SURPRISE, Ariz. – Beginning in mid-September the Texas Rangers began living in the sad part of the jukebox.
They lost the American League West in stunningly docile fashion. They lost the one-game wild-card, at home to Baltimore.
They lost their bid for free agents Zack Greinke, Justin Upton and Torii Hunter, couldn't trade for James Shields, traded Michael Young and didn't re-sign Mike Adams.
There was a rumor that Willie Nelson and Alan Jackson were writing a song about the Rangers' travails but began weeping uncontrollably and couldn't finish.
But no day was more miserable than Dec. 14, when Josh Hamilton left Texas to sign with the Angels.
The Rangers were suddenly seized by the dread that their good times were over for good.
They had barely gotten accustomed to their seat of power – AL titles in 2010 and 2011 and, last year, an average crowd of 42,720 (the Angels averaged 37,800).
They owed much to Hamilton, who had driven in 506 runs in his five Texas seasons with an OPS of .913. He also was a popular teammate who had dealt with his addictions directly and endearingly.
Now the Rangers are recovering, too.