Texas Rangers general manger Jon Daniels didn’t need a reminder but he got one anyway.
Tuesday’s double-header at Globe Life Park, which included the smallest announced attendance in a decade for Game 2, was a brutal reminder of how suffocating the North Texas heat can be and why the team is moving into a retractable-roof ballpark next season.
Daniels was among a trio of the most prominent general managers in Rangers history who gathered Thursday night for a grand opening dinner at the new Live! By Loews hotel at Texas Live!
“Anybody who wasn’t sure about wanting a roof after the doubleheader we had the other day … 108 degrees. Brutal,” Daniels said during a round-table discussion with Doug Melvin (1994-2001) and Tom Grieve (1984-94).
As for the roof at Globe Life Field, Daniels said the club hopes to balance what’s best for “us as a team and also good for the fans.”
“We’ve shared that we’d rather play open-air, but I remember in 2011 we had 40-something straight days of 100 degrees and at 7 p.m. it was 97 degrees,” he said. “It was brutal. We’re going to use common sense.”
The decision, Daniels said, won’t be willy nilly from game to game, however. The league requires teams with retractable roofs to have guidelines on when and why they choose to play indoors or not.
“We could change them year to year but you just can’t change them game to game,” Daniels said. “The league wants a policy in place so that teams don’t decide on opening or closing their roofs based on who’s pitching. For example, a fly-ball pitcher would probably prefer the roof closed while a ground-ball pitcher would probably prefer it open.
Of course, it remains to be seen what type of ballpark Globe Life Field will be: Pitcher-friendly or hitter friendly.
Grieve remembers former team president Tom Schieffer traveled to Toronto during the design stage of Globe Life Park to test wind currents. Engineers submerged a massive model of the ballpark in a tank of water with jets blowing water to imitate the predominate wind patterns during summer in Arlington.
“All the exits and all the light towers were interchangeable [on the model of the ballpark] and so for eight hours, all day long, all they did was change exits and light towers,” Grieve said. “[To design the building so it] was fair for a pitcher and fair for a hitter.”
Melvin, who was the Milwaukee Brewers GM from 2002-2015 before moving into a senior advisor role, said it takes two or three years to determine how a new stadium plays.
“In Toronto, I remember when [Rogers Centre] first opened up [in 1989], it was a pitcher’s park the first year or so and the hitters were complaining,” he said. “Then all of a sudden the ball’s flying out of there.”
Could the roofed stadium help attract top tier free agents? The trio agreed nothing matters more than the size of the contract, but it won’t hurt.
“I don’t think the ballpark sways it dramatically,” Daniels said. “I think it could be a tie-breaker or something like that. But if we want to sign a free-agent hitter to a one-year, make-good contract, we currently have a leg up on Seattle or San Francisco because they want to come here and perform, aided by the ballpark, and then go back and hit the market again. And then by the same token we’re at a disadvantage for the one-year free-agent pitcher. Somebody who’s getting a big-market deal, I don’t think it matters a ton, personally.”
The reputation of the ballpark, whether it’s hitter friendly or not, will do more to determine the Rangers’ free agent success in the future, Melvin said.
“I think that has an effect on a one- or two-year deal, but when it comes down to a long-term deal, the money makes the difference,” he said.