So, the Rangers and Astros series is being played in Tampa Bay, of all places, because the Rangers refused to play ball. They refused to swap series. They said no to letting the Astros play these next three in Arlington, and then moving the series at the end of September, the 25, 26, and 27, to Houston.
I’m sure they had their reasons, and I am sure many of those reasons are sound. But no matter how valid or logical or logistical the reasons were, it comes off looking insensitive, tone deaf, and leaves the franchise with a huge black eye.
The Rangers said they don’t want to inconvenience their fans. The photo above is from a home game from two weeks ago. Every single fan on that August 14 night had the luxury of all the time in the world to buy tickets to that game. They weren’t inconvenienced; they simply weren’t inclined to show up. So much so that the Rangers announced a promotional ticket offer of every home game in September for $49. That’s when you know nobody is coming.
If you are going to play to mostly empty seats, do it for a good reason.
Chances are, even with short notice, they would have more fans the next three days because of the novelty, and charity, and goodwill, than they will at the end of September when they are just contractually obligated to play out the remaining few games of the schedule.
They certainly have never minded inconveniencing fans when they move a night game to the daytime—when it’s unbearably hot and miserable and inhumane—in order to accommodate television. (As they have done for the upcoming September 9 game against the Yankees.)
The Rangers said they didn’t want to have a longer road trip that near the end of the season because they are fighting for a wild card slot. Rational people wouldn’t call what the Rangers displayed in Oakland as fighting. A kitten is not fighting a ball of string, he is pawing at it.
I will go out on a limb and say the Rangers have as much chance of landing a wild card as I do of landing Anne Hathaway. (I give me a slight edge.)
It also seems to me that, if the Rangers harbor even the slimmest of chances in their minds, however fool hearted it is, that they could get that second wild card, now is when they would want to play at home. Here is a team that plays .547 baseball in the Ballpark, and .439 away from it. Here is a team that just lost three in a row to last-place Oakland and is in danger of being caught in the wild card race by Toronto, who, at nine games under .500, is still only a half game further from Texas than Texas is from a wild card. Here is a team that desperately needs, right now, to play some games in Arlington. Right now. Before it’s too late (which it already is but they are in denial). Play here now while they have a shot at something. Not in late-September when they won’t.
Switching the series would have been the most selfish act of unselfishness.
It’s not like the Astros called and said, “Hey, we are painting our house and having it fumigated. You mind if we crash at your place for a few days?” Houston had a major hurricane. It was in all the papers.
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It’s not my money. (If it were, I wouldn’t have thrown ten million dollars of it at Andrew Cashner, or six million dollars of it at Mike Napoli, or six million dollars of it at Tyson Ross, or nine million dollars of it at Carlos Gomez.) But this seems to be a petty time for billionaires to be worried about a few extra dollars. (When Jerry Jones makes you look bad, you have a PR problem.)
A bit of understanding at a time like this would have been the right thing. If a major tornado ripped through Arlington and damaged the Ballpark, I would like to think there would be sympathy for that from the Astros.
So, Texas and Houston head to Tampa Bay to play in front of 1,000 baseball starved fans.
Because it would inconvenience Rangers fans.
Because it would hurt the Rangers wild card chances.
Because it would force the team to travel too much late in the season.
Three strikes. It’s the Rangers season in a nutshell.
Martin Perez (9-10, 5.00) vs. Mike Fiers (9-8, 4.17)
Game time: 6:10