Hang in v.2.

Way back on October 27, 2010, Texas had already plated one in the first inning (on a Vladimir Guerrero infield single) and another in the second (on an Elvis Andrus sacrifice fly) off Tim Lincecum, staking Cliff Lee to a 2-0 lead on the road in Game One of the World Series, by time the Dallas Mavericks and Charlotte Bobcats tipped off their 2010-11 season at American Airlines Center, 1,700 miles and a full state of awareness away.  The Mavs box score says the opener sold out, but I suspect it was the emptiest sellout in club history.

This morning, the Mavericks season’s opener seems so far away, and of course so does the World Series, for an entirely different reason.  For that matter, things have changed radically for the Mavs since just two weeks ago, when they blew a 23-point third quarter lead in the Portland series, leading talk show game-planners to kick off discussions about Rick Carlisle’s job security, and for the Rangers since three-and-a-half weeks back, when they busted out to a 9-1 start on the season.

The Mavs bandwagon probably started to look like the October 27 AAC crowd after the Portland disaster, and there’s probably a bit of a LOFO phenomenon going on with Rangers bandwagoners who can’t take another minute of the 8-15 run the club is on since Josh Hamilton got hurt.

Texas has been without Hamilton for most of the season and without Neftali Feliz for nearly half of it, has one healthy regular hitting as much as .270, is getting a .207/.307/.360 slash out of Ian Kinsler since Game Three (h/t Joey Matches) and a .187/.272/.308 slash out of Nelson Cruz since Game Four, has the league’s worst defense by some measures, used its 17th pitcher four weeks into the season (compared to 22 all year in 2010), and has had only two consistent starting pitchers, one of whom has a recurring blister issue that regularly threatens to cut his work short if not cost him a start altogether and who some feel needs to be back in the beleaguered bullpen anyway.

And in spite of all of that, the Rangers are two games out of first in the West, one win off last year’s pace, and starting to get a little healthier.

Would we rather be the Twins (8.5 games out) or the White Sox (11 games out), thought by most to be the class of the AL Central this year?

Or the Red Sox, everybody’s Best Team in the World after the haymaker they threw this winter, bringing up the rear in the AL East and getting as much production out of $142 million man Carl Crawford (.200/.244/.275) as they are out of momentary catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia (.200/.246/.277), and paying $15.25 million per year for the 7.16 ERA and .900 opponents’ OPS that John Lackey is giving them?

Or the Brewers, who have the National League’s worst record and one start out of Zack Greinke?

Or the Mets?

Dallas trailed the Lakers by seven with five minutes to go last night and won by six.  If your stomach for the fight has you tugging on the cord for the baseball bandwagon to pull over and let you off, when there’s still time left in the first quarter of this baseball season, I suppose there will still be room to climb back on down the road.

But if you’d done that in the Mavs-Blazers series, or last year with the Rangers – which a certain segment might have done – you’d have missed some of the best stuff, seeing a team fight back from a flagging set of vital signs before the bandwagon even started up its engines.

One of the things I tweeted last night was that playoff intensity is 90 percent of the return on investment for caring as much about sports as a lot of us do.  The post-season’s even more intense – and rewarding – if you were around for the battle to get there, especially when things looked bleakest.

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