Arlington

Arlington beat out Houston as Texas’ best ‘baseball city.’ Say what?

Astros win the game but Rangers win the milking contest

Texas Rangers relief pitcher Alex Claudio wins a cow milking contest against Houston Astros first base coach Alex Cintron before the Astros beat the Rangers 4-3 in baseball.
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Texas Rangers relief pitcher Alex Claudio wins a cow milking contest against Houston Astros first base coach Alex Cintron before the Astros beat the Rangers 4-3 in baseball.

Remember how riled Texas Rangers fans got when Josh Hamilton famously said DFW is “not a true baseball town”?

Well, Arlington tops Houston, home of this year’s AL West (and last year’s world) champion Astros, in WalletHub.com’s recently released ranking of the best baseball cities in 2018.

In fact, Arlington is the best “baseball town” in Texas and 10th best in America, while Houston ranks 22nd, WalletHub says.

For perspective, Buies Creek, North Carolina is ranked 27th, propelled into that spot by its Carolina League team, the Buies Creek Astros, a Houston farm club and the 2018 Mills Cup champion.

The stats might be hard for even the hardiest Rangers’ fans to swallow, and Astros fans everywhere will surely be calling foul.

Arlington’s Rangers are a team that is manager-less and the worst in the American League West, finishing the year 67-95 and 36 games out of first place.

But WalletHub used 31 factors, ranging from collegiate, minor and major-league team presence to fan engagement (measured by social media activity) and stadium accessibility to rank 360 of the country’s largest cities with at least one pro or college team.

WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez explained how Arlington bested Houston, saying it came down to history, fan engagement, ticket prices and stadium capacity.

“For example, the Rangers have eight Major League Division Championship wins and two Hall of Fame head coaches, as opposed to seven wins for the Astros and only one Hall of Fame coach,” Gonzalez said.

Check out the fun as the Rangers play the world champion Astros in their first game of the 2018 MLB season.

The Rangers’ HOFer coaches are Ted Williams and Nellie Fox, so that’s going way back to 1971 and the Turnpike Stadium days. The Astros’ Hall of Fame coach is also Fox, who coached the then-newly renamed Astros in 1965-1967.

Fan engagement, which WalletHub gauged by tallying likes and follows of teams on Facebook and Twitter, also played a major factor in Arlington besting Houston, Gonzalez said.

“The Rangers ranked third for fan engagement, whereas the Astros only came in 24th,” she said.

The other factor that put Arlington on top was the ability of a fan to get an affordable seat for a game, Gonazalez said.

“The average ticket price per game is much lower in Arlington than in Houston, $27 vs $40, (and) stadium capacity adjusted by city population is higher in Arlington than in Houston.”

The Astros’ front office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Fort Worth, ranked 149th, outperformed Dallas, which was ranked 177th.

This wasn’t the first time Arlington cracked the top 10, either. It was fifth in 2017 and sixth in 2016.

Stephen English: 817-390-7330, @sbenglish74

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