The Rangers' 2016 playoff journey is over. It lasted all of four days.
Despite finishing the regular season at an American League-best 95-67, the 2016 Rangers, just like the 43 Rangers clubs that preceded them, will not win the last game of the MLB season and the World Series championship that comes with it. The Rangers yielded on Sunday, unceremoniously shown the door in three games by the Blue Jays, the same team that came back from 0-2 down to take the Rangers' out in last year's American League Division Series.
This hurt, but it's not nearly as painful as previous Rangers playoff exits. Here's every year of the Rangers' tattered playoff history, ranked in descending order of how much pain it caused the team's fans.
8. 2012 Rangers (Lost the AL Wild Card Game to the Baltimore Orioles 5-1) — Claiming the 2012 Wild Card Game as the Rangers' least painful playoff exit is a bit of a cheat. The team should never have had to win its way into the post season proper in the first place. But then the team blew a five game lead over the Oakland A's with nine games to play. When the A's beat the Rangers on the last day of the regular season to win the AL West, the Rangers were done, so the wild card loss didn't comes as a surprise. Michael Young had a key error at first base in the first inning and Josh Hamilton went 0-4 with two strikeouts, sealing the Rangers fate.
7. 1998 Rangers (Lost the American League Division Series to the New York Yankees, 3-0) — The 1998 Yankees remain the best team of baseball's last half-century, rolling up 114 regular season wins before adding another 11 — against just two losses — in the playoffs. The '98 Rangers weren't very good, having won just 88 games and a weak AL West. They had no chance against the Yankees, but at least fans knew as much before the series started. Painful, sure, but not so painful.
6. 1999 Rangers (Lost the American League Division Series to the New York Yankees, 3-0) — The 1999 Rangers were better than the 1998 Rangers. The 1999 Yankees weren't as good as the 1998 Yankees. Still, this division series, the third between the Rangers and Yankees in a four-year stretch, felt like a book that'd already been written. The powerful Rangers offense scored only a single run in the series and the Rangers crashed out of the playoffs in three games — again.
5. 2015 Rangers (Lost the American League Division Series to the Toronto Blue Jays, 3-2) — The Rangers' 2015 season avoided being truly painful because, in the playoffs at least, the Rangers were playing with house money. The Rangers had trailed the AL West-leading Astros by as many as eight games in August and thought to be completely out of the division race. They went on a scorching run over the season's last two months to win the division and earn an unexpected playoff appearance. The Rangers lost in five games after being 2-0 up against the Jays, but 2015 remains a happy surprise of a season.
4. 2010 Rangers (Lost the World Series to the San Francisco Giants, 4-1) — Losing the World Series to the Giants hurt. The Rangers were never really in the series, and ended up losing two games started by the team's rental ace, Cliff Lee. Any disappointment from the season's final outcome, however, was largely mitigated by the journey that got Texas to the World Series. It included the greatest moment in franchise history, Neftali Feliz' cathartic strikeout of the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez to end the American League Championship Series and the Rangers' shock victory in game five of the ALDS against the Rays, which gave the club its first ever playoff series win. The 2010 Rangers won't be forgotten by Rangers fans and most of those memories are pretty good.
3. 2016 Rangers (Lost in the American League Division Series to the Toronto Blue Jays, 3-0) — This year's loss to the Blue Jays hurts because the Blue Jays are so obnoxious. So obnoxious, in fact, that Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor decided to take matters into his own hands and punch Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista during a May regular season game. It hurts, too, because the Rangers had such a charmed regular season, setting an all-time record for winning percentage in one-run games. There was a feeling that this might finally be the year for the Rangers, fleeting as it was.
2. 1996 Rangers (Lost in the American League Division Series to the New York Yankees, 3-1) — The Rangers made the playoffs for the first time in 1996, finally winning an AL West after 24 seasons in the wilderness. Then they won the first game of the ALDS in New York, riding Juan Gonzalez and Dean Palmer home runs to an easy 6-2 win. Then the bottom fell out. Despite four more Gonzalez home runs, the Rangers blew leads in each of the remaining three games in the series, setting the precedent for the club's ongoing postseason futility.
1. 2011 Rangers (Lost in the World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals, 4-3) — Until the Rangers finally win a World Series, the 2011 World Series will remain the single most gut-wrenching event in Dallas sports history. Up 3-2 in the series, the Rangers were twice one strike away from the team's first championship, only to collapse twice in excruciating fashion. Every other loss on this list, thankfully, pales in comparison. Watch these highlights at your own risk.
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