Base­ball strikes out by forc­ing Houston to play

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when fright­ened peo­ple want to be sur­rounded by loved ones?

“I wish we were back in Houston,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “I wish we could lend a help­ing hand to our fam­i­lies and to our friends. I don’t know what that means or what that en­tails or what we could pos­si­bly do.”

As Hinch said, what Houston and the sur­round­ing area need more than any­thing else is for the rain to stop. But un­til it does and as long as the hor­rific storm con­tin­ues to rav­age the area, the last thing we should be ask­ing is for these men to be 1,000 miles from their home play­ing base­ball.

Houston play­ers were care­ful not to crit­i­cize Ma­jor League Base­ball for the de­ci­sion to go ahead with Astros games this week. They also were quick to point out that they have it easy. They are safe and dry while so many are stay­ing in shel­ters, wear­ing the only pos­ses­sions they have left.

“Ob­vi­ously, it’s hard to imag­ine play­ing,” Hinch said. “(But) it’s hard to imag­ine not play­ing.”

We’re of­ten quick to say that dur­ing dif­fi­cult times, sports can be a much-needed dis­trac­tion from the life’s harsh­est re­al­i­ties. Maybe if fans can es­cape all their trou­bles, even if it’s only for a cou­ple of hours, then we should carry on with oth­er­wise friv­o­lous ac­tiv­i­ties like base­ball. But it’s doubt­ful that any­one in Houston is pay­ing at­ten­tion to base­ball right now. They’re more con­cerned with no elec­tric­ity, nowhere to go and 3 feet of wa­ter in their homes.

“That’s kind of out of my realm,” Astros pitcher Dal­las Keuchel said when I asked if Ma­jor League Base­ball should have post­poned this se­ries. “I don’t know if we should’ve can­celed these games. … At this time, I know a lot of guys’ minds are so far away from base­ball. It might have been ben­e­fi­cial to can­cel these games and sched­uled a cou­ple of dou­ble-head­ers.”

Keuchel elo­quently and com­pas­sion­ately talked about what is go­ing on back in Houston. At times like these, you’re re­minded ath­letes are a part of a com­mu­nity, too.

“Those guys who have fam­i­lies, it has been weigh­ing heav­ily on them,” Keuchel said. “It’s tough to see these guys kind of stress out with not know­ing what is go­ing on around the city with their fam­i­lies.”

The Rangers are tak­ing crit­i­cism for re­fus­ing to swap home games with Houston, and de­servedly so. They could have earned tremen­dous re­spect for putting Houston above their own in­ter­ests but took the self­ish route in­stead. It’s a bad look.

But it’s a worse look for Ma­jor League Base­ball. I fully un­der­stand the has­sle of post­pon­ing games and try­ing to re-sched­ule them. And MLB is not com­pletely cold. It is do­nat­ing money for hur­ri­cane re­lief. The money from the games at the Trop this week will go to char­ity, and that’s why you should go and root for an Astros team that re­ally doesn’t want to be play­ing ball at the mo­ment.

“It’s my job to be out there and play the game,” Astros out­fielder Ge­orge Springer said. “We un­der­stand our job is to go out and com­pete, but we’re hu­man be­ings first. We have fam­i­lies there and this all puts it into per­spec­tive that it truly is a game and there’s a lot more to life.”

Too bad Ma­jor League Base­ball doesn’t fully un­der­stand that.

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