DALLAS – Mark Cuban can relate to the Texas Rangers.
Cuban’s Dallas Mavericks had a championship seemingly in their grasp only to have it ripped away, when they flopped in the 2006 Finals after opening a 2-0 lead and holding a double-digit lead midway through the fourth quarter of Game 3. The Mavs followed that up with a 67-win season that ended in embarrassing fashion, as the ex-Dallas coach Don Nelson’s Golden State Warriors became the first eighth seed to win a best-of-7 series.
The Rangers’ situation right now is remarkably similar. They were one strike away (twice) from a World Series title but failed to slam the door on the St. Louis Cardinals. They followed that up with one of the worst late-season collapses in baseball history, allowing the Oakland A’s to rally from 13 games back to win the AL West, and then losing the Wild Card game to ex-Rangers manager Buck Showalter’s Baltimore Orioles.
“It’s painful, incredibly painful,” Cuban said, reflecting on his experience and imagining how Nolan Ryan, Jon Daniels and the rest of folks in the Rangers’ front office feel. “They’re probably still not leaving their houses to go out and see the world. Don’t eat as much pizza delivery as I did.”
Cuban, who bid against Ryan’s group to try to buy the Rangers in 2010, does have some serious advice for the Rangers’ brass.
“Just stick to what got you there,” Cuban said. “I would also say, as a fan of the Rangers with my background, culture and team chemistry matter. That’s what helps you today and 10 years from now. Don’t violate that no matter what.”
That means adhering to the franchise’s philosophy, not necessarily the players on the roster. When the Mavs won their title in 2011, Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry were the only players remaining from the Finals team.