Throughout this season, there was a certain train of thought among some Rangers fans that there was no point in the Rangers trying to make a push for the playoffs, because they would just get swept by the Tigers or the Yankees or the Twins if they actually made the playoffs.
And yet, we've just seen the Cardinals, a team that is worse than the 2006 Rangers (the Cards had a worse run differential than the Rangers did, while playing in a weaker league), take a 1-0 lead in the World Series. And they did it with their #4 starter going for them, while the Tigers had their #1 starter on the mound.
The Cards could very well lose the next four and get bounced, of course...but what happened today just reinforces how foolish it is to assume that a team is destined to get swept in the playoffs, that a team can't possibly advance.
It seems like what happened in the late-90s in the playoffs against the Yankees has scarred a whole generation of Rangers fans, has given them a mentality that says that there's no point in making the playoffs if you aren't going to go in as the favorites, with a dominant rotation.
And yeah, obviously, it helps to be in that position...but anything can happen in a short series. When the Rangers played a 4 game series in New York in May, and a 4 game series in Detroit in August, Rangers fans didn't just assume that the Rangers were going to go 0-4 in those series...and in fact, the Rangers split the series in New York and took 3 of 4 in Detroit. So why would it be any different in October?
The bottom line is, a team can get hot, can get some breaks, and can advance against superior competition in October. That's what happened with the Cardinals, who beat two better teams to advance, and with the A's, who knocked out a superior Minnesota club to get to the ALCS.
Which is why Jon Daniels did the right thing in going out and getting Carlos Lee and Kip Wells at the trade deadline this year, even though adding those two players wasn't going to make the Rangers the best team in the A.L. Because you don't have to be the best team in the league to win in the postseason.