Strike Two

With two chances to win the World Series with a single strike, the championship slipped away from the Rangers for the second year in a row.

By the time the last out was made, Rangers fans knew what was coming. They had felt the tide shift in the late innings of Game Six, which will surely go down as one of the most torturous losses in World Series history—not one, but two blown chances to win the championship on a single pitch.

So when they saw David Murphy’s playable fly ball fall into the left-fielder’s glove, they took little solace in the fact that the team had just delivered, in partnership with the St. Louis Cardinals, one of the most exciting World Series ever. For most of the series, the Rangers had expected to win—a change from last year, when they looked happy (and mildly surprised) just to be there. By the time Murphy stepped into the box, though, everyone had resigned themselves to the familiar old expectations.

One of the great mysteries of sports is why some teams win and others lose. Is it talent? Fate? Character? Karma? With the exception of an ugly Game Three, the Rangers and Cardinals had been so evenly matched that the differences in the two teams seemed infinitesimal—a matter, as they say, of inches.

If catcher Yadier Molina’s throw to second in the ninth inning of Game Two is a millisecond faster or a foot lower, Ian Kinsler gets caught stealing and the Rangers probably go down two games to none.

If the arc of David Freese’s bat travels on a slightly different plane in Game Six, his home run drops into Josh Hamilton’s glove. If a rainstorm had not made it impossible to play that game on the scheduled day, Chris Carpenter, the Cardinals ace pitcher, would not have gotten the precious extra day of rest he needed to hold the Rangers at bay in Game Seven.

Such is the margin, sometimes, between victory and defeat. Does it occur to the players—as it does, often miserably, to the fans—that their success or failure depends not upon how hard

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