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The Curse of Mark Cuban

Poor Nolan: Texas Rangers morph into the Buffalo Bills of baseball and they'll never win a World Series now

News_Chris Baldwin_managing editor_arms crossed

Forget that Billy Goat that Theo Epstein is wrestling at Wrigley. How about The Curse of Mark Cuban?

No wonder why Nolan Ryan spent the 2011 World Series looking so glum that even professional athletes from other sports are tweeting about his need for a hug. In the end of an epic World Series, the former Houston Astros great became the symbol of the team that gave it all away. The Texas Rangers blew their best chance to win a World Series and now it's fair to wonder if the franchise from Dallas/Fort Worth/Arlington will ever win one.

It's 51 years and counting now without a championship for the Rangers — the third longest streak in baseball behind the Chicago Cubs (103) and the Cleveland Indians (63). It turns out that Ryan's built the Buffalo Bills of baseball — a team that gets to the big stage again and again, and fails.

It's hard to get to back-to-back World Series. Harder still to recover from losing them both.

After the Rangers came within one strike of the ultimate celebration twice in Game 6, the first World Series Game 7 that baseball has seen in nine years turned out to be decidedly anticlimactic. Oh, Ron Washington's team did its best to pretend like it had shaken off the horror of the night before, scoring twice in the top of the first off St. Louis ace Chris Carpenter. But when Freese (David Freese) struck again in the bottom of the first to tie it, all the fight seemed to bleed out of Texas.

 It turns out that Nolan Ryan's built the Buffalo Bills of baseball — a team that gets to the big stage again and again, and fails. 

It ended in a 6-2 Cardinals win, in really the least compelling game of the seven-game series.

If the Rangers could not beat this determined, but flawed St. Louis team, even when they had the Cardinals pushed to the ledge, when will they ever win?

As great as Albert Pujols is, as much of entertaining battler as ex-Astro and new champion Lance Berkman is, as out of his mind as Freese is, these Cardinals were eminently beatable. This isn't losing to Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain. This postseason broke perfectly for the Rangers and they still could not deliver a title.

Expecting more and more chances doesn't jive with how professional sports usually works. C.J. Wilson — the best pitcher on a team that still glaringly lacks a true shutdown ace — will likely sign elsewhere in the offseason. Josh Hamilton will continue to break down. Other American League teams will get better (the Yankees are already itching to drop some major dough in free agency).

Teams that don't win when they can usually never win. As horrific as the Houston Astros are right now (and will be for several years to come), they still might get a chance to become the first team from Texas to win a World Series after all. Just a little something for the soon-to-be American League West rivals to consider.

You really have to wonder if the Rangers are cursed. Twenty first century style. Since mega billionaire Mark Cuban was denied the chance to buy the Rangers (with Houston Astros-owner-in-wait Jim Crane also in his group), Cuban's Dallas Mavericks have dropped the chokers label that long dogged them and the Rangers have unwittingly picked it up.

Hogwash you say? Just keep watching the Rangers create unlikely World Series MVPs — first a 34-year-old, past-his-prime Edgar Renteria of the Giants, now Freese.

It's been 42 years since Nolan Ryan's been involved with a World Championship team. Maybe he's coming to the realization that the wait isn't anywhere close to over.

It had to grate Ryan — long touted as an executive for railing against babying Major League pitchers — that St. Louis won Game 7 using Carpenter on three days' rest, while his Rangers stuck with their regular rotation and paid for it.

One of the toughest pitchers of all time — the guy who kicked Robin Ventura's ass at age 46 — certainly looked beaten as he sat through it all, the Fox cameras catching him squirming like a 6-year-old who cannot believe he's being forced to sit through this. Ryan's mug turned in some of the most memorable images of this World Series.

Hamlet was less tortured. 

Poor Nolan. Ornery Nolan. Sad Nolan. Grumpy Nolan. Bitter Nolan.

Hey, nobody's happy when they realize they're the Buffalo Bills.

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