After evaluating the effects of Hurricane Harvey on Houston and the Gulf Coast, Major League Baseball announced Monday that a three-game series between the Astros and Rangers, set to begin Tuesday, has been moved from Houston to Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.MLB and the MLB Players Association also announced Monday
After evaluating the effects of Hurricane Harvey on Houston and the Gulf Coast, Major League Baseball announced Monday that a three-game series between the Astros and Rangers, set to begin Tuesday, has been moved from Houston to Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.
MLB and the MLB Players Association also announced Monday they are making a joint $1 million donation to aid those affected by the storm. Later Monday, Astros owner and chairman Jim Crane, the team's ownership group, and the Astros Foundation collectively pledged $4 million to relief efforts.
The Astros spent Monday in Dallas on what became an extended layover following Sunday's 7-5 victory over the Angels in Anaheim. The team was unable to return to Houston, as roads surrounding George Bush Intercontinental Airport have been closed due to the severe flooding now enveloping the area. With continued precipitation in this week's forecast for Houston, MLB finalized plans to move the series on Monday.
Officials with MLB and the two teams discussed the possibility of playing the series at the Rangers' home stadium, Globe Life Park in Arlington, but a compromise couldn't be reached. The Rangers weren't comfortable directly swapping home series -- the Astros are scheduled to visit Arlington on Sept. 25-27 -- because doing so would involve Texas playing 12 consecutive road games in the final month of the season. The Rangers also were concerned about asking ticket-holders to attend a series one month earlier than expected, on 24 hours' notice.
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels told Dallas-area reporters Monday that Texas was willing to host this week's series, with Houston designated as the "home" team. (The Astros would have received the revenues from those games, according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The precedent for such an arrangement dates to 2015, when the Orioles were the home team at Tropicana Field in games relocated from Baltimore due to rioting in the city.) The Astros, however, did not want to conclude this year's Lone Star rivalry with six games in Arlington.
So MLB and the clubs settled on Tropicana Field, which holds two salient advantages: As a domed stadium, the Rangers and Astros are now certain their Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday games won't be rained out. And Tropicana Field also is available for the upcoming weekend if Minute Maid Park isn't ready to host the Astros' scheduled series against the Mets.
If the Astros remain in St. Petersburg through the weekend, they ultimately will play 18 consecutive games away from Houston, over 21 days.
"We have to play where they tell us to play," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said in a text message to MLB.com. "Our team is hanging in there, given the circumstances back home. Where we play or how many days we play away is very secondary to the things Houstonians are going through right now. We worry about our families, our friends, our fans. That's the first thing on our minds when we wake up."
MLB officials also considered St. Louis, sources confirmed. But there -- as in Arlington -- an open-air stadium carried a degree of weather-related risk. The Rays were proactive in contacting MLB to say they'd be willing to host the teams, and all parties agreed the logistics of traveling to and from St. Petersburg were preferable to other options under consideration. The Astros will be considered the home team for the series and bat last.
"We are extremely grateful to the Tampa Bay Rays organization for allowing us to use their facility," Reid Ryan, the Astros' president of business operations, said through the team's official Twitter account. "We'll make a decision on this weekend's series vs the Mets in the upcoming days as we continue to monitor the conditions."
This is believed to be the fourth time MLB has relocated games to neutral sites due to adverse weather. The Astros played the Cubs at Milwaukee's Miller Park after Hurricane Ike hit Houston in 2008. One year earlier, an Angels-Indians series moved beneath the roof at Miller Park because of a snowstorm in Cleveland.
A September 2004 series between the Expos and Marlins moved from Miami to U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago because of Hurricane Ivan.
The Rangers said Monday they will donate proceeds from the Texas 2 Split 50/50 Raffle at this weekend's home series against the Angels to the American Red Cross, to specifically benefit those affected by Hurricane Harvey in South Texas.
"The thoughts of the Texas Rangers organization are with all the individuals who have been affected by this devastating weather in South Texas and the Houston area," Neil Leibman, chairman of the Rangers Foundation and Rangers ownership committees, said in a statement released by the team. "We pray for their safety in these very difficult circumstances."
Jon Paul Morosi is a national columnist for MLB.com.