Eulogizing the 2016 Texas Rangers

The Blue Jays won the ALDS 3-0. The Rangers season is over.

I could go over the details of the game but that would be disingenuous. After rearranging my work schedule for the first two games of the series, such that I would be able to watch both games, I was at work for almost the entirety of tonight’s Game Three. I made it home for the top of the 9th inning, and Toronto walked off in the bottom of the 10th.

This is the second year in a row that the Blue Jays beat the Rangers in the Division Series, but it’s never easy accepting defeat and rationalizing the end of another season.

I think about it sometimes, just how much time I invest every year in the Rangers. It adds up to a lot of fucking time. While I care deeply about my NFL and college football/basketball teams, in the end those seasons are… well… seasonal. Football goes from August through January, college basketball goes from November to March.

Baseball, to me, is different. There’s really never a point in the year when I’m not focused on it. The regular season spans from April through September, and god willing the playoffs last through October. But from November to March, the business side of baseball — that I arguably like as much as the regular season — is in motion. So rather than sitting at the edge of my seat, watching a game on while I sync the audio from the radio guys, I get to play armchair GM and talk about potential players and payroll obligations.

So when I think about time I put in, it kind of seems like a waste when the baseball season ends. It ended tonight. In some way that’s as if I’ve wasted weeks worth of hours over the course of this year, but if that’s the case then it’s like that every year.

Because after all, the Rangers have still yet to win a World Series.

I’ve been there in 2011, when Texas was a strike away from hanging its first championship banner. Nothing in sports will ever shock me again, and I can never again be let down as much as I was let down that Game 6 night. Because it’s impossible to come any closer to winning it all than that night… without actually winning.

In that respect tonight’s loss didn’t hurt me that much in a sports fan sense. Just like last year, which was heartbreaking in its own way, didn’t hurt as much as it should have. Because they don’t really compare with the World Series pain of 2011.

At the same time I won’t deny that it stings. Because how can it not? The Rangers won 95 games in 2016, more than any other team in the American League. They won the American League West by 9 games. It was one of the most successful seasons in the history of the franchise.

And here we are.

The reason it hurts is because I know how hard it is to get even this far. There are no guarantees that Texas is going to win the West in 2017, and Vegas probably already has the Astros as 2:1 favorites.

The baseball postseason is a crap shoot, so really all a team can ask for is a spot at the table. That is the way the math side of my brain sees it. The other half is temporarily feeling all the things a child feels. Frustration that they were so much better than they performed. Anger that they got eliminated. Disappointment that I won’t get to watch them again this year.

I know it might sound corny, but with everything the franchise has gone through since 2010 — two World Series losses, two winner-take-all losses, and now two ALDS losses — I think they deserve to win it all more than any other team. And by some extension I, or all the Rangers fans like me, deserve it. Because the odyssey we’ve endured over these last six years is totally unique to any modern sports team. At some point it became a life experience, one that we’re still kind of stuck in.

Like any painful end, you appreciate the road that brought you there more than the arbitrary endpoints. I will remember the 2016 Texas Rangers as a team who provided a ton of exciting moments and walk-off wins late in games. I’ll remember the 36-11 record in one-run games and the fact that they finished the year 28 games over .500 with a run differential of +8. I’ll remember Rougned Odor’s punch, Prince Fielder’s final moments in the sun, and an overall fun team that brought me a lot of joy.

I’m going to miss it.