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Are the Rangers for Real?

May 17, 2009


It’s hard to believe in the Texas Rangers – REALLY hard – because they’ve spent the vast majority of their existence being terrible. A compelling case could even be made that they are the single worst franchise in the history of American professional sports. They have never won a playoff series…ever. In fact, they’ve only won one playoff game in the 36+ seasons they’ve made Arlington home. That’s almost 6,000 games played with only a single postseason win to show for it. This transcends mere futility…it’s EPIC futility.

Looking solely at their own sport, only two other teams have never made the World Series: the Washington Nationals (formerly Montreal Expos) and Seattle Mariners. The Mariners franchise has been in existence for 16 fewer years than the Rangers (who were founded in 1961 as the Washington Senators), while the Nationals/Expos are eight years younger than the Rangers/Senators. And though these two younger franchises share the Rangers’ frustration of never appearing in a World Series, both not only won more than one playoff game, they’ve won playoff series (Expos in 1981; Mariners in 1995, 2000, 2001). To add insult to injury, 10 teams who began play after the Rangers first came into existence as the Senators in 1961 have appeared in the World Series, including eight World Championships.

But that’s just baseball. The three other major sports also emphasize just how pathetic the Rangers have been all these years. Modern football coincides with the Super Bowl era, which began when the first Super Bowl was played in 1967. Only five NFL teams have never appeared in a Super Bowl, four of which have combined for 35 playoff appearances among them. Only the Houston Texans, whose inaugural season was the Rangers’ 30th in Arlington and 41st overall, have never won a playoff game.

In basketball, there are seven teams who have not appeared in the NBA Finals since 1961, all of whom began play after the Rangers/Senators were founded. These seven teams have combined for 54 playoff appearances among them. Only the Charlotte Bobcats, whose inaugural season was the Rangers’ 32nd in Arlington and 43rd overall, have never won a playoff game. The supposed benchmark of professional sports futility, the Los Angeles Clippers, have won 20 playoff games during the Rangers’ existence.

As for hockey, there are 13 teams who have not appeared in the Stanley Cup Finals since 1961, all of whom began play after the Rangers/Senators were founded. Every current franchise has made the playoffs, with the Atlanta Thrashers and Columbus Blue Jackets being the only two who have never won a playoff game. These franchises began play 27 and 28 years after the Rangers/Senators were founded, respectively.

My point in undertaking this rather laborious and overly drawn out statistical exercise was to show just how ridiculous the Texas Rangers have been over four decades. It’s almost statistically impossible to be that bad, yet they have somehow managed to do so. But there just might be hope yet, as emerging from this Mount Everest of damning historical evidence is a young, exciting team with a flare for the dramatic…a team that appears poised to reverse the miserable fortune of their predecessors.

Today is May 17, and we are almost a quarter of the way into the season. This is traditionally the time of year when temparatures in Arlington skyrocket, while winning percentages plummet. Yet here the perennially abysmal Texas Rangers sit at 23-14, having won seven straight to catapult them to a shocking 4.5-game lead in the American League West. Only two teams in all of baseball have a better record than the Rangers right now, and only one (Toronto) in the AL. These aren’t completely unchartered waters, as there have been a handful of decent Ranger squads over the years, but this may be the first time they’ve managed to look this promising with such a young core of players.

Many of these youngsters are making significant contributions to this team’s success. Their big league roster includes 20 players who are age 25 or younger, and another 12 who have not yet reached 30. This doesn’t even take into account the dozens upon dozens of minor league prospects still working their way up through baseball’s top-ranked farm system. The future’s so bright, I’ve gotta wear extra-strength Blu-Blockers.

Will this season’s early success eventually result in this franchise’s first-ever playoff series win? It may not be this year, but it’s definitely coming soon. Believe it.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. May 25, 2009 3:15 pm

    To answer my own question, based on today’s game, the answer is a resounding NO.

  2. May 17, 2009 10:12 pm

    The Rangers are a sideshow no more…

  3. Sheila permalink
    May 17, 2009 9:08 pm

    It’s the red shoes.

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