new stadium which he cares about more than how his team plays on the field. People hate Jerry Jones because no one can afford to go see a Cowboys game without refinancing their house. People hate Jerry Jones because he did nothing during the draft, nor did he make any worthwhile trades. People hate Jerry Jones because he built the stadium for the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington.

Yet with the same logic, those people hate Mark Cuban, who DID fire a coach who was obviously not suited to do his job. People hate Mark Cuban, who actively tries to make discounted tickets available for every game. People hate Mark Cuban, who lets fans in for free each game simply because they are willing to bypass their shame switch for a few hours and don body paint and ridiculous costumes to support the Mavs. People hate Mark Cuban despite the fact that he brought in Drew Gooden and Shawn Marion. People hate Mark Cuban but probably dig the idea that they can take the DART to the games or walk to a game from their offices in Downtown Dallas.

I will admit that I am not a very big Jerry Jones fan. I didn’t like him firing Landry, even if Jimmy was a great coach in the end. I don’t like the fact that he sees football as pure entertainment like a Vegas show or a Styx concert on a cruise ship. I don’t like the fact that he doesn’t seem to care a bit about the team as long as the brand continues to sell. Though I do grudgingly respect the fact that he makes practically no bones about that.

It just seems to me that being the team owner is a lose-lose proposition. Build the arena inside the city limits in the heart of downtown and they hate you. Build it out in the suburbs and they still hate you. Blow your money like a stripper on a tour of meth labs on big names, trades and drafts and they hate you. Save it up and try to develop what you have and they hate you. Try your hardest to be an everyman, one-of-the-little-people owner who sits amongst the fans, they still hate you. Build yourself a skybox suite and look down on your team like the Dark Lord, they hate you then too.

I enter into every Mavs and Cowboys season with optimism because, well….why else would I want to watch it? To be a masochist? To prove how right I was about how bad my choice in sports teams is? The optimism isn’t paying out huge dividends with the Cowboys so far. But I’m not dousing the season in diesel, lighting a match and getting the engine started on the getaway car just yet. And with only ONE PRESEASON GAME under their belts (and call me crazy here) I’m not quite prepared to predict a 14-car-pileup of a Mavs season. I’m a regular little Pollyanna, I guess.

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