Schadenfreude (noun): pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others (German: literally "harmjoy").
You may have forgotten about the Texas Rangers now that they've faded over the horizon. I'm not even sure how many games they are ahead of the Angels right now, but I imagine it's about 10. It's cute that Mark Gubicza considers that a "playoff race," but make no mistake, the Rangers will win the AL West by default.
However, the enthusiasm over their first post-season appearance since the last ice age is diminished by the fear of another playoff bust (1-9 in post-season games since 1961) . After a fast start, they're struggling to surpass even their modest 87-win finish last season, and this in spite of playing the weakest schedule in the American League. Today, for instance, they played just their 50th game against a team currently over .500, and they lost it 7-2. Here is a litany of the Rangers' other woes:
- They are a losing team on the road (32-38).
- They are a losing team in the second half (27-29 since their 81st game).
- They are a losing team against winning teams (21-29 against teams currently over .500).
- They are a losing team against playoff teams (8-17 against MIN, NYY, and TB).
The Labor Day weekend might as well have placed an exclamation point on all of the above points. The Rangers went 0-4 while being outscored 29-14, including a three-game sweep in Minnesota. Down one run in Sunday's game, they loaded the bases with two outs in the 9th inning, but Michael Young was called out for making contact with his own third-base coach. Brutal.
Still, the Rangers are the best that the baseball cesspool known as the AL West has to offer. Their "success" hasn't exactly come at the expense of the Angels, as I think we all recognize that the 2010 Angels are in no way deserving of post-season competition. But there's always room for envy--after all, the 2006 Cardinals proved that making the playoffs is more important than actually being good.
So where do you stand? Considering that a pinheaded robber baron named Tom Hicks has exploited the Rangers franchise as a closed financial ledger for hiding the debts of his other failing businesses for over a decade, we all have a question to ask of ourselves: Do I take pleasure in the misfortune of others?