Texas teams’ plans upended by Hurricane Harvey
HOUSTON (AP) — The Houston Astros and Texas Rangers won’t travel to Houston as planned after their games Sunday in California because of torrential floodwaters that have engulfed the city in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
The Rangers had been scheduled to head to Houston after playing Oakland to await the start of a three-game series with the Astros beginning Tuesday. Instead, they’ll return to Dallas to await word on its status. The Astros are in Anaheim and also will fly to Dallas while a decision is made on when and where the series will be played.
“We have been in continuous contact with the Astros and Major League Baseball regarding travel tonight and the status of this week’s series,” Rangers president and general manager Jon Daniels said. “We will continue to talk throughout the day to get updates on the situation.”
Astros manager A.J. Hinch said the team was in a holding pattern.
“We’re going to fly to Dallas and really just sit there and wait to see what happens,” he said before Houston’s game against the Angels. “Really, I think everything is up in the air. We might get to Houston sometime in the next couple of days and play. We might not, so I don’t know what’s possible.”
MLB spokesman Michael Teevan said officials who handle scheduling are communicating with the teams and monitoring the situation.
While Hinch knows there is interest in when and where the Astros will play, he was quick to point out that they’re far more worried about what the storm has done to Houston than anything related to baseball.
“The most important thing is (that) baseball is secondary right now,” he said. “Our schedule, our flight times, where we’re going to be, the buses, like all that stuff is meaningless compared to what everybody is suffering through.”
Texas manager Jeff Banister echoed Hinch’s sentiments.
“The best thing for all of us is to allow them to survive through this, understanding that when all this water recedes and it’s gone, there’s still a monumental challenge for all of them, the cleanup and kind to assess where they’re at,” he said. “This is not a situation where we put baseball in front of what’s important for these people. So for us to have to defer and go somewhere else, it’s no issue for us.”
Some have suggested that this week’s series with the Rangers could be moved to Arlington. If it is, it wouldn’t be the first time home games in Houston have been moved to another park because of a hurricane.
In the wake of Hurricane Ike in 2008, MLB moved two games with the Chicago Cubs to Milwaukee, about 95 miles from Chicago, effectively making the contests home games for the Cubs. Chicago won both of those games, with Carlos Zambrano throwing a no-hitter in the first one, leaving the Astros furious about the move.
The Rangers and Astros were just the latest teams to change their travel plans because of the storm, which settled over the Texas coastline Saturday before sending devastating floods pouring into the nation’s fourth-largest city.
The NFL’s Texans flew to Dallas after their preseason game Saturday in New Orleans instead of returning home and have said they’ll stay there until conditions improve enough for them to come back to Houston. They’ll practice at the suburban practice facility of the Cowboys on Monday and said they will provide details on their schedule for the rest of the week later.
They are scheduled to host the Cowboys at NRG Stadium on Thursday, but that game could be in jeopardy with massive flooding in the city and rain continuing to fall.
While in Dallas waiting out the storm, Texans star J.J. Watt started a fundraising page to help raise money for victims of the storm. By Sunday afternoon the page had already raised more than $110,000.
“It’s very tough to watch your city get hit by such a bad storm and not be there to help,” Watt said in a video posted on Twitter.
The storm also raised questions about whether the AdvoCare Texas Kickoff game between LSU and BYU can be played Saturday night at NRG Stadium. Doug Thornton, a New Orleans-based executive with SMG who oversees the Superdome, said that the Superdome is available on Saturday if needed.
“We hope they can play in Houston, but if they can’t, we stand ready to help them out if they have to do something else. ... everybody feels confident we could host a game if we needed to,” he said. “We just need some prior notice. ... by the end of Tuesday would be fine. But if they called Wednesday at noon (I’m) sure could find way.”
NRG Stadium also is managed by SMG and Thornton said it hasn’t been damaged but flooding around the stadium would make it difficult to get there.
“The facility is not going to be the issue,” Thornton said. “It would be the workers and support services needed. Would there be sufficient support services to host a football game, staffing and things like that?”
The University of Houston’s football team went to Austin on Friday, practiced there on Saturday and will resume practice Sunday on the University of Texas campus. It could make sense for the team to remain in Austin for the week with the Cougars scheduled to open the season on Saturday at Texas-San Antonio, which is just about 80 miles from Austin.
A team spokesman said Sunday that the team hadn’t made any plans for the rest of the week yet.
Rice opened its season this weekend in Australia against Stanford. The Owls will arrive in Los Angeles from Australia on Monday morning at 8:30 and said Sunday they’ll decide if they can travel to Houston when they arrive there.
AP Sports Writers Jay Cohen, Dennis Passa and Brett Martel and AP freelancers Josh Cooper and Michael Wagaman contributed to this report.