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Rangers gag now rivals all-time chokes of Cowboys, Stars, Mavericks

The Texas Rangers cleaned out their lockers on Tuesday, and packaged up those invaluable, priceless “2016 AL West Champs” T-shirts.

Those will be a nice collector’s item next to my “McCain/Palin” victory pennant.

Wednesday night should be Game 5 against the Toronto Blue Jays at the Ballpark.

“I believed in my heart we were going to win (Game 3),” third baseman Adrian Beltre said.

Instead the Rangers are planning fishing trips, tee times and dealing with the other stressors that come with an MLB offseason.

“We didn’t picture it this way,” outfielder Carlos Beltran said.

No team that wins the American League regular season “title” should.

The Rangers’ 2016 season should be celebrated for another American League West title but forever remembered for its colossal failure of a finish. Even in our playoff-driven sports culture, there is nothing wrong with congratulating the Texas Rangers on what was an entertaining and successful regular season. The Rangers put together six months of good, solid, first-place baseball.

There should be a trophy for that. And after we are done high fiving for this sadly non-existent accomplishment – other than a flag and marked down T-shirt – slaughter ‘em for the 0-3 gag to the Jays. The last time the Rangers won a home playoff game was 2011.

This was worst possible outcome by the Rangers; if a loss to the Blue Jays was plausibly foreseeable, losing by the combined total of 22-10 in three games was not.

Said Rangers manager Jeff Banister: “This was a club that we ran into that didn’t miss.”

Every player, manager, coach and front office exec’ gets a red letter F, with a “Come see me” from the co-principals – Ray Davis and Bob Simpson.

“I always think I can do better but once we got into the tournament we got out-played,” GM Jon Daniels said. “That’s the reality of it.”

Good teams lose in the postseason, but there is no excuse for the best team in the American League to be swept. The Rangers were embarrassed, and their finale officially rivals two of the other epic gags by this area’s all-time great teams that pooped the bed in the playoffs.

While the Rangers do not bump off the 2007 Dallas Cowboys from their rightful throne as the best to embarrass, they deserve a nod from the 2006-’07 Dallas Mavericks for a gag well done.

* In 2007, the Cowboys were 13-3 and had home field advantage throughout the playoffs. First year coach Wade Phillips famously celebrated the team’s bye-week playoff win, and gave his players the week off where Tony Romo and arm candy Jessica Simpson were seen vacationing in Cabo with a few teammates.

In the NFC Divisional Round, the New York Giants slapped around Romo and his crew and won 21-17 at Texas Stadium. That remains the single biggest waste of a season, not to mention in-their-prime talent, in this century for the ‘Boys.

* In 2006-’07, the Dallas Mavericks were coming off a crushing loss in the NBA Finals but responded with a 67-win team for the top spot in the Western Conference. They lost in six games in the first round to the eighth-seeded Golden State Warriors.

No. 1 seeds don’t lose in the first round of the NBA playoffs.

* In 2002-’03, the Dallas Stars had one of the NHL’s biggest payrolls and with a lineup that featured Bill Guerin, Mike Modano, Jere Lehtinen, Marty Turco, Sergei Zubov and Derian Hatcher, and earned home-ice to the Stanley Cup Finals. The Stars were upset in the second round by the Anaheim Ducks.

* In 2016, the Texas Rangers had the best record in the American League with 95 wins and home field throughout the playoffs. They were swept in three games in the American League Division series.

“It’s hurts more than you can believe,” veteran third baseman Adrian Beltre said. “I don’t have 10 more years left. It might be one, two, three – who knows? It’s something I wanted so badly. It hasn’t happened and that’s why I take it so hard.”

So what exactly are the Rangers missing?

Beltre said, “A ring.”

Start with a playoff win first.

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