In any sport ... college and pro ... the way it's constituted among the reporters, commentators and talking heads today ... and given the way the "playoffs" at every level have been expanded, puffed-up and promoted ... no team "making the playoffs" is considered an "also-ran"! They're referred to as "playoff-caliber teams" ... and considered to be at the same level of that one team that happens to almost coincidentally win those playoffs.
Are ALL NINE of this season's MLB playoff teams who didn't win the World Series simply "also rans"? And do you really think that the Giants were clearly 'the best" team in all of baseball this past season? Really ... it's all just rhetorical ... or academic.
For me ... if the Rays continue with winning regular season records ... contend for the AL East Championship almost every season and actually win it once-in-a-while ... and actually make the ten-team playoffs with some notable frequency ... that's all I'm looking for. most of the time today winning a World Series, a Super Bowl or March Madness is more luck than anything else ... like winning the lottery.
Well, then, most sports teams, amateur and pro, are "also rans" ... and since only one of us can become presdent once every four years ... we're also a country FULL of "also-rans".
BUT ... for example ... there are 34 college football bowl games full of "also-rans" ... but many will end up being ranked ... second-, third-, fourth-best, etc. ... and each will take home varying amounts of millions of dollars ... and will consider themselves "winners" ... and that's pretty true in pro sports, too, where the teams in the playoffs, even by losing, garner recognition as second, third, fourth-best teams ... and also take home extra piles of cash ... and ... of course ... any horse is capable of NEVER coming in first in a race ... but ... nevertheless ... with all second and third-place finishes over the year ... still being the year's TOP money winner. And that can happen in other sports, too, e.g., golf, tennis, etc.
In a situation such as Division I college basektball ... with some 325 teams annually vying to become "National Champion" ... it's silly to really believe that the team that wins that tournament each year is NECESSARILY the "best" team.
In all of these situations ... too much "luck" and a combination of random operative circumstances involved combining to determine who "the winner" is.
Well, I dunno! Donald Trump once owned much of Boardwalk and Park Place up in Atlantic City ... but was still forced to declared bankruptcy there two or three times since the early '80s! (???)
However, MLB does have a Monopoly ... iron-fisted control over its thirty franchises with no competition or outside influence allowed. So ... maybe monopoly-money is really where it's at, today! (???)