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Astros not happy about having night game on Friday


The Houston Astros just finished a four-game series in Anaheim last night. It was a scheduled night game, starting at 6:07 PM Pacific time. Tonight they start a series at home against the Rangers. Due to the time of the game ending and the loss of a couple of hours flying back to the Central time zone, the flight after the game was scheduled to get them home at roughly 5:15 AM.

That late night flight followed by no off day has some of the Astros a bit perturbed. From the Houston Chronicle, here’s Josh Reddick‘s take on it which, it should be noted, is not just his singular opinion:

To censor myself, it’s B.S. I don’t think one person is happy about the night game travel. I think it’s a complete misjudgment on how they make a schedule. It’s absurd, really . . . Look at us, we don’t do that to anyone. We don’t ever give them a [getaway day] night game unless it’s Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN. It makes no sense. It really makes no sense. A lot of guys aren’t happy about it, myself included. It’s going to be a long day, but this is what we get paid to do. We suck it up and hopefully take it as a little spark to fire us up.”

The Angels were allowed to schedule this game due to this passage in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which applies in 2019 as well:

For the 2018 championship season, the latest possible start time for getaway games on days when the visiting Club travels to a home off-day or either Club travels to another game the following day shall be determined by taking the portion of the in-flight time that exceeds 2 1/2 hours, and subtracting that amount of time from 7 P.M. However, the foregoing sentence shall not apply to getaway games that are broadcast on ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball”; getaway games played in Arlington, Texas after June 1 (unless the Texas Rangers move to a climate-controlled home ballpark), or rescheduled games. Additionally, each Club that is limited by its stadium lease agreement or governmental regulation in the number of day games it may play shall receive one exception annually to the rules set forth in this Article V(C)(8), provided that the Club has applied for and has been denied a waiver by its lessor or the relevant governmental authority

The passage later refers to an Appendix that specifies the flight time between an Angels game and an Astros game as two hours and forty-two minutes. By taking the 12 minutes over the two and a half set forth there, and subtracting it from a 7 PM start time, the 6:07 PM start  time is technically allowable.

But it’s also a bunch of baloney.

For starters, a flight from L.A. to Houston is not two hours and forty-two minutes unless you’re in a fighter jet. It’s more like a three and a half hour flight, give or take. And that doesn’t count the bus ride to LAX that can take an hour. Maybe they could fly out of John Wayne Airport which is closer, but for whatever reason they don’t.

Let us not get too deeply in those logistical weeds, though. No matter how you work the math, the fact is that it was still, for all practical purposes, a night game and there was no way it was ever going to allow the Astros to get home at anything other than the wee hours this morning.

Technically allowable or not, the game should’ve been a day game or the Astros should’ve gotten an off day.

Astros block Detroit Free Press from clubhouse at Justin Verlander’s request

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Last night a BBWAA-credentialed reporter from the Detroit Free Press was barred from the Houston Astros’ clubhouse by team security following the Tigers win over the Astros. The reporter — who was almost certainly Anthony Fenech, who covers the Tigers — was kept out at the request of Astros starter Justin Verlander. Here’s the scene as described by the Free Press. The article contains a photo, taken by Fenech, of the three Astros officials who blocked the door to prevent him access:

At 9:35 p.m., the Astros opened their clubhouse to credentialed media in coordination with MLB rules. As other media members entered the clubhouse, the Free Press reporter with a valid BBWAA-issued credential was blocked from entering by three Astros security officials . . . The reporter contacted Mike Teevan, MLB vice president of communications, who said he would immediately reach out to Dias regarding the issue. Dias eventually gave the reporter access to the clubhouse at 9:41 p.m., after Verlander’s media session had ended . . . Once inside, the reporter approached Verlander, who said: “I’m not answering your questions.” When asked to comment on Wednesday’s loss, Verlander walked away.

That after-the-fact access for the reporter came only after he called Major League Baseball who, in turn, called Astros officials, presumably, to tell them that they cannot bar credentialed media.

It’s unclear at the moment what the beef is between Verlander and either the Free Press or the reporter. For what it’s worth, I follow Fenech and, while he’s a bit more witty and, occasionally, cutting than your average beat reporter, he’s self-effacing and doesn’t do cheap shots. Though he talks often about former Tigers and has made a point to highlight Verlander’s post-Tigers career whenever relevant, to my knowledge he hasn’t said or done anything specific to tweak Verlander in the past.

I will note, though, that last night, about eight minutes before Fenech was barred access, the Free Press Twitter account sent this tongue-in-cheek tweet out. It’s unclear if he or someone else at the paper wrote it:

Maybe that pissed off Verlander, who is known to be active on social media and is usually pretty aware of what’s being said about him. Hard to say.

What’s easy to say, though, is that no matter what has hurt Verlander’s fragile ego, the Astros barring the reporter from the clubhouse is in blatant violation of the agreement between Major League Baseball and the Baseball Writers Association of America, which ensures access for credentialed reporters. Verlander doesn’t have to talk to the guy — he doesn’t have to talk to anyone he doesn’t want to talk to — but the team honoring Verlander’s wishes to bar access is totally unacceptable and, frankly, about as low-rent as it gets from a media relations perspective.

We’ll probably hear more about this later today.