Red Sox vs. Rangers: Who'd Be the Biggest Disappointment Without a Postseason?
The Boston Red Sox didn't make the playoffs last year. That's no knock on the Sox; after all, the American League East in 2010 was essentially the high-stakes buy-in poker table—you couldn't play a hand unless you had a minimum 90 wins, and even then...
I mean, the Texas Rangers—assuming they had the same win-loss record—don't make the playoffs last year if they're in the AL East.
The Red Sox won 89 freaking games and couldn't make it. The Texas Rangers won 90, and thanks in part to Cliff Lee, not only made the playoffs but also made their first-ever World Series appearance.
Because the Red Sox didn't even sniff postseason play in 2010, it shouldn't be much of a letdown if they don't make it this year right? Wrong.
Well, the Texas Rangers almost won a World Series last year. Had it had been a best of 11, I feel semi-confident they would have taken down those dang Giants, so if they succumb to the Angels and don't make it to the postseason this year that'd be the biggest letdown?
Red Sox or Rangers? In all likelihood both will make the postseason this year. Yet, if one (or both) didn't make it to October, which team would feel the brunt of disappointment the most?
From an "on Paper" Perspective, the Boston Red Sox
You'd look like this too if seven runs per game in support still isn't enough.
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The Boston Red Sox were picked by more than a few major publications as the World Series favorites—not just to make it, but to win it all.
Just by definition, should they fail to make the playoffs, it'd be a huge disappointment. But they had such a terrible April—thanks in part to the Texas Rangers—that many Boston fans wrote them off.
In April, they came whimpering out of the gates at 0-8. And well, that's not good. The first eight games can hardly define the season, since 154 games are left, right?
After their 0-8 start the Red Sox won 11 of their next 18 and finished the month of April with an 11-15 record. Then they warmed up in direct proportion to the summer's sizzling heat streak.
From May through the end of August, the Red Sox went 72-37. "Now we're talking," BoSox fans thought—or did the? It's a pretty cynical bunch (hey, you go 86 years in between World Series Championships and see what it does for your sense of optimism).
Thus far in September, the Red Sox have gone an abysmal 5-16 to give new life to last year's AL East champions, the Tampa Bay Rays, and a fleeting glimpse of a chance for the Los Angeles Angels too.
The 2011 season for the Boston Red Sox can be looked at on a month-to-month basis much like a bookshelf. For mystery fans, the bookends would be the dreadful dredge of Janet Evanovich (pick any Plum book, doesn't matter)—this represents September. And the other horrendous bookend a Kinky Friedman mystery of choice (that's September).
But in between you get some real classics. June (16-9) it's James M. Cain—Double Indemnity. And as for July, whoa buddy, great stuff! At 20-6, it's certainly a first edition copy of Charles Willeford's Burnt Orange Heresy to adorn the centerpiece of a lovely collection. And August is pretty solid too (17-12)—easily worthy of a hardcover edition of David Goodis' The Burglar (with a slightly chipped dust cover).
Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia have been amazing this year for the Sox—as has Adrian Gonzalez. Big-time free-agent signing Carl Crawford—well, not so much. He's been playing like a bottom-of-the-order player, making a superstar salary.
Injuries have certainly played their part too. And of course, there's always the worst big league starting pitcher of the year (if not the decade):
John Lackey. Wow, he's just plain awful.
Sure, just like every other sympathetic journalist out there, I respect his "non-baseball" issues. But, you know, on a certain level you have to produce. He's making just south of $16 million a year and based on his god-awful ERA, he needs seven runs of support to win? Ugh.
Yet still, with all of that drama, trauma and just plain bad luck, it'd be an unbelievable letdown to fail to make the postseason in 2011 for the Red Sox.
From a "What Have You Done for Me Lately" Perspective, the Texas Rangers
Yes sir. Mitch Moreland—the only reason my beloved Rangers weren't straight-up swept in the WS in '10.
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Purely from the perspective that they made it to the World Series last year, it might be seen as a huge letdown if the Rangers failed to make it to the postseason this year.
As of this writing, the Texas Rangers have the best batting average in Major League Baseball at .281 (the Red Sox are second at .280).
The Rangers also possess the fifth-best ERA in the American League (feels strange to write those words), at 3.83—and they're doing it without Cliff Lee. Not too shabby.
Plus, the Texas Rangers—with much help from the Red Sox—started off 8-0. So, not making the postseason this year would be quite anticlimactic hmm?
Well, not really.
Look, when you're a fan of the Texas Rangers, mid-September traditionally is not a time normally set aside for baseball optimism.
Quite the opposite, friends. Aside from last year, the Rangers have three seasons where they'd actually made the playoffs ('96, '98, '99) and won exactly one game in those years—combined. So to be honest, not making the postseason wouldn't be the worst thing that could happen.
However, the Rangers have been in first place for almost the entire season. With the AL East what it is, we're not winning a Wild Card, so it would be upsetting to sit out this October.
The Biggest Letdown Minus a Postseason Appearance Award Goes To...
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So, Rangers or Red Sox? Who's more disappointed without a postseason appearance this year?
It's just got to be the Red Sox. If the Rangers won't make the postseason (they will) we'll deal. Heck, we've already got Tony Romo's punctured lung to bide our time. Not to mention Mean Green Football, TCU and hardcore seasonal allergies...
Okay, it'd suck big time if the Rangers didn't make it to the postseason this year (they will).
But, if the Red Sox don't make it, whoa boy. Talk about a downer ("wicked downah"). Boston fans tend to really only follow Boston sports teams: Patriots, Bruins, Celtics, Sox. If their teams don't make it to the postseason they won't follow the next transgressions.
So, there you go. If the Red Sox don't make the postseason (they will) then it has to be considered more of an overall letdown than if the Rangers failed to make it.
What do you think? I'm pretty sure it's all hypothetical, but it's still fun to surmise.