Texas Rangers

Backlash Over Rangers/Astros Series Is Rubbish

The Houston went out of their way to make the Rangers look bad. Rangers GM Jon Daniels is being called a lot of nasty names because the teams will play a three games series in Florida instead of Arlington. 

The Astros chose to play the series in Florida. 

The Rangers offered Houston the opportunity to play three games in Arlington. The club was going to make the Astros the home team and the Rangers were going to give Astros all profits and donate expenses and reimbursement and raffle money to charity.

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Repected outlet USA Today got it right with this column by Bob Nightengale but unfortunately the video inside the written column by Nightengale is an unfair to the Rangers because the host Taylor Maycan doesn't have the all the facts.

Joel Sheehan did a great write up on what happened. Jamey Newberg of The Newberg Report passed it on. I feel compelled to share it as well.

As you’ve probably heard by now, the Rangers/Astros series originally scheduled to be played at Minute Maid Park this week has been moved to Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg due to the flooding in Houston. This isn’t all that rare an occurrence; every few years, a series ends up being relocated due to one incident or another.

Back in 2015, civil unrest in Baltimore caused the Orioles and Rays to play a series scheduled for Camden Yards at Tropicana Field. The Orioles were the “home” team -- batted last and everything -- but the games were played at The Trop and were not “exchanged” for later home dates. Back in 2008, the Astros played a late-season series with the Cubs at Miller Park, due to Hurricane Ike’s effects on Houston. The year before that, the Indians and Angels dodged a snowstorm in Cleveland by playing up in Milwaukee as well.

This particular bit of rescheduling seems obvious. While the ballpark in Houston is unscathed, the city itself is underwater. Traveling in and around it is challenging at best, and the city has no business assigning public-safety officers to a ballgame this week. Given the Orioles/Rays series as a recent example of a team sacrificing home games, and other examples of teams moving weather-challenged series to neutral sites with domes, playing these games in St. Pete shouldn’t have raised eyebrows.

Enter Reid Ryan. Ryan, the Astros president, posted a version of events that threw the Rangers under the bus. “We went to the Rangers and said hey let’s switch series. ... They rejected that and didn’t want to do that. The Rangers wanted us to play the next 3 days at their place, but they did not want to trade series with us.”

That’s all factually correct, but it leaves out a fairly important point: changing home dates on one day’s notice, and changing home dates on four weeks’ notice, are not equivalent burdens.

Let’s work the problem. Start with this: all of what follows is in the framework of baseball and the concerns of these teams. I am well aware that there is a bigger picture, but presumably Reid Ryan was as well when he threw his tantrum. Let’s concede that these three games were going to be played, and they were absolutely not going to be played in Houston this week. That left three options.

Swap Home Series

This is one of those solutions that seems fair on the surface, but falls apart when you look at it just a little more closely. The Astros are scheduled to go to Arlington for three games September 25-27, during the season’s final week. Ryan, and presumably other members of the Astros’ braintrust, wanted to switch the two series, play at Arlington this week and have the Rangers come to Houston next month. 

The biggest problem with that is it takes the burden of the rescheduling and lays it entirely at the feet of Rangers ticket holders. Forget the logistics; the Rangers were prepared to host three baseball games this week, just as the staff at The Trop will. Their fans, however, would have had their September tickets turned into August ones on a day’s notice. Some may have been able to attend in any case, but no doubt many not only would not have, they also would not have been able to move their tickets on the secondary market. (As a practical matter, it would have fallen to the Rangers to refund or exchange the tickets of fans unable to make the earlier game dates.) 

This move would have benefited those with tickets to this week’s contests -- now rescheduled with plenty of notice -- and the Astros themselves, who would not lose three home dates. In the discussion, there’s some elision between “Houston” and “the Astros.” The vast majority of Astros fans are unaffected and would be unaffected by wherever the game was to be played: they’ll be watching on television or following on the radio. 

This would not have been an equal swap. It would have merely shifted the burdens and the costs from the Astros to the Rangers, from Astros ticket holders to Rangers ticket holders.

Play At Arlington

Once a series swap wasn’t in play, this was the most obvious solution. Per multiple reports, the Rangers were willing to host the games in the manner the Rays hosted the Orioles -- treating the visitors as the home team -- while giving the Astros all the revenue. This would have certainly generated more money for the Astros than moving the series to Florida will, and by Thursday could well have become an event that Texans could rally around, raising money for hurricane victims as the state’s two teams squared off in a pennant race.

The Astros were unwilling to do this. Ryan cited “the integrity of the schedule,” which is a nice turn of phrase that apparently also includes “asking the Rangers to extend a long road trip by three games down the stretch” under its umbrella. It’s not as if these games are critical to the Astros, who have a 13-game lead in the AL West and entered the night with a six-game lead over the Red Sox for the #1 seed in the American League. They would even keep the single most important part of home-field advantage, batting last. Despite all of these concessions, the Astros -- who had to know they would be losing the three home games under any circumstance -- demurred.

Play At Tropicana Field

It’s hard to see choosing Tropicana Field over Globe Life Stadium as anything other than spiteful.  On short notice, more money would have been made in Arlington than will be made in St. Pete. I guess there’s always the possibility of curious looky-loos drawn to a spectacle, but this market doesn’t show up for its own successful team, I doubt it’s going to knock down the doors for two visitors passing through.

This was the worst of all possible options, maximizing inconvenience for everyone while minimizing revenue and passing up an opportunity to galvanize the state. It’s a shame the Astros felt the need to end up here. I understand being frustrated over not getting the series swap you wanted, but with that off the table, choose the next-best option. Don’t run off to Florida and cite “the integrity of the schedule.”


I recognize that emotions are high, but to me, the Rangers didn’t do anything wrong here. There was a hurricane in Houston in August that rendered the city unable to host baseball games. That the solution to that should have fallen on Rangers fans holding tickets to September games strikes me as random. The Rangers offered their stadium and the money they’d make opening it for three days; what they weren’t willing to do was stiff their own fans by changing the schedule on short notice. The Astros, or at least Reid Ryan, seem to think Rangers fans should have carried that weight. I can’t say I see the argument. 

This isn’t about the thousands of Houstonians suffering tonight, fearful, lost, shocked. This is about two businesses having a fight, each protecting their self-interest. The city of Houston isn’t being ravaged by Jon Daniels. Adrian Beltre isn’t traipsing through H-Town gleefully tearing open sandbags. This is a dispute between spectacularly rich business entities. Let’s not create gods and monsters of them.

There is no right and wrong here, and looking for it -- stirring up animus to win a public-relations war -- is the only immorality I see. 

I think Sheehan, who has no dog in the fight, laid it all out pretty well. 

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