FORT WORTH -- TCU coach Gary Patterson was born and raised in rural Kansas as a St. Louis Cardinals fan. He played second base, third base and designated hitter in junior college.
He's been around here long enough to be a converted Texas Rangers fan and he felt the team's heartache after blowing Game 6, and then losing the World Series to the Cards in Game 7. Patterson's Horned Frogs beat BYU at Cowboys Stadium on Friday night, playing at the same time as Game 7. Patterson said he was worried that the ending in St. Louis might not be a favorable one.
"You always worry about the team that has that we-got-nothing-to-lose attitude because maybe we maybe shouldn’t have been here anyway," Patterson said Tuesday. "They beat the Phillies and then they beat the Brewers, so I feel bad because Texas has done everything to deserve a chance to win a World Series and just came up short."
The Rangers lost Game 7, 6-2, on the heels of a of most improbable string of events in Game 6 that saw the Rangers take two-run leads into the bottom of the ninth and 10th innings and both times coming within one strike of winning the World Series. It didn't happen and the Cards forced a final game with an 11th-inning win.
"It’s a tough loss because it’s so hard to get to that part of the mountain," Patterson said. "I can’t even imagine what the feeling was of being so close in Game 6 like the Rangers were."
The closest Patterson could compare the heartache was the 2010 Fiesta Bowl loss to Boise State. TCU spent years trying to ascend to a BCS bowl game and finally there the Frogs fell victim to a Boise fake punt in the fourth quarter that led to the winning touchdown and a devastating 17-10 loss.
But, Patterson said, the response is what then matters most. The Frogs were led the next season by a veteran group that included quarterback Andy Dalton. They re-committed themselves, went 13-0 and won the Rose Bowl, something of a fairy tale come true.
"They could easily have said, 'there was our chance, we didn’t get there, we got beat, didn’t play very well," Patterson said. "And what they did, they came home and said, 'what do we have to do to raise our level so we can play at an even higher level and get back here again?' It usually comes down to ownership of the players, how badly they truly want it. It doesn’t matter what the coach wants."
Rangers manager Ron Washington will likely quickly come to the same conclusion when his team reconvenes in Suprise, Ariz., for spring training in 3 1/2 months.