Another Rangers home opener. Usually, this day is like a religious holiday. Usually, I have tickets, I go out to the Ballpark early, I take in all the pre-game festivities, I make a day of it.
Last year I couldn’t. This year I won’t. There is a raging global pandemic. It’s not a good idea to invite 43,000 people to sit basically on top of one another to share their spit particles for four hours.
But the Rangers owners care as much about the safety of their employees and fans as they do about putting a winning team on the field.
Luckily, I subscribe to one of the very few cable companies that is actually going to show the game. Most fans, however, will not be able to watch the Rangers this season.
Bally Sports purchased what was Fox Sports, then decided it wanted a whole lot more money from cable outlets for the privilege of airing a last-place team filled with no-name stars. Most of them balked at it. So, most cable outlets won’t be carrying the game.
Rangers ownership doesn’t care that you can’t watch the games on television. They rake in as much in rights fees from Bally either way.
So, the Rangers home opener is here. What is usually the best day of the year will be subdued.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ll attend a Rangers game this year at the Baseball Shed in Arlington. Luckily, after opening day, most games will have very limited attendance. Not due to team policy, but do to the actual team.
From the looks at the sparse crowds after July the last few losing seasons, the Rangers inadvertently invented the concept of social distancing.
Add to that the super-inflated ticket prices of the new ballpark, and plenty of seats far from anyone else will be available.
It’s a shame too. Because this team has a lot to be excited about. For the first time in forever, the offense isn’t just swing and miss. New players bring new blood and a new sense of optimism.
But, the casual fan doesn’t care about that. And the narrative will be it’s another losing Rangers team. And losing breeds apathy. Especially in a market where baseball flies coach, way in the back of the plane right next to the restrooms.
The Rangers home opener is here. A new ballpark is being officially christened. A nearly sold-out crowd will be attending. And the 1-2 Rangers will try to aim for .500.
The excitement is super-spreading.