Sports Illustrated made a bold proclamation last July. The iconic magazine declared the lowly Houston Astros, owners of three-straight 105-plus-loss seasons, 2017 World Series champions.
The franchise was in the midst of a massive rebuilding job, one that created a 25-man roster with names that even decent baseball fans did not recognize. Houston’s 2014 team was clearly not as putrid as those shuttled onto the Minute Maid field from 2011-2013 but they were comfortably headed toward another 90-loss season. However, with a deep farm system and a few blue chip prospects, Astros’ fans finally were seeing a glimmer of hope at the end of the tunnel.
After entering 2015 with predictions to finish in last place in the AL West again, they have shocked baseball while carrying one of the best records in the league. Despite a recent swoon as they relinquished the division lead, they remain in prime playoff position. The Astros are still a long way from reaching the postseason and even further from being crowned World Series champs but it’s clear this is a different team.
In honor of Houston’s playoff push over the next two-plus months, let’s revisit some of the Twitter reactions to that Sports Illustrated cover: