As evidenced by this unflattering photograph, the latest edition of the Heat Exhaustion Special at Rangers’ Ballpark was an absolute beating.
The team did not want this, but the Texas Rangers hosted the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday afternoon with a first pitch at 1:0 Good God It’s Hot. Blame no one, even those with free tickets, who preferred to go work rather than the game. Fans needed a change of clothing by the fourth inning.
Players don’t like these games. Fans don’t want them. Teams hate them. Other than that ...
For reasons ranging from TV contracts to travel, every team has to deal with a handful of bad start times but no franchise is routinely hammered with this reality like your Texas Rangers. Outside of April and the first week of May, this team should never play a day game in Arlington until October.
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After May 11, the Rangers will have played 11 afternoon games at home in 2015. That’s 11 too many. Fans are paying too much money to attend games to be this miserable. And the Rangers do not need any help in losing attendance.
The team is averaging a little more than 31,000 fans at home this season, down from the 33,500 it had last year. Start times such as Wednesday are murder at the gate. The announced attendance for Wednesday’s game was 20,142. Yeah - I don’t believe it, either.
In a 162-game schedule, bad start times are unavoidable. In this case, the Rangers had no choice but to start the game at 1:05 p.m. because they play in Detroit against the Detroit Tigers on Aug. 20. They wanted to reach Detroit at a reasonable hour rather than arrive at 6 a.m. the day of the game. In fairness, however, there is no good time to reach Detroit. It’s Detroit.
The problem in these scenarios is the team must raise the dreaded We Know You Are Not Coming flag in regards to attendance. The Rangers figure they lose eight to 10 thousand, on average, on attendance on a hot day game. When is it not hot in Texas after the first week of May? Before ESPN and TV changed sports in the late ‘80s, the Rangers nearly always played their home games at night.
The only solutions are a roof, or to re-do the schedule.
In my dream world, not only does Charlotte McKinney finally stop calling me at 2 a.m., but MLB reduces to the length of the regular-season schedule to 154. This would allow for more off days, which would permit the Rangers to play nearly all of their home games at night; it would also allow for the “wild card” game to be a best-of-three $erie$.
Granted, in order to do this a lot of people will have to be compensated when the collective bargaining agreement between the players and owners expires after 2016. Local TV deals would have to be re-structured, as well as the national TV contract with Fox Sports. And any loss in home revenue in subtracting four home games would have to be made up elsewhere.
Reducing the schedule to 154 games has been kicked around for years, but no one has touched it because of the immediate loss of revenue. The only way to have a shot is to increase the postseason, where the real cash is made.
The Rangers should not be playing 11 home day games after the first week of May. It’s unfair to the team, and the ticket paying customer. There is a solution, and it doesn’t have to be a roof.