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If the Rangers Can Take the Heat, We Can

It’s getting a bit mundane to see the Rangers play against the Astros now. Another series, another sweep.

When Adam Rosales slid home for the winning run on Wednesday, the Rangers upped their record against their new division mates to 14-2 on the year. With six wins against them in the last 12 days, the Rangers can really thank Houston for helping get them a multi-game lead in the American League West once again.

But there should be more to this whipping up on Mosquitoville than just bragging rights in the state. This should be the ultimate example of finally putting to rest that tired argument that this team should be playing indoors.

To this day, there are still those constantly griping about the Rangers playing in the open air of what was originally called The Ballpark in Arlington, forcing fans and players to endure the intense summer heat of the Lone Star State. How dare they build an outdoor stadium back in a time when indoor parks were considered the devil?

Yes, how soon we forget that in the early 90s, it was beyond frowned upon to build an indoor facility, even one with a retractable roof, spurred on by the outright ugliness and uniformity of the likes of Toronto’s SkyDome, Montreal’s Olympic Stadium and especially the stadium the Astros were currently playing in. You want a throwback to what indoor stadiums were once like? Go to Tampa’s Tropicana Field.

The Astros, meanwhile, were supposedly the ones who did it right in 2000. After 35 years of playing in the Astrodome, the Astros moved into Minute Maid Park, a facility that was supposedly done right in every way, with its retractable roof and unique design that would allow the best of both worlds. It was the park the Rangers SHOULD have built.

And what has playing in that modernized, enclosed-when-they-want-to ballpark done for the Astros?

One less trip to the World Series than the Rangers.

And at the moment, a record that’s a whopping 32 games worse than their North Texas counterparts.

Now, naturally there’s a big difference in the talent level between the two teams, made blatantly obvious by the fact that almost the entire Houston roster is barely making over the league minimum.

But the cry for years was that the climate conditions at the Ballpark would always negate the talent level. The heat would wear down the players and they could never have the stamina to perform late in the year. The jetstream into right field made it too much of a hitters park, and thus they would never have good enough pitching to consistently win.

Yet not only are the Rangers once again right there in first place for the fourth straight year, not only are they perhaps playing at their best in the middle of the “dog days,” but – gasp – they still have the 4th best ERA in the American League.

Looks like not worrying about the heat, hitting your spots and keeping the ball down CAN overcome the conditions. It just took people like Nolan Ryan and the Maddux brothers to drill that mindset into the players.

And how about the claims that no one wants to show up at the Ballpark in our insane temperatures? You know, it’s funny how many who get on my case for saying the Cowboys will always keep people away from the Ballpark are among the most vocal at saying the heat will do the same.

Well, looks like we’ve both been wrong. Yes, there was a dropoff in gate receipts over June and July (which corresponds with the team’s dropoff on the field that temporarily knocked them out of first). Yet the Rangers remain second in the American League in attendance behind only the Yankees.

The Astros with their climate-controlled comfort are second-to-last. Apparently air-conditioned garbage is still hard to put butts in the seats.

Our modern day society spoils us, there is no doubt about that. We’re able to go anywhere we want in our motorized vehicles to get our lunch in a matter of minutes with no effort on our part. We want comfort all the time.

But with a team looking to make the postseason once again, maybe we should be thankful for what we have and not worry about how it should be better.

Maybe learning to play in the tough conditions have managed to toughen up this team, giving them the strength to deal with the pressure of a pennant race. (And maybe that’s something a certain football team living next door could learn.)

In the meantime, maybe a few fans and pampered media members should learn to deal with less than perfect, non-artificial conditions. Hey, sweating off a few pounds won’t kill you.

It’s better than looking at the standings and seeing your team more than a month out of first.

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