Red Sox fans have yet to fully recover from it. Sure, the 2004 and 2007 World Series titles were amazing. 2004 in particular was about as much positive baseball therapy as any fan could hope to receive over the course of one season.
1986 still looms large though. How could it not? The Sox were, after all, only one strike away. There we two outs, no one on base and Boston was up 5-3 in the bottom of the 10th inning.
No way they were blowing that lead right? Without recounting all the sordid details, they did indeed blow it, and blow it big time.
This wasn't some sort of heroic effort as we saw in Game 6 of this past World Series. There was no young, up-and-coming hot hitting third base prospect who smashed a triple and then a 428-foot home run to win the game.
Nope, the 1986 collapse featured singles, a wild pitch and one of the most infamous ground ball errors in the history of Major League Baseball. There weren't even any extra base hits; nothing more than a routine single took place in the bottom of the 10th inning on October 25, 1986.
This isn't to say Ranger fans have endured a less or more distasteful ending to their season and World Series title hopes. To try to assert that would involve splitting of the most minute of hairs.
The Red Sox had a longer legacy of losing in 1986, but they were also an older franchise and one that had won some titles. The Texas Rangers have only been the Texas Rangers since 1972.
The franchise was established as the Washington Senators in 1961. Fifty years is not a drop in the bucket with regards to Championship futility.
In the end, this type of stuff stinks.
There's really nothing as painful as coming so close to something you wanted to win so badly and then having it yanked away from you at the last moment. On Thursday night, the Rangers and their loyal fan base stared the ultimate victory in the eyes—not once, but twice—and blinked both times.
I doubt this will make Rangers fans feel any better, but there are some people that reside in the farthest northeastern regions of this great nation that feel your pain. Some were probably rooting for Texas, others for St. Louis, while some just wanted a great World Series.
But all of them knew exactly how Rangers fans felt in the late innings of Thursday Night's game. It feels terrible, and it's the worst way to end a season.
In the aftermath, there's always lots of blame to be spread, and to be sure there was plenty of it to go around back in the offseason between 1986 and 1987. Whose fault was it? Buckner's? Schiraldi's? Stanley's? McNamara's?
Honestly, it's almost not worth getting too caught up in. Are the Rangers going to purge the team of those that made mistakes in Game 6?
Will they get rid of Neftali Feliz? He's a 23-year-old closer that throws 100 miles per hour. Will they find a new home for Nelson Cruz? He could hit 30 home runs next season and it wouldn't surprise anyone in baseball.
This is a good Texas Rangers team. They've been to the World Series two years in a row and in neither season were they considered a favorite to be the American League representative in the Fall Classic.
Trust me, Rangers fans, it's better to make the World Series and lose than to sit on the sidelines watching it and wondering why your team isn't there.
It's much better actually winning the title though, something Rangers fans are acutely aware of now.