Column: Rangers happy to help flood-displaced Houston Astros ... but only to a point

Rain clouds over downtown Houston on Aug. 27.
Rain clouds over downtown Houston on Aug. 27.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

The Texas Rangers wore red caps last weekend, in celebration of Players’ Weekend. They’re wearing black hats today.

They’re the bad guys, right? When the relentless rain and widespread flooding from Hurricane Harvey forced the Astros out of Houston this week, the Texas Rangers could have taken in the Astros for a few days. It would have been the neighborly thing to do.

And that is what the Rangers offered to do.

The Dallas Cowboys invited the Houston Texans to join them for workouts. Texas Christian University put out the welcome mat for Rice University. The University of Texas is playing host to the University of Houston.


And, when the Astros had to move three games this week against Texas, the Rangers told the Astros they were welcome to come on up. The Astros could be the home team. They could keep all the profits. The teams could work together on fundraising for disaster relief. The Astros’ families could be together without having to leave the state.

The Astros were willing to play in Arlington, with this condition: The other three games remaining between the teams this season, scheduled in Arlington, would be moved to Houston. That is: You take our home games this week, and we’ll take your home games next month.

The Rangers said no. So Major League Baseball moved the games to a neutral site — Tropicana Field, in St. Petersburg, Fla., where the teams are likely to play in front of dozens of fans.

In a normal year, this would not have been an issue. In a normal year, a team that is two games under .500, as the Rangers are, would not be three games out of a playoff spot.

Put the Rangers in the National League with the identical record, and they’re 6½ games out of a wild-card spot, looking ahead to next year, and almost certainly willing to flip the series with the Astros.

But the Rangers might sneak into the playoffs. They’re 35-29 at home, 29-37 on the road. They did not want to agree to a schedule change that would have left them with a 12-game trip at the end of the season.

The Rangers never have won the World Series. If you believe the playoffs are a crapshoot, then the Rangers could risk missing out on the crapshoot by one game because they lost a road game they could have played at home.

Still, the people of Houston have endured enough over the last few days. The Rangers could have made sure they did not lose three chances to see the Astros. That would have been some pretty sporting hurricane relief.

Follow Bill Shaikin on Twitter @BillShaikin