Mac Engel

Rangers do it again. They will go cheap while asking you, the fan, to go expensive

The players hate it and the fans won’t like it.

Even the Mayor of Arlington, who personally made sure the new stadium was a possibility, doesn’t want it.

Yet, the Texas Rangers are rolling out the carpet.

The Rangers are not opening a new baseball stadium in 2020. They are opening a mall, where a baseball game can be played, and this place is going to take money from you in a way that will make Jerry Jones proud.

The Rangers formally announced on Thursday what we all suspected for about the last two years: Tax Hike Friendly Ballpark will feature fake grass.

The Rangers can call it a “synthetic surface.” They can say it’s a dramatic improvement over previous models of artificial grass, which it may be. They can say whatever they want, and know this: Man-made never beats God-made.

Players are expendable, and the priority here is a controlled cost. A business exits to make a profit, but spare us the lying about the fans, or the safety of the players.

This move is about concerts. About high school football games. About college bowl games. About making it as easy, and cheap, as possible to have this new stadium open when the Rangers are not at home.

The irony is thick: The team will go cheap but has no problem asking its ticket-paying customers to go expensive.

The team announced that the field provider, Shaw Sports Turf, is also funding and participating in a kinesiology study with Auburn University to see how players react on certain surfaces.

Auburn, let me do your study for you.

When I asked the players about this last year, the answer was unanimous.

“Real grass all day long. When I play on (artificial grass), I feel it in my hamstrings and my back, for sure,” shortstop Elvis Andrus said.

From Joey Gallo: “Grass, all the way. When you play on that fake grass, your knees hurt like hell, your hips and your back, too.”

From catcher Curt Casali, who previously played in Tampa: “Real grass is just softer and slower. If you just stand on it for 5 minutes, you can feel it in your back. I hope you’re wrong on this and it’s grass.”

From Delino DeShields: “I remember the first time I ran on (artificial grass) was during a pre-draft workout in Toronto. I was running in the outfield and the first time I tried to sprint I nearly fell over. My cleats got stuck.”

The injury suffered by Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Allen Hurns in the playoff win over Seattle in early Jan.? His cleat was stuck and his leg snapped.

There is your study.

Any member of the local media who espouses this move is too close to the team to offer any assessment other than this move is entirely about green cash, not green grass.

There are two other stadiums that feature fake grass: Tampa, which is a dome, and Toronto which features a retractable roof. Toronto is the only venue where it could feature real grass but opts for a synthetic.

No big league team, other than Toronto, in the last 30 years has installed fake grass in a venue that could sustain it, but our Rangers are selling us that after two years of “extensive study” that this is a good alternative.

Speaking of extensive studies I don’t believe: Energy companies that find an Ivy League academic to “release the findings of a study” that their latest oil spill will, in fact, help the environment.

Don’t believe anything about lighting on the field, depth, or anything of the kind. Modern, grass-growing technology can grow grass in an attic.

And if you don’t like this announcement, just wait for the real good news to come. The Rangers are currently gently notifying season ticket holders about the “exciting” new price plan for the new ballpark.

What was once one of the better deals in Major League Baseball, attending a Rangers’ game will soon become just another modern day pro sports sellout to corporate cash.

According to a story by local NBC 5, some fans are learning that their tickets will go from $98 per game to $400. That price jump reflects less than 1,000 seats, but this stadium is not going to pay for itself. Prices are going up.

Alas, the good citizens of Arlington voted with their wallets to keep the Texas Rangers in Arlington. It was their call.

Tax Hike Friendly Ballpark is going to cost the Rangers, and the ones covering the bill is you.

Don’t worry, though, the new carpet will be nice and clean.

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Mac Engel is an award-winning columnist who has extensive experience covering Fort Worth-Dallas area sports for 20 years. He has covered high schools, colleges, all four major sports teams as well as Olympic games and the world of entertainment, too. He combines dry wit with first-person reporting to complement a head of hair that is almost unfair.
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