Texas Rangers Fans vs. Astros Fans – Who has had it Better?

Recently on Twitter, a Rangers fan made a statement that got me wound up. He stated that “Rangers fans have more to write home about that Astros fans over the past decade.” Writers note: If you read my previous article you noticed at the end an early working title for this article. That may be a tradition I continue.

Being an engineer, that brought a litany of logical data based responses. As if logic would actually win in this sort of discussion right? In this article I will lay out a system for analyzing “more to write home about” (I will call this goodwill/pride) and then validate the Astros fan’s position in all of this in a more recent comparison.

First, a DECADE is an eternity in the sports world. Want proof? What happened in sports in 2009?

  • Pittsburgh beat Arizona in the Super Bowl
  • The Phillies were really good (the Phillies?) but lost to the Yankees in the World Series. That was the last time the Yankees were in the World Series.
  • The Lakers beat the Magic in the NBA

How much residual goodwill do you think most of those fan bases have for what happened in 2009?  Very little. Maybe NONE.

What is goodwill?

Let me ask this in a more personal way. There has rarely been a more traumatic time to be a fan of ANY team than being a fan of the Astros in 2011-2013. Now I have accused Astros fans of PTSD from those years, but even I have seen those scars diminish. As a fan base, we expect- no demand- the Astros to be good now. Why? Because they can be AND because those scars are wearing off. I will state three very real rules of fandom.

  • Recent success in sports erases less recent failure.
  • Recent failure in sports erases less recent success.
  • Eminent success is more valuable than far off success.

There is a time driven sports bank of goodwill or pride. Goodwill is earned with success and lost with failure. Goodwill tracks much like the time value of money. Goodwill is what drives a fan base to be able “to write home about” their team with pride.

If one accepts this reality then the core supposition of the article is exposed as extremely flawed. What happened in 2010-2011 is really irrelevant to a fan bases’ goodwill bank. The near term success of the Astros IS ONLY thing to the fan base and their level of pride.

Even setting aside this flaw, let’s actually compare the two team over the past 10 years and then discuss “success.”   Let’s assign an objective measurement to season goodwill bank value.

Season Result Goodwill/
Pride Value
Won the World Series 10
Won the LCS- Lost World Series 7
Won the LDS- Lost LCS 6
Lost LDS (after winning WC or going directly to LDS) 4
Made Postseason but Lost WC 3
Won >= 85 games but no Postseason 2
Won 75-85 games but no Postseason 0
Won 65-75 games -3
Won 50-65 games -6
Won < 50 games -9

Winning it all has an effect a fan base just does not understand until you have lived it.  You have World Series Champions gear.  You have a VICTORY parade.  You take pictures with the trophy.  There is really nothing like it.  The gap between winning it all and not winning it all is huge.  Want proof?  Ask yourself who has had a better two years- Dodgers fans or Astros fans.  If you claim the Dodgers have built more goodwill than the Astros with their fan base, you are simply deluding yourself.   I actually ran this as a Twitter poll. 

To be fair, my followers are heavily Astros centric. However, we can be a cynical and spoiled bunch too. They would be quick to say the Dodgers fans had it better if they thought it was true. That said I think the goodwill values I assigned are fair because I have experienced each type of season in my 50 plus years.

Expectations.

One factor embedded in these numbers related to goodwill/ pride is EXPECTATIONS. If a team’s win total dramatically rises or falls from the previous year it impacts fan goodwill. However, say in 2013 was the fan goodwill significantly MORE diminished than it was in 2011-2012 for Astros fans? Not really, we saw the process in effect and apathy had essentially set in.  

In general, the fans just monitored the progress of the process while largely dismissing the current team except for players like Altuve.  I would also submit the 2014 Astros season, while only 70 wins, was a net POSITIVE to goodwill in Houston.  We saw signs of surprising progress.  I think the true goodwill is a combination of the actual record and did the team beat, meet, or fail expectations. For this analysis, we will add and expectations factor.

Season Result Expectation Adj
Won >+15 games PY but no Postseason 4
Won +5 to +15 games PY but no Postseason 2
Won -5 to +5 games PY but no Postseason 0
Won -15 to -5 games PY but no Postseason -2
Won >-15 games PY but no Postseason -4

If you agree the values are correct (heck you can assign your own if you want), let’s APPLY that scale to the Astros and the Rangers for last 10 years. Then we will also apply a deflation factor to the past season and I think we will end up with a true picture of the past 10 years for both teams.

