That's how close the Rangers were to their first World Series title. And they got there twice.
It was hard to think of anything but that one strike as Game Seven rolled to its conclusion on Friday night. Even when the Rangers jumped out to a 2-0 lead, it felt like they were battling more than just the Cardinals on the field. The hangover from Game Six never really lifted, something that became clear as the Rangers fell into a hole they never exited after that bolt of optimism a few batters into the game.
It will probably be hard to think of much else for the next 11 months because it is impossible to get that close and not find yourself wondering "What if?" What if Nelson Cruz catches that ball? What if Neftali Feliz doesn't throw that slider? What if Ron Washington managed his bullpen a little differently
That's a painful way to live, but there isn't much solace to be found in looking forward to next year.
Not because the Rangers look like they're due to fall off a cliff, mind you. They still have a very good team. Even if C.J. Wilson leaves, there's no reason to think that they shouldn't be one of the favorites in the AL West and the entire American League when next season gets under way April 6. Jon Daniels has built an organization that pulsates with talent at every level and he's proved shrewd enough to make the necessary moves to keep his team on top.
No, the reason why there's no relief offered from looking ahead is because there's nothing guaranteed to next year's Rangers team because of what has happened the last two seasons. The way the baseball playoffs are set up right now, the field is always a favorite over any particular team and it is a relatively unmentioned marvel of the last two years that the Rangers have navigated their way through the minefield twice to get to the World Series.
And that's just what happens if you get there. For each and every one of the 162 games leading up to the postseason, Game Six is going to be the elephant in the middle of the room. It will always be there as a big honking reminder that no matter how close you get and no matter how good your team may be, it isn't enough to guarantee you anything but the potential for another heartbreak.
You can't get any closer than one strike away from winning it all. And that's why the Rangers feel so far away at this moment.