Take a look at the Confidence Index on the left of the page -- it looks like the S&P 500 in late 2008.
The Rangers Confidence Index checks in at 46, the lowest it has been since we started running these polls. If you go to SBN Dallas, where they have the numbers for six different teams, the confidence level in the Rangers is the lowest of the six, by a comfortable margin.
Even the Cowboys -- coming off a terrible season, with a work stoppage in place, and having just finished a draft that got mixed reviews -- are at a 71 (although we know that Cowboys fans in general tend to be a more optimistic group than Rangers fans).
So why are the Rangers, on the heels of a World Series appearance, with a strong core in place, having absorbed numerous blows but still just a game and a half out of first place, generating such despair?
I think part of it is the history of the team. The Cowboys, for example, are a premier franchise, with one of the most glorious histories in the sport. They are expected to win, and there seems to be an assumption that, like the Lakers, the Celtics, the Yankees, or the Dodgers, the Cowboys' natural equilibrium level is inherently high, and that even coming off a bad year, they're going to be expected to rebound and succeed.
The Rangers, though? We all know the Rangers' history. Rangers fans expect things to go bad. Evan Grant wrote a few years ago that he's never seen a fan base that seems so eager to jump off the bandwagon, so anxious to assume things are going to go bad, as Rangers fans are. The Rangers have historically seemed to embody Murphy's Law...if something can go wrong with this franchise, it will.
And thus, when the team comes roaring out of the gate, but then is hit with injuries and some poor performances, falls into a slump, the mindset seems to be, "There you go...same old Rangers."
Nevermind that the team is still a game over .500, is in a similar point this year that it has been in in the past two seasons. Nevermind that the A.L. West is weak, and Texas, despite all its travails, is just a game and a half out in the West.
Nevermind that this is still the best team in the division.
It is the Rangers, and their history has been, they'll find a way to lose.
Personally, I'm tired of that. I don't see why Texas can't follow the example of, say, the New England Patriots in the NFL...a historically sad-sack franchise that got good people in place, with ownership committed to winning, that has become one of the premier franchises in the game.
I believe in this team. I am confident in this team. I think the 2011 Texas Rangers are going to return to the playoffs this year, and will continue to be a playoff team in the coming years.
A lot of people jumped on the bandwagon last year. It is way too early in 2011 for people to be jumping off. Be patient, keep believing, and we'll be rewarded.