Mac Engel

From the cheap seats: A thank you to fans who get the shaft

Texas Rangers fan Gianna Styles, 6, tries to cool off in the 97-degree heat during the sixth inning of Sunday's game against the Houston Astros at Globe Life Park.
Texas Rangers fan Gianna Styles, 6, tries to cool off in the 97-degree heat during the sixth inning of Sunday's game against the Houston Astros at Globe Life Park. AP

From all of us in sports, and the Godless sports media, we can never say thank you enough to fans.

A reader/fan recently suggested I leave the comfy confines of an air-conditioned press box to watch a Texas Rangers game from the stands.

The lonely dude, who forgot to wear sunscreen, sitting in section 301, row 2, seat 1 on Sunday afternoon for the Rangers' 8-7 loss to the Astros was me.

The 98 degree, sunny afternoon only felt like 118 degrees. And the three hours and nine minutes to play the game breezed by in what felt like no less than six hours and 59 minutes.

The entire experience reaffirmed the greatness of baseball, of the Ballpark, while confirming that all high-ranking MLB-related officials need to sit out here to know just exactly what they give their customers.

Because it's obvious most of my sisters and brothers in the sports media have forgotten, and the team presidents, GMs and MLB people are clueless about this aspect of the sporting experience.

Rangers GM Jon Daniels needs to sit out here for a day game; maybe a date-day with Randy Galloway. Same for co-owners Ray Davis and Bob Simpson. Just to know, and feel, what this is like.

A word of advice: Bring water. A towel. Sunscreen. Sunglasses. And prepare to get your yoga-sweat on.

It's not a bad place to see a game. Good, honest, decent people sit up here, and throughout the park.

Other than bullying, intimidation or lying, I have no idea how the Rangers actually sell a single ticket to one of these afternoon games. And people who come to the games with little kids, and manage to stay all nine innings, deserve their own ESPN 30 for 30 documentary.

No explanation is acceptable why a game is scheduled for 2:05 p.m. first pitch in June in Texas at Global Meltdown Ballpark. Per the Farmer's Almanac, the average temperature for June 10 in Arlington is, "You Don't Want To Know."

MLB does it to because it wants the visiting teams in their upcoming city the night before the next game, if possible. The Rangers normally comply to maintain good will with the other clubs.

Meanwhile, you the ticket-paying fan gets the shaft, sunburn, and maybe even heat stroke.

Sunday's game against the Astros should have been a 7:05 first pitch.

Don't worry, Rangers fans. Of the club's 45 remaining home dates in 2018, 10 of them are afternoon games. That's ten as in double digits for triple-digit games.

Despite the heat, in the top of the second inning a trio of cousins from Dallas sat next to each other in section 303 watching the Astros take a 4-0 lead.

"I got the tickets at a discount," Alaina told me. She's 12.

The price of her ticket was $1. That seems high.

"For me, I come because it's a live event and I like the excitement," Alaina's cousin, Vanessa, said. "And I like being around people."

She said this while sitting in an entire section that was nearly empty.

Her cousin, Natalie, only complained about the price of one bottle of water: $5.50. One bottled water was more than five times the price of admission.

Stadium food and beverage prices could be a dissertation at Harvard; $5.50 has, sadly, become an acceptable sum for a 16 oz. bottle of water.

By the seventh inning, most of my face had melted into the plastic seat. Death was near, and she was welcome. I was speaking in tongues. I desperately wanted to cry, but my body was out of water.

On the top deck in left field at the Ballpark, I cowardly retreated to the clear, plastic tent that had an air conditioner blasting two moms and their two small children.

"It feels like the sun is penetrating your soul, and yet you still cheer them on," said April Pomeroy of Powell, about 80 miles southeast of Arlington. Her 10-month-old son, Toby, was enjoying the "cool" 85 degree air in the tent.

April's friend, Elizabeth Smith, brought her 6-year-old daughter, Lexi, to her first game. Lexi was laying on the ground in the tent.

"She said, 'I thought it would be different than this,'" Elizabeth said.

By the top of the ninth inning, the Rangers had rallied yet again to tie the score at 7.

The Astros had runners on second and third with two outs when Rangers reliever Keona Kela threw a 1-2 pitch to Evan Gattis.

Immediately after the pitch, Astros manager A.J. Hinch walked to the umpires to lobby for ... something. Who knows?

After a short meeting, the umpires pointed to the runner at third base, George Springer, to home plate.

Rangers manager Jeff Banister came out of the dugout to complain, and he was ejected shortly thereafter.

Fans in the stands had to guess at the unfolding events; unless if you were listening to the game on radio, or watching the game on TV, you had no idea.

The Astros had scored on a controversial balk, but no explanation to the fans came from the umpires. And there was not a single replay of Kela's infraction on the stadium JumboTrons, lest the thinnest skinned people in sports - MLB umps - get their feelings hurt.

Fans in the stands deserve an explanation; MLB, fix this.

After three hours and nine minutes, the game ended with yet another Rangers' loss, but I came away with a rediscovered appreciation and respect for any fan who braves this type of heat to watch a game.

Everyone involved in sports should watch a game in these seats, in these elements. Because you forget.

You forget just how hot it is to sit here and watch. How much this all costs. How much of a bonding experience it is; that some of the best moments of your lives are with friends and family just watching game, from any seat.

By the time it's over you can only say thank you to the people who make it all possible; now please blast the AC.

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