With all the firing of hitting coaches, attempts to win the PR side of the decision not to re-sign Josh Hamilton and assorted other assignments of blame for the end of the Rangers season, it's been easy to forget that they didn't actually have a bad season.
Or they didn't by any really reasonable expectation of what a baseball season is all about. They won 93 games, scored the most runs in the league and had the bad fortune to play their worst baseball of the season at precisely the wrong moment. If you were the general manager of a rival team, you might see all this and do whatever you could to incite the team into making moves that would tear apart a winning team.
Billy Beane is not that devious a man. The A's general manager went out of his way to say nice things about the Rangers in an interview with Athletics Nation, calling the Rangers the best (or one of the best) team in baseball on several different occasions and making repeated pleas not to think otherwise because they stumbled before the finish line.
"I can guarantee you that every team was thankful that Texas got knocked out in that one-game playoff. All credit goes to Baltimore for doing it. They proved themselves to be a very good team. But from start to finish, Texas was one of the best teams in baseball," Beane said. "They just had a brief little bump there. They had some injuries too but I don’t think that comes from flaws in putting their team together. In fact they put a great team together."
No one is arguing that the Rangers should just throw their hands up in the air and bring the whole team back in one piece. You try to get better at every opportunity or suffer the consequences of complacency.
Trying to get better isn't the same as saying that you weren't any good in the first place, though. There's been an overwhelmingly negative reaction to the end of the Rangers season, one that borders on hysterical enough to make you wonder if people have ever really watched baseball before this year.
It isn't all that reassuring, but there's not much you can do when building a baseball team than doing what you can to win 90-odd games and then hope for the best in October. The Rangers accomplished that, so it is best to take Beane's lead and stop treating it life a failure.