The Runner Sports

Hurricane Irma Gives Yankees Three More Home Games

After Hurricane Harvey flooded the southeast area of Texas, the Houston Astros were forced to play elsewhere for their series against the Texas Rangers. The Tampa Bay Rays, who were on a road trip at the time, opened up their stadium, Tropicana Field, to the two Texas teams for their series. A little over a week after that series, the Tampa Bay Rays now find themselves in a similar situation as the Astros were with Hurricane Harvey. With Hurricane Irma on a path throw the Tampa/St. Petersburg area, the series between the Rays and New York Yankees must move to a “neutral site” for their three-game series after the weekend. However, the decision on where that series will be played is going to be criticized hard by fans of the Rays (and anti-Yankee MLB fans).

Announced on Friday, MLB decided that the Rays-Yankees series will be played at Citi Field. For those who are unaware, Citi Field is the stadium for the New York Mets. This means that the “neutral site” for this series with two teams who are in the postseason hunt will be located in the same state as the visiting team. As someone who covers the Yankees and wish them the best against all teams, I recognize that the Rays got a bad deal here. While the Astros and Rangers were moved to an actual neutral site, the New York Yankees have been gifted an early start to their home stand.

Hurricane Irma Impacting Baseball

Before Friday’s game, the Yankees sit 3.5 games back of the AL East leading Boston Red Sox and 2.5 up on the second Wild Card spot. The Rays are 3.5 games back of the second Wild Card spot. As a Floridian and someone who has been watching Hurricane Irma constantly over the past few days, there is no doubt that the series has to be moved from Tampa. Earlier in the week, it seemed that Hurricane Irma was going to stay on the east coast of Florida, with the outer bands hitting Tampa. Now, it seems that the eye of the storm will be closer to the west coast.

If the hurricane followed the early tracks, there is a chance that the series could have been played this week. Perhaps the first game would have had to be delayed a day, but there will still a chance for the two teams to play in Tampa. Tropicana Field would have remained relatively untouched and Tampa airports could have taken flights in potentially. However, that is simply not the case.

Same Issue, Different Storm

A major criticism that came from the move of the Astros/Rangers series was the fact that the two teams could have swapped series. Both teams were playing each other one more series later in the season, except with the Rangers hosting the series. Many thought that it would have made more sense for the two Texas teams to simply swap that series for the one later in the month. Rather than sending both teams to Florida to play, why not have the Rangers host the Astros then go to Houston to play the last series? That same situation is present with the Yankees and the Rays.

After this series, the two teams meet again from September 26-28 at Yankee Stadium. While not as convenient as moving from Dallas to Houston, it still seems a plausible (and fairer) solution to what the MLB decided. Unfortunately, a makeup game against the Kansas City Royals would make it taxing on the Yankees to pull off. After a three-game series at Toronto, the Yankees have a makeup game at home the following Monday (September 25) against the Royals. Traveling down to St. Petersburg after that Monday night game to fly back up after the Thursday night game is probably not something Yankees decision makers were willing to do.

Trouble Finding a Hotel?

Before MLB decided on the very neutral site of Queens, New York, they considered Chicago, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh as other possible locations for the series. While those locations would still favor the Yankees, at least it would not be in New York City. However, the issue with those other locations was finding a hotel for both teams. Under MLB guidelines, a hotel that an MLB team stays in must be up to certain standards. Apparently, there was not enough available rooms for the players on both teams to relocate to Chicago, Baltimore, or Pittsburgh. That is why MLB decided on Citi Field. Since the Yankee players do not have to stay in a hotel, it must be easier to find a single hotel in New York rather than two elsewhere. While fans might argue to the legitimacy of that statement, it must be frustrating for all parties involved.

New York, New York

Other than the fact that the Yankees will be wearing gray uniforms, there is nothing about this series that points to a road series for the Yankees. When the Astros were playing at Tropicana Field, tickets for the games were $10 and fans were allowed to sit wherever they pleased. With that in mind, New Yorkers might have an opportunity to go to a Yankee game for cheap. Most likely, proceeds will go to the relief aid after Hurricane Irma rolls through this weekend. However, that is the only comfort that the Rays will receive from this series.

While the Yankees will be the road team and bat in the top halves of innings, the Yankees get some home cooking. The Yankees have been a much stronger team at home this season compared to being on the road. At home, the Yankees are 40-27 compared to a sub .500 record on the road (35-37). Add in the two wins the Yankees had over their subway rivals, that equals 42 wins for the Yankees in New York City.

Even though playing at the Trop next week would still mean more Yankee fans than Ray fans, at least the Rays would be in the comfort of their own home. Now, the Rays will be 1,170 miles away from home. Meanwhile, the Yankees will be a short subway ride away from theirs. Even though their reasons have merit, MLB hosed the Tampa Bay Rays.

Griffin Fuller
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Griffin Fuller

Former Division 1 pitcher at Stetson University with an immense passion for the game of baseball. Grew up playing baseball from the age of 3. Student of the game of baseball in every aspect.Located out of Debary, Florida.
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Griffin Fuller
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