A look at the Astros
A look at the Rangers.

OK, I am an engineer and this is a lot of new numbers. What does it all mean? I have applied the values from the first two table in this article to each of the Astros and Rangers season to ultimately arrive at a yearly goodwill value. 

Let’s take the 2017 Astros

  • They won the World Series. In that table this was valued as Season goodwill (the result of the year) of +10
  • They won 17 more games than they did in 2016. In the expectations table that was scored a +4
  • The total Goodwill for the 2017 Astros was those two numbers together – +14 – no wonder we all felt so good
  • In the last column I discount that goodwill 20% to account for the diminishing value of previous results – +11.2

What does it all mean?  The key numbers are in Yellow and Green in the tables above

In summary,

  • The article is correct in saying Rangers have had a better ten-year span for those fans to take pride in aggregately (Astros 2, Rangers 27)
    • 2011- 2013 destroyed a huge amount of goodwill for Astros fans and we all know that.
    • The Rangers had their “glory days” in this window
    • I believe them to arrive at a yearly goodwill value ultimately window is foolishly long for this kind of analysis if one does not discount or time adjusts the previous year’s results.  
    • If one time adjusts the ten-year results with a 20% discount, even in this long window, the Astros have built the greater real current goodwill (Astros 15, Rangers 4)
  • The wiser similar analysis of five years (reflecting that only what a team has done lately actually matters is even more troublesome for Rangers fans/ front office
    • The Astros completely flip the Rangers ten-year advantage when one evaluates for five years, and the Astros have an even larger gap (Astros 29, Rangers 2)
    • If one time adjust and discounts the five years, the Rangers have actually destroyed goodwill and the Astros have skyrocketed it (Astros 22, Rangers -1)

I think the point here is one can create a narrative to meet ones perspective depending on the time window one picks and the time discounting one does.  Let’s go through some of these factors.

What is the right time window to discuss goodwill and/or pride?

I really think it has to be no more than five years.  Perhaps in some cities that have long histories of success, a ten year window is appropriate.  Not in Texas.  There are too many alternatives for one to get involved in if one’s sports teams are not continuing to capture one’s attention.

Why did I pick a 20% discount? Doesn’t that seem really high you might ask. 

Well ask yourself, how much goodwill do the Royals have that they won the World Series in 2015? Does that season even matter? If I answered maybe 50-60% of the goodwill for the Royals winning is gone, would that feel right? It does to me. That percent of the goodwill do you think the Cubs have from their win in 2016? I think saying they have lost 40-50% of their goodwill feels right too. That would put one in roughly a 20% discount area. Sports fandom is fickle and very much a what have you done for me lately situation

What is a good five year or ten year Goodwill score? 

I honestly don’t know. I think having a time adjusted Goodwill constantly in the +10 range would seem to be where a franchise and ownership would want to be to drive ticket sales and merchandise sales. This is actually where I think an owner would benefit from this kind of analysis when considering ticket prices and marketing needs. I would take this kind of approach to those things. The higher the goodwill the more a team can charge for their product.

Does Texas have a plan?

One of the benefits of the Astros “tank” is we knew about it and understood what was happening.  The Astros were candid and open about what they were doing. We as fans could chose to focus on the drafts and players that were developing.  We were part of the process and we could to buy into it or chose not to. 

What is Texas doing? Trading Hamels, Kela (not a FA until 2021), Profar (not a FA until 2021), and Claudio (not a FA until 2022) would seem to indicate the RANGERS do not think they are at the near end of their rebuild (as the writer concluded) but just at the beginning. I believe we are just at the beginning of a really bad period of time for Rangers fans. I could be wrong. None of their top prospects rates better than Alvarez. 

More troublesome for Rangers’ goodwill is that the Texas team down I-45 here in Houston is in the middle of their glory days. The Astros seem to be working their plan not only to win now but to remain competitive for many years. It is a brilliant time to be an Astros fan.

I think Rangers fans need to buckle in and realize as far as having anything “to write home about” there really is only one team in Texas- the Houston Astros.

“The Astros are not good against Left Handed Pitching”- the myth that NEVER dies.

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