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MLB should make postseason contingency plans for the Astros -- now

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The city of Houston could be months or years recovering from Hurricane Harvey.

Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Monday, Major League Baseball made the right call by relocating Astros/Rangers games scheduled for Minute Maid Park in Houston to Tampa. I wrote last Friday that they should have been more proactive about this series, but at least they did the right thing.

Astros fans are complaining that the Rangers should have swapped series with them (the teams are scheduled to play in Arlington the last week of September), but here’s why that wouldn’t have worked:

“We didn’t feel it was right to give our fans 24 hours notice that their tickets in late September were now good this week,” Daniels said. “We were willing to play this series anywhere the Astros and MLB wanted, including here in Arlington.”

Daniels said the site of a baseball game in light of the ongoing natural disaster was not the club’s priority.

“The bigger issue, really the only issue, is what’s going on in South Texas right now,” he said. “People have lost their homes, in some cases their lives. We don’t want to distract from that debating about where a baseball game is played.”

Also according to that article, the Rangers offered to give the Astros any profits made from the series (beyond their expenses), but that was rejected.

Anyway, Monday MLB also said they are “monitoring” the situation in regards to the Astros series against the Mets which is scheduled to begin Friday in Houston:

I’m hoping that soon, they’ll relocate that one to Tampa as well, because even if MMP is playable, Houston is still mostly underwater. Fans likely would have trouble getting to the park; stadium workers might not be able to get there, either. At this writing Houston airports are still closed with no word on when they will reopen, and forecasts have moderate to heavy rain continuing through Wednesday. It’s possible floodwaters might continue to rise through the weekend.

The Astros’ next scheduled home game after this week is September 15 against the Mariners. There’s no guarantee Houston will be anywhere near ready to host baseball by then, either. When Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans 12 years ago this month, the NFL’s New Orleans Saints had to play their entire season outside that city (granted, the Superdome, the Saints’ home, had significant damage, and so far, at least, that hasn’t happened to MMP). The home of the NBA’s New Orleans Hornets was also extensively damaged and that team had to play almost its entire 2005-06 season in Oklahoma City.

The Astros currently lead the A.L. West by 13 games and it’s nearly a foregone conclusion that they will win that division. In addition, they have a very good chance of recording the best record in the A.L. and thus having home field throughout the A.L. playoffs.

There aren’t any reports, yet, of any damage to Minute Maid Park. If, however, there’s damage to the park or the city still hasn’t recovered from the storm, it’s entirely possible that the Astros might have to play their postseason games somewhere other than Houston. The most logical place would be Globe Life Park in Arlington, though after this week’s relocation logistics, Astros management and fans might not see their cross-state rivals too kindly. The Alamodome in San Antonio, which has hosted some exhibition baseball games, might be a reasonable location, since many Astros fans could get there and it’s close to their home city.

It’s entirely possible that none of this will be necessary, that Houston will dry out and be relatively back to normal, whatever their “new normal” is, by the beginning of October. But it would behoove MLB to at least begin thinking of contingency plans for Astros postseason games if, for any reason, it’s not.

Finally, the Astros, MLB and the MLB Players Association are donating millions of dollars for relief from this storm.