Had the Braves not included Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz and Matt Harrison in the talent-laden package used to acquire Mark Teixeira in July 2007, the Rangers likely would not be preparing for their second consecutive World Series appearance.
Without the Braves winning just nine of the 27 games they played in September, the Rangers certainly would not be matched up in this year's World Series against the Cardinals, who stood 8 1/2 games behind Atlanta in the National League Wild Card standings when September began.
"I'll flip on the games, but I can't watch them," Braves catcher David Ross said. "It still puts me in a bad mood and makes you wonder what might have happened. I know we weren't playing well down the stretch. But it's still tough."
If the Braves had won just 11 of the 27 games played in September, they would have secured the NL Wild Card entry and left the Cardinals to enter the offseason wondering what might have been.
Instead the Braves completed an epic collapse, trumped only by the one the Red Sox simultaneously experienced as they lost 20 of their final 27 games.
"It's a mixed bag," Braves reliever Peter Moylan said. "Obviously, I don't want to pull for the Cardinals, because they're the ones that knocked us out. But they're also from the National League and you like to pull for teams from your league. It's tough."
Braves right-handed pitcher Tim Hudson will watch the World Series hoping that Rangers manager Ron Washington leads his team to a championship. Washington served as the A's third-base coach when Hudson was pitching in Oakland.
Hudson has remained in contact with Washington and some members of the manager's family who were relocated from New Orleans to the Auburn, Ala., area after Hurricane Katrina.
"Wash has always been one of my favorites," Hudson said. "He's awesome."
As Chipper Jones exchanged text messages with Rangers infielder Michael Young last week, he wondered how things might have been different had the Braves made a few more plays or registered a few more wins down the stretch.
"If you sit around thinking about what-ifs, you're going to drive yourself insane," Jones said last week.
Unfortunately for the Braves, this year's World Series matchup seemingly leaves them no other choice to but to wonder, "What if?"
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.