Top 25 Baseball Stories of 2017 — No 12: Hurricanes Harvey and Irma force the relocation of games

Craig Calcaterra
NBC Sports

We’re a few short days away from 2018 so it’s a good time to look back at the top 25 baseball stories of 2017. Some of them took place on the field, some of them off the field and some of them were more akin to tabloid drama. No matter where the story broke, however, these were the stories baseball fans were talking about most this past year.

In late August and early September, two of the largest and most destructive hurricanes in history struck the Caribbean and North America. Hurricane Harvey caused massive flooding, primarily in the Houston metropolitan area, killing 91 people. Soon after, Hurricane Irma hit the Caribbean and then made its way up the Florida coast, killing 134 people. Both hurricanes were likewise among the costliest, in terms of property and infrastructure damage, in history.

While the death tool, damage and displacement caused by Harvey and Irma are the most significant parts of their legacy, they each impacted Major League Baseball as well.

In anticipation of Hurricane Harvey, the Houston Astros were forced to move their August 29–31 series with the Texas Rangers from Minute Maid Park in Houston to Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. That move was not without controversy, as the Astros had asked to flip-flop a September home series with the Rangers, playing this one in Arlington and the September series back in Houston. The Rangers rejected the proposal, saying that doing so would be unfair to Rangers fans who had tickets for the September games.

While the Astros and Rangers looked to Tropicana Field for safe haven, two weeks later, Hurricane Irma would force the Tampa Bay Rays to get away from Tropicana, moving three home games against the Yankees to Citi Field in New York.

During the storms, the players — especially the Astros, who were prevented from getting back home following a road trip — were understandably worried about their families back home but, thankfully, everyone escaped unscathed. As far as damage went, only the roof of Marlins Park — which suffered some superficial damage to a protective membrane — was hit. Tropicana Field made it through Irma unscathed. In the aftermath, the Houston Astros began to wear patches which had the team logo and the word “Strong” on the bottom of the patch and prominently promoting the hashtag “Houston Strong,” from the time of the hurricanes until the end of the World Series.

The hurricanes — along with Hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico soon after — didn’t do much more than inconvenience Major League Baseball. But they certainly put baseball on notice that such storms, which are expected to grow stronger as a result of climate change, will increasingly become a fact of life for the league.

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