On Wednesday, it became official: the Texas Rangers lost to the Houston Astros, and officially de-throned their southern neighbors as the worst team in the American League West. In fact, the Rangers find themselves at the All-Star Break in sole possession of last place in the entire American League, and the only team therein to have won fewer than 40 games (38).
To some degree, Texas’s complete collapse was difficult to see coming before the season. Injuries have played a Texas-sized role in the team’s downfall; the Rangers have used the disabled list 20 times this year, an astounding number for a league that features a 25-man roster.
But to a somewhat-different degree, this was not terribly difficult to see coming. After all, their season started in the toilet before it even began. From a retroactively-prescient pre-season Sports Illustrated (caption transcribed below):
FLUSH WITH TALENT
The Rangers might have won the off-season. Among their splashy moves, they traded for slugger Prince Fielder and signed free-agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo and free-agent closer Joakim Soria (left). And yet, less than a week into spring training the team was already in the toilet. On photo day Texas players posed for portraits in the bathroom at their complex in Surprise, Ariz., where the lighting was good and the interruptions were minimal. Soria looked even better out on the field, throwing a scoreless inning in his spring debut on Sunday.
Surprise! Turns out that in a world in which it is considered bad luck to appear on the cover of the premiere football video game (that is, the world of sports), you might want to find yourself a different backdrop against which to record the beginning of your season.
As for that “de-throned” in the very first sentence of this post? Pun intended.