No, I don't watch Rangers playoff games. I do not. It's not a bit, and unfortunately I'm not joking. (I have now watched the "condensed" versions) Playoff games present a level of anxiety amongst the Rangers fanbase that fits like a pair of well-worn Alden 405s. You and I know a level of baseball-heartbreak most fans would wither under. It's not opening an old wound if the wound never healed. But it's truly a wound, and not just for the fans. I've been fortunate enough to look into the eyes of Rangers employees from the top down, and there's an unmistakable hunger and longing for the elusive victory in the season's final game. This is our hobby, our passion; it's their livelihoods. Fair or not, sometimes an entire lifetime spent working in pro sports is partially judged by a flag. For players, coaches, employees, and fans, every season's end presents a disappointment on some level. Endings like this are an anvil dropped on your toe, a harsh painful reminder: baseball exists to F with you.
The most unassailable fact is that the Rangers 2016 season is over. Let's drink the barium and look at the most recent x-rays. Hollywood and The Whirling Darvish didn't show up in the post-season. Absolutely no idea why. Unless we're about to hear the details of an injury, I am at a loss for what happened to Cole in the last month and change of the season. He went from pillaging the league at Cy Young pace to a bed-wetting of fairly high order. It was an extraordinary dropoff and I've no explanation for it, other than...nope, I've got nothin' other than unrequited love for the hurler I still trust so much. Darvish remains the pitcher with the greatest pure stuff in the history of the organization. He pitched really well, until he didn't. Full credit to TOR's advance scouts who undoubtedly picked up on Yu's tendency to take something off when behind and simply told their guys to expect it. The 4 bombos off Yu all came when he was behind in the count and on FBs of 95, 92, 93, and 92mph. Pillar's yank job was the tell. He was fully ready to make an educated guess at what was coming out of Yu's well-stocked quiver and he was gonna swing outta his cleats even if the pitch could've been worn as a necklace. Credit where it's due, Jays scouts, credit where it's due. That said, baseball clearly exists to F with you.
The pain and suffering is compounded when advance scouting is mentioned because Texas' pro scouts are as highly regarded as any in baseball, and personally, I trust them a great deal. They undoubtedly provided the hitters with reams of data and good advice, but the unfortunate part of hitting is you've still got to do it. As confused as I am about Cole and Yu's sudden fart and fall down routine, I'm just as baffled by the hitters' collapse with ducks on the pond. A team that finished 3rd in all of baseball with a .277 RISP average suddenly went 3-23, posting a decidedly unsalty .130. The Jays and the Rangers both had 23 at-bats with runners in scoring position. Texas hit .130/.167/.174 while Toronto hit .478/.556/.957. Quickly going from 277 to 130 without gastric bypass is never a good sign. But it happened. Because baseball exists to F with you.
Enough. We're done. It's over. Time for uniformed personnel to consider golf, fishing, and light cardio. Before we know it pitchers and catchers will be called out to the desert and we'll get ready to do it all over again. Not the ending though. The Blue Jays are a damn good team and they played a damn great series, but
Texas should have finished better. They're not gonna win the division by 9 games again or go 1000-0 in 1-run games or whatever, but I expect them to be squarely in the mix in 2017. The cannons still have enough firepower for one more run at the castle. But in the meantime, I'm writing to tell you this one hurts. This was perhaps the most fun Rangers team we'll ever see, so if this stings as much or nearly nothing like previous playoff exits, you're completely entitled to these feelings. They're your feelings and your disappointment, so you should own them. The team is doing the same. Rest assured. The front office takes playoff exits perhaps the most personal and they'll spend a few weeks reeling. So own it. But don't give up. We love baseball and we love the Rangers, even when those loves are not one and the same. I'm going to watch the other teams play and I'm going to watch the World Series. I'm weird, so I'm also going to watch spotty feeds of Dominican Winter ball, then around the holidays I'm gonna excitedly book another trip to Spring Training. I'm surprised my favorite team's season is over so soon. But I'm not surprised baseball F'd with me.
See you in Surprise.