Cheap Seats

Take it easy Rangers fans

I know it hurts, Rangers fans.

Despite the view of some that the Cardinals are smug and spoiled from winning too much over the years, we've had our share of downs to go with the ups. Look up what happened in the 1985, 1987 and 2004 world series if you don't believe me.

But I can't remember St. Louis fans ever reacting quite like Texas rooters are right now.

They're not disappointed. They're outraged that their team didn't pummel the Cardinals into a fine paste to win the big trophy. St. Louis didn't win the World Series, the Rangers lost it. Either that or it was stolen from them in a vast conspiracy. Just read the Dallas area papers. Their sports pages are filled with venom of commenters -- and in some cases the columnists themselves who think the umpires had it in for Texas, their manager is a moron who blew it, their general manager is a moron because he didn't build a proper team.

Funny, according to the Texas fans i interviewed about a week ago, everyone associated with the Rangers was a certified genius and there was nothing on Heaven or Earth that was going to stop their club from getting what was rightly theirs... The pittied the Cardinals fans who were undoubtably going to get their hearts broken. After all, the Redbirds weren't fit to share the same field.

I know this playoff thing is new to you. And I say it not to be condescending, but to be honest. Texas is football country first and foremost. And I know a lot of you weren't around before your team made it deep into the post season in 2010 because of all the empty seats at your ballpark. So, let me tell you that because of the current playoff format, it's pretty darn tough to win the World Series. It's probably the hardest thing to do in sports.

The Cardinals were the best team in baseball in 2004. They were 105-57 during the regular season and they destroyed the Dodgers in the first round of the playoffs before beating the Astros four games to three in one of the most exciting league championship series in history. But they met a hot Red Sox team in the World Series fresh off beating the Yankees in spectacular comeback fashion in the NLCS and, with ace Chris Carpenter injured, they were swept.

Sometimes the best team doesn't win.

But, let me offer for your consideration the proposal that maybe the Rangers just weren't the best team.

Yeah, they won half a dozen more games than the Cardinals -- playing in a pathetic division populated by an underachieving Angels team and the weak Athletics and Mariners. The Cardinals had to play substantially better competition in Milwaukee, Cincinnati and a Pittsburgh team that was in contention until after the All-Star Game.

True, the Cardinals were the wild card. But get over it. That's the rules these days. The best team that doesn't win its division gets to be in the playoffs. You can look it up. And, unlike in professional football where the wildcard rarely makes a strong showing in the post season, in baseball it's not that unusual.

Don't confuse the Cardinals with the pre-trade deadline club that had Ryan Theriot playing shortstop and Jose Batista in the bullpen. The Redbirds made a major overhaul at the middle of the season and General Manager John Mozeliak gets bigtime credit for filling the holes in the infield, the bullpen and the clubhouse by getting rid of malcontent Colby Rasmus.

It's amazing that if your pitchers would have recorded just one most strike during two opportunities in game six, your leadership would be toasted all over town. But since your club fell one inch short of the finish line, you want to string them up old west style.

But that's the breaks. And, someday, when you win a World Series, that difficulty and drama is what is going to make it so satisfying.