With the eyes of the nation riveted on the state of Texas and one of the worst natural disasters in the history of the United States, the Rangers and Astros are playing their three-game series in Florida? With the Astros players and thousands of Houston-area residents stranded in Dallas, both teams are flying out of DFW to play their series at Tropicana Field? The Rangers and Astros tried yesterday to come up with a plan to play the series in Arlington, but neither side would give any ground on the other’s demands? In the middle of the devastation and loss of property and life, in the middle of this history-altering catastrophe, the Rangers and Astros couldn’t agree on the conditions that would keep the two teams in Texas for this mid-week series?
Pardon the pun: they’re all completely missing the boat.
The series was scheduled for Minute Maid Park in downtown Houston tonight, tomorrow, and Thursday. The Rangers are scheduled to host the Astros in a season-ending three game series in September. So, they could swap the series, right? That’s what the Astros offered. Houston plays in Arlington this week, the Rangers play in Houston at the end of the season. It’s fair, yes? Well, maybe not. That arrangement would have the Rangers playing on the road for twelve straight games to end their year when they’re trying to nail down that second wild-card spot. The Rangers said “no.”
The Rangers offered to let the Astros be the home team in Arlington this week, take the last at bat, and take home all proceeds from the three-games. That would keep the Houston team from having to travel again this week. It would allow them some time to reconnect with family and loved ones who are in Dallas. The Astros said “no.”
Evan Grant, the excellent baseball writer for the Dallas Morning News makes the case here that both teams are doing what is in their own best baseball interests. Maybe. Jenny Dial Creech of the Houston Chronicle doesn’t give the Rangers any grace, calling the organization “shameful and classless” in her column here. But Sports Illustrated’s Gabriel Baumgaertner is thinking more along the lines here of what I’ve been thinking since the announcement was made last night.
What a waste!
Maybe both teams are acting in their own best interests — Grant makes a good argument. And maybe neither team should be criticized for not giving some real or perceived advantage to a division rival. Maybe. It’s not personal, it’s business.
But I can’t get past the tremendous opportunity here that’s being missed. Imagine the possibilities if the Astros and Rangers played three games against each other today, tomorrow, and Thursday in Arlington. Picture it.
Maybe both teams wear Astros caps during the game to show their unity and humanity. No, better, they all wear City of Houston hats, Houston Fire Department hats, Houston Police Department hats. Maybe the Astros bat last. Maybe they let everybody in for free with a Drivers License from the zip codes in the affected 50 counties. Maybe all the proceeds go to hurricane relief efforts. Maybe Willie Nelson sings the National Anthem and Beyoncé performs God Bless America during the 7th inning stretch. Maybe the two mayors throw out the opening pitch. Maybe there’s a huge Twitter promotion in which fans in Rangers jerseys and Astros jerseys take pictures together. Maybe a post game concert with Texas performers, raising money for relief, after the finale on Thursday. When the eyes of the nation are on a devastated Texas, imagine the good will generated for both teams. Imagine the shaping of the perception of our state. Imagine the funds raised for Houston. Imagine the unity, the coming together for something bigger than baseball, something more important than business.
Imagine the energy in the jam-packed stadium. It would be the lead story on SportsCenter for three straight nights. The Rangers and Astros would be featured in every local and national sportscast for three straight nights. When the documentaries and feature films are made about Hurricane Harvey, these three nights of baseball-healing in Texas would be somewhere in the script. This series would live on for decades, reminding us how sports bring people together, how sports function as community, how sports can bring out the best in people.
I don’t know what Jerry Wayne is going to do Thursday. He’s hosting the Houston Texans at The Star in Frisco this week, allowing them to practice at the Cowboys facilities. And they’ve moved their pre-season finale between the Cowboys and Texans from Houston to Arlington. The Cowboys are giving all the proceeds from the game — parking, concessions, tickets, everything — to the Houston Texans. There might be a commemorative patch on both teams’ uniforms. There will probably be some special Texas-themed performers before and after the game. Jerry will probably make some huge donation to the Salvation Army for Houston flood relief. Maybe he’ll think to sell those game-worn jerseys to raise money for southeast Texas. Whatever he does with this opportunity, you can bet he’ll do it right.
It would have really been cool to have the Rangers and Astros playing at the same time across the street.
God bless Texas,