*The Astros will play the Rangers tonight at 6:10pm Central. It will be televised and broadcast on the radio. This game - and likely the next six games - will be played at beautiful Tropicana Dome in St. Petersburg, home of the Tampa Bay Rays. This is not exactly what the Astros wanted.
*Here's what we think we know so far...
-The Rangers offered to host this series in Arlington, but with Houston as the road team and the Rangers giving the revenue from the games to the Astros. A home series in Arlington against the Rangers.
-The Astros were cool with that, as long as the Rangers let the Astros host the scheduled three game series from September 25-27. Switching the series, essentially. The Rangers were not cool with that, because that series comes at the end of a nine-game road trip for them, turning it into a 12-game road trip at the near-end of the season.
-The Astros weren't cool with just giving the Rangers three extra home games against them.
We started looking at whatever options were out there - St. Louis, Tampa. The Rangers offered to host us this week, but not switch series with us. In essence, have all six of our remaining games (against the Rangers) at the ballpark in Arlington. We really looked at what is in the best interest of the integrity of the schedule...which has everybody playing the same amount of home and road games that determines who makes the playoffs.
*Jon Daniels went on a Dallas radio station and said that sacrificing that late September home series wouldn't be fair to Rangers season ticket holders.
There would have been a number of challenges. And I say 'challenges' while cringing because the challenges pale compared to what people are going through down there.
*Evan Grant sums up the Rangers' situation (previous link):
[Astros fans] are going to think the Rangers aren't a compassionate or charitable organization. Scheduling and the championship season, however, should not be confused with compassion. And this is simply about scheduling and the championship season. Swapping series would have made the Rangers' long odds to reach the playoffs even longer. Aside from that late extended road trip, it would have meant sacrificing any chances they still had at the playoffs to make Houston's road easier. No team is going to do that.
While I have disagreed with Grant many times, he's right. The situation is that the Astros are facing an 18-game road trip regardless of where they play this series. The Rangers were going to be on the road for this series no matter what. So whether it's in Tampa or Houston, they don't care where they play. No one in Tampa is going to show up for this series (unless there's some sort of outpouring of grief and charity from the residents of Tampa). Jon Daniels' job is to do what's best for the Rangers - not to accommodate the Astros. Jon Daniels did his job, and absolutely nothing more.
While the logic makes plenty of business sense for the Rangers, it still feels like a tone-deaf response to a desperate situation. The Rangers understandably don't want to add to three final games to a nine-game trip with their players' health and energy flagging., but citing business reasons in the face of the nation's most devastating natural disaster since Hurricane Katrina feels cynical.
*Laughably, Jon Daniels says that refusing to swap series with the Astros had nothing to do with trying to gain a competitive advantage:
We were prepared to make the event all about hurricane relief and helping our neighbors. It had nothing to do with looking for a competitive advantage. That's an inaccurate portrayal.
The Star-Telegram's Stefan Stevenson (link above) goes on to say that the season ticket holders and fans had already planned on this series being on the road, and didn't want to put them in a position where they're trying to change plans on 24 hours notice. Thank God someone thought of them. Daniels:
We didn't feel it was right to give our fans 24 hours notice that their tickets in late September were now good this week. We were willing to play this series anywhere the Astros and MLB wanted, including here in Arlington.
So instead of the Astros and Rangers, who had both been in Dallas, playing in Dallas, yesterday they each flew to Tampa Bay to start this series.
*Saying "You should have more to worry about than where the Astros play these games" is the height of condescension. It's Dry Privilege, and it misses the point entirely. By the power of Grayskull, you have the right to punch them in the head. You want baseball to be a distraction, but don't want the Astros/fans to find a frustrating (the mildest possible term that could be used) situation somewhat frustrating.
*Jim Crane, the ownership group, and the Astros Foundation are giving $4 million to relief efforts.