Being a Dallas sports fan in 2019 is about hope. The good kind that comes from the city's best-ever crop of young athletes and the bad kind that leads you down the path to still, after all these years, being disappointed by the Cowboys.
One of these days, one of these lists is going to have a happy ending. As we all ponder just when that will be, let's take a look at Dallas' biggest sports stories over the last 12 months.
1. Dirk Nowitzki retires
After two decades with the Mavs, the team's greatest-ever player, Dirk Nowitzki, called it quits in April. His 2011 championship, won in the midst of the NBA's super-team era, looks more impressive with each passing year.
2. Errol Spence at his best, and worst
On Sept. 28, Dallas' Errol Spence unified the IBF and WBC welterweight championships, defeating Shawn Porter in a thrilling, 12-round split decision. Two weeks later, he rolled his Ferrari multiple times near downtown Dallas. Somehow, Spence came out of the wreck with only facial lacerations and broken teeth, despite being ejected from the car.
Dallas police charged the boxer with DWI after the incident. Spence, who'd planned to fight again in January, now plans to put the gloves back on in May or June.
3. Luka Doncic takes up the mantle
Luka Doncic won the NBA's Rookie of the Year Award for his superlative 2018-19 season. He's been even better this year, leading the Mavs to a 17-7 record before suffering an ankle injury Dec. 14. Doncic, the third pick in the 2018 draft, is already one of the NBA's elite players. If he picks up where he left off when he returns from injury, he'll be an MVP contender.
4. Ben Bishop stands on his head
Stars goalie Ben Bishop provided one of the year's most indelible sports moments in defeat. He stopped 52 of the St. Louis Blues' 54 shots in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals, dragging his badly outplayed Stars teammates to the brink of a series victory against the eventual Stanley Cup champions. He was the best player on the ice, but that wasn't good enough.
5. Ezekiel Elliott gets paid
Following a summer-long holdout by Ezekiel Elliott, the Cowboys gave in to their star running back just before the team's season opener against the Giants. Elliott is now the highest-paid player at his position, but his performance dragged in 2019. Elliott repeatedly struggled when teams stacked the box to stop the run and seemed to lack the acceleration that led to so many big plays over his first three seasons. Running back is the NFL's most expendable position. If a team pays a premium to fill it, it has to get premium production from it, something Elliott hasn't provided this season.
6. The Rangers play their last game at Globe Life Park
Globe Life Park — formerly known as Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Ameriquest Field and The Ballpark in Arlington — hosted its last Major League Baseball game on Sept. 29. Since opening in 1994, Globe Life Park hosted each of the Rangers' 25 home playoff games, including six World Series games, and the 1995 All-Star Game. The park was one of Major League Baseball official historian John Thorn's favorites, he told the Observer in 2016.
"It seemed to me like a pastry tray assortment of other ballparks. Right field looked like one ballpark, center field looked like another park. I thought it was a pastiche. A delight. I really will miss this park," Thorn said.
It didn't have air conditioning, though, so it had to go.
7. SMU football is back
SMU's football season ended with a thudding 52-28 loss to Florida Atlantic in the Boca Raton Bowl, but the Mustangs' 8-0 start brought life to the Hilltop that hadn't been seen since the Pony Express days. Combine a winning team with SMU's decision to position itself as Dallas' university and it seems we might have a bit of a revival on our hands.
8. Jason Garrett spits the bit. Again.
Right now, it's easy to focus on the Cowboys' 17-9 loss to the Eagles on Sunday. While it might have dealt a crippling blow to the Cowboys' playoff chances, the team's head coach, Jason Garrett, had already done plenty in the season's first 15 weeks to sabotage one of the NFL's most talented rosters. Hope — there's that word again — springs eternal that maybe the Cowboys will have a new head coach sometime this winter.
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9. Jim Montgomery walks off into the winter
The Stars started their season with a disastrous 1-7-1 stretch, one that had many wondering about coach Jim Montgomery's job security. They subsequently clawed themselves back into playoff position — where they remain today — and Montgomery's job seemed safe. Then the Stars fired him on Dec. 11 "due to unprofessional conduct." Maybe, someday, we'll get all the details of what happened, but nothing's turned up so far.
10. The XFL comes to Dallas
Make fun of the XFL all you want, but the Dallas Renegades have a lot going for them. Bob Stoops is back from self-imposed exile to coach the team, with one of his former Oklahoma stars, Landry Jones, at quarterback. The team is going to be Globe Life Park's primary occupant, making sure the old ballpark stays upright for the time being, and one should never underestimate sports fans' desire to bet on football during the spring. Whether Vince McMahon has cracked the spring football code or is destined for another spectacular failure, the XFL is worth paying at least a little attention to.