Expectations. 50 comments

Is getting to the playoffs enough? There seems to be a sentiment that if you just get in, just win that wild card, anything can happen.

True. As Rangers fans know all too well, anything can, indeed, happen.

You can lose in the wild card game. You can lose in the tie-breaker to get to the wild card game. You can lose by getting swept in the first round. You can lose in heartbreaking fashion in the first round.

Just getting to the post-season might be okay for perennial losing franchises like San Diego, Seattle, Milwaukee, the White Sox, even Pittsburgh and Cincinnati and Tampa Bay. It’s not fine for teams with high expectations.

Just getting to the playoffs was wonderful for the Rangers in 1996 after thirty-six years of ineptitude.

It’s like the first time you ever date a girl. You cannot believe a girl would ever be foolish enough to actually go out with you. When you are staring at her across the booth at the Long John Silver’s sharing your Ahoy Matey meal basket, you’re not thinking about getting married. Heck, you’re not even thinking about a second date at this point. Or even getting a kiss. You just want one of your friends to come by and see you. On a date. With a girl. An actual human girl.

That’s what it’s like to make the playoffs for the first time. Or to be a fan of a team that rarely makes the playoffs.

But Rangers fans have been spoiled by success. By two World Series appearances. By having a team that had the best record in the American League two seasons ago. Hey, we’ve had a drink thrown in our face by the superest of supermodels.

So, there was no great joy when the Rangers battled for that second wild card slot this year. There was no scoreboard watching. No nail biting. No lighting candles hoping the seven teams ahead would magically all lose.

One, they weren’t going to do it. At no point in the season, other than that freak ten-game winning streak against the three worst teams in baseball, did the Rangers ever act like they were even remotely deserving of a wild card slot. And they proved it down the final stretch, losing seven of the last nine, in spite of Jeff Banister’s bluster and admonition that anyone who counted them out would be sorry. The team’s play had pretty much counted them out after the opening series.

Two, did anyone think that, if the 2017 Rangers did somehow muster up enough luck to leapfrog over enough teams and win that second wild card, that they were even close in talent level to Houston or New York or Cleveland? Or Boston, for that matter? They weren’t even close to the talent level of Minnesota. So, did anyone think, despite the proverbial “just make it in and anything could happen” that anything other than the Rangers losing quickly would happen?

Does another early playoff loss do anything positive for this franchise? Does another early exit do anything positive for this fan base other than add to the already sad heritage of losing it currently is known for?

No and no.

So, as the Rangers prepare to retool and make a run at it in 2018, do they have enough money or prospects or currency on the major league roster to substantially close the talent gap with Houston, Cleveland or New York, let alone Minnesota or any other surprise team that always seems to emerge?

How many moves do they have to make to make up the twenty-one games they finished behind the Astros?

Expectations are high.

Wake me up when we have a World Series-calibre team. A wild card loss doesn’t interest me.