FanPost

If the World Series loss bummed you out... the Doctor is in.

Right or wrong, the Rangers occupy a significant place in my life, a part of who I am. They win, I win. They slump, I am in the doldrums. They roar back and I am golden.

But you know what happened October 27th and 28th. I keep thinking of Bill Buckner and how this the Rangers did it in a game 6 TWICE. Historic and epic in a bad way.

People on LSB are literally having symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I empathize completely, because what they suffer is what I would expect to suffer myself. I should have been crushed, too. But I wasn’t.

I assumed I was numb. I waited for the hammer to fall. But it didn’t. It hurts, but I am at relative peace. No sleep loss, no nightmares. This time was different, and I wondered why. Here are 5 reasons I handled it better than normal. Hope it helps!

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1. How much better is one playoff team than another?

In 2010, the Rays were 6 games better than the Rangers. Their second round opponent, the Yankees, were 5 games better. But the Rangers beat them both. I had this feeling that the Rangers had somewhat stolen away with what was not rightfully theirs.

But earlier this year, I realized this: a major league team that is 6 games better than another at the end of 162 games is a team that is one game better every 27 games. It’s a VERY tiny difference.

In 2011, the Rangers were 6 games better than the Cards. The teams were close enough that anything could happen. The Rangers could, reasonably, win or lose. Each team was about as acquainted with winning as the other. One playoff team may in fact be better than another... but they are not dominantly better.

Going through the 2011 World Series, it helped to know this: Anything can happen, and nothing should be a shock.

 

2. How fairly does a playoff series reflect the relative merits of the teams?

Wiinning the World Series, at it’s closest, is a 4-3 affair. That represents a .571 winning percentage figure for the winner. Comparing that with the regular season, it’s not far from the record of either team-- a deviation of -0.022 for the Rangers, and +0.016 for the Cards.

But for the loser, at .428, the deviation is enormous, -0.128 for the Cards and -0.165 for the Rangers. This would not be representative for either team.

So, expecting your team to win 4 of 7 might be fair, but it is also expecting them to deny wins to a strong opponent at a rate that is far from reasonable. A 4-3 result is a significant deviance from reality-- and that is as close as it can get. 

A playoff series can be great sport, and a nail-biting thrill, but is really an unfair measure of the teams involved.

So, going through the 2011 World Series it helped to know that a playoff series result can never reflect reality.

 

3. What do we know for certain?

Baseball is a game of both skill AND chance.

You need skill. The more skill you have, the more likely you are to win. But chance is always a factor. The drive down the line... did it ricochet off the 3rd base bag? And there is something like that just about every game.

We know that many times failure involves a lack of luck, or success is often really a mistake that worked out anyway. This aspect of the game, even when the team is winning, has stood out to me more and more in recent years. Sometimes the ball hits the edge of the grass. Damn! ... Or Yessss! You just get what you get.

The players have to accept the randomness to keep their sanity. I think accepting it has helped my sanity, especially after game 6. 

Randomness? Chance? That’s the way baseball go, no doubt about it.


4. The hairpin turns are a killer

Things turn. Always. In a playoff series, you just hope that either you’re on a run that reaches the goal before things turn, or that you hang on long enough to get a turnaround.

This is a different variation on chance… a matter of limited control. Carpenter may dominate long enough to put victory within easy reach. Or he may fade early and the game turns in the Rangers favor. The bullpen may continue to be good for one more inning, or it turns bad all of a sudden and the series gets away from us.

A single game involves hundreds of decisions and plays. The momentum can go in either direction at any time. No wonder coaches, players, and management, even in the most favorable situation, offer some form of “we like our chances.” A game of chance in more ways than one. In one game you can hope, but you never know how or when it will turn. 

Every game is just one unpredictable game-- even if it wins or loses the World Series.

 

5. Hello, 911… I’m at Busch %&$#& Stadium and my team is losing the World Series. DO SOMETHING!!!

I think it helped that I was in St. Louis for games 6 & 7. In the 10th inning of game 6, it dawned on me: this is something freakish. The game belonged to another dimension. All normal expectations were null and void. It was a marvel to behold, really.

This was a transcendent moment for me, although I would rather not have experienced that personal growth. But the game was… amazing, no matter what. Even Wash admitted it was the most awesome game he had ever been a part of. It was tense, it was crazy. Mr. Chance was bringing the perfect storm. Jeepers!

I think at home watching on TV, I think I would have been in some danger of being wiped out and despondent, like I always have been when the Rangers blow it.

But live in the stadium, I was aware that I could reach out and touch euphoria and disaster at the same time. Everything just hovered in a suspended state. A strange place to try and live, even for a short time. It forced you to hold your desires very loosely.

Suspended expectations was a gift for sure, especially given how it all turned out.

********

When I went to St. Louis, I knew I was not guaranteed anything. If there was only a game 6, I was going to be richly rewarded. If there was a game 7, I still might be.

If… if… might. No guarantees. I liked my chances-- ahem-- but who knew what would happen? My satisfaction could not hinge on outcomes. It had to hinge somewhere else.

As I passed through the gates before game 6, I decided that my reward was attending game 6, and maybe also game 7, of one of the best World Series ever played, with the stakes as high as they get and my having two chances to win it. I had the thrill of going to St. Louis with my Rangers homegirl daughter for my craziest road trip ever!

It doesn’t actually get any better than that.

Would victory have made this winter magical? Beyond description it would. Would it have felt like all the futility of the past 40 years was redeemed, that I had something that would never be taken from me? Emphatically yes! Is there a recurring feeling of disappointment, a nagging hole where something almost was? There is, I am sorry to say.

I feel regret, but not despair. The Rangers are ONLY American League Champions. Again. But I am still a fan, and they are still an excellent team, and they will continue to win, and do some of that winning in the playoffs. And they will win a World Series, maybe more than one, because chance and skill will combine successfully in some future.

It is a great time to be in Arlington, my hometown, a baseball town these days. The Rangers have become the strongest team in the strongest league.

Perhaps most important: It is great to know that every year could be the year.

I’m getting season tickets for 2012 with my Rangers homeboy son. It feels that good to be a Rangers fan right now. I like their chances.

